Richard Aspinall Tests this Great Looking Sicce LED Unit
Images: Richard Aspinall
Italians tend to be proud of their reputation for design and when you look at Sicce’s AM series you can understand why. The units combine great looks, with robust construction and represent a lighting option for hobbyists not wishing to explore or simply not interested in the ever increasing amount of controllability in the market.The AM366 is one of four of the range – the larger AM466 and AM650 are essentially longer versions of the 366 and the MINU model at 20watts, is ideal for nano systems. See the table for more information about the range.
The range uses a straightforward approach to light output: use lots of LEDs – which results in a very even light without hotpots according to Sicce. The 366 uses 196, 12,000 – 14, 000K LEDS each running at a stated value of 0.179 watts each. The actinic component of the output is provided by 14 446nm LEDs. The same ratio is replicated in the rest of the range. Overall the unit is rated at 14,000K.
Sicce’s design means that the LEDs are run below their maximum, Sicce tell me the 465nm LEDs are run at 70% of nominal which according to Sicce will give the unit an extended lifespan, which is backed up by a five year guarantee.
The striking design isn’t just ‘window dressing’, according to Sicce the acrylic acts as an insulator, preventing radiant heat reaching the aquarium surface. The acrylic is sealed to the rest of the unit using O rings. Sicce are one of the few manufacturers that are confident in describing their product as “watertight”, though you will need to use the same level of care with the controller and PSU as you would any other piece of electronics in the presence of saltwater.
The unit comes well-wrapped to ensure the acrylic plate is scratch free and comes with all the required cables, hanging kit and a sunrise/sunset controller. The power supply unit (24v output), is robust and cased in aluminium, the power cord attaches to the top rear of the unit using a bespoke three pin connector that can be secured with a screw and is presumably “watertight”. Though I didn’t test this as Sicce wanted the unit back!
The controller can be added between the PSU and the unit (or left out if you don’t need to control output at all). This small gadget has a simple sunrise/sunset program built in. The program starts when the unit is powered up. You can dim the white LEDs using the +/- control. If power is lost the unit remembers the program and the time and will recreate a quick sunrise or sunset and return to the position it should be at. I should add that this component is not watertight and will need protecting from splashes and humidity.
The controller comes with a small 12v transformer and doesn’t pull its own power from the main line, which I think is a shame as it’s yet another cable in the usual reef tank clutter. However, it’s a minor detail and the light is free from controls of course, thus maintaining the sleek look.
The hanging kit uses four steel cables in standard ‘grip’ fittings. These are secured onto the unit’s corners. The kit is supplied with acrylic brackets should you wish to secure the other end of the cables into these and then fix them to your ceiling.
Sicce have decided against active cooling and employed a fairly hefty aluminium heat sink secured above the acrylic plate. It’s hard to capture it effectively in a magazine image, but the acrylic channels a small amount of light through itself giving a slight touch of illumination to the edges of the plate. This looks very nice, but also manages to distract the eye from the heat sink and emphasis the unit’s thinness at only one and half inches.
Performance and PAR
The unit looks great, but what about performance? Sicce say that their approach of using multiple low output LEDS has created a lighting unit without significant hotspots, so let’s see if this is accurate?
|Depth (cm)||Horizontal distance from centre of unit (cm)||0||10||20||30|
PAR readings in μmol m2 per second, using an Apogee MQ 200 meter. The AM366 was suspended at 20cm above the water surface. Given that the unit is square, readings taken from centre can be assumed to be identical in any horizontal direction. This was borne out in testing with only a minor variation (less than 5%) – this was not considered significant.
The AM366 is certainly a great looking lighting unit that will complement any tank. It is also well-made and has a philosophy behind it that is very appealing. It might not be for everyone, computer control, storm simulation and precise spectral control of these units isn’t on the horizon, if ever, but that might not matter? Sicce say they’ve spent a lot of time testing the light to get their spectrum just right and their web site and supporting material show some corals with good growth rates and great colour.
There’s clearly nothing wrong with the PAR output either, whilst it isn’t as high as some other units on the market, it is even and more consistent than some. There is a peak directly under the unit, but at 20cm the horizontal spread is quite consistent. With the longer units, lighting will be clearly more consistent again.
The AM366 will retail at around £699 according to Sicce.
|Size (inches)||Recommended tank size (inches)||Power consumption (watts)||10,000-12,000K LEDs||465nm actinic LEDs|
|MINU||5.5 x 5.5 x 1.5||Up to 24||20||72||4|
|AM366||14.5 x 14.5 x 1.5||14-32||60||196||14|
|AM466||18.5 x 14.5 x 1.5||20-40||110||392||28|
|AM650||25.5 x 14.5 x 1.5||32-48||170||588||42|
Tech specs, source: Sicce