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Thread: DIY LED plant light project

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    sarracenia_X's Avatar
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    DIY LED plant light project

    so, i have had a bit of an interest in reefkeeping for quite a while now. i dont actually have my own tank, but i think about it all the time, and look at corals, clams, fis, etc. my brother is the one who originally got me interested in it, as he has a 40 gal soft coral tank (which i am currently taking care of while he is at college). it is becoming somewhat common for people to build DIY high output LED setups for their reef tanks. there are several sites which sell supplies for building these kinds of lighting systems, which i have been looking at from time to time. my brother has said that someday, he might want to upgrade to led, but he isnt very good with technical stuff, like soldering and putting stuff together, etc, where as i tend to have a knack for that kind of thing. i have also heard about LED plant lights from time to time on here. i have been thinking a lot lately about making some sort of grow rack, or indoor greenhouse setup in my basement. when i started thinking about lighting, my mind immediately went to LEDs. i figured that i could make something suitable for plants with the LEDs that these reef-lighting websites are selling, if i got the right spectrum. the most common colors used in DIY reef light setups are the blue and cool white LEDs. but, as i searched through them, i figured out that these sites sell more way colors than just those, to balance out those other two . green, cyan, red, amber, even UV/purple LEDS are available from them. such colors are used in fancy DIY setups in small amounts, often with each color/group of colors connected to its own timer/dimmer, in order to simulate sunrise/sunset, moonlight, etc. for the corals. some of these light colors would be great for plants, others, not so much. i selected LEDS with the best colors for plant growth, a heatsink, driver, etc on RapidLed.com.http://www.rapidled.com/ i decided that i want to make this with RapidLed's solderless LEDs, even though i know how to solder, just 'cause it would be easier(that, and i cant find that *bleep*in' solder iron! where could it have gotten off to?) anyways, im not going to be ordering these anytime soon, as i am kindof broke at the moment, and this is about $110 total, but my b-day is just around the corner (nov. 26), and i also will work my but off doing chores around the house, mowing the lawn, etc., so i think that i can manage to get enough money!

    once i have the cash, its LED time!

    as for the colors i picked, i am planning to get 12 LEDs, 8 warm white, and 4 red, on a heatsink predrilled for exactly 12 LEDs

    heres how i plan on arranging them:

    0 = 1 warm white LED

    0 = 1 red LED


    0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0



    and here's all the parts (minus the solderless connectors and thermal grease)

    the warm white LEDs
    http://www.rapidled.com/solderless-c...arm-white-led/

    the red LEDs
    http://www.rapidled.com/solderless-cree-xp-e-red-led/

    the heatsink
    http://www.rapidled.com/drilled-tapp...inum-heatsink/

    the driver
    http://www.rapidled.com/mean-well-lp...urrent-driver/


    any advice, suggestions for a better choice of color for the diodes, etc will be very much apriciated!



    and by the way, i know that there are other, cheaper (and to some, more effective) ways of getting light for your plants. i am aware that some of you consider LEDs to be a bad choice, due to their price. i am not planning on getting LEDs because they are the cheapest way to provide light for my plants, i'm am choosing them because of their efficiency (even though i am not the one paying the electric bill!), and because i think they will be the "next big" thing in horticulture, and are awesomely high tech. yes, i am choosing these lights cause i think they they are awesome. some of you will probably think that that is kind of dumb. well, its true, they are awesome! if i can get the right colors of diode, then they should provide some great lighting for my plants! so please no comments trying to convince me not to go LED, if i can get the money, i will most likely be getting these lights.

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    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    They are a lot of fun to play with and since you asked...
    Just a quick look at your component selections....

    1. The 700ma driver is less than half the maxium driver current for the LED's you've selected (Think of it as them being on half power)
    2. The spectral combination is very weak in the blue wavelengths.... might want to bump up the white to more like 5000k and a higher CRI
    3. Increasing the driver current will also likely require the use of active cooling (e.g., fan/s) and greater heat sink area. (probably the reason the driver is only half power)
    4. You didn't mention what optic angle you are going with... and the distance between LED's (give some idea of blending)
    5. What type of plants are you wanting to grow using these?
    LED's provide a very concentrated light source and shadowing is a concern with high canopy type plants. They are much better suited to low canopy plants (Drosera, Cephalotus...etc)

    Caveat, fun to play with.... but not yet a competitive option in our application IMHO
    Be sure to read the factory tech sheets on LED cooling and follow their recommendations carefully.
    Last edited by Av8tor1; 10-04-2012 at 04:38 PM.

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    Hey Sarracenia,
    For the last month and a half I have been running 4 10w (6700K) LED's over my lowland Neps and have noticed that they like it more than the T5 HO's (4-39w). On my Highlands I have 4 15w Par38's (3700K) which replaced 6 54w T5 HO's, they don't seem to like it as much as I had them too close at the start which made them all sulk

    Cheers,
    Kase

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    sarracenia_X's Avatar
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    should i go with the cool white or neuteral instead, or mabey a combination of colors? will runing these LEDs at half power still be enough light for the plants? if would not mind getting a fan or two if i amp up the power on the lights. oh, thats right, you need to get some sort of lens to get a better optical angle... weel, ill look into that, and let you know what i choose. any reccomendations? and low growing plants are exactly the sort of thing i was planning to grow under this, i was thinking pygmy/rosetted dews, cephs, pings, etc.

    thanks for the advice Av8or!

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    sarracenia_X's Avatar
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    would these neuteral white LEDs be a better choice?
    http://www.rapidled.com/solderless-c...l-white-led-1/

    what about these lenses? 80 degree optics.
    http://www.rapidled.com/80-degree-cr...s-white-black/

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    MICKEY's Avatar
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    i think you would be best with mostly cool white with some blue and red mixed in, go to a site that sells grow lights and see the spectrum used with metal halide and hps lights , there designed to grow the most herbs per watt so the picked the light colors used most by plants may colors just reflect off the plant

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    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarracenia_X View Post
    should i go with the cool white or neuteral instead, or mabey a combination of colors? will runing these LEDs at half power still be enough light for the plants? if would not mind getting a fan or two if i amp up the power on the lights. oh, thats right, you need to get some sort of lens to get a better optical angle... weel, ill look into that, and let you know what i choose. any reccomendations? and low growing plants are exactly the sort of thing i was planning to grow under this, i was thinking pygmy/rosetted dews, cephs, pings, etc.
    thanks for the advice Av8or!
    I like the neutral white if you are going to add more red.... the exact ratio of blue/red etc depends greatly on the specific plant. Some plants can grow just fine with no red or no blue, but most need some blend of the two (in addtion to other wavelengths)

    As a rule of thumb 20% blue seems to be a good standard to shoot for... however, this is looking at the spectrum only though the eyes of photosynthesis performance. There is much more to it than that... and this is where the knowledge base becomes clouded.

    Green for example, it was long though that green was pretty much useless but now it has been shown that green is important for canopy penetration. Other wavelengths prevent the sporation of botrytis (why sunlight seems to kill it) while another wavelength is needed for the sporation of beneficial trichoderma.

    To cover your bases going with high CRI values is the safest bet. That way you closely mimic the performace of natural sunlight.... Not only will you supply the light that is more "natural" but the plants will "look" good too..... and are more easily diagnosed when a problem occurs

    There are so many variable involved that no one can truly give you black and white answers.... IMHO mimic natural light as much as possible for long term performance.


    Quote Originally Posted by sarracenia_X View Post
    would these neuteral white LEDs be a better choice?
    http://www.rapidled.com/solderless-c...l-white-led-1/

    what about these lenses? 80 degree optics.
    http://www.rapidled.com/80-degree-cr...s-white-black/
    What optics you use will depend on spacing between the LED's and the distance to plant.... you want the light to be "blended" when it arrives at the plant.

    As far as "powerful" enough.... again it depends on distance to plant.... I prefer the drivers that are dimmable, that way you can crank them up to maximum output or turn them down as the need arises. I dont think the driver you selected is adjustable.... maybe it is, I didnt read that deep about it. The one's I used had an external potentiomenter connection.... it was the cats meow, you could have several LED's all with variable outputs depending on the needs of the plant or to compensate for less than ideal thermal mitigation.

    Plant lighting is a very ford vs. chevy type subject.... ask 20 ppl and get 20 conflicting answers

    My recommendations are based on my personal experience and research, nothing more.

    I would recommend you start off with one or two trial setups before you invest much money. At least it will give you some ideal of best practices on spacing, power, spectrum etc.

    and MAKE THEM RUN COOL!

    HTH's
    Av

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    sarracenia_X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Av8tor1 View Post
    I dont think the driver you selected is adjustable.... maybe it is, I didnt read that deep about it.
    its not. ill look into getting an adjustable one, you make a good point, that it would be easier to compensate for the lights being closer, or further away from the plants

    which one do you recommend?
    http://www.rapidled.com/dimmable-drivers/


    Quote Originally Posted by Av8tor1 View Post
    I would recommend you start off with one or two trial setups before you invest much money. At least it will give you some ideal of best practices on spacing, power, spectrum etc.
    that might be a good idea, i was thinking that this would be a trial setup, and upgrade it later by making copies of it, and then putting them one behind the other, to make a larger grow area, or perhaps just sell the old heatsink to another grower/reefer, and buy a bigger one, like one of these:

    http://www.rapidled.com/drilled-tapp...num-heat-sink/

    http://www.rapidled.com/drilled-and-...k-for-36-leds/

    do you think i should go smaller with my trial setup, like mabey using one of these (six LEDs):

    http://www.rapidled.com/drilled-tapp...inum-heatsink/

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