DIY Cree XML LED Lighting for 150G
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:31 AM   #1
fizzout
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DIY Cree XML LED Lighting for 150G


I've been reading a lot about DIY LEDs on this site and others. I finally was able to take the information and turn it into reality.

I used Cree XML LEDs (16 CW and 8 NW) using three MW ELN-60-27P constant current drivers (each running 8 LEDs). I am planning to dim the LED using a Typhon controller (based on Arduino). If you look at my plan, I used .01 ohm current sense resistors to check my current going through the LEDs. Interestingly, the current that is running on each circuit is about 2.5 amps, even though the MW drivers are suppose to top out at 2.3 amps. I don't really understand that, but maybe someone here will have some insight into that. I used aluminum railing from Amazon and drilled little holes for the wires, which run in the channels on the reverse side of the heat sink. I used LED adhesive pads to secure the LEDs to the heat sinks. Running at 2.5 amps, the heat build up on the aluminum is definitely noticeable, but not too hot to touch. I can lay my hand on the aluminum for a long time without any discomfort.

Here is what I ended up building. It took me many weeks of planning and several days of building, but I think it is finished for the most part (some work remaining for the dimmer if I opt to do that). Here are some photos as well as my plan that I used.

What I have left is to set up the tank with the tank padding (3/4" neoprene), substrate, water, plants, and fish .... in other words, another 3 months of setting up (I think that might be optimistic for how long things took so far). And, yeah, I have to clean the glass first.

Edit #1: the tank dimension is 60x24x24.
Edit #2: I used Cree XML U2 cool whites and XML T5 neutral whites.

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Old 03-26-2012, 08:48 PM   #2
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Those aluminum extrusions sure make a neat looking LED light. Beautiful job. Based on my data and on http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...-tank-led.html I think you get about 40 micromols of PAR at the substrate, with 3 inches of substrate in the tank. That is a great light level to use.
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:10 PM   #3
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Yep, looks great. Do you know the total wattage (calc'd or measured) that this setup draws? Also, do you know your total cost?
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Those aluminum extrusions sure make a neat looking LED light. Beautiful job. Based on my data and on http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...-tank-led.html I think you get about 40 micromols of PAR at the substrate, with 3 inches of substrate in the tank. That is a great light level to use.
I am very happy with this heat sink. It turned out much neater than I even imagined. And thank you for doing the PAR calculations to confirm that I have about the right level of light. That was one area I was uncertain about. I am planning to simply have the lights slightly raised from the top of the tank, but I did consider getting optics to raise it higher (I think this may be better for getting access into the tank). This project has been very entertaining, so any additional work will probably add to that (I hope).
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Yep, looks great. Do you know the total wattage (calc'd or measured) that this setup draws? Also, do you know your total cost?
Each LED should be about 8.75 watts (3.5V x 2.5A) resulting in about 70 watts for each string of 8 LEDs. I am only guessing on the forward voltage, but it should be close to actual. However, I am now curious enough to measure it tonight when I get home.

Edit #1: Total cost is less than $500 ($100 for drivers, $100 for aluminum, $200 for LEDs, then miscellaneous stuff like soldering iron)

Edit #2: I measured the voltages across several of the LEDs just now. It turns out that for the XML U2, the voltages are slightly above 3V, and for the XML T5, the voltages are slightly less than 3V. So using 3V as the average across all LEDs, each LED string uses 60 watts (3V x 2.5A x 8 LEDs). That gives me a total of 180 watts.

Last edited by fizzout; 03-27-2012 at 01:22 AM..
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:28 AM   #6
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Hey fizzout,

That is one nice fixture! This might be a strange question, how do you adjust LED color to required temperature, say 6400K? Do you manually adjust voltage in the LED drive? Can you do it through Typhon controller? I am in the process of building my own mini LED fixture for my 20G (6x CREE XP-G R5 Cool White 3W over 12in heatsink) and I am trying to fill in blank spaces(and I have a lot of gaps on this subject)
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:49 PM   #7
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alexbn024,
I have to admit that I did not build my lights with any particular color temperature in mind. However, I wanted something closer to cool white than anything warmer. That is why I decided to have a 2:1 ratios for CW to NW. However, the way the LEDs and the drivers are wired, I suppose I can put the CW and NW on separate dimmer channels to "balance" the color temperatures. But since I am happy with the current light color, I doubt that I will go to the added trouble. I did build another XPG light with a 1:1 ratio of CW to NW. I thought there would be a noticeable difference, but I honestly can't tell if it is any warmer than the XML. It looks fine over the plants (a little like sunlight).

From reading the many posts here, I concluded that 2:1 was close to what I would want. However, I think all CW would have been perfectly acceptable (and provide more light output). Having built the lights, the color temperature aspect does not seem crucial to me anymore. I hope this helps a little.
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:49 AM   #8
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Hello fizzout,

Looks great!

Did you do anything to seal solder connections from moisture? Notice you're pretty close to the tank.

I will use acrylic to protect mine from drips, but I am talking more about humidity. I know the reefers worry about corrosion quite a bit.
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:03 PM   #9
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Hi, Doc.

Thanks for the complement. My original plan was to have the LEDs slightly raised above the glass cover of the tank. I assumed that the glass would be sufficient separation from the moisture and any drips (hopefully none). I didn't think the humidity would be a problem for the solder joints, but maybe that is something to consider (anyone know if this is a problem?). I know you can get a paint-on sealer for the solder joints but I did not go to that much trouble. I agree that reefers worry about the salt being corrosive to solder joints, but I did not believe freshwater posed such a risk.

In any case, I have decided couple weeks ago to hang the lights about one foot above the tank using 80-degree optics for better light penetration (and less light spillage outside the tank). From that height, I doubt I will need any additional barrier for water. Also, I like the clean and simple look of the lights as they are now, so I am hesitant to add anything else to it (other than the optics).

From what I have read so far, my lights will probably be fine as they are, but I am open to anyone's suggestions to improve my set up.

Good luck on your build.
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:46 PM   #10
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OK thanks for the info. I have had a lot of trouble finding this topic discussed on freshwater forums. My fixture will be several inches above the tank but within a partial (open-top) canopy if my current plan comes to fruition. Most likely a higher humidity area than "ambient" I think but still not quite sure if besides an acrylic sheet I will do anything to protect the LEDs. No glass top here.

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Old 04-09-2012, 01:01 AM   #11
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I would like to omit the glass top, but I want to keep the evaporation to a minimum. But even without a lid, I would not cover my LEDs as since they will be raised about one foot above the water surface. I don't think the humidity at that height will be as much of a problem, especially if there is air movement near the tank. Maybe someone can correct me.
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:59 AM   #12
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So, I finally had time to install the optics on my CREE XML LED build. Unfortunately, the LEDs that I got from LightMalls did not fit perfectly with the optics that I got from LEDGroupBuy. I had to modify the optics so that they would fit flat on the LED star. I resorted to a crude method of creating cut-outs on one side of the optics with the soldering iron to match the location of where I soldered the wires to the LED star. It was not hard, but the result is less than pretty.

Anyhow, I wanted to warn everyone that optics for XML are not readily interchangeable. However, the XML LEDs from LEDGroupBuy fit perfectly with the optics, as they had opposite side soldering pads that matched the optics.

Here is a close up of the modified optics.
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Here is the LED lights with all the optics installed. I'm making very slow progress, but progress none the less.
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Let me know if there is a better way to modify the optics, as I may have another project using the same LEDs and optics.

Thanks.

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Old 04-30-2012, 08:31 AM   #13
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Fizzout,

That's well thought out LED fixture you have built.

I've considered building a LED setup for my 120 gallon reef tank but shy'd away from it due to costs. With my increasing hydro bills, I'm now reconsidering my options again. Anything to keep the expenses low!

I have some technical decisions questions about you LED build.

Why XML not the CREES or Bridgelux LED's?

Why the 2 to 1 ratio CW to NW?

Do you know if the MW-90D-48 will work with your setup? How do you determine which MW LED driver is required for the setup?

Do you have plans to add royal blue LED's to your setup as atinics?

Where did you purchase your extruded aluminum pieces from?

BTW, how are you liking you Typhoon? I've just finished reading the Typhoon thread on another site. Will be submitting an order for the PCB's in the next couple of days.

Looking forward to your reply!
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byee View Post
Fizzout,

That's well thought out LED fixture you have built.
...
Looking forward to your reply!
Thanks, byee. My decision to build my own LED lighting was partly due to the high electric bill. Also, I really wanted to build it because it seemed like a lot of fun, which it was. I'll try to answer your questions, but I only have experience with this build and another Cree XPG build, so hopefully, someone else will fill in any gaps.

Why XML not the CREES or Bridgelux LED's?
I decided to get the Cree XML LEDs because I read that they are the most efficient in terms of lumens per amp. Also, I' read that the Cree XML LEDs did not "wear out" like other LEDs because it didn't get as hot (hence the improvement in efficiency as well). Being that Cree has a good reputation, I was very impressed with the specs for the XML.

Why the 2 to 1 ratio CW to NW?
Now that the lights have been built, I wish I went with only CW LEDs. I thought that I needed the NW to provide a "fuller" spectrum for my plants, but the NW LEDs are less bright and they don't seem to really make too much of a difference visually. Hopefully someone will give us their insight on this.

Do you know if the MW-90D-48 will work with your setup? How do you determine which MW LED driver is required for the setup?
I'm not familiar with this driver, but I can tell you how I ended up with what I got. I needed to consider cost, current, voltage, efficiency, and dimming capability. Trying to get all these parameters right was not easy. I quickly found out that many of the drivers were simply not available or were long-lead items. Also, some of the drivers with the "best" fit were too expensive (~$100 each). Being impatient and cost conscious, I quickly narrowed my choices to what was available. Since I divided my LEDs into three separate strings, I decided that each string should have its own driver, which basically determined my current and voltage (~2 amps and 24 to 27 volts). I tried to get the best efficiency, but I really had no choice in this since there were very few options. So, the only thing left was the dimming capability and cost. That is how I ended up with ELN-60-27P (I used ELN-30-27P for my Cree XPG build). And the cost was acceptable too. These drivers are satisfactory, but these may not be the most "perfect" drivers.

Where did you purchase your extruded aluminum pieces from?
I got my aluminum pieces from Amazon. I listed the items I used below. This worked out well, but there is a wide selection of heat sinks.
80 25 SERIES 25-5013 50mm X 13mm T-SLOTTED EXTRUSION x 1220mm
80/20 10 SERIES 1010 1" X 1" T-SLOTTED EXTRUSION x 48"
80/20 10 Series 4265 2-HOLE SLOTTED CORNER BRACKET
80/20 Inc 10 Series 3321 Bolt Kit 1/4-20 X .687" FBHSCS And Economy Slide-In T-Nut

BTW, how are you liking you Typhoon? I've just finished reading the Typhoon thread on another site. Will be submitting an order for the PCB's in the next couple of days.
I have not done too much with the Typhoon yet. Unfortunately, I shorted something on the board accidentally, so I need to replace it.
But it was working fine until I broke it. I was hoping to change the code to do multiple on/off cycles, but I had no time to play with it before I broke it.

Hopefully, I answered some of your questions to your satisfaction. Let me know if you have anything else you want to ask.

Thanks.

Last edited by fizzout; 04-30-2012 at 04:04 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 06-03-2012, 05:37 PM   #15
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Default Almost Finished Lights with Hanger

It's been a while since I started this thread, but I'm at a point where I can say it is finished. I may add some aluminum "fins" to increase the heat dissipation capability, but that is a minor modification (I hope). The photo below shows LEDs and the hanger that is attached to the tank stand. You can find more information about the LED hanger in my tank journal thread.

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