How to Approximate the Sun with a Dimmable SunPower

Sample Programs for a Dimmable SunPower Fixture

We’re frequently asked by our customers, “What is the best program for my Dimmable Sunpower?”  While there are many tried and true programs, we decided we would provide a couple options that suit a variety of needs for corals and aquariums.

Of course, any program can be catered to your particular needs. Perhaps you want your light on longer or you wish to wake up to a fully lit reef before you head off to work. You can apply either of these programs (or any other program, for that matter) just by simply offsetting the times to suit your needs. Your reef tank doesn’t actually care what the real time of day it is, it only needs steady, consistent light for a sufficient period of time each day to gain the energy it requires.

We have created 2 sample programs loosely based on the lighting at the Great Barrier Reef; one an 8-hour light cycle and the other a 12-hour light cycle. These are not “scientific” schedules. However, they are good approximations based on the typical bell curve of light the sun provides during the summer at locations close to the equator. Since the sun is more directly overhead during the summertime, it’s intensity increases fairly quickly in the morning, slows down noticeably during the middle of the day and then decreases fairly quickly again in the evening.

We generally recommend using an 8-hour light program. Running your lights for 12 hours instead of 8 hours will generally not improve coral growth. This is because corals can only handle so much light during a given 24 hour period. Also, running your lights for 8 hours per day instead of 12 hours has the added benefit of significantly reducing the amount of energy consumed and significantly improving bulb life.

8-Hour Sample Program

  • 8:00     ON
  • 8:30     15%
  • 9:00     75%
  • 10:00   95%
  • 10:30   100%
  • 13:30   100%
  • 14:00   95%
  • 15:00   75%
  • 15:30   15%
  • 16:00   OFF
8-Hour Sample Program for ATI's Dimmable SunPower
8-Hour Sample Program for ATI’s Dimmable SunPower

12-Hour Sample Program

  • 8:00     ON
  • 9:00     15
  • 10:00   75
  • 11:30   95
  • 12:00   100
  • 16:00   100
  • 16:30   95
  • 18:00   75
  • 19:00   15
  • 20:00   OFF
12-Hour Sample Program for ATI's Dimmable SunPower
12-Hour Sample Program for ATI’s Dimmable SunPower

If you wish to use one of these schedules but start at a different time, simply offset each data point by as many hours as you wish. So for example, if you wish to enjoy your tank in the evening on the 8-hour program, simply push back the start time from 08:00 to 14:00 (2:00 PM US time) and then adjust each of the set-points by 6 hours as shown below.

8-Hour Sample Program (2PM Start Time)

  • 14:00   ON
  • 14:30   15%
  • 15:00   75%
  • 16:00   95%
  • 16:30   100%
  • 19:30   100%
  • 20:00   95%
  • 21:00   75%
  • 21:30   15%
  • 22:00   OFF

However, please keep in mind that you cannot have a data set beyond 23:59. Therefore, if you wish to have the light stay on after midnight, simply set the time with an offset. For example, if it is 8pm in your timezone, set your clock to 6pm and take this 2-hour offset into consideration when scheduling your program.

Off-setting Channel 1 and Channel 2

Although not necessary for coral health, you may also offset Channel 1 and Channel 2, so that Channel 1 comes on before and goes off after Channel 2. Doing this will extend the amount of time your lights are on during the day. However, it will reduce the useable lifespan of the bulbs on Channel 1 (the lifespan of the bulbs on Channel 2 are not impacted) and also increase energy consumption. If you choose to do this, we recommend offsetting by 1 to 2 hours. With a 2 hour off-set, Channel 1 would come on at 8:00 and stay on until 20:00 (8PM). Channel 2 would then come on at 10:00 and go off at 18:00 (6PM) as shown below.

8-Hour Sample Program w/ 2 Hour Offset Between Channels

Channel 1 Channel 2
8:00     ON 10:00   ON
9:00     15% 10:30   15%
10:00   75% 11:00   75%
11:30   95% 12:00   95%
12:00   100% 12:30   100%
16:00   100% 15:30   100%
16:30   95% 16:00   95%
18:00   75% 17:00   75%
19:00   15% 17:30   15%
20:00   OFF 18:00   OFF

We hope you find this helpful and have gained some knowledge. Of course, if you ever need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help.

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