LED self build (el-cheapo)

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Bema

Bema

Growing to the plants full potential is about understanding what is holding it back. Using fluorescent lights and standard compost are probably the main reasons for ‘low’ yield of my last (and first) grow.

To that end, installing new LED lights was my first priority, as super soil seemed easy to make (for me).

Aliexpress, was where I started and called on my son’s expertise, an electrical engineering graduate, as well as months of research on various forums.

Premade, manufactured LED grow lights are expensive and I’m not in a position to spend the money. With that in mind, I decided to make them myself.
My design consideration:
50w full spectrum LED lights
heat sink and fan

The main design concern was heat dissipation, LED chips generate lots of heat and LEDs do not like heat. It did not take long for me to realise it was way to complex to design or calculate the right sized heat sink for the heat output so I guessed. 100 x 100 x 18mm aluminium heat sink with a fan blowing on it.

Does the fan blow or suck? It did not take long to find that I should align the fan so it blew air toward the fins; where would you stand when you’re hot, in front or behind a fan?

Two suppliers were chosen to supply the LED chips and there is no noticeable difference. Both are 50w full spectrum LEDs and 220v so I did not need to buy and size transformers. The 12v fans were 80 x 80mm and the cheapest on the site which in hindsight was a mistake as the fins are really fragile, but they do the job. Perhaps 220v would have been a better choice than 12v to make the electrics a little easier. A redundant 12v transformer is the power source for the fans.

The heat sink keeps the LEDs cool; they are about 23-26C, one of the test 12v transformers packed up and the fan stopped working. I touched the heat sink and it was hot, not so it sizzled and I did not get a blister. I expect it was around 60 or 70C.

The electrical engineer suggested that the power be parallel not serial. Using some leftover lengths of thin aluminium bar; one side as positive and the other negative.
The grow room is 2000mm long, the aluminium bar was 1800 (6’) and I had 8 units and drilled evenly spaced holes that matched up with the fans through this bar.

The process
Cleaned the back of LED chip and the back of the heat sink with alcohol/methylated spirit. Used a heat sink cement and stuck the LEDs onto the heat sink (centralised of course)
The lights were held in place by screwing through predrilled holes in the bar, through the fans, into the plugs between the fins in the heat sink. The bared 12v wires for the fans were then wrapped around the screws and tightened up for a good connection.
The 220v wiring was soldered into place and zip tied to the frame to reduce any tension on the soldered connections. I alternated the wiring so one plug powered every alternate LED, 200w each plug. This also allowed some form of light control.
Being aluminium bar meant the whole rail bowed when hung up. By adding an aluminium angle stiffened the entire rail.

The costs are detailed below:
LED 50 full spectrum £1.70
Fans 80x80mm £2.00
Heatsink 100x100x18mm £6.00
total £9.70

Less than a tenner about £13-14 USD

I’ll need to see if it makes a difference to yield. Please wait for about 3 months........although I've changed a few other things supersoil, compost teas and topping/training.
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Mr.jiujitsu

Mr.jiujitsu

I’m confused from what I see you made an entire aluminum rail “hot”? I agree with wiring it in parallel but having an exposed “hot” rail in my grow room, would scare the shit out of me. Or is it just the 12v circuit?
 
Moshmen

Moshmen

I’m confused from what I see you made an entire aluminum rail “hot”? I agree with wiring it in parallel but having an exposed “hot” rail in my grow room, would scare the shit out of me. Or is it just the 12v circuit?
Sure would hope low voltage/amperage. Hate to see anyone get hurt.
 
Bema

Bema

I’m confused from what I see you made an entire aluminum rail “hot”? I agree with wiring it in parallel but having an exposed “hot” rail in my grow room, would scare the shit out of me. Or is it just the 12v circuit?
It's just the 12v the live 220v is all insulated and protected.
Thanks for the concern.
 
MIGrampaUSA

MIGrampaUSA

I used Wago lever nuts to connect my wires on the LED lights I have built. They are easy to use, you have no live rails, but they really aren't exactly cheap. My lights use 120 volt driverless cobs. Not exactly the same as 12v DC driven chips. Just tossing that out there for consideration ....
 
Bema

Bema

Just for clarity:
The cobs are 220v driverless you can see the mains soldered connections in the photo from below. I've checked and they each draw 50w from the plug. I've alternately wired them to two plugs to let me have some control of light intensity. All the 220v is insulated and safe.

The fans are 12v and the quality is a little low, those blades are super fragile; when spinning if you touch them with the tip of your finger the break off. (gentle touch not rough) I'll replace them over time with CPU fans I pull from busted PCs that folk throw away (local recycling dump). I've already managed to get some T shaped aluminium offcuts for another rail should I need it.

The seedlings have taken off: the combination of the new lights, supersoil and the compost teas. (I've changed the hue so you can see the plant slightly better)- The Amnesia Haze from ILGM is only 2 weeks from dropping the seed in water

IMG_4666 (1).JPG
 
MIGrampaUSA

MIGrampaUSA

Just for clarity:
The cobs are 220v driverless you can see the mains soldered connections in the photo from below. I've checked and they each draw 50w from the plug. I've alternately wired them to two plugs to let me have some control of light intensity. All the 220v is insulated and safe.

The fans are 12v and the quality is a little low, those blades are super fragile; when spinning if you touch them with the tip of your finger the break off. (gentle touch not rough) I'll replace them over time with CPU fans I pull from busted PCs that folk throw away (local recycling dump). I've already managed to get some T shaped aluminium offcuts for another rail should I need it.

The seedlings have taken off: the combination of the new lights, supersoil and the compost teas. (I've changed the hue so you can see the plant slightly better)- The Amnesia Haze from ILGM is only 2 weeks from dropping the seed in water

View attachment 920374
I thought those chips look familiar. Some of mine are identical other than the circuitry is for 110v. How do you like those chips?

I'll be in the basement today trying to finish up the hydro unit. Things take time for me. I spend up to 50% of work on the road. Tomorrow I fly to Dallas.
 
Bema

Bema

I thought those chips look familiar. Some of mine are identical other than the circuitry is for 110v. How do you like those chips?
I'll be in the basement today trying to finish up the hydro unit. Things take time for me. I spend up to 50% of work on the road. Tomorrow I fly to Dallas.
Hey Gramps,
So far so good, I checked the draw from the wall and it was 50w so I'm pleased they are genuinely 50w and not 50 "LED watts". They are superbright and I wear sunglasses when close to them. I also bought a few lens to reduce the angle from 120 degrees to 60, they were about £3 inc delivery but I'm not sure they are really necessary and the jury is out if they really make a difference.

I feel your pain, traveling for a job sounded like fun and was for a while, but airports are not fun, with endless queues, holiday makers who don't have a clue and security who can take their jobs a little too seriously. Enjoy Texas!
 
oldskol4evr

oldskol4evr

Growing to the plants full potential is about understanding what is holding it back. Using fluorescent lights and standard compost are probably the main reasons for ‘low’ yield of my last (and first) grow.

To that end, installing new LED lights was my first priority, as super soil seemed easy to make (for me).

Aliexpress, was where I started and called on my son’s expertise, an electrical engineering graduate, as well as months of research on various forums.

Premade, manufactured LED grow lights are expensive and I’m not in a position to spend the money. With that in mind, I decided to make them myself.
My design consideration:
50w full spectrum LED lights
heat sink and fan

The main design concern was heat dissipation, LED chips generate lots of heat and LEDs do not like heat. It did not take long for me to realise it was way to complex to design or calculate the right sized heat sink for the heat output so I guessed. 100 x 100 x 18mm aluminium heat sink with a fan blowing on it.

Does the fan blow or suck? It did not take long to find that I should align the fan so it blew air toward the fins; where would you stand when you’re hot, in front or behind a fan?

Two suppliers were chosen to supply the LED chips and there is no noticeable difference. Both are 50w full spectrum LEDs and 220v so I did not need to buy and size transformers. The 12v fans were 80 x 80mm and the cheapest on the site which in hindsight was a mistake as the fins are really fragile, but they do the job. Perhaps 220v would have been a better choice than 12v to make the electrics a little easier. A redundant 12v transformer is the power source for the fans.

The heat sink keeps the LEDs cool; they are about 23-26C, one of the test 12v transformers packed up and the fan stopped working. I touched the heat sink and it was hot, not so it sizzled and I did not get a blister. I expect it was around 60 or 70C.

The electrical engineer suggested that the power be parallel not serial. Using some leftover lengths of thin aluminium bar; one side as positive and the other negative.
The grow room is 2000mm long, the aluminium bar was 1800 (6’) and I had 8 units and drilled evenly spaced holes that matched up with the fans through this bar.

The process
Cleaned the back of LED chip and the back of the heat sink with alcohol/methylated spirit. Used a heat sink cement and stuck the LEDs onto the heat sink (centralised of course)
The lights were held in place by screwing through predrilled holes in the bar, through the fans, into the plugs between the fins in the heat sink. The bared 12v wires for the fans were then wrapped around the screws and tightened up for a good connection.
The 220v wiring was soldered into place and zip tied to the frame to reduce any tension on the soldered connections. I alternated the wiring so one plug powered every alternate LED, 200w each plug. This also allowed some form of light control.
Being aluminium bar meant the whole rail bowed when hung up. By adding an aluminium angle stiffened the entire rail.

The costs are detailed below:
LED 50 full spectrum £1.70
Fans 80x80mm £2.00
Heatsink 100x100x18mm £6.00
total £9.70

Less than a tenner about £13-14 USD

I’ll need to see if it makes a difference to yield. Please wait for about 3 months........although I've changed a few other things supersoil, compost teas and topping/training. View attachment 920211 View attachment 920210 View attachment 920209
ok so im lost,this looks like it is wired hot right to the rails,id kill myself,also im must be seeing things wrong ,how big are the light fans and sinks,they look good size there but at 50 watts im sure there tiny a link to the parts would be ideal.
so what the trick to keep from zapping yourself and why not run 1 hard wire all the way down light daisy chained from each light,dont get me wrong,this is all new to me,im a diy'er just trying to understand the methods behind it
 
oldskol4evr

oldskol4evr

so if i wanted a 600 watt light for my tent,how many of these light ,chips what ever they are called would it take to make that light,i had a light at ali bi i wanted until it got to the 40 extra bucks shipping,but noticed i could build same light looking at amazon,damn near all them have the 301b light think it was.
my thing is i have a little ass tent 2x4x5 ft,i want a light that will fit right into the top of it covering every ting,led lights shoot straight down versus hid shooting side ways and such,so a 2x4 board would be needed right
 
Mr.jiujitsu

Mr.jiujitsu

so if i wanted a 600 watt light for my tent,how many of these light ,chips what ever they are called would it take to make that light,i had a light at ali bi i wanted until it got to the 40 extra bucks shipping,but noticed i could build same light looking at amazon,damn near all them have the 301b light think it was.
my thing is i have a little ass tent 2x4x5 ft,i want a light that will fit right into the top of it covering every ting,led lights shoot straight down versus hid shooting side ways and such,so a 2x4 board would be needed right
go with quantum boards. 132 leds per board. Cover the entire footprint. No heatsinks required. Look at mine....
 
oldskol4evr

oldskol4evr

hlg quantum board v2 240w lm301b with cree 660nm grow light kit for indoors is the one i been wanting for over a year now,181 bucks,i just cant get past that 40 extra bucks for shipping.
i want to up grade to led just cause i feel i will eventually find one that dont cook my plants while they grow from heat,my cool tube with my 400 watt hid light sit right at 12 inch above my canopy and doesnt,but come summer that bitch can be 4 ft above canopy and still have a tent 120 degrees,in the winter like now,i have to run it wide open for heat,when temp get back to 80 outside ,i have to lower my ballast to 50% to keep temp in tent at 82 degrees hahahah.
the 2 led lights i bought 2 years ago for same problem were hotter than the hid light in summer,had me scrambling to finish them before i had nothing,as it stands,i can only grow from august when i pop seeds,to end of april thats it,from then on im in triple digits,no ac or heat,just forced wind is what i work with AND NINJA STYLE GROWING hahahahah shhhshhh
 
Bema

Bema

ok so im lost,this looks like it is wired hot right to the rails,id kill myself,also im must be seeing things wrong ,how big are the light fans and sinks,they look good size there but at 50 watts im sure there tiny a link to the parts would be ideal.
so what the trick to keep from zapping yourself and why not run 1 hard wire all the way down light daisy chained from each light,dont get me wrong,this is all new to me,im a diy'er just trying to understand the methods behind it
Hey old skool
It's 12v that's hot, and powers the fans. The 220v is connected to the led and a fused plug. That insulated wire is zip tied to the frame so I can't pull off the live wires by mistake.
Lots of comments about my work on the original post. I've risk assessed it and for my grow room I believe it's safe - others have a different view and I've high lighted to all - heed the warnings if you want to copy the design.

thanks for the genuine concern.
 
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