DIY LED floodlight pendant lighting - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 07:22 AM Thread Starter
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DIY LED floodlight pendant lighting

I'm working to plan out a 40 breeder on a budget, and I've been pretty conflicted on lighting. I really want to have automated, dimmable lighting, and I want to be able to grow high-light plants. Running two Beamswork lights on a controller would be a cheap option, but for aesthetic reasons I don't want to have two strip lights.

I'm a DIY guy, so I started looking into other options. I really like the look of pendant lighting, so LED floodlights stood out to me. Currently I'm comparing some different options, and I'd love to hear your input and suggestions.

Option 1:
A 5000K DC 50W LED floodlight can be had for $27 (and it's IP-rated to boot!), so with 3 of those (would that be overkill?), some mounting hardware, a TC420 to control and dim it, and a beefy transformer, I'd probably be looking at $150 ($125ish with only two lights).


Option 2:
I'd like to be able to control color temperature though, so I started looking into RGB floodlights to supplement the white ones. It's a bit trickier to find RGB lights in DC, but I was able to find a pair of 10W ones for $25. Of course, with RGB in the mix, some more smarts are needed to control color. A 4-pin RGB controller is about $20, although that wouldn't allow me to change color temp throughout the day. I might as well buy an Arduino, some MOSFETs, etc. and make my own timer/controller/dimmer for all the lights. I'm guessing the whole system, with 2 white lights and 2 RGBs, would cost me $150-$200.
I'm not sure if a 10W RGB would have enough of an effect on color temp running next to a 50W white - thoughts? Also, from past experience I'm concerned I'd get some weird shadowing. I'd probably just rather go with option 1 if I were to run the DC lighting.


Option 3:
I realized probably the best solution would be to just find a pair of powerful RGB floodlights. Unfortunately, it's quite tricky to find those in DC, so I couldn't find anything over ~10W (except for some pricey ones). Enter the glamorous, complicated solution. I found here a pair of well-reviewed, remote-controlled AC RGB floodlights. For the 100W pair (200W total), it's just $90! If I wanted to be less insane, I could get the 60W pair for $56.

I see two options for control. One, I could take apart the housing to get to the DC part and splice in my own controller. However, I really don't like working with 120 on stuff like this if I don't have to, and I wouldn't want to mess up the waterproofing. Also, it'd be easy for me to screw something up.
Secondly, because the remote just uses IR, I could build an Arduino circuit to spoof it. Infrared LEDs are cheap, so if you can figure out the codes an IR remote uses, you can imitate them with an Arduino. Luckily, I believe the codes are standard based on what I found here. My only reservations would be the unknown PAR of the lights and having to keep the Arduino LED pointed at the them.
$90 for the lights, $20 for an Uno, $15 for various circuitry for the Arduino (RTC chip, LED, power supply, etc.), and ~$50 for a fixture for them (no idea how I'd do this; there are no obvious mounting points). That adds up to about $175 for this option.


The thing is, obviously none of these lights are meant for aquarium use. I have no idea what kind of PAR value they have: I don't want something that blinds you but doesn't grow plants, and I don't want something that grows a ton of algae. Short of buying the lights and testing them, is there any way for me to know what I'd be getting?

Also, I'm reading that the wide beam angle can be a problem. People rig up reflectors/shields with foil, but I want it to look professional. Since the light is IP rated, I suppose I could mount it a few inches off the water.

I'm also not sure what wattage I should aim for. The Kessil A360 is 90W, and you'd want two for a tank like this, but most people who use these floods are using ~1 - 1.5 watts/gal (I know, outdated metric).

One disadvantage I see for all options is that the floods are pretty big - 9" x 7.5" for the whites, and 9.5" x 6.3" for the RGB ones. In comparison, the AI Prime is just short of 5" x 5".

Anyway, hit me with your thoughts!
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 08:44 AM
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Do yourself a big favor and buy x2 AI Prime Freshwater. Explaining the reasons for my advise would take volumes.

https://premiumaquatics.com/category...-lighting.html - 5% coupon is the cheapest place I know.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeTheGuppy View Post
I see two options for control. One, I could take apart the housing to get to the DC part and splice in my own controller. However, I really don't like working with 120 on stuff like this if I don't have to, and I wouldn't want to mess up the waterproofing. Also, it'd be easy for me to screw something up.
Secondly, because the remote just uses IR, I could build an Arduino circuit to spoof it. Infrared LEDs are cheap, so if you can figure out the codes an IR remote uses, you can imitate them with an Arduino. Luckily, I believe the codes are standard based on what I found here. My only reservations would be the unknown PAR of the lights and having to keep the Arduino LED pointed at the them.
$90 for the lights, $20 for an Uno, $15 for various circuitry for the Arduino (RTC chip, LED, power supply, etc.), and ~$50 for a fixture for them (no idea how I'd do this; there are no obvious mounting points). That adds up to about $175 for this option.



Anyway, hit me with your thoughts!

https://www.digikey.com/product-deta...551-ND/8324687
[email protected] $15 each.. Color tuneable from 27000-6500K $45


6 LDD HW's.300mA (300mA /channel/COB)
5.99 each = $35.94

Lumens/Watt @ Current - Test 88 lm/W Warm White, 98 lm/W Cool White Current - Max 660mA CRI (Color Rendering Index) 90 Viewing Angle 130°







48V power supply
https://www.ledsupply.com/power-supp...l-lrs-enclosed
$20...
TC-420 $25
So for the "guts"..$125.94 plus shipping where applicable.
Now the really "expensive part:
https://www.rapidled.com/6-x-12-prem...and-enclosure/
$40 each..

$246 total
Except for the COB itself everything electrical is err "remote"
67W's at all full
6193 lumens approx.

Thing is the housing is really the key..You can get heat sinks for the chips at about $10 each..
And one could add lenses ect..
W/out your fixtures need to be about 6" off the water line..

One can "power up" fairly cheap. (on reflection good deal.)
https://www.digikey.com/product-deta...553-ND/8324689
adds $18.38 x 3 -45 = $10.40

Use 500mA drivers..same price
111W ...about 2 AI Primes and 10,323 lumens..

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Last edited by jeffkrol; 06-06-2019 at 02:23 PM. Reason: edit
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OVT View Post
Do yourself a big favor and buy x2 AI Prime Freshwater. Explaining the reasons for my advise would take volumes.

https://premiumaquatics.com/category...-lighting.html - 5% coupon is the cheapest place I know.
Thanks for the link!

Any chance you could satisfy my curiosity and give me the cliff notes on why using floodlights is a bad idea? The main reason I saw was chip degradation and failure over time, but both the lights I found were warrantied (the RGB one for 5 years).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
https://www.digikey.com/product-deta...551-ND/8324687
[email protected] $15 each.. Color tuneable from 27000-6500K $45


6 LDD HW's.300mA (300mA /channel/COB)
5.99 each = $35.94

Lumens/Watt @ Current - Test 88 lm/W Warm White, 98 lm/W Cool White Current - Max 660mA CRI (Color Rendering Index) 90 Viewing Angle 130°

48V power supply
https://www.ledsupply.com/power-supp...l-lrs-enclosed
$20...
TC-420 $25
So for the "guts"..$125.94 plus shipping where applicable.
Now the really "expensive part:
https://www.rapidled.com/6-x-12-prem...and-enclosure/
$40 each..

$246 total
Except for the COB itself everything electrical is err "remote"
67W's at all full
6193 lumens approx.

Thing is the housing is really the key..You can get heat sinks for the chips at about $10 each..
And one could add lenses ect..
W/out your fixtures need to be about 6" off the water line..

One can "power up" fairly cheap. (on reflection good deal.)
https://www.digikey.com/product-deta...553-ND/8324689
adds $18.38 x 3 -45 = $10.40

Use 500mA drivers..same price
111W ...about 2 AI Primes and 10,323 lumens..
Thanks for the detailed list. I don't know if I want to do something that involved, but I'm interested in pursuing it.

How does the control aspect work? Would you just PWM the DC-DC converter for whichever channel you wanted to dim?

I'm a little concerned about waterproofing and the longevity of the system. It looks like the LEDs just shine through a grate in that housing, so it seems like water could splash up in there. Also, I know heat can make more powerful LEDs crap out rather quickly (even if they have a heatsink) - do you know the longevity of such a system?

For a more minimal look, I'm thinking 6 of these could work well:
https://www.amazon.com/Light-Northpo...ateway&sr=8-13

It says they have Cree LEDs, but I can't find which specific chip.

Edit:
It looks to use the XLamp XBD. Out of their list of chips, it was the only one that looked like what I could see in the product picture of the Northpole light:


They list it as a 6000K light, so based on the datasheet I'm guessing it's the cool white variant, which ranges from 5000K-8300K. I doubt it would have the (I'm guessing more expensive) 70 or 80 CRI cool white chips. I'll see if I can find the spectrum/PAR.

Edit 2:
Bingo, the datasheet had it a little later on.


So, there's a tall, narrow peak at ~440nm and a shorter, wider one at ~550nm, with not a whole lot from 0-420nm, 460-500nm, and 630nm up. Any of you guys experts on photosynthesis spectra? I'll start doing some research.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-06-2019 at 11:53 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 07:07 PM
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Plants can use any visible wavelengths..
Blue/cyan gap is more of a visual deficiency, though some carotenoid pigments use it...
higher K larger gap or at least deeper..

https://www.eenewseurope.com/news/no...un-white-light

You want cheap..quality bulbs..
6 pack..
https://www.amazon.com/Hyperikon-Dim...p_pl_dp_2&th=1
40 degree lenses so you can hang them relatively high.

2 rows at 12" above the water line should work quite well...

The tricky part is that manufacturers do not have to specify CRI on Lighting Facts labels. Sometimes you’ll see it printed somewhere else on the box. For example, IKEA always prints CRI on LED bulb packaging. Products with 90 CRI and higher almost always mention CRI on the packaging.

Quote:
But often, CRI is nowhere to be found. A good rule of thumb: if CRI is not specified and the bulb is from a name brand like Philips, GE, or CREE, it is probably about 80 CRI. If you don’t recognize the brand and it is low-cost, it may be in the range of 70–80 CRI.

You will probably find an 80 CRI bulb acceptable if it meets your CCT and lumen requirements, but try to get something with a higher CRI, if available.
https://hackernoon.com/the-trinity-3...s-46abb9a6398d


CRI is for you..not plants btw.

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Plants can use any visible wavelengths..
Blue/cyan gap is more of a visual deficiency, though some carotenoid pigments use it...
higher K larger gap or at least deeper..

https://www.eenewseurope.com/news/no...un-white-light

You want cheap..quality bulbs..
6 pack..
https://www.amazon.com/Hyperikon-Dim...p_pl_dp_2&th=1
40 degree lenses so you can hang them relatively high.

2 rows at 12" above the water line should work quite well...

The tricky part is that manufacturers do not have to specify CRI on Lighting Facts labels. Sometimes you’ll see it printed somewhere else on the box. For example, IKEA always prints CRI on LED bulb packaging. Products with 90 CRI and higher almost always mention CRI on the packaging.


https://hackernoon.com/the-trinity-3...s-46abb9a6398d


CRI is for you..not plants btw.
Thanks for the info. Do you know of any nice-looking fixtures those lights could go in? I know they make hanging cans for lighting, but I'm not sure if those bulbs would fit.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-06-2019, 09:27 PM
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IDK.. something like this maybe..
One thing.. If shopping see if they have, at least, a few vent holes on top.

https://www.dhgate.com/product/35w-l...423836126.html

go smaller bulbs..
https://www.1000bulbs.com/product/177390/IRT-10051.html

higher CRI "floods" are getting fairly easy to find and are more reasonable in price..though of course fixtures and desired intensity matter.

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Last edited by jeffkrol; 06-06-2019 at 09:45 PM. Reason: edit
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 12:22 AM
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IMO, DIY (LED) projects get rather complicated rather quickly, with a steep learning curve. And, in the end, it still works and looks like DIY.
If the subject matter holds your interest then more power to you. If you want to get to the point of plants growing and fish swimming then buy off the shelf.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
IDK.. something like this maybe..
One thing.. If shopping see if they have, at least, a few vent holes on top.

https://www.dhgate.com/product/35w-l...423836126.html

go smaller bulbs..
https://www.1000bulbs.com/product/177390/IRT-10051.html

higher CRI "floods" are getting fairly easy to find and are more reasonable in price..though of course fixtures and desired intensity matter.
Thanks for the links, I'll look into that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OVT View Post
IMO, DIY (LED) projects get rather complicated rather quickly, with a steep learning curve. And, in the end, it still works and looks like DIY.
If the subject matter holds your interest then more power to you. If you want to get to the point of plants growing and fish swimming then buy off the shelf.
Thanks for the advice, that's kind of what I was afraid of. That's why I was initially looking at floodlights that could be plug-n-play.

If I end up going this route, I think I'll just get DC white lights that can be hooked up to a dimmer.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeTheGuppy View Post
Thanks for the links, I'll look into that.



Thanks for the advice, that's kind of what I was afraid of. That's why I was initially looking at floodlights that could be plug-n-play.

If I end up going this route, I think I'll just get DC white lights that can be hooked up to a dimmer.

Yea but what challenge is that???
200gal tank ..


build a fancy box around it...
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 02:46 AM Thread Starter
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Yea but what challenge is that???
200gal tank ..


build a fancy box around it...
Holy cow, that tank looks amazing! (And the lighting looks slick, too)

I'm all about a challenge, but I'll be throwing this together as I begin my PhD. I have other DIY projects that need to take place at around the same time, and I don't want to delay the entire aquarium build because I'm too busy to finish a big project.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 03:14 AM
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Well I had a hand in the lighting but not my tank..
They usually don't end up looking that good..

This is my 40B



Eventually just put a box around it (and lowered it)


Not even a "fancy" heatsink..


It's been running for over 4 years now, though periodically I'll change a few diodes when better ones come around..

Then again, throw one of these over a 40b but use about 1/2 of the available power (dim the blue channel to taste..)
https://www.amazon.com/Lightimetunne...ateway&sr=8-10
$100-ish..
And these are err..interesting..
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L5LHWNW..._t3_B07F1BJB8B

See MY problem is everything is sort of close.. but so far away..
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Last edited by jeffkrol; 06-07-2019 at 03:38 AM. Reason: edit
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 05:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Well I had a hand in the lighting but not my tank..
They usually don't end up looking that good..

This is my 40B

Eventually just put a box around it (and lowered it)

Not even a "fancy" heatsink..

It's been running for over 4 years now, though periodically I'll change a few diodes when better ones come around..

Then again, throw one of these over a 40b but use about 1/2 of the available power (dim the blue channel to taste..)
https://www.amazon.com/Lightimetunne...ateway&sr=8-10
$100-ish..
And these are err..interesting..
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L5LHWNW..._t3_B07F1BJB8B

See MY problem is everything is sort of close.. but so far away..
Your tank looks good too! Way more lush than my current tank.

I'm not sure DIY looks as polished as I want, although it does sound really nice to be able to change out the diodes whenever you want.

Thanks for both the links. At 165W for that first one, I am losing sight of reasons to go with the floodlights. And the second is crazy slim. I can't believe a 300W LED doesn't have a heat sink. 2 year warranty, or I'd be nervous.

Do you think a single one (of either) would be able to light a 40b? If not, I suppose I could buy two for as cheap as any of my other options.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeTheGuppy View Post
At 165W for that first one, I am losing sight of reasons to go with the floodlights. And the second is crazy slim. I can't believe a 300W LED doesn't have a heat sink. 2 year warranty, or I'd be nervous.

Do you think a single one (of either) would be able to light a 40b? If not, I suppose I could buy two for as cheap as any of my other options.

first neither is what it seems..
The 165W is closer to (at least from both kill a watt people and visuals) 100W
the 300W (it's stupidly a name)
Quote:
338pcs High Intensity 0.5W
At BEST (and normally not run at 1/2w.. think of this as LED strips w/ lenses) 169W and most likely near the 100W level though I have seen it listed at 65W soo????

Better??

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Last edited by jeffkrol; 06-07-2019 at 01:51 PM. Reason: edit
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-07-2019, 02:03 PM
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Just buy the standard floodlights and be done with it, i've had good success with them as a cheap and practical lighting solution
then focus your energy where it matters - the scape and plant growth!
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