PVC Gutter Lights that don't suck - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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PVC Gutter Lights that don't suck

Just thought I would share something i've been working on in my fishroom. I haven't been happy with my lighting and never really finished it in my room, it's been kinda a "hodgepodge" of what I had laying around. Options I looked at were either too expensive to rollout to all 20 tanks, to inefficient and hard to work around, or cheap but didn't last. Well I came across a product by Bridgelux called there EB (gen 2) line of led strips, saw some others use them on here, and figured I would try them. these strips are similar to the cheap led strips a lot of us have used in our fish room but about twice as efficient. These are high powered led strips, but unlike most high power LEDS no heatsink required which is a HUGE cost savings I mounted them to the top of PVC gutters. Now to cost.

I did my basic 2 light prototype for just under 20 bucks, including 2 30in pvc gutter pieces, led strips and a driver to run them. The brightness of the light is comparable to a T5H0 over each tank (20L so this is quite a bit of light honestly, way more than my prior lights that took twice as much power were putting in) these lights are extremely popular with guys making DIY "grow" lights, so they definitely can grow plants. They have been running in my room for 4 days now and so far seem to be working great. Going to give it a few more weeks and plan on pulling the trigger on the full room

Parts List for 2 30in Lights:
PVC Gutter from big box store (I got mine from home depot)
2xBridgelux EB 24in strips i used these (bxeb-l0560z-57e2000-c-b3
1xAPC-35-700 Mean well driver, this will run 2 strips wired in series, for the whole room I plan on using another driver to run everything off one driver, iíll go into that a bit more in the follow up to this, but its a HLG series from Meanwell.

Held to the gutter with a couple screws, was going to glue but this seemed better


Old version 1 Gutter lights (3x20in rigid strips, about 25 watter) on left, on right new lights way brighter and at 13.5 watts much much more efficent
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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now when I roll this out to the whole room, I"m going to need to light the following tanks

4x75s 3x40 breedrs 4x end out 10s, and 8 20 longs. the 20 Longs and the 75s are easy. the dimensions work good for 24inch strips. what I"m hung up on is the best way to do the 40 breeders and the 4 10s. I tihnk the best way would be 3 12in strips for the breeders and accross the 10s, but if I kept them on the same powersupply as the rest of the room not sure if changing it up would cause any issue in the array. other idea was just to use 12inchers for everything, but that adds about dollar per light, and a lot more soldering..
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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 03:58 AM
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Out of curiosity.. Why not aluminum gutter ???

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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Out of curiosity.. Why not aluminum gutter ???
cost, sharp edges, had these laying arround from the prior plan of using rigid 12v led strips laying arround. and if your worried about heat, its hot really a concern. I ran them 12 hours straight and the back of the light over the strips is barely warm. and I can hold my finger on the led diode itself and its fine. the version 1.0 lights got so hot it deformed the pvc gutter for comparison sake.

ideally I would just get a bunch of old school fluorescent housings and use them. actually a company near by that sells them in bulk, but the boxes are too big for my use. and single shells are too much money retail from them.

Last edited by Kampo; 03-21-2018 at 04:15 AM. Reason: .
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 02:56 PM
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I would use aluminum gutter and pop-rivet the correct end caps on them.

What's a little solder and $1 a light?


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
I would use aluminum gutter and pop-rivet the correct end caps on them.

What's a little solder and $1 a light?
honestly i kinda prefer pvc gutters anyway, they look better, easier to paint, and are more durable. heat wise if I was concerned I might line the inside with foil which might not be a horrible idea just to move a bit of heat away from the light, and a bit better reflector
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 12:02 AM
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I need to get a new light for my 30g. Ive been looking into those T5 grow lights. Cant seem to find a 3-footer though. Might try this
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 12:30 AM
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When I deal with gutters, I try to avoid dealing with the aluminum for several reasons. They are a PAIN to work with compared to PVC. Sharp, terrible to cut and form and they are always getting bent. Screws and fasteners are always more pain and then the paint gets knocked off!
At this point, after three failing commercial LED lights, I was down to saying "never" but this may prompt me to try a new route.
Rainy days are about over here and I'm about to hit the road but I always need some backup plans.
Thanks for the post.
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 02:33 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
When I deal with gutters, I try to avoid dealing with the aluminum for several reasons. They are a PAIN to work with compared to PVC. Sharp, terrible to cut and form and they are always getting bent. Screws and fasteners are always more pain and then the paint gets knocked off!
At this point, after three failing commercial LED lights, I was down to saying "never" but this may prompt me to try a new route.
Rainy days are about over here and I'm about to hit the road but I always need some backup plans.
Thanks for the post.
i've never worked with them before but handeling the product in the store always gave me this impression, so glad someone seems to agree with my assumptions
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 03:10 AM
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A thought on cooling if it is worthwhile/needed?
One way to cool might be to use some form of "stand-off" to mount it so that air come get in and under better. Electronics parts places should have them but if no handy for shopping, one can make do with short lengths of styrene tubing like found in hobby shops. If not familiar with standoffs, think something like a small tube of plastic that the screw or small bolt fits through so the item is left some distance off the surface. Maybe bolts run through from the top, down through the standoff and then the strip to keep the nut/washer inside to look better?
But then, you may already have ideas of cooling and air. Got thoughts on that?
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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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A thought on cooling if it is worthwhile/needed?
One way to cool might be to use some form of "stand-off" to mount it so that air come get in and under better. Electronics parts places should have them but if no handy for shopping, one can make do with short lengths of styrene tubing like found in hobby shops. If not familiar with standoffs, think something like a small tube of plastic that the screw or small bolt fits through so the item is left some distance off the surface. Maybe bolts run through from the top, down through the standoff and then the strip to keep the nut/washer inside to look better?
But then, you may already have ideas of cooling and air. Got thoughts on that?
I have thought of this, its why I didn't end up glueing them to the pvc gutter. it would be simple to swap out the screws holding it for standoffs and run the screws into them. its not a horrible idea really. i think they make standoffs designed to be glued on, so maybe glue standoffs to the gutter and screw mount the strip to them.

something like this would be really simple, although not sure if I trust that style of adhesive, i've had issues with it in warm enviroments in the past
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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Kampo View Post
I have thought of this, its why I didn't end up glueing them to the pvc gutter. it would be simple to swap out the screws holding it for standoffs and run the screws into them. its not a horrible idea really. i think they make standoffs designed to be glued on, so maybe glue standoffs to the gutter and screw mount the strip to them.

something like this would be really simple, although not sure if I trust that style of adhesive, i've had issues with it in warm enviroments in the past

Heat and adhesives are sometimes not good together and then if it does come off, does it go in the water?? UGH!
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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 04:42 PM
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Here are the leds I get to play with. I am in the electrical sign industry and so get these wholesale
https://www.p-led.com/?gclid=EAIaIQo...SAAEgLMu_D_BwE
I stuffed as many as I could in a 24" long piece of gutter I cut on my compound miter saw, and seem to have plenty of light to spare. Used the street fighter
heavy weight. I also put a $5.00 dimmer from Amazon on it. I have my setup plugged into a power strip that I controll with Aexa https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 it gives me 4 outlets, just watch your amperage for each and it works great, also has 4 usb ports for charging your electronic items if you want.
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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Here are the leds I get to play with. I am in the electrical sign industry and so get these wholesale
https://www.p-led.com/?gclid=EAIaIQo...SAAEgLMu_D_BwE
I stuffed as many as I could in a 24" long piece of gutter I cut on my compound miter saw, and seem to have plenty of light to spare. Used the street fighter
heavy weight. I also put a $5.00 dimmer from Amazon on it. I have my setup plugged into a power strip that I controll with Aexa https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 it gives me 4 outlets, just watch your amperage for each and it works great, also has 4 usb ports for charging your electronic items if you want.


this was essentially my first version of my lights. noticed after 6 months the leds starting to look off, phosphurs burning out, and the pvc guter was deforming a bit and got very hot. it works not nearly as efficent as what i'm doing now though. i can't speak to how long my new version will last though

so was curious how well these strips would do over a bigger tank so thru the 2 30in lights (his is 2x22in strips only remember) over my 120 gallon geo/angel growout (its not a pretty tank right now so no judgeing lol) was quite impressed. i'm guessing i could grow lowlight plants fine in this tank with just this light, prolly would do 4 22in if I did it for real though.

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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-02-2018, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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So trying something that might be monumentally stupid, but we shall see. In some researching sources for a powersupply to run LDD-H drivers running my room i noticed that 19.5V (the sweet spot for these strips) is a popular powersupply volage for electronics. I dug thru my bin of electronics bits and found a 230watt 19.5V powersupply. hooked up one strip to the power supply and it litt up and at the same brightness as the ones on the apc driver. going to let the light run all day and see if I notice anything. if this works reliably it saves a good 50 dollars over the previous plan to use a bunch of LDD-H drivers or a HLG CV driver. the latter would of been the safest option but most complex and expensive, latter unless perfectly maxingg out the driver would be about equal to what i'm doing now.
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