DIY cheapest CREE XPG LED fixture for 55 g
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:10 PM   #1
Min
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DIY cheapest CREE XPG LED fixture for 55 g


there is a lot of talk and debate about LED for freshwater and there is not enough posts or information yet, so here is my 2cents.

I do not want to prove anything or argue how many watts per gallon there should be because it all too much calculation and guessing.
I bought a used 55 gal tank with stand and canopy and the lights were regular 2x 15w flourensic bulbs. obviously was not enough to grow anything.
after looking at some possible light options i could not come up with anything less than $120 for 4xT5 used fixture at my LFS. the thing even did not fit in my canopy, so i decided to see what happens with DIY led.

to keep this short this is what i have:
Mean Well LPC-60-1050 constant current driver $26+ship 6 = 32$ from rapidled.com
8 x
CREE XP-G R51B 7000K 350LM Emitter with 16mm Base $5.71 x8= $45.68
from dealextreme.com (free shipping but takes forever)

later i found a better source than above for LED it is http://www.ledgroupbuy.com/ the site is legit and i currently bought LED's there 2 times. Original factory and at even better price. cost of shipping is more, but if you can "pool" with someone or consider its definetely comes out of factory its well worth it.

picked up 36 in. x 1-1/2 in. x 1/8 in. Aluminum Flat Bar at local Home depot for another $8 for heatsink.

soldering kit at local Radio shack was another 9.99$
Having fun soldering -FREE
wires, plug and connectors from various house hold items -FREE
so roughly $96 total.

i just spread LED "evenly" on the aliuminum rod 4-5 inches apart. oh i forgot to put in some thermal glue for $2 that i got from dealextreme also.

now as far as light goes. you can see for yourself

https://picasaweb.google.com/mindei/Akvariumas#

it tried to see how it will progress and if thats going to be enought light and so far i do not see any need for additional LED at all.
I had to start using excel since there was algea burst once i start using the lights.
now water wisteria seems to be taking over the tank.
My personal thought is that going with lots of LED and running them half power is fine also, but why should i invest money in something im only gonna use half of it.

More pictures added Mar 8th

Last edited by Min; 04-27-2011 at 02:45 PM.. Reason: better pricing found for LED
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:37 PM   #2
IWANNAGOFAST
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Hey that looks pretty good!

I think the reasoning for getting more LEDs vs only using 8 is to reduce the spot lighting effect and to get a better spread of light.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:42 PM   #3
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nice for just one row of lights. Did you ever put the lenses on?

I have a 20X 18 "cube" tank that's tall, and I thought i was going to need like 30 LEDS. Maybe i should look into less LEDs

Anyway good work!
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:44 PM   #4
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Coverage for people that want it as IWANNAGOFAST mentioned.

If you double the LEDs for coverage and then work them each at full power, well you can see where that can lead you. If you get higher wattage LEDs and run them at lower watts, you get your coverage and energy savings as well as increased longevity.

That said, I think your tank looks fine Min. Great job. If your plants are growing with what you have, then i don't see the need to add any additional LEDs either.

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Old 02-11-2011, 06:17 PM   #5
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my tank is 48"L 12"W 18"Tall, i truly dont think i need a second strip. the light itself is about 5"-6" above water level right under canopy cover. i do have 60degree optics, but i can not tell the difference between with and without them.
the bar is free hanging on some holders so i can move it if i need to get into the tank. i can not see any coverage issues unless i target the light to the very back of the tank, then the front side get darker. otherwise i think its fine. i do have darker corner because the driftwood shadows and the the strip is only 36" long, the end LED are most likely 6"+ away from sideglass.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:09 PM   #6
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That looks great! You weren't trying to prove anything, but you did prove that a single row of LEDs can light up a tank so that the light looks very even to the eyes. If you can get a PAR reading at the substrate I would be very interested in it.

This is definitely a cheaper approach than mine. I'm a bit concerned with mine that I will have more light striking the glass inside than I would like. A single row reduces that, especially with the right optics.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:14 PM   #7
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Looks good. I think you're on the border as far as PAR is concerned. You're probably getting around 35-40 ppfd, max, on the substrate.


I got 55-60 ppfd from a single row of Crees at 1,000mA over a 25g, but I had 8 LEDs over a 24" space, not 48. No optics, sitting about 4" over the water.


I'd also like to caution you that I think your heatsink strip is undersized.

At 1,050mA, those XPG's get VERY hot.


I suspect you will be getting reduced life out of them using a single strip of 1/8" aluminum. That's about 1/3 the size I'd personally recommend.


In your case I'd feel much safer using some aluminum C channel that's 3/16" or 1/4" thick, 2" wide. Not as cheap as $8 but much more effective.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:26 PM   #8
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Since your light is in a hood, you could add fans to it to help cool it down
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:41 PM   #9
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if someone has a PAR reader i would be happy to volunteer.
as far as aluminum goes, i would probably use a thicker/ wider one, but i think its fine. it seem to get to certain temp and stay that way. my guess would be around 38-39 celsius. hot to touch but not hot enough to burn you. there is definetely no need for fans.
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Old 02-14-2011, 05:38 PM   #10
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man intriguing, maybe ill only do 2 strips of 6 leds. That would save me a bunch of money.

Thanks!
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:33 PM   #11
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i say you can always add more if you need.

im helping my friend to build a LED light for 200g tank. the work is in progress since soldering 100 Crees takes a while, but its a huge overkill even for reefers.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:12 PM   #12
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Last semester I took my first stab at a formal research paper as a part of my measurements and instrumentation class for mechanical engineering. I ran a thermal torcher test on a cree xp-g (IIRC). Recorded temp from the back of a 20mm star MCPCB (note: No extraneous heat sink) using a DS18B20 sensor and an Arduino. Used some math (from themal resistance, power dissapated, and ambient temps) to convert the MCPCB temp to junction temp. The power dissapated in the LED was controlled and varied with the Arduino via PWM.

At room temp and no airflow I was supprised to find that the junction temp just barely eclipsed the critical maximum recommened value of 150 Celsius at the maximum current of 1A. Meaning that, for all powers tested less than full power, the LED would not overheat. Yes it would get very hot which presents its own issues, but not to the point of damaging the junction. I did record junction temperatures greater than the maximum allowable duing the full 1 Amp test, but just barely, possibely within the resolution of my equipment at that temp. I bought 4 LEDs thinking I would need to burn at least one out to find the failure power (with no heatsink), but I was infact unable to destroy even one LED.

Comments:
A heat sink should be thought of as a way to keep the casing temperature down (so you won't burn yourself or your house).

quote from somewhere
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Old 02-25-2011, 08:53 PM   #13
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I am trying to plan an LED setup myself - did you ever get any PAR readings on this fixture?

Also, did you say what the distance was from the LED emitters to the substrate??

thanks!
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:22 AM   #14
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im trying to find someone in my area with par reader.

LED are about 22"-23" from substrate, that is including 5" above water lvl.
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Old 02-28-2011, 11:18 PM   #15
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as a newcomer to this hobby this is certainly a cheap route to start. however how do you prevent water getting onto your led leads?
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