Cheap LED lamp into aquarium hood lighting hack


Here we are going to turn 3 cheap ($4 each at fry's marketplace) LED screw-in lights into a fishtank light/hood combo.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Break lamps

Picture of Break lamps
Break lamps carefully. Wrap lamp in towel, make note where glass is (don't hurt the leds when breaking) break using pliers, not a hammer. You don't want to damage leds.

Step 2: Design your led layout in Illustrator

Picture of design your led layout in Illustrator
design your led layout in Illustrator. you want to make a natural pattern, not a silly inefficient human square pattern. go in 60° and 120­° angles to make hexagon shaped layout, and space them out for your dimensions evenly using the distribute function. My 10g tank's top is 19.25 x 9.5 inches. I had 60 leds to work with, so i went with 6 rows of 10. 

Step 3: Mark out sheet metal, drill holes.

Picture of mark out sheet metal, drill holes.
Buy galvanized sheet metal at home depot (about $30 for huge roll = most useful thing you can buy for diy)

mark out your led layout using sharpie and ruler.

drill holes - make sure you measure the led's diameter - not the wider lip part, but the thinner part. that way they will sit nicely in drilled holes and not fall through. my led's measurement was 4mm, or about 0.15" inch which is just over an eighth of an inch.

this is what your drill bit should be. if you don't have one this size, you can do smaller holes like i had to then gouge them out using knife to be perfect size, so when you poke led through it is snug, and won't fall through.

Step 4:

Picture of
wipe whole sheet or just hole areas on both sides with acetone to aid adhesion of, adhesive?

lay dow sheet and after snipping off leds from base circuit bend their connectors 90°.

Step 5:

Picture of
Arrange all leds (you are gonna have 3 sets, going in a loop), and glue down using whatever you prefer. i chose quick set clear epoxy because it sets 100% faster than silicone.

chirpychapx21 days ago

Yard sales always have 9v dc wall warts which would be safer near water. Google for LED series resistors, which is needed to limit LED current so they don't blow. Old Xmas lights also provide color-changing LEDs and low-volt psu which would be fun to experiment with :-)

ironsmiter3 years ago
Ahh, the nostalgia.

Those were my very first foray into led light bulbs.

Stupid, mismatched led batches, with no surge protection in the circuit.

If you are VERY careful, it's just a bit of caulking, holding the glass overbulb in place. Wearing heavy gloves, and eye protection, give the glass a gently twisty motion, while rocking back and forth. I only broke 1 out of 4 that i tried this with, but when they break they REALLY break. little shards flying everywhere.
Now, the two piece plastic base can EASILY be pried apart with a flat blade screwdriver. So easily, in fact, that the base pops back together, if/when you finish replacing the single burned out led.

On the other hand, BEAUTIFUL re-use of the product.
The extra space, and the metal mounting should help with heat.
Just make sure to keep a spare set of leds around for when one or two burn out.
One bad led will kill the entire circuit till it is replaced.
(remember when Christmas lights were like that? on bad bulb would kill the string, till it was found and replaced?)

Does that mean they are dimmer than in the original bulb configuration?
Just wondering if the current led batches are bright enough to do the job of ACTUALLY lighting stuff. Like , say, replacing a 4 foot T8 florescent fixture with two of your 3-bulb light hacks?
I know a single bulb was enough for lighting a small stairway at night, and 4 were enough to light up our small bathroom when used in the over-the-sink-tracklighting.

ratcrib (author)  ironsmiter3 years ago
Thanks for the info. I plan to re-do this project using regular white leds connected in parallel. Can you help?
I can try.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me(to minimize the clogging of your comments section). Or you can start a thread in the forums. Either way, the community is here to help :-)

Using virgin led's, the only thing i can think of that would really be different is... you probably want a new driver circuit.
One tuned to meet the needs of the led's you use.
Ranie-K3 years ago
I though I'd do the same for video light, but ended up ordering ten of these G4 LED SMD "bulbs" instead. I guess if you connected them to a rectifier, you could connect 8 or 9 (110VAC) of them in a series.
Ranie-K Ranie-K3 years ago
Ebay item no 260820289798
ratcrib (author)  Ranie-K3 years ago
zazenergy3 years ago
awesome! great job!
ratcrib (author)  zazenergy3 years ago