I wrote "A guide for Buying LED's on E Bay" almost a year ago. At that time I thought that I might just add a few new things as I came across them and do an update of it now and then. But since then I have found so much new stuff, and finally some of it really good stuff, that I thought I should just write a part 2.
You can read part one here:
Step 1: Some Things Have Been a Disappointment
An number of people, including me, have been a bit disappointed by some of the new LED lights that have shown up on the market. Take for example these screw in bulb replacements. It's a good idea, dump the CF bulbs and use these even more efficient ones. So I bought some to try. They were a major let down. Not because they didn't work, because the do. But they don't produce enough light. And I bought the bigger, higher number of LED's ones. Maybe they could work as night lights. Replacement lights in your regular lamps? NOPE. Maybe I am just spoiled, used to all of those glowing orbs pouring forth lumens. Whatever, I didn't give up hope. Somehow it should work.
Step 2: A Glimmer of Hope
So, the search for LED's that actually produce lots of light was getting to be like a search for the Titanic. I knew they were out there somewhere, but they were elusive and being hard to find. Regular LED's work great for accent lights and things like that but not reading lights, not kitchen lights.
Then I discovered these guys while working on another instructable and had some hope.
These are amazing little lights, they come in a variety of wattage's and colors. The smallest I have seen is 10 watts and the largest is 100 watts. But I haven't looked lately so that range might have increased. These really do produce a lot of light. But they require special drivers, power inverters, and they produce a fair amount of heat which means they need heat sinks. So you can't just plug them in and replace a light bulb. For my project I made a heat sink and the light I got out of the unit was just what I wanted. So, there are LED's that do work, but these take a little effort to adapt. Good thing they are cheap because you can experiment with them and not cry when they burn up..
For as long as the link stays good, here is an example of these lights.
And here is a search for a bunch more of them.
They do make special heat sink's for these and also lenses and other stuff. I never got into that stuff. It was kind of high priced and I have a lot of heat sinks from other things.
The project that I used one of these on was this one:
Step 3: Flood Lights Made With LED Units.
Then I ran across these flood lights made with the LED lights mentioned in the previous step. The LED's are mounted and secure on an aluminum back plate that works as a heat sink. The driver is mounted in its own box attached to the main housing. The entire unit is weatherproofed. Pretty good idea but I am not to crazy about the light being concentrated in just a small area. If you need something preassembled then these might be for you.
Step 4: Floodlights With Banks of LED's
Then I found flood lights with banks of LED's. The more I looked into these the more amazed I became. I ordered a few to try and then ordered more and then got some for my friends. I am in love with these lights. They are super bright. I can't find anything wrong with them to complain about.
Look at these specs for a 100 watt unit.
1. Environmentally friendly and energy-saving
2. easy installation
3. CE Approved & Rohs Compliant
Details: Emitting Color: Cool WhiteLED Color: 6000K-6500K
Lumens Size: 286*237*65mm (L x W x H)
Waterproof : IP65 to protect against ingress of dust and against standard water jets with a nozzle
Life time: > 50,000 hours
Lens covered with waterproof material
Shell material: Aluminum
Now to give you an idea of their brightness --- A set of 2, 48 inch F40 fluorescent bulbs produces about 2,900 lumens. They use 80 watts of power to do it. One of these 100 watt LED flood lights produces almost 3 times as much light, 9000 lumen and uses only a little more power to do it. 100 watts instead of 80. Just one of these lights can replace THREE double bulb florescents fixtures and use 1/3 the power. Now that is finally impressive. What is even better is they don't flicker, ever. They have no ballast. They come on instantly even at 20 bellow zero. They are water proof and dust proof, and impact proof. They will not be effected (except for the glass) if the fall on the floor. And finally their estimated lifetime is supposed to be 50,000 hours.
24 hours x 365 = 8,760 hours in a year. That come out to be 5.7 years. So figure you use them 12 hours a day they will last for almost 12 years, or possible a lot longer because no one has really been able to test them for that long yet. Now that is a great light.
They come in a variety of sizes and intensities.
The 500 watt one produces 48,000 lumen. Do you have any idea as to how much light that is? That is approximately the light from 17 double bulb fluorescent lights.
And another thing that is really great about them is that they have no harmful gasses or other such stuff in them.
And did I mention they are pretty cheap?
This is a basic search for LED floodlights. There are a lot of different models and a lot of different prices.
The best ones to get, in my opinion, are the ones that have a bank of LED's and no separate power inverter or driver.
By the way there are also ones with motion sensors, just modify your search for them.
Step 5: On the Inside
I disassembled one of them and was pretty impressed. They have made these with no power supply or driver. The entire light fits on a single board. From what I have been able to figure they actually use the LED's as diode's to change the power to DC. I didn't tear one apart completely to find out. This is from observation. I also think they have hooked up the LED's in series to drop the voltage so no transformer is needed. That is really slick. They save construction materials, reduce current waste, prevent the production of waste heat. and make it all more reliable because of fewer parts. It is a very smart design.
One possibility that I have been thinking of is to remove the glass and bracket and cut down the aluminum body so it has just a dish to it. Then use that light as a panel in light fixture. Future projects!!
If for some reason you take one of these apart and try to put it back together you will need some small spring clamps. The silicone seal will not stay in the groove. It has to be held in place with clamps so you can put the glass on. It is the way that works best. I tried tape, forget it. Use clamps.
Step 6: Add a Cord
Most of these lights come without a cord, just a short wire to connect to a wall or something. But more and more they are showing up with plugs on them. If yours doesn't have a cord it's no big deal. I used old computer power cables. Just wack the end off and solder it to the leads.
For a much longer cord you can directly connect an extension cord to the light. Then it can be used as a work light or trouble light. Remember, it's waterproof. Make your solder job water proof too and you have a light you can use in a pouring rain (or snow) storm. It doesn't get hot so the glass doesn't break if water falls on it. I have several now that have long cords on them so I can use them anywhere, including for things like working on cars and they are essentially weatherproof. The original design of these was to be used as outside lights, so as long as your cord and splice are good there should be no problem.
So bottom line on these lights ---- fantastic. Well worth getting a few.
Step 7: Now Some Fun Lights.
There are a few of the decorative lights that I have tried. I really like the meteor lights. What these have is a rigid strip with LED's on them encased in plastic tubes. The entire unit is waterproof so they are intended to be used outside as well as in. The LED's light up sequentially going from the top to the bottom so it gives the impression of motion. It looks like something falling, hence the term meteor lights. The timers are designed to NOT keep the lights in sink. So each light eventually is doing its own thing out of time with all the others. This gives the appearance of a sort of rain. I bought the long tube ones as I thought it would produce a greater sense of motion. You can combine them together, different colors and lengths. They are fun.
Here is a search link
Step 8: Strips
Most of the people who have been playing with LED's have tried the long strip rolls. I think those were some of the first out. Well, they have adapted that format and started making these little mini strips. Most of them run on 12 volts and are being made to be used in cars. Or even on cars. The black amber light strip can be used as running lights on a car or a trailer. They also have red ones you can attach to your break lights. They are all waterproof and come with adhesive strips on the backs. They are very flexible and so could be applied almost anywhere. They are really cheap on E Bay or you can buy them all packaged in pretty blister packs for about 4 times the cost at places like Walmart. Something cheap and fun to experiment with.
Step 9: Other Car Lights
There are a lot of new 12 volt interior LED lights that have been developed for cars. For example this small buy bright panel that can be stuck anywhere you need light. You can get them to experiment with now because they are so cheap. This one even comes with multiple adapters so you can plug it into existing light sockets.
Step 10: Rigid Strips
One of the more interesting new things is these rigid aluminum strips. They now have a number of different LED chips that are being used. I believe the original intent of these was as things like under cabinet lights. It is a fun idea but just one strip doesn't put out a lot of light. They are more for accent lighting in those cases. But they can be used creatively in various areas. We have some plans to try these in a few different applications.
Because they were designed as under the counter there are aluminum mounting strips for them. Those are usually way over priced in my opinion. The material used is very thin and just not worth the price they are asking. Then in addition they want you to buy an end cap and a plastic dome to go over the top. All of that costs more than the lights.
I had some problems with these getting damaged in the shipping. Because they are long the post office has the tendency to bend them. That is bad because the LED's come unsoldered because they cannot bend. So far all the companies replaced the damaged ones, but it is a hassle to deal with so you need to be aware of it. Test each one when you get them so you can report any damaged ones.
When you divide these into individual strips, be very careful not to bend them.
One other thing I noticed, if you power up an entire block, 5 strips still linked together, it does put out a lot of light but the aluminum backside gets pretty warm, almost to hot to comfortably hold in your hand.
So, you can't use these for lighting an entire room but they can have some interesting uses in places where you need something rigid.
An idea I had was to cut them into individual units and glue the little strips back to back and hang them from a tree with thin wire that would power them.
Man, I shouldn't keep giving away my ideas to everybody.
Here is a good selection of them for you to look at.