Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus For Aquariums Par Tested & Reviewed 2021

Current USA states their Satellite Freshwater LED Plus light will bring stunning color, amazing shimmer and immersive lighting scenes to your aquarium.

To find out if this is true, I purchased their Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus model, reviewed it, and tested it against 4 other aquarium lights at different price points to see how it compares.

Here are the results:

TL;DR: Review Overview & Results

We tested the Current USA light head-to-head with four other popular models of LED aquarium plant lights. This light puts out a lot of PAR and is highly customizable. It comes with a wireless remote that lets you change the light intensity, set the built-in timer and alter the light spectrum. 

If you like to have a ton of customization, this may be the one for you. However, if you can go up in price, I believe the Fluval Plant 3.0 is the better kit overall.

If you don’t need as much customization and/or these lights are out of your budget, the Hyger 24/7 LED would be my recommendation.

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Last update on 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How I Tested The Lights

Aquarium LED light PAR testing

PAR Readings

PAR stands for photosynthetically active radiation. It’s the energy in light that photosynthetic organisms convert into food.

A light might look really bright to us, but it may not contain the right spectrum that plants and other organisms can use as energy.

But, most aquarists can’t afford to get an underwater PAR meter so they can check out their lights. But, we can!!

We used a super nifty waterproof PAR meter so we had precise numbers for our comparisons.

Under water PAR tester for aquarium lights

PAR decreases with depth. So a light might have a PAR reading of 600 right at the water’s  surface, but then have a reading of 75 two feet away.

For this reason, we took measurements at three different depths: 0.5 inches (1.25 centimeters), 11 inches (28 centimeters) and 19 inches (48 centimeters) below the surface. 

We performed all of the PAR tests in a 55 gallon (208 liter) tank filled with plain tap water.

Here are our findings:

Planted aquarium LED lights PAR test comparison

The Current USA came in third in terms of PAR (and overall). The Fluval blew the doors off the competition, it was more than twice as strong as the next closest competitor, the Hygger; this  was a real surprise since the Hygger is such an inexpensive light.

So, the Current USA didn’t perform terribly, but it also wasn’t the winner or even runner up.

You can read the full review comparison here: Best LED Lighting for Planted Tank Reviewed

Real World Testing

We also wanted to get a good feel for what the user experience is like for each of these lights. 

So, each one was installed on one of my aquariums so we could use it for several weeks and learn about it.

We were especially looking at the following categories:

  • Installation and Set Up – was it difficult to get the light installed and set up the first time?
  • Customization – can you customize the color and/or intensity of the light? Can you change the color spectrum? Is there a built-in timer?
  • Reliability – does the light save your settings when it’s disconnected from power?
  • Appearance – does the light make the tank look appealing? This is subjective, but I’m willing to give my opinion since I looked at each light every day for several weeks.
  • Economy – how expensive is the light compared to the others in the group?

Current USA Satellite LED Plus Reviewed

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus turned on

What’s in the Box?

There’s quite a bit to unboxing this light and getting it installed takes quite a bit of effort and some trial and error.

In the box you’ll find: 

  • Light with attached power cord
  • Controller box 
  • Plastic protector for controller 
  • Wireless remote
  • Wired sensor
  • AC/DC adapter
  • Two power cords

Let’s take a look at the features we listed earlier:

Installation and Set Up

OK not going to lie, trying to get this light installed was a bad experience.

The way this light is set up is really cumbersome and weird. 

The light itself has no buttons or switches. Everything is done through the control box that is run inline with the power cord.

The light has an attached cord, about 3.5 feet long (107 centimeters) long. This plugs into the control box. 

Then another cord runs from the controller to the AC adapter box. Then another power cord goes from the AC adapter to the wall plug.

You end up with this long, ungainly contraption of boxes and cords, which wouldn’t be a big deal, but you have to get everything set up in a way that lets you have a clear line of sight between the controller and the remote.

The whole thing is super awkward to try to get set up. With our current tank stand, we could not find a comfortable, convenient way to mount the light and controller that made it simple to reset the time after routine maintenance.

Frankly, it drove me nuts and I was glad when the 2 weeks of testing this  light was up so I didn’t need to use the weird setup anymore.

Customization 

There are tons of options for customizing this light. 

There are two different timing modes:

  1. This is a dynamic timing mode. Whatever time the light is set to start, it will go from all the way off to all the way on with no ramp up time. At the shutoff time, the light will blink off completely with no taper down.
  2. This is a circadian timing mode. The light will ramp up at the beginning of the timer and will taper down slowly until it shuts off or turns to the moonlight setting.

I like that you can change the spectrum of all the different modes. So you can change the levels of red, blue and green for the daylight and even play around with the colors of lights that make up the dawn and sunset cycles.

There are also a bunch of different modes, like cloudy day or thunderstorm that you can also use. 

I really don’t like all these extra settings. I think they’re an unnecessary gimmick that most users will not want once the initial novelty of the idea wears off.

I especially don’t recommend using the thunderstorm mode. The flashing lights for the “lightning” scared my fish every time. I didn’t like that it seemed to stress them out.  

You program all the settings by using the included wireless remote. I wish the remote wasn’t so hard to use. It’s small and rather flimsy, about the size of a playing card.

It can be difficult to get the remote to register that you’ve hit a button. It can be hard to push down on the buttons squarely enough to activate them.

All of the settings you choose are saved onto the controller. The interface is basically nonexistent, it’s just an LCD screen with a few numbers, like an alarm clock.

So, you have a lot of options for customization, but it can be difficult and frustrating to get them locked in. Kind of like trying to set up a show to record on a VCR back in the day.

I know, I’m old, but I’m still kicking!

On the bright side, you do get an excellent instruction manual that goes over all of the available settings.

Reliability 

This Current USA light came in second in this category. 

All of your settings, except one, are saved by the controller when the power is cut. So the timer, dimmer and spectrum settings are all saved if the light loses power, but you do have to reset the clock every time you reconnect the power. 

By comparison, the Fluval saves all of your settings on an app, but all the other lights on the list also lose all of your settings when they lose power.

Appearance

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus kit installed on fish tank

This light does have a pretty nice appearance. It showed off the tank well. It was pleasant to look at, but I was much, much more impressed by the appearance of both the Fluval and the Hygger lights. 

Economy 

The Current USA is the second most expensive light we looked at. Only the Fluval cost more, and not by that much. And the Hygger light, which came in second overall, was significantly lower in price than this light.

Overall Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • Lots of customization options
  • Built-in timer and dimmer
  • Most settings are saved when power is cut

Cons: 

  • Rather expensive
  • A lot of the settings are gimmicky and impractical
  • Installation is very difficult
  • Clock has to be reset every time light is disconnected

How Does it Compare To Other LED Lights?

Planted aquarium LED lights comparison

The Current USA wasn’t the best among the five lights we tested, but it did perform admirably.

It came in third in both the PAR testing and the overall rankings that I assigned the lights. 

This light does put out a good amount of PAR, but the Fluval and Hygger were both more powerful.

I would have to say that this light is probably the most customizable of the bunch. You can even change the colors of the dawn/sunset cycles if you want. Those settings are locked in on the Fluval.

Current USA did come in second as far as reliability goes. It does lose your clock settings, but all of your other selections remain saved by the controller.

This light definitely lost when it comes to installation and set up. It is a serious pain to get this  light set up, it’s very awkward. The other four lights were much simpler to install.

Final Thoughts

I really wanted to like this light. Other than the Fluval, this was the light I was most looking forward to testing.

But, now that I’ve really used a Current USA light, my feeling about it is: it’s cool, but doesn’t wow me.

It does have excellent PAR, and all the different customization choices are cool, but I found this light to be more gimmick and hype than actual substance.

Settings like cloudy day are kind of boring and the thunderstorm setting just scares the fish every time the “lightning” flashes. Frankly, all of those settings could disappear and no one would really ever care.

I found programming this light to be tedious, over complicated and really, really annoying, especially compared to its closest competitor, the Fluval Plant 3.0. 

Trying to enter the time and other settings using the remote control was reminiscent of programming a VCR back in 1985, a trauma I had hoped to never relive.

Also, I never could find a satisfactory way to install this light because of the weird and clunky controller box. 

I’m not at all trying to imply that this light is total garbage, but since the Current USA light is so expensive, I would recommend spending just a little more and to get the Fluval Plant light.

The Fluval app is the clear winner for me. It’s so easy to set up a program that’s a good fit for your tank. Your settings are saved for you and it only takes seconds to resume your programmed cycle after a power outage.

So, the Current USA isn’t garbage, but I think it’s worth it to spend the extra money and get the Fluval.

I hope you find this article helpful.

I wish you and your fish the very best!

Preview Product
Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Full Spectrum RGB+W Light for Aquariums 36''-48'' with Wireless 24 Hour Remote Control Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Full Spectrum RGB+W Light for Aquariums 36''-48'' with...
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Last update on 2021-10-02 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Katherine Morgan
Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. A nunchuck specialist, I've kept aquariums for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast. If You'd like to see more of my tanks, check out my Instagram

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