Using PC heat sinks for LED lighting? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Using PC heat sinks for LED lighting?

My husband works with computers and threw away a whole pile of PC boxes the other day. I thought a computer fan might come in handy for my DIY LEDS, while I was removing one it suddenly occurred to me that the funny grooved metal lumps that were inside had to do with cooling, i.e. heat sinks and I need heat sinks for my LEDs. So now I have about 8 computer fans and 8 heat sinks. Can I use these for LEDs? Do I use one per LED or can I put more than one LED for each one? I can probably have more of them if I wait a while.

My husband says the heat sinks are used to cool the processor. Some are copper, some are aluminium, but they look more or less like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pi...h_a_z-clip.png
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 12:01 PM
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Yes , they can be used for that purpose (i am seaching for some for my project). But, people mainly just glue their leds on sheet of metal plate. Spikey coolers and problem to fix
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Spikey coolers and problem to fix
Do you mean they are awkward to fit into some type of hood?
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 12:41 PM
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Do you mean they are awkward to fit into some type of hood?
Yes, thats what i ment.
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 12:51 PM
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in dealing with the heat, would it not be more efficient to use fans alone to pull air through a hood rather than try to deal with it with heat sinks, the heat sinks are designed to pull heat away from the processor or other pc components, but the heat will still be in the hood, or computer as in the original use, without active cooling via fans you will just be moving the heat not getting rid of it.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by majstor76 View Post
Yes, thats what i ment.
I thought of that too, any one have ideas?

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Originally Posted by jwm5 View Post
in dealing with the heat, would it not be more efficient to use fans alone to pull air through a hood rather than try to deal with it with heat sinks, the heat sinks are designed to pull heat away from the processor or other pc components, but the heat will still be in the hood, or computer as in the original use, without active cooling via fans you will just be moving the heat not getting rid of it.
I think you need some thing to draw the heat away from the LEDs so they don't burn out but if there is enough heat you still need a fan as well, to get rid of the heat.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 01:49 PM
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If you have a bunch of identical ones, it wouldn't be too hard to use them. For instance, you could place them in a grid, and use a pair of 1x1s for each row to hold them, and also 1x1s to make a frame. use some glue or silicone to stick the heat sinks to the 1x1s.
But if you have a bunch of mismatched ones, like I colleceted from 4 different computers, it gets pretty challenging.
The ones I found are big enough and good enough that you would not need a fan for 1w or 3w LEDs, assuming you left them with free air circulating. I'm not sure about 10w.


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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 02:22 PM
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I thought of that too, any one have ideas?
You can cut spikes in one corner of cooller to get surface where you can drill a hole for mounting.
Then you can make some "L" shaped pieces of metal . One end screw on cooler and the other somewhere else
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 03:14 PM
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www.heatsinusa.com
love these, high quality, cut to spec.
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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If you have a bunch of identical ones, it wouldn't be too hard to use them. For instance, you could place them in a grid, and use a pair of 1x1s for each row to hold them, and also 1x1s to make a frame. use some glue or silicone to stick the heat sinks to the 1x1s.
But if you have a bunch of mismatched ones, like I colleceted from 4 different computers, it gets pretty challenging.
The ones I found are big enough and good enough that you would not need a fan for 1w or 3w LEDs, assuming you left them with free air circulating. I'm not sure about 10w.
I'm afraid most of mine don't match either.
Are yours something like this?:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pi...h_a_z-clip.png

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Originally Posted by majstor76 View Post
You can cut spikes in one corner of cooller to get surface where you can drill a hole for mounting.
Then you can make some "L" shaped pieces of metal . One end screw on cooler and the other somewhere else
I get the first bit but I'm not quite following the "L" shaped part, does it go flat against the base of the heatsink?

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www.heatsinusa.com
love these, high quality, cut to spec.
The link isn't working for me.
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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 10:59 PM
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It's spelled wrong, and it's a good thing the p0rn sites haven't used that "heat sin usa" idea yet. Lol, just missed the "K" in "sink"


Try this,

www.heatsinkusa.com

I have several of them. For our purposes, they are overkill, but overkill is a definitely good thing with LEDs.


I wish they would carry a thinner, smaller heatsink that's more affordable.
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 11:00 PM
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To the original poster,


The usefulness of your PC heatsinks will vary from one to the next.

You are looking for a base plate thickness of at least 1/8", preferably 1/4" or somewhere in between.

The fins are a definite bonus. The taller the fins, the better.

Now as long as you don't drive your LEDs more than about 600mA or so, the PC heatsinks probably do not need a fan of any sort. Passive cooling should suffice just fine.
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
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You are looking for a base plate thickness of at least 1/8", preferably 1/4" or somewhere in between.
Is that the base of the heatsink, or when using plain metal?
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 11:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snail View Post
My husband works with computers and threw away a whole pile of PC boxes the other day. I thought a computer fan might come in handy for my DIY LEDS, while I was removing one it suddenly occurred to me that the funny grooved metal lumps that were inside had to do with cooling, i.e. heat sinks and I need heat sinks for my LEDs. So now I have about 8 computer fans and 8 heat sinks. Can I use these for LEDs? Do I use one per LED or can I put more than one LED for each one? I can probably have more of them if I wait a while.

My husband says the heat sinks are used to cool the processor. Some are copper, some are aluminium, but they look more or less like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pi...h_a_z-clip.png
Yes , they do look a little like those........

Ours are black and flatter/lower profile :>)

If you use aluminum to mound to... you might not nee the heat sinks, but they help.


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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-16-2011, 12:26 AM
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I suspect you can do more for the LEDs by using a very good (Arctic Silver) heat conducting grease between the LEDs and the heat sinks, than by looking for a really good heatsink. I think the weakest link in our LED designs is that heat conducting grease. I don't even use it. I am now using a cheaper grease, and using dabs of silicone to hold the LEDs to the heatsink. Definitely not high tech.

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