The cheapest, brightest and energy efficient lighting for your planted tank. DIY. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-02-2015, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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The cheapest, brightest and energy efficient lighting for your planted tank. DIY.

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, friends! I'm Tiger from India. I have devised an easy-to-make, extremely bright (~4500 lumens), energy efficient (just 45 Watts) lighting for your planted aquarium for under $5, powered using a spare computer PSU. This lighting system has a very long life of >50,000 hours provided you make it correctly as shown, and the LEDs do not overheat. It would take you around 45 minutes to 1 hour to do it, and years to enjoy it.

Commerical LED lightings can cost upwards of $150, and aren't nearly as bright as this one in the tutorial. This provides your planted tanks with metal-halide-like brightness, although not heating the water up, or making a hole in your pocket. In a 15 gallon tank, you'd get a fluorescent equivalent of 4-5 Watts per gallon of light.

Another big advantage of this lighting over most commercial lightings is that you can control the brightness of the LEDs by using a 12V LED dimmer that costs less than 1 dollar.

The best part about these PWM dimmers is that they do not lose any power to heat. So if you are at 50% brightness, you are consuming 50% electricity, and generating 50% less heat. LEDs are also more efficient when they are at less than full power. Two points to energy efficiency.

All parts can be purchased on Amazon/eBay, except the 2 feet aluminium channel. It will be readily available in shops that make window panes and fits them in buildings.

So, here's to metal halide brightness, minus the heat and plus the extremely high energy efficiency!
And minus the lots of cash!


Detailed instructions in the YouTube video.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbMJ5S8MSTs
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baghro View Post
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, friends! I'm Tiger from India. I have devised an easy-to-make, extremely bright (~4500 lumens), energy efficient (just 45 Watts) lighting for your planted aquarium for under $5, powered using a spare computer PSU. This lighting system has a very long life of >50,000 hours provided you make it correctly as shown, and the LEDs do not overheat. It would take you around 45 minutes to 1 hour to do it, and years to enjoy it.

Commerical LED lightings can cost upwards of $150, and aren't nearly as bright as this one in the tutorial. This provides your planted tanks with metal-halide-like brightness, although not heating the water up, or making a hole in your pocket. In a 15 gallon tank, you'd get a fluorescent equivalent of 4-5 Watts per gallon of light.

Another big advantage of this lighting over most commercial lightings is that you can control the brightness of the LEDs by using a 12V LED dimmer that costs less than 1 dollar.

The best part about these PWM dimmers is that they do not lose any power to heat. So if you are at 50% brightness, you are consuming 50% electricity, and generating 50% less heat. LEDs are also more efficient when they are at less than full power. Two points to energy efficiency.

All parts can be purchased on Amazon/eBay, except the 2 feet aluminium channel. It will be readily available in shops that make window panes and fits them in buildings.

So, here's to metal halide brightness, minus the heat and plus the extremely high energy efficiency!
And minus the lots of cash!


Detailed instructions in the YouTube video.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbMJ5S8MSTs
well it works.. some comments though:
1)To extend LED life and somewhat protect them, a 2.2Ohm 5W (or larger) resistor in series on each chip is cheap insurance.

2) I see little savings by using the heat sink as a "common". just as easy to solder together like the plus side.

Other than that....

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 02:36 PM
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Two small mechanical points that might help somebody wanting to do this?
When soldering, one of the primary points to get a good joint is cleaning. Like where the tab is soldered to the base? Cleaning the metal base first with steel wool or sandpaper first will get a better shot at a good joint but this is somewhat touchy when you have a large heat sink and adding a small tab on the LED. But cleaning will get a better chance.

Then on the other side, when , finished I would suggest a small piece of insulation between the tab and the base. Just so that a small bump will not press the tab down to short out on the base. Something as simple as a small slice of wood added with contact cement?
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 03:03 PM
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That's pretty cool. I might not light my tank with this, but it could probably light some cabinets or what not. How hot does it get? Too hot to touch or not really? I think you can get away with some laptop power supplies too if you don't want to use something as bulky as a computer PSU as long as you calculate the power requirements, but it may cost a bit more. It's amazing how cheap leds have come -- or was it always this cheap for high wattage leds?
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 10:24 PM
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This tutorial is very helpful for a beginner like me. I'm interested in trying it. Do you use the same amount of LEDs for a 55 gallon? Would this be too bright for corys? I heard they are sensitive to light, but if I have enough cover it might be okay. I don't want them to be uncomfortable.


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Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
well it works.. some comments though:
1)To extend LED life and somewhat protect them, a 2.2Ohm 5W (or larger) resistor in series on each chip is cheap insurance.

2) I see little savings by using the heat sink as a "common". just as easy to solder together like the plus side.

Other than that....
Where would you attach these resistors? I know absolutely zero about this stuff.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Alyssum View Post
This tutorial is very helpful for a beginner like me. I'm interested in trying it. Do you use the same amount of LEDs for a 55 gallon? Would this be too bright for corys? I heard they are sensitive to light, but if I have enough cover it might be okay. I don't want them to be uncomfortable.




Where would you attach these resistors? I know absolutely zero about this stuff.
Either side of the chip.. in series..
Say, plus wire to resistor... resistor to plus on chip.. Each chip gets one..

Just as a little backup..
Quote:
Hi there,
I have checked manufacturer's info.
The specs are as follows:
Power: 10W,
Lumens: 900-1000Lm
Current: 800-900 mA
Voltage: 9-12V (Seller recommended a 1.5 Ohm resistor for 12V)
They are array of 3x3 led inside the chip.
1.5-2.2Ohms 5W capacity..
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh...ght=led+budget

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Last edited by jeffkrol; 03-04-2015 at 01:38 AM. Reason: edit
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
well it works.. some comments though:
1)To extend LED life and somewhat protect them, a 2.2Ohm 5W (or larger) resistor in series on each chip is cheap insurance.

2) I see little savings by using the heat sink as a "common". just as easy to solder together like the plus side.

Other than that....
1. Thank you! You are so right about that current limiting. I planned to add a coiled wire for current limiting the whole lot, but I found the datasheet said there's a 1.5 Ohm resistor built in for each of the LED rows. So I didn't add it finally, but I guess if I went by your suggestion, the LEDs would run much cooler!

2. Yes, you are right. I just tried to minimize wire clutter. Common heatsink is more about convenience of the construction, also about savings. Because a CPU heatsink can cost around $3 each, and $15 for the whole lot.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
Two small mechanical points that might help somebody wanting to do this?
When soldering, one of the primary points to get a good joint is cleaning. Like where the tab is soldered to the base? Cleaning the metal base first with steel wool or sandpaper first will get a better shot at a good joint but this is somewhat touchy when you have a large heat sink and adding a small tab on the LED. But cleaning will get a better chance.

Then on the other side, when , finished I would suggest a small piece of insulation between the tab and the base. Just so that a small bump will not press the tab down to short out on the base. Something as simple as a small slice of wood added with contact cement?

You are right. Sanding the base would make the solder more permanent.

I think you could also use wire for the negative terminal. That way, I agree, is much easier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
That's pretty cool. I might not light my tank with this, but it could probably light some cabinets or what not. How hot does it get? Too hot to touch or not really? I think you can get away with some laptop power supplies too if you don't want to use something as bulky as a computer PSU as long as you calculate the power requirements, but it may cost a bit more. It's amazing how cheap leds have come -- or was it always this cheap for high wattage leds?
Thanks a lot! After an hour, the temps remained stable at 55C, at an ambient room temperature of 30C. After 12 hours, the temps were stable too.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 10:33 PM
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I like your style in several ways!
One is that you do know something about the project and you did come out with a working light for very low cost. Second is that you are willing to put that knowledge and effort out in a very public way which will almost surely result in people liking it and not liking it.
I find you know more about computer power supplies than I do so I have a question. I'm sure it might help many to know what makes the power supply used work better than others. Are there certain points that one could look for in the power supply used? If you could tell us a bit about how you decided what supply to use and how many LEDs, it would help for those thinking about the project.
I've done lots of electronics but none involving the computer power supply.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
I'm sure it might help many to know what makes the power supply used work better than others. Are there certain points that one could look for in the power supply used? If you could tell us a bit about how you decided what supply to use and how many LEDs, it would help for those thinking about the project.
I've done lots of electronics but none involving the computer power supply.
THAT subject is a huge can of worms.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/20254...er-supply.html

you have to remember that the point here is really "salvaged" parts. Most ps's have ratings stickers and you can use that to determine power capability. ect..

Buying one for the sake of using, say 10 or so of these chips "may" make sense but you might be better off buying either 1) a larger voltage supply (running some chips in series then parallel) or 2)a dedicated ps w/ a smaller footprint or maybe even a voltage adjustment..

Once you start building an LED "spiderweb" failure of one component can have disastrous consequences..

Lastly many PS's have loud and annoying fans...not to mention the rats nest of wires (which of course can be clipped..)

That said.. it is not a bad idea..

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 01:41 AM
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http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817151076
PlantedRich:
For an answer to that question you asked I think it more likely that you will find an answer if you ask a question about it on the answers section on the link on this page.
Don't know exactly which info you want/need, but my starting question would be very simple...which one of all those wires would I hook up to an LED light bulb ?
All the wires do not carry 12V. I remember this much from when I researched it while building this computer which I'm on right now. But since I only built one..."if you don't use it you loose it"...applies.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 03:04 AM
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I've been reading lots of the recent posts and so was wanting to get insight from a different angle more than anything. The original poster has some obvious different ideas and I like to look at several options on things. I thought a different view might be helpful to lots of people who are looking it over. For my own use I would likely just go the hammer head route of measuring the output if using a computer power supply.
I would not think too many would buy a power supply from a computer as there are so many given away on Craigslist.
Just looking for a different view!
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 03:13 PM
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Not trying to put a damper on this at all. I've used power supplies from old printers to battery chargers..
A power supply is a power supply sort of. Just needs to match the tech.
That said, my main concern is that the "safest" and generally the most "efficient" method of high power diodes (not particularily multi-chips) is serial strings w/constant current drivers.
Large parallel/serial strings are not encouraged..
Personal thing..

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by baghro View Post
1. Thank you! You are so right about that current limiting. I planned to add a coiled wire for current limiting the whole lot, but I found the datasheet said there's a 1.5 Ohm resistor built in for each of the LED rows.
Interesting thanks..
There is more to diodes than meets the eye. Some also have shunt resistors so one going out doesn't take the whole string (mostly 1W, 3W single diodes).
Knowing exactly what you are dealing with always helps.

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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 05:13 PM
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I've routinely used pc power supplies for my Halloween props (low voltage motors and led lights), and they have worked great. I would be a little reluctant to try them for the prolonged periods required for proper tank lighting. But to be fair, that is based on my gut and no hard data.

All that being said, I enjoyed the video and the ideas presented. Even if an idea doesn't work out in the long run, getting us to think and discuss the possibilities is always a positive in my opinion.

Last edited by Bishop61; 03-05-2015 at 05:16 PM. Reason: typo
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 06:51 PM
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There are so many junk computers running around that it would be fun to see some really simple usable ideas. I go through computers every time they do a major change on Windows but normally just drag them up to Best-Buy as they do the recycle for free.

Any of you guys taking printers apart that know what power supply they have?

Last edited by PlantedRich; 03-05-2015 at 06:54 PM. Reason: added
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-06-2015, 12:37 AM
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There are so many junk computers running around that it would be fun to see some really simple usable ideas. I go through computers every time they do a major change on Windows but normally just drag them up to Best-Buy as they do the recycle for free.

Any of you guys taking printers apart that know what power supply they have?
no need to take most apart.. Most just use "bricks" on the outside.. If internal..and possibly open frame.. then it isn't really worth it..
most are low amps anyways (1-4) and if a laser printer I believe most would have a High voltage section..
Got a 24V Kodak at 1.8A.. Good enough to run 2 serial strings @700mA
14= 3W LED's..
4.5x1x2.25
Best small puck style I ever found were for charging emergency lights..
12V 5.4A....
4x2.5x1 inch foot print.

computer power supplies are really the "biggies".. but of course restricted to 12V or 5V rail

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