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Picture of 108W LED Grow Light Panel
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Hi
This is my first instructable, I hope you all enjoy it and hopefully some of you will get some use out of it.

Growing with LED lights

Using LED lights for plant growth is a nice alternative to using HPS and metal halide. While many argue that the results are simply not the same in recent years LED's are slowly gaining respect in the indoor plant growing community.

Advantages:
+Uses up to 80% less energy on your bill making it a green solution.
+Lower heat and easier to control temperature.
+Long life span up to 50,000 hours
+Precise spectrum for photosynthesis

The main disadvantage with LEDS is the cost of certain high end units. This instructable is here to give those that are interested in plant growth with LED's a nice cheap alternative DIY solution.
 
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
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Tools:
+Drill
+Soldering Iron
+Wire stripper
+Ruler
+Marker
+A little series/parallel wiring knowledge

Materials:
+Cooling fans($6-$20 or salvage)
+Thermal glue ($7) http://dx.com/p/fujik-silicone-thermal-glue-50ml-grease-like-4579?item=1
+Nuts + Bolts ($3)
+2 - 3 feet of 18 AWG wire (3$)
+Metal Panel 7"x7" from http://www.metalsupermarkets.com/ ($16)
+Led Drivers x 3 (36$) http://dx.com/p/waterproof-670ma-36w-power-constant-current-source-led-driver-85-265v-42906?item=2
****use bulk rate because you get a disscount when purchasing 3 or more****
+DC transformer 8-14V (salvage)
+AC power cord/plug (salvage)
Total: $110-120

LED's from Ebay(about 40$):
3W Blue x4  (455nm)
3W Blue x4  (445nm)
3W Deep red x16 (660nm)
3W Red x12 (630nm)
***you dont have to use the same configuration as me, try your own let me know how it works out for you***

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xyrius8 days ago

So I wanted to double this in size and went with 14" by 7" and there is no way I can fit even the normal 108 watts of LEDs, let alone 216W -_-

ALSO, anyone find a good way to keep the power cord mounted in place firmly? I looked at using a U-bolt but that doesnt keep the wire secure, simply off of the panel :/

As for cooling im using two 0.18A blower fans, but having a hell of a time finding a power supply that is 400 mA and not 25$ on ebay any ideas?! Cheers guys cant wait to load up some pics once I finish the build

P.S. my plate is only 1/8, rust resistant aluminum, very sturdy but will they prove to be a deep enough heat sink? Do I need to buy something closer to 1/4? I do have two 1/8th plates i could slap together to bring it closer to 1/4th but im unsure at the moment!

John L3 months ago

I have a question that I have not seen asked yet. Per your instructions you used two types of Red and two types of Blue LEDs. Why is this imperative? Why can't I use the Warm White(2700k-3400k), and Cool Daylight White(5600K-7000K)? It seems to me that this would be a better overall way to go, since its really combined frequencies in order to produce the white light.

Because the red and blue light are the main frequencies that plants crave. If you use white lights. You are losing energy to the rainbow. ROYGBIV. You can use white but you are pumping out energy to 5/7ths of the colors that don't provide a lot of value.
kwdaily1 month ago

Hey awesome 'ible. I was just curious how did you determine that your spacing was sufficient. I am designing a 10" x 10" x 0.375" aluminum panel to hold 100 LEDs, and as of now I that leaves then on 1" centers. I plan to use thermal paste/glue to attach and am using an array of heatsinks on the back, plus fans circulating over the whole assembly. How big are the drivers you used? Dimensions wise? Thanks for the help, my questions are more for anyone who can answer then anyone specific. Whew, typing tirade over. Thanks guys.

AdrianL25 months ago

I know there are many critiques here in regards to price and other nit picks, but all in all, you did a great job in making a basic DIY LED grow light that will work. I made mine a little more "sophisticated" using qty100 1w LEDs. I configured it in array that would evenly distribute the UV and IR evenly. My choice of color and qty are as follows:

54% Red 660nm, 20%Red 630nm, 16%Blue 470nm, and 10%Blue 425nm, all with 60 degree beam angles.

I keep it about 14"-18" away from the top of my plant, and I did add mylar around the perimeter so light would bounce everywhere. So far, my plants have not complained one bit about being confined to a closet.

I may just bump up my next one using 3w LEDs and get a ton more usable light, but for now, my plants and I are content. Keep up the good work!

How exacctly did you arrive at your percentages? I am doing research on optimum wavelengths, trying to nail down a design for a LED panel myself.

gbekks1 month ago

I just made this and have a similar problem as others. My light is pulsing at different frequencies for each driver. I ordered what you recommended but i'm sure they could be different since our projects are two years apart. Did anyone have success trouble shooting this?

xyrius1 month ago

what kind of cooling fan is that? all cpu fans i know are square, i cannot find anything similiar to this :/

Also do you wire the drivers all together (black and white seperately of course) and then just wire directly into the power supply cord?

Cheers,

Matt

The long fan is a type of squirrel cage fan.

So I wanted to double this in size and went with 14" by 7" and there is no way I can fit even the normal 108 watts of LEDs, let alone 216W -_-
ALSO, anyone find a good way to keep the power cord mounted in place firmly? I looked at using a U-bolt but that doesnt keep the wire secure, simply off of the panel :/

As for cooling im using two 0.18A blower fans, but having a hell of a time finding a power supply that is 400 mA and not 25$ on ebay any ideas?! Cheers guys cant wait to load up some pics once I finish the build

P.S. my plate is only 1/8, rust resistant aluminum, very sturdy but will they prove to be a deep enough heat sink? Do I need to buy something closer to 1/4? I do have two 1/8th plates i could slap together to bring it closer to 1/4th but im unsure at the moment!

Anyone else have an issue with that driver flashing? It seems like it takes anywhere from 5 secs to 3 mins to stop flashing and stay on.

forex5x1 year ago

Would it be possible to use a power supply from a recycled computer to drive the LED's?

WayneO2 forex5x3 months ago
I'm sorry, but with 18 leds and only a 12 V power supply, the leds would be in 6 stings of 3 leds in series (approx 10V) each set of 3 leds in series would need a 2.2 ohm resistor also in series. the six strings, with their resistors, would all be connected in parallel... the only catch would be that each string needs 900 mA and there are 6 strings... that's 5.4 amps and you have only 5 Amp power supplies...

the resistors are necessary to allow the strings to evenly share current, else the string with the lowest combined forward voltage would "hog" the bulk of the current and the rest would be "starved".

The resistors would also need to be 1 watt each.

The ideal drive would be a single string of 18 leds driven by a constant current power supply set to 900 mA (this would require a total string voltage of 59.4 V)
WayneO2 forex5x3 months ago

Yes, this can be accomplished, but you will have to add the appropriate Constant-Current regulator(s) to insure that the LED's are not over-driven.

Do you know how to make it work 18x 3W Red (630nm) in serie with 18x 3W Blue (445nm) on a 12v dc 5amp power supply? (i got two 12v dc 5amp power supply)

GoonyLex (author)  forex5x1 year ago

yes it is possible, however you will require an additional circuit to control and maintain a constant current.

glen.raymond13 months ago

How to make it work 18x 3W Red (630nm) in serie with 18x 3W Blue (445nm) on a 12v dc 5amp power supply? (i got two 12v dc 5amp power supply)

micgreen3 months ago

waow, the hotline still here since 1 or 2 years? Bravo ! (i'm french, sorry for my english). A little first question for you goonylex : is it possible to put drivers out the panel (for heatless, moistureless and practicable)? Like a ruban wire and mollex connector(s) one meter lenght ? Must i have bigger section of wire between (molex) leds and drivers ? Thanks a lot.

micgreen micgreen3 months ago

oups, mistaking : this little question is't only for the author but for the experts too ! Sorry mr. Watergunz and Adrian...

Watergunz5 months ago
Just got done making this Instructable, amazing!

I must say heat is an issue here from the LED's not the drivers, please use a cooling system to lower the temperature for sure!
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GoonyLex (author)  Watergunz4 months ago

Good Job! looks good :) happy growing

axmejo4 months ago

Hi. One array of leds pulsates att about 3hz. And another barely makes the LEDS glow. I have the mentioned drivers from dx.com and 3W leds from eBay going from 2.2V to 3.2V I'm perplexed by this. Anything give a clue?

GoonyLex (author)  axmejo4 months ago

with no load what are you measuring coming out of the drivers?

axmejo GoonyLex4 months ago

Hi all three drivers push out between 59~61 V dc

GoonyLex (author)  axmejo4 months ago

that is strange then, try measuring the resistance between each individual led to see if you find any resistance variation that might point you to a bad led. If that does not work send me a link to what you purchased.

Fitchett5 months ago

If you hook up the LEDs (per driver) in parallel instead of series:
1.) Would it still work?
2.) If one LED went out, would the rest of them on that driver continue to work?

gofasteddie8 months ago

Are you powering 12 leds with each power supply?

Yes he is powering 12 LED's with each driver.
GoonyLex (author)  gofasteddie7 months ago

Yes each driver supports 9-12 Leds.

jjosef866 months ago

how close can the leds be? i want to put 150 3W leds on a panel. what size panel would be ideal?

AdrianL2 jjosef865 months ago

as long as you have a place where the driver can breathe and stay cool, you can place them very close together. All depends on your boards of course

gofasteddie8 months ago

Very nice DIY and easy to follow.

I'd like to build a larger,just more leds,but same basic system.

If one LED fails will the other LEDs powered on that circuit fail to light?

GoonyLex (author)  gofasteddie7 months ago

Unfortunately yes, if one led fails all 12 will stop working. But because the drivers support 9-12 led's simply make a + to - jumper ON THE BURNT OUT LED , and the remaining 11 will work. Do not go below 9 leds. Also leds have long life so shouldn't be an issue.

Is this also the reason for having 3 seperate circuits and drivers instead of one large circuit/driver? Fault tolerance and easier time finding the failed LED?

I was thinking the same thing, you may be right
The Freak6 months ago

Nice build! Maybe you could also use some lenses on these LEDs, which I'm planning to do when I'll build a growlight. These LEDs have a beam angle of about 120 to 140 degrees, so you waste quite some light there. They are sold specificly for these LEDs on ebay for not a lot of money and available starting from 5 degrees.

astearon9 months ago

Can you please give me an estimate on 2 things about this build ?

I need to know the total power consumption (kw/h or whatever) of this system and also what is the effective surface area it can light ? I mean how many plants can i cram under there ? :)

GoonyLex (author)  astearon7 months ago

Sorry your question is a bit hard to answer as plants come in all shapes and sizes. As to your power question its power consumption would be 0.108 kw/h.

ninjatails2 years ago
How did you get your metal panel for $16? The quote they gave me was $47...
Found it: http://www.metalsupermarkets.com/Material.aspx?ProductId=AP6061/190
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