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.
+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.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
+A little series/parallel wiring knowledge
+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)
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***
Step 2: Drill Holes
+Use a ruler to find the approximate centre of the led drivers when they are next to each other.
+Take a marker and ma
rked the six holes where to drill for the led drivers.
+Then mark one hole for the wires to go though (look at pic which will show you where to place it).
+Time to drill the holes
+First drill the six driver holes using a drill bit that is about the same size as the bolt
+Then use a bigger drill bit and drill the hole for the wires
+When finished you should have a metal plate similar to the one in the picture below
Step 3: Glue the LED's to the Panel
+This is easy, measure one side of your panel, take that measurement and divide it by 6
+Now for me this came to about 1.16"
+Now use a ruler and place a dot every 1.16" on both that side and its opposite, once you are done this connect the dots and you should get 6 rectangles on the panel.
+Next you do the same thing to the other 2 sides of the panel and you are left with 36 even squares and should have a pannel that looks something like the picture bellow.
+After that we will mark where each LED will go (or you can use my picture as a reference, or you can make your own configuration)
Step 4: Glue on the LED's
+Simply take the thermal glue apply a little to each led and stick it on the panel
+Add moderate pressure and twist slighty to spread the thermal glue and get a good surface contact
+MAKE SURE THAT LED's TERMINALS ALL FACE THE SAME WAY (+) and (-) unless you are doing your own configuration
+its not a big deal if you mess up but prepare for some messy wiring
+wait a couple of hour or overnight for the glue to harden and cure
Step 5: Soldering
+ I did this in rectangle shapes but you can solder it any way you want as long as you solder only up to 12 LED's in series.
+If you are unsure what series wiring is just simply google it, but in the simplest way to describe it to you is simply always solder the + terminal onto the - terminal of each individual LED so that every LED will have only two connections and will look like the picture below.
+Cut a piece of wire the length of one terminal to the next, and use the wire stripper to strip away a small portion of the end of the wire
+For easy soldering add a little solder to the terminal before adding the wire
+then simply re-heat the solder and solder the wire onto the terminal and your final product should look something like mine
+Once your have finished that, you then solder the + and - terminals of each driver to each of the 12 LED's in the series circuits and should have something that looks like the last picture of this step
Step 6: Bolt on the Drivers
+first take each bolt and use the nut to secure it to the panel
+after this add another nut close to the top of the bolt
+do this for all 6 bolts and it will resemble the picture below
+then add the driver on top of the bolt and tighten the last bolt to hold the driver in place
+do this for all 3 drivers
****the main reason behind raising the drivers of the panel is to add air circulation to the panel and drivers for heat manegment***
Step 7: Power to the Drivers
+take a power plug salvaged of anything thrown out
+Solder the matching 3 AC blue wires from the drivers together and to one of the plugs wires
+after this do the same for the other 3 blue wires
+I used electrical nuts or whetever you call them to simply screw the 3 blue wires + plug wire together for both AC wires
+also if you wish to add any switches I recommend that you add it to the AC line and not the DC ( for example you can add 3 switches to power on and off each individual series of 12 LED's)
****I used a retractable AC power cord this is totally unnecessary, it is simply the cord that I had available at the time and will most likely change to a regular cord****
Step 8: Cooling and Mounting
+because most people have spare PC fans it is perfectly fine to use those or any other fans available to you
+I personaly used a fan I bough from a second hand electronic store for $6 and it works quite good
+ as you see in the picture this type of fan nicely pushes air along the surface of the plate cooling down the whole plate
+you can add any type of cooling you like just remember that you will need a external power sourse to power your fan/fans
+I used a salvaged transformer to power my fan simply connect the + and - terminals of the DC transormers to the mattching terminals of the fan/fans(require parallel wiring) and there you have it
****cooling is extremely important it is never a bad idea to add a thermal switch to the main LED circuit in case your fan circuit fails****this panel can reach dangerous temperatures without cooling and can become a fire hazard use at own risk*****
remember that this panel will produce a fair amount of heat, keep this in mind along with the fact that some plants require up to 12 hours of constant light
How you mount your panel depends on where you will mount it, I personaly am going to use the bolts of the drivers to mount my panel onto a cabinet shelf, this will be included in my next instructable as I tend this to be part 1 of MAKE an automated arduino garden
Step 9: Finished
I hope you have enjoyed this instructable
If you have any question feel free to ask me I will answer them when I can
If you made one enjoy your panel