The Plant Shelf - Lights Upgrade




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Introduction: The Plant Shelf - Lights Upgrade

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UPDATE July, 21st, 2014 : I am currently working on laser cutting the balcony attachment. I will be back soon !


hello everyone, ( please vote for me at tarun's contest.! )

this is an ongoing project based off of The Plant Shelf and The Plant Arm, please read them to catch up with my work. these two products are the reason why I started posting . it provides light to the room while growing a plant. canceling out your regular ceiling light while adding the benefit of a live companion, and you can mix and match your own color combinations too!


where we left off. my last post was showing us how to create a detachable balcony attachment. i want shelves to have the feeling of a furniture, not an electronic device. so i needed something that would hide all the cables, the led driver. and it had to be easy to put on and take off. this balcony attachment will also be housing my arduino plant health monitor ( this is in works still, will soon be uploaded.! ).


why, lights upgrade? the idea behind the plant shelf is to be able to grow a companion plant in your home or at work in your office. no sunlight is needed as most offices are windowless. no apartment / house is being built with the angles of the sun in mind. so my apartment gets no direct sunlight - EVER !


you can see that previously I have been experimenting with 430nm and 660nm high power led lights. these may not look as nice to some people. so i decided now to test with cool / warm white combinations. these lights are rated 2800-3500K an 5000-6500K depending on which seller you get it from on eBay.

Step 1: Game Plan

i have decided to fix the lights on the top frame. you may have noticed that i usually go for a detachable concept. i have decided that for my living room i should keep this one fixed.


first i took the shelf off the wall for this upgrade and with a sharpie drew my wiring diagram and led placement on top shelf. everything is in series !


then sorted out 11 tested/working leds. 9 warm white, 2 cool white. each led is rated; 3.2-3.7V @ 350mA


now you have to bend the legs of the led beads so they are not touching the metal frame.


first put down a tiny drop of thermal adhesive, this will ensure optimum heat travel from led.s to the frame.


place led.s down on thermal adhesive and epoxy the sides for maximum security.


custom cut your 22"gauge wire for soldering, also pre cut & bend each end of the wires so soldering process takes much less time. plan ahead your moves, don't burn any LED.s while soldering.


attach the led driver (eBay) to the balcony with the 4 pin molex connectors. i had several of these laying around my parts drawers. they usually come with computer fans or other aftermarket computer parts you may have previously purchased. OR you can use female/male usb ports as I do in most of my other projects.

by doing this, we now are able to detach the balcony and remove it while the lights are still fixed. will also have detachable light versions as well for moving or using the shelf for another purpose, like a bookshelf etc.

Step 2: Conclusion

you can see my design in detail here. also compare it to all other versions I have so far. again, current version now is fixed to cool/warm white LEDs. if I absolutely must have to, the leds will come off with the right tools. they are not fixed on there forever.


i like the color combination, it feels and looks like a regular room lamp/light. now we don't even use the room light anymore. kind of saving us money if you think about it, cancel the room light, put a plant shelf in there, grow a plant and have enough light to enjoy some nice evenings with friends/family. very casual and in place. looks like it belongs to the wall and has feelings.


i keep working on this project and branching it off as much as I can. I am about to finish and post my arduino plant health monitor which also will be hidden under the balcony.


here is probably my most favorite video on youtube, enjoy;


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thank you for your time.




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    Hi there,

    A single tip for using beads like this for projects that have to do with plants..
    Don't buy the warm white ( 4000 K ) 1 or 3 W version.. has a bad CRI

    3 replies

    yes, one should check the Kelvin rating before purchasing these LEDs. in this instructable i'm using lights rated 2800-3500K and 5000-6500K.
    however since these lights are really strong, i have been able to keep plants green with 4000K spectrum as well. not a permanent solution, but for looks it works

    You might call it a great solution.. just for fun.. I have to warn other DIYer that these LEDs can heat up to above 60 degree celcius in 3 / 4 minutes..

    Haha man cant keep up with ya lol, they just keep getting better and better. That nursery looks great.. Anyhow now starts the painful 1month wait for my Leds

    1 reply

    lol, yea sometimes it takes forever for them to arrive, led's usually came in about 2 weeks however, is sometimes 5 weeks :)

    Hey Thanks alot Akin Ive ordered 10 of each. So I should be able to make this and your usb plant light. Ill post some pictures when Iam done
    Again grest idea and just what our house needs!

    2 replies

    here is what I have just recently put together, I may do an instructable about it. but this is an 11W setup. I have 6 trees under it. 3 citrus minimum 4cm tall, and 3 lychee trees, max 16cm tall.
    it's all about the angles, how well you can distribute the light equally to each plant. correctly positioning them is crucial as well as adjust the height for the top leaves (raise the pots with shorter plants up).
    let me know if you run into any questions during your build. please document and share it on instructables ! i'm excited..


    hello madmuz. 660nm or warm white high power LEDs are equal to 2700k CFL in the spectrum. and yes they will flower plants. I have been doing so successfully for over 5 months now..

    so for vegetation you can use 430nm or cool white high power LEDs (minimum 1W each) and for flowering you can switch to mostly 660nm or warm white LEDs.

    they work MUCH better than CFLs and are cheaper if you do the math. you can cover a wider area since they can be spread around, and their angles are more concentrated compared to a CFL bulb.


    thank you so much for your interest !

    Hi this looks great.
    Iam wondering your leds 9 warm white and the 2 cool white does that cover the seasons, i guess what Iam trying to ask will this light set up be suitable for flowering plants?