Reef Pulsar is TMC’s new high-end LED light panel

Tropical Marine Centre has released the latest addition to its lighting portfolio – the Pulsar. Available in one chassis but two different diode populations the LPS-6 and SPS-8 are designed as their names suggest to light LPS and SPS dominated tanks respectively. They comprise a slimline black, light panel with twin splash-proof central cooling fans and an LED light cluster at each end. 

Both are populated with a range of diode colours and spectrums only the LPS-6 has 26 LEDs (from what we can see,) split into six controllable channels, and the SPS-8 has 48 LEDs split into 8 controllable colour channels. They draw a maximum of 107 and 164 watts respectively, with the 6 having a blue bias when all channels are on full power, and the 8 a whiter, fuller spectrum with all channels on full.

Reef Pulsar SPS-8

The maximum spread is around three feet, although we would expect any self-respecting reef lighting junkie to fit two models to a tank of that length. 

Control is via Bluetooth straight onto the user’s phone and the app does everything you would expect including programmes and the ability to share settings with other users. The icing on the cake is the included mounting bracket which enables front-on or side-on panel mounting for those who need it. It’s a cool looking, feature-rich light which because of the difference in diodes and power is offered at two price points – £399.99 for the LPS-6 and £629.99 for the SPS-8. This makes them the highest end TMC own-branded LED lights available to date. 

Mounting bracket is included with both Pulsar models

The problem, however, is the fierce competition it will face from AI’s Hydra and EcoTech’s Radion lights. At £629.99 you could buy AI’s flagship Hydra 64 unit, which although on paper is only 135 watts versus the SPS-8’s 164 watts, TMC wouldn’t want a PAR war with that unit as the Hydra 64 and its predecessor the Hydra 52 are brilliant and have sold many thousands of units worldwide.

AI also has the name and reputation going for it, with some high profile users, proven results thousands of times over and lots of satisfied customers. The Hydra doesn’t have the mounting arm thrown-in, which will cost you another £80 per lamp, but if you were going to spend upwards of £1800 on three units to light a 6x2x2 SPS tank, I know what just about everyone in the world would recommend out of the two. And it’s the same for the Hydra 32 versus the LPS-6. 

The LPS-6 has a blue bias to its spectrum

And then you have the all-conquering EcoTech Radion G5. Yes its £735 not including mount for the XR30 models but for that the Pro has 10 controllable colour channels and 215 watts of lighting power. And the half-sized XR15 is sub £400 which again if going multiple modular units, you would have to at least consider versus the LPS-6. Especially with the Gen 5 Blue spectrum. 

If EcoTech and AI didn’t exist and didn’t dominate the high-end aquarium LED market this light would be right up there in terms of looks, price, performance and popularity. But unless you hold a serious grudge against AI and EcoTech I can’t see many experienced reefkeepers choosing or recommending the Pulsar over a Hydra or a Radion. Despite the Pulsar’s numerous good points…