DIY: Compact Florescent upgrade to LED
I am converting an old 48 220 W Power Compact Florescent light to LEDs. I knew that it was time to upgrade the light for several reasons:
1. The connectors that hold the lights were starting to fail (i.e. heat had deteriorated the plastic)
2. All 4 of the bulbs were old and should all be replaced (~$50)
3. The fish tank was a good sized chunk of the power bill
1. High light, say equal to the Power Compact 220 Watt light
1st attempt: Finnex Planted Tank 24x7
4. Energy efficient
5. Low Cost
6. DIY Project
2nd attempt: Planted Tank LED strip lighting
Good light output, but no were near the PC 220
Kind of nice program, but not customizable, not dimmable on the program
Very good price/value
Nice energy efficiency ~40 watts. We noticed the drop on the chart from the power company
So after trolling the threads for a long time, I have seen a few attempts at LED Strip light for a planted tank, most of which seemed like failures. I put on my scientific hat and decided that if it could be done, I would do it. The PC light fixture would make a good heatsink / base for the LED Strips. I figured that I could get a dozen rows of LED strips on it. Turns out that was way overly optimistic.
I got a string of each of these lights from Amazon:
1. Double Density, Double Row 3528 (1200 per 5M reel)Note, I do not like the waterproofing! It makes the lights hard to solder and disperses the light.
2. Double Density 3528 (600 per 5M reel) Water Proof
3. Double Density 2835 (300 per 5M reel) WP
4. Normal Density 5630 (300/5M) WP
5. 5050 reel of RGB for sunrise/sunset
I also ordered a 5 channel controller as well the TC420 Time Controller
I found a 12V 160watt power supply from an old XBOX that I will use to drive the strings.
After visually (no PAR Meter) testing them the Double Row 3528 seemed to be the brightest. I put 3 rows of the #1 on the light fixture and one each of the others. I then plugged it it worked!
I held it next to my 48 Planted + 24/7 and the Finnex is much Brighter (Again no PAR Meter). The Finnex is also more efficient at 43W (from wall) vs the ~60W for my homemade light. Unless you get lucky or are paying $150+/reel, it seems hard to get super bright strip lights. The strips are made to be safe and long lasting, not really super bright.
I could have added a few more strips of lights but they are just not that bright. Need a better plan.
3rd Attempt Add (8) 10W COB LED lights
I attached  cheap 10W LEDs from ebay with a 1 Ohm resistors 2Watt, making 2 sets of 4 LEDs in series which looks like it is about all the LED controller can handle per channel (4A). I used thermal epoxy to attach the LED to Aluminum housing.
- 1. Blindingly bright!
- 2. Controller works well to time the lights
- 3. OK efficiency 145 watts at max (7 strips, 8 COB LEDs, Controller and Power supply)
I will borrow a PAR meter and get some measurement. If the PAR measurements are not high enough, I will add lens to 4-8 of the COB LED. If that is still not enough, I can add another 4 LED. More than that and I think I will have heat problems and will need to add fans, which I would prefer to avoid.
If I had to do it all over again:
Dont try to grow plants on LED strips
Blue / Red Strip lights make good sunrise / sunset / moon light
10 W LED provide a good balance of light and heat
I would use have to seriously consider the following:
48 Volt power supply
Constant current drivers
Arduino based controller
Cree LEDs in Warm and Cool white w/ Lens
LEDs in Red and Blue for effects