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There is a lot of interest in growing high light plants indoors these days and I supposed it’s because as of March 2012, growing Medical Marijuana or Cannabis is legal in 16 states. And even here in Alabama where getting caught growing even one plant will land you in jail for three years, I can find books for sale on the subject at every major book store I’ve visited.

I’ve grown houseplants for years but when I tried hydroponics and I failed miserably. I could grow lettuce and other quick growing plants but when I tried tomato plants they always died when they got larger. I’ve pretty much decided that the small hydroponics kits you see on sale on-line and on eBay may have all of the chemicals you need to grow, but they don’t have what you need to maintain the correct liquid hydroponics cocktail to grow large plants or to grow a plant to flowering or budding stage. The big guys can do hydroponics because they can afford to buy the expensive equipment needed to monitor their chemical solutions.

This article is about growing high light plants like tomatoes, peppers, marijuana, etc indoors without using hydroponics. To be successful you need a bright light source that generates minimum heat and a enclosure to contain and focus the light. Everything you need except for the LED Grow lights should be locally available. We used our own Grow Sun Grow lights in this project because they work very well.

Step 1: Select Cabinet

The first item you need is a Low cost cabinet. LED Grow Lights are extremely bright and the cabinet will help contain the light around plants instead of lighting up the entire room with wasted light. The light will bounce off the cabinet walls and back to the plants giving you maximum light penetration through the entire plant. This also prevents nosy neighbors from calling the cops and reporting the pretty violet light that would be coming from your spare bedroom without an enclosure. And the last thing I want is the local police knocking down my door only to discover I’m growing tomato plants

I bought this 70"H x 48"W x 20"D Wood Composite Multi-Purpose Cabinet from LOWES for $108.00.
<p>how long would you keep the plants in there? poor things, a marijuana plant needs at least 3 meters of space, if you want them to thrive completely and not hold them back from their true potential.</p>
<p>This was a fun project with tomatoes and peppers. Since then I've moved to a Aerogarden and will probably set up a greenhouse this fall. But still no pot, it's illegal in Alabama.</p>
<p>Something like 21 states now able to grow Medical Marijuana I think. The Grow Sun lights are nifty, the website states 350Ma, and a total of 54 LEDs at 1 Watt each, then it says:</p><ul> <br><li>&quot;Low power consumption &ndash; draws only 58 watts of power<li>Very high efficiency &ndash; 54 of the 58 watts consumed by the high intensity LEDs&quot;</ul><p>If you are running at 110 Volts with 350Amps that equates to 38.5 Watts or at 120 Volts it is 42 Watts using this calculator <a href="http://www.supercircuits.com/resources/tools/volts-watts-amps-converter." rel="nofollow">http://www.supercircuits.com/resources/tools/volts.</a> that shows 42 Watts it seems Grow Sun are driving the LEDs at about 78% capacity (not the full 58 Watts) which is quite high compared to 3 Watt versions. I understand that commonly the 3 Watt LEDs are driven at around 55% to 60% of their capacity so they last longer, maybe that is just 3 Watt models versus 1 Watt models. For example here <a href="http://www.supergrowled.com/products/#sk450" rel="nofollow">http://www.supergrowled.com/products/#sk450 </a> they state their full spectrum lights are run at 120VAC@2.1A with a power consumption of 250 Watts from 150 X 3Watt LEDs, this is about 55% power. </p><p>Looking further into the specs I am also keen to know if the gaps in the spectrum were an issue? Seems there is nothing between 500 and 620 nanometres and nothing over 650 but I understand PAR, the Photosynthetically active radiation range goes over 700? </p><p>People say that full spectrum is the key to really good produce but I just never know. </p>
<p>James26,</p><p>What you don't see is the control circuitry running each string of LEDs in the fixture. These are not straight wired LEDs, that are arranged in 7 banks &amp; each bank has a SMT LED controller designed for the automotive industry that manages power to the string. The controllers keep each string at a constant 350 ma. We are pulling 2.4 Amps from a 24 VDC power supply running at 85% efficiency. My efficiency statement comes from backing out the power consumed by the controllers themselves. Knowing the current is constant I took the 350 ma X the voltage dropped across the controllers to calculate the power they consume. </p><p><a href="http://www.grow-sun.com/product-specs/" rel="nofollow">http://www.grow-sun.com/product-specs/</a></p><p>I looked at 3 Watt LEDs and even did some temperature measurements &amp; light measurements from a few samples. Based on the measurements I made I believe the 3 Watt LEDs are the exact same technology, only they are being driven harder and are less efficient than 1 Watt LEDs. Their only advantage is space assuming you can find a creative way to cool them.</p><p>Also, based on temperature measurements I went the opposite direction and designed a grow light based on 720 - 20 ma Amp SMT LEDs, and yes that's seven hundred and twenty! I attached a image of the raw card drawing. I built one of these so far and it runs very cool. The advantage of 20 ma SMT LEDs is they are not being over-driven like 1 watt or 3 watt LEDs and you don't have the heat issue.</p>
<p>Hey Tom, I am learning more and more about LEDs. I did a search for the '20 ma SMT LEDs' and Google thinks 'SMD'? I see SMD means surface mount and SMT means surface mount technology and they are the same thing. Glad I have that sorted! What is the advantage of say using standard 20mA, over say 1W, 3W and 5W versions.... why are the LED grow lights moving to higher Wattage LEDs? Is it purely to save on space, cost or maybe intensity?</p>
<p>Technically SMT is Surface Mount Technology and SMD is a Surface Mount Diode (the part).</p><p>Regarding diodes and power, the LED manufacturers are getting 1 watt, 3 watts and 5 watts respectively by over driving (pushing a lot of current) through the diodes. This creates a lot of heat which is why you have to use a heat sink with high watt diodes.</p><p>The LED grow light manufacturers are going to higher wattage LEDs to increase light density in a small fixture. But I also believe there's a little bit of a &quot;LED Arms Race&quot; going on and if mine's bigger than yours I will get more sales than you will!!!! This also means that the day a 10 Watt LED hits the market several manufacturers will be advertising their 10 Watt LED based grow lights for sale!</p><p>There is also a lot of misdirection in the industry..I base this opinion on the fixtures I actually bought and measured. The lights just weren't doing as advertised, then when I would measure the actual power being drawn by the fixture I knew right away what was going on. In most cases the fixtures were not drawing enough power to support the amount of light they were supposedly putting out. I won't post a list because that was over three years ago and some of them might have actually gotten their act together. Maybe....</p>
<p>Surface mount device not diode.</p>
<p>I too am growing plants in the apartment. Don &quot;shoddy&quot;. :) Grows well salad 30-40 days. Well grow cucumbers. Tomatoes and pepper - too long. I use homemade phyto-lamp. 75% of red LEDs and 25% blue. This light enough. Lack of 60 to 80 W per 1 square meter. If you do 200-250 W - would be equivalent to sunlight. You can grow anything. LED-lamp - the most economical. White light is a senseless waste of money.</p>
love it but HPS lighting is really the onlylighting you can use or another specific grow light or bulb
I agree that HPS is a superior light as long as you can deal with the waste heat. But you aren't going to put a HPS light in an enclosed cabinet like this one. I ended up growing these two plants successfully and I picked some peppers of the pepper plant. I learned through this whole process that: <br> <br>1. Tomatoes are very difficult &amp; they won't pollinate without some outside assistance. <br> <br>2. No matter what you grow in a cabinet, the upper growth will shield the light from the lower growth causing the lower leaves to die off. I believe that growing plants in a cabinet or enclosed box is a good idea, but only for something fast growing like lettuce. Anything taller with structure &amp; a long growing season needs to grow in a room where the plant can spread out and light can reach in from the sides.
have you had to reinforce the cabinet <br />very good instructable.. what price where each of the lights because i know they can be expencive
I have not had to reinforce the cabinet. We designed the light ourselves but you are right, if I had to buy them they would be about $300 each.
an instructable on that would be nice :-) Actually I have had fairly good results with CLF lamps
same here I am using standard CFL bulbs from a hardware store, not the special grow light ones, the only thing is with those is you have to have them less than 8 inches away so the plants can get the useful waves of light. i use cool daylight (6500k spectrum) for the veg stage then switch to warm white in flowering stage (2700k spectrum)
ah I see you have a website selling them? interesting :-)
They aren't for sale right now because we are doing a redesign. We discovered a heat issue while the lights were being tested. It wasn't a safety issue, it was a performance issue.
I've had a lot of success using a heliostat to bring natural outdoor sunlight into even a north facing room. Then you have plenty of light for your indoor garden. You can get a heliostat at wikoda.com for example.
Actually, the last thing I wld want is the local cops knocking on my door and discover I am growing illicit substances. <br>As I am growing tomatoes they can do all the knocking they want
I agree with you and I grow peppers &amp; tomatos - problem is, when they knock they don't stop &amp; say &quot;please, can I come in&quot;. They come in, assume guilt even though you only have tomatos or peppers growing under your light. Then they run on that assumption of guilt and search your whole house. If they find weapons in your house, they gather them up &amp; have you explain each one even though they are legal. <br> <br>The safe thing to do is to not let the light escape where it will draw nosy neighbor's attention.
that is true: I run just a bright light in my office and neighbours already think i am in the growing business + police dont't like disappointments so they will clear your tomatoplants, seize yr lights, name and shame you and by the time it is all sorted out you won't get back your stuff

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