New DIY light in progress... 300W Epi home brew - Page 10 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #136 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 12:59 PM
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It looks bright, but I don't think its overkill. The pic is just at 10%.

These leds even though only 5000K have a "clean" look, no apparent yellow. OTH, its not over a tank yet... so idk how to judge this other than to say "it works!".
To get an idea of how overkill it is, I have 2 5000k 1304s and 2 2700k 1304s over a 20x20x16 28 gallon cube, and at 1000mA each, it's 7000-8000 lux at the substrate, or around 105-120PAR alone, plus 60PAR from 8 660nm LEDs, and 50 PAR from 4 RB LEDs. I have everything running at ~20~30% brightness to reduce algae, even with nosebleed CO2.

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post #137 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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To get an idea of how overkill it is, I have 2 5000k 1304s and 2 2700k 1304s over a 20x20x16 28 gallon cube, and at 1000mA each, it's 7000-8000 lux at the substrate, or around 105-120PAR alone, plus 60PAR from 8 660nm LEDs, and 50 PAR from 4 RB LEDs. I have everything running at ~20~30% brightness to reduce algae, even with nosebleed CO2.


If i went with a commercial fixture, i would have got two Sbreef planted tank, which combined is 300+ watts, which is roughly equivalent to the 350 watt power supply i am using. These cxa1304s are run at 750mA and only using about half the supply. From an output perspective, this would be like spreading a single sb reef over a 75 g tank.

The goal was to be able to have the fixture as high above the tank as possible. The farther the lights are from the waterline, the less variation in par through the water column. This stand could also support a 90g tank in the future and the lights would be suited to that.


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Last edited by ChrisX; 10-19-2018 at 02:51 PM. Reason: more info
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post #138 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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To get an idea of how overkill it is, I have 2 5000k 1304s and 2 2700k 1304s over a 20x20x16 28 gallon cube, and at 1000mA each, it's 7000-8000 lux at the substrate, or around 105-120PAR alone, plus 60PAR from 8 660nm LEDs, and 50 PAR from 4 RB LEDs. I have everything running at ~20~30% brightness to reduce algae, even with nosebleed CO2.
OK, you're right, it is overkill.

Even on the 50% setting, it is really bright! The light is very high quality, it looks like sunlight.

OTH, if I had only half as many, I'd be running them close to full and there wouldn't be as good a spread.


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post #139 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 04:17 PM
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OK, you're right, it is overkill.

Even on the 50% setting, it is really bright! The light is very high quality, it looks like sunlight.

OTH, if I had only half as many, I'd be running them close to full and there wouldn't be as good a spread.
Imagine if all those were FF..

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post #140 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Imagine if all those were FF..
I'm not building a tanning bed!

If I had gone with half as many (12), they would be running close to capacity and light spread wouldn't be as good. 18 Would probably be a better number, but one of the drivers would be split between sides and I'd lose the modular aspect of "strips".

If I never go above 50%, I could further parallelize them, running four parallel groups of three per driver. This would have the advantage that if one of the strings goes out, the others would not be overdriven.


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post #141 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 04:32 PM
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If i went with a commercial fixture, i would have got two Sbreef planted tank, which combined is 300+ watts, which is roughly equivalent to the 350 watt power supply i am using. These cxa1304s are run at 750mA and only using about half the supply. From an output perspective, this would be like spreading a single sb reef over a 75 g tank.

The goal was to be able to have the fixture as high above the tank as possible. The farther the lights are from the waterline, the less variation in par through the water column. This stand could also support a 90g tank in the future and the lights would be suited to that.

Also, more leds run at lower power means more uniform lighting. Also, design constraints meant either two or four drivers for the whites. I dont believe two drivers / 12 cxas would be adequate, and three drivers presents awkward organization. Iow, you are unaware of all the factors i considered when designing this.

Based on wattage of commercial high par fixtures, this is not overkill, it just has suffiecient headroom for taller tanks or to grow carpets.
I'm not trying to discount the planning you've put into this, as I've read all of the threads you've posted regarding each aspect of its design. I'm trying to give you real world measurements (now that I have them) using similar COBs that you can use to correlate PAR numbers in your tank setup. I suggest grabbing a $20 LX-1010B lux meter from ebay to get numbers for yourself, but as it seems you're penny pinching with this build I thought you'd appreciate some non-theoretical data to work with.

As another point of consideration, the black-box-tier lights use unknown cheaper diodes with less light output efficiency, and the quoted power consumption numbers take into account ~80% AC-DC conversion efficiency and 80-90% LED driver conversion efficiency, so that 300W power consumption is only 210W to the LEDs, which may be 60-70% of the efficiency of CREEs, so equivalent power would be around 150W of crees.

To correlate back to the original data I gave, you can assume a 75g is split into 3 16x18x21 cubes similar to mine. You have 8 LEDs per cube, but the cubes are taller. Throwing the data into spectra gives ~100PAR at substrate ignoring refracted light, so when starting the tank, 20-30% would be a good point to begin at.

EDIT: Read the recent replies. I'm interested in comparing the spread of my new soon-to-be-75 fixture, which has two clusters of FF/3000k and reds/blues that are sitting ~18" above the water level, to your spread-out 1304s.

Last edited by SpringHalo; 05-18-2018 at 04:38 PM. Reason: late
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post #142 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 04:54 PM
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It looks bright, but I don't think its overkill. The pic is just at 10%.
When are we going to test it with the PAR meter ???
Can it be tested with and without the glass in place, I'm curious about loss.


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post #143 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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To correlate back to the original data I gave, you can assume a 75g is split into 3 16x18x21 cubes similar to mine. You have 8 LEDs per cube, but the cubes are taller. Throwing the data into spectra gives ~100PAR at substrate ignoring refracted light, so when starting the tank, 20-30% would be a good point to begin at.
Its interesting about efficiency. Crees run by LDDs may well be more efficient than EPIs run by AC drivers. OTH, these 95 cri leds are considerably less efficient than the 80cri ones, and the cxa's are 30% less efficient than the cxb's. Hard to say exactly where I am with par. Based on the datasheet, these leds should be providing around 16,000 lumens. Not too interested in buying a lux meter; its probably not hard to convert lumen to lux.


You think that all of these on 100% would be only 100 PAR at the substrate? If thats the case, then they are less powerful than I believed and certainly not overkill. However, on 100%, I suspect they are more than 100 PAR at 20". 50% looks like the maximum I would typically use them.

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When are we going to test it with the PAR meter ???
Can it be tested with and without the glass in place, I'm curious about loss.
Sure, we can do that. Sadly the house is flooded from all the rains and it will be a while before I can have anyone over.


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post #144 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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EDIT: Read the recent replies. I'm interested in comparing the spread of my new soon-to-be-75 fixture, which has two clusters of FF/3000k and reds/blues that are sitting ~18" above the water level, to your spread-out 1304s.
The light spread appears completely even throughout the tank.

My plan for the color leds, is to have rows of red, blue, and cyan running up the middle, and there will be a strip of refractive material underneath to help them mix. The refractive (?) material will not be under the whites so as not to reduce the "led shimmer".

The issue I am dealing with is the the Epi color leds that I purchased, I found one of the unused ones already separating from its star. My prior experience with these is that they have a relatively high failure rate that appears related to them separating from their star, so I've paused to consider my options.

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post #145 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 05:41 PM
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SBreef is nothing but a glorified black box led. Take their so called power rating and divide by half which will get you to real world values. 300W of sbreef is not the same as 300w of Cree let alone Lumiled.

COBs have a much better spread pattern than single diodes. You did not need to buy as many. As for the epi's the age old saying buy cheap once, spend more than double later. Luxeon Rebels or C's would just work and never fail at only a little bit more money.

If you wanted a superior spread pattern with the COBs you can add ledil reflectors with diffusion disc.
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post #146 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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SBreef is nothing but a glorified black box led. Take their so called power rating and divide by half which will get you to real world values. 300W of sbreef is not the same as 300w of Cree let alone Lumiled.

COBs have a much better spread pattern than single diodes. You did not need to buy as many.
I'm not unhappy with this number. As I've said, half would not be enough, 18 would not organize as well on the drivers and heat sinks.

Using a lesser number of LEDs with reflectors that cost more than the leds in order to get a better spread seems counter productive. That approach certainly makes sense with larger, more expensive COBs.

Using luxeon rebels for colors is an option if I can't get the epis to work. It depends on how easy it is to separate them from the star.. just need to test this out.

This is just a starting point, the box is designed so I can easily add and remove light bars to get exactly what I want. Having "too much light" is a good problem to have.


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post #147 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 06:00 PM
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SADLY, good luck finding Luxeon star mounted cyans at a "normal" price ($2-3 each).

you can just DIY stars w/ boards and eggs..
382197626095
Dab of therrmal epoxy/grease/silicone and 2 simple solders..

did you find "colored" cheap LED's failed?
most of my (>90%) failures were in whites..
colored held well. Even big cheap 10W COBs
that said, no measurements of "quantity" (photons) losses though.

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post #148 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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SADLY, good luck finding Luxeon star mounted cyans at a "normal" price ($2-3 each).

you can just DIY stars w/ boards and eggs..
382197626095
Dab of therrmal epoxy/grease/silicone and 2 simple solders..

did you find "colored" cheap LED's failed?
most of my (>90%) failures were in whites..
colored held well. Even big cheap 10W COBs
I haven't run the colors extensively, just tested some of them.

Of 60 epi whites run for a year, I had four failures (all 6500k). No warm white failures.

Each one appears to have (been) separated from the star. This may have been because they were epoxy mounted to the heat sink with standard artic silver cpu grease. Either the led was poorly joined to the star when I got them, or the star lifted from the head sink and the led then separated from the star, idk.

The reason I've paused on the colors is I found a new deep red already lifted from the star before even using. I have a ton of deep red, blues, cyans and rather than use them and wait for failures, I'm considering removing from the stars before use. I don't think there is anything wrong with the Epileds themselves, just the aftermarket star mounting. If Epis failed at 10x the rate of other brands, OEMs would not use them.


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post #149 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 06:16 PM
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https://www.ledgroupbuy.com/exotic-turquoise-495nm/

Not sure who makes them but Cyan at 2.70 nonetheless.
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post #150 of 201 (permalink) Old 05-18-2018, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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https://www.ledgroupbuy.com/exotic-turquoise-495nm/

Not sure who makes them but Cyan at 2.70 nonetheless.

The epi 3w cyans are about .80/ea.


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