LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

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LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on May 12th 2010, 9:28 pm

For a while now I have been watching people make the move to the newest technology in the reefing community. This post will include a few differant topics. Why use LED's. parts you need. And how to make them.





WHY USE LEDS?

LED lighting was an extremely important invention for the world today. Many reefers underrate them and do not understand how thyey can be so good and powerful for a reef. Well, not only are they powerful, but they can save you a lot of money in the end. T5, Metal Halide, PC, VHO, and all other lights are differant than LEDS in one very important way. LEDS emit one color spectrum, they do not release any other color of light. So if you get a blue 460nm led, it will only emit 460nm of light. Unlike all others which emit many differant colors of light, like an actinic fleurescent bulb actually releases red, yellow, purple, green, blue, and you name it. They are only more prominent in the blue spectrum. But as said before, since LED's only emit one color, their PAR levels are WAY higher than any other light. Corals use up mostly the blue, purple, and green spectrum. So that is what you want to try to aim for in lights.

Money wise, think about the amount of money you spend on changing your bulbs and electricity. A standard T5 light with 6 bulbs can cost you up to $125 a year. But,....if you run an LED setup 24 hours a day it will take 5 years for tehe bulbs to run out! That itself could save you $650 for 5 years. taht is enough to set up a new tank almost! Also LED's take up barely any energy, they run on DC power instead of AC power and can save you hundreds of dollars a year, especially if you run metal halides which suck up energy faster than a mop. Also with less power, LED's are still brighter than any other lights, and the shimmer is WAYYY more than any metal halide out there. This is because each LED shines in a more concentrated path, which allows the waves to bend and refract the light which creates the shimmer effect.

Overall, I hope that section makes some of you want to change your mind about lighting.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on May 12th 2010, 9:28 pm

PARTS YOU NEED




There are many differant things you could use that can be adjusted according to your own preferences. Dimmable, Non-dimmable, power, color, and heat consumption.


LEDS

For this hobby standard 3mm, 5mm, and 10mm LEDS jsut do not have enough power to light a reef. We use high power LEDS that require objects like heatsinks to control the heat. CREE by far is the best LED to use for a reef. they generally cost $7 - $8 per LED, but you do not need many of them. I use Cree, and most everyone I know does too. The exact model you need are CREE XRE star leds. The color choice is your choice. For blue (actinic), you use the Royal blue model. I generally prefer a proportion of 1 blue to 1 white when building your light.


Power Supply

LEDS run on DC power rather than AC which is your average wall input. This is why you need a power supply to convert AC to DC power. Your wall input is generally about 120V AC power. You do not have to be picky about your power supply. I bought a 120V AC to 24V DC 1.7 amp adapter.

Drivers

These are EXTREMELY important when you are building your light! LEDS run on current ( measured in Amps) instead of volts of watts which run your fleurescent lights. If you have too much current runnign through an LED you will overdrive it which means you will shorten it's life very fast and possibly even break the LED. If you underdrive it it will jsut be dimmer. As for particular model, I prefer the brand Buckpuck for my drivers, buckpuck drivers come in many differant sizes, and you can buy an optional potentiometer which allows you to dim your LEDS to make a dusk/dawn effect. Drivers are too control the amount of current running through the LED and that is why they are so important.

Heatsinks

this is another very important part of building your light. A heatsink is used to take heat away fronm the LED so that the LED does not get overheated. if an LED gets overheated it will lose life and can possibly destroy it as well. LEDs have to be connected to the heatsink using a thermal compound and a few screws. these screws either HAVE to be nylon or steel with nylon washers. I prefer nylon screws because I personally dont want to be electricuted. A good place to buy heatsinks is a place called heatsinkusa.com. They offer many sizes and shapes for your heatsink.


Random other materials needed


You NEED a thermal compound. I used Dynex silver thermal compound I think. This is used to sllow heat transfer from the LED to the heatsink.

Soldering Iron- Just a standard soldering iron.
Solder- obviously need this to.
Wires preferably in differant colors.
A brain- you are going to need a brain so that you do not shock or burn yourself in this experiment.
Wire cutters
solder flux. get that
A drill with differant sized drill bits.




I am not responsible for any injuries, shocks, burns, loss of sanity, or brain cells in this experiment.
thanks!


Last edited by Rambo on May 13th 2010, 6:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on May 12th 2010, 9:29 pm

THE BUILD: Part three

For my light I started out small. i have a small 1 gallon pico reef with sps, lps, and softies in this tank. These are slightly old pics so the tank looks a lot better now.

here are the parts I used. Everything was bought from ledsupply.com. Extremely fast shipping.
First step. the leds have to have a tiny bead of thermal compound on the bottom of them. After the bottom of them is well coated you have to screw them into the heatsink with nylon screws. A drill press is best to use, but I used a normal handrill and did break one bit. Some people use steel screws with nylon washers but I stayed on the safe side. the LEDs cannot be to close to each other, they have to be spread apart nice enough so that the light is not in a perfect little spotlight.


Next you have to wire the leds. the positive wire on the buckpuck gos to the positive area on the first led. then you connect the leds in a series circuit. By wiring them up, - to +, - to +, - to +, and so on and so forth. at the end you connect the negative wire of the buckpuck to the negative area on the last led.




After that I connected a little adapter to the power supply area of the buckpuck. this is so I didnt have to cut the wires of the power supply. These are pretty easy to find around your house in old house phone holders adnw hatever else.


here is a comparison of fleurescent light to LED's. I put this light over my 14g Biocube and it was better than the stock lights. But in my opinion this light can be used for sps in tanks up to 3 gallons, and softies up to 5 gallons.

And here is the comparison.

lowest setting. this is with the LED's dimmed all teh way.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on May 12th 2010, 9:29 pm

almost highest setting This is them set almost as high as they can go.


The first light. A 13 watt compact fleurescent. eww




And here is the tank with the leds on it. Only run on half power. I cannot run the LEDS on like anything more than 3/4 power. They are bright!
.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on May 12th 2010, 9:30 pm





Any questions are free to be asked. Everything not including tools costed me about $100 to make. It would have costed me LOTS more to buy one though.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Hero on May 13th 2010, 6:09 pm

Great. I'll make it a sticky Very Happy. Only $100? Nice!

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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on May 13th 2010, 6:31 pm

thanks! yea $100 is not to bad compared to what you save.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Hero on May 13th 2010, 8:58 pm

I wanted to do a LED setup but my i took my reef down before i could ever get started.

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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by ~ocean on May 14th 2010, 2:11 pm

whoa, nice I'll be looking into making one of thoes!

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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on May 14th 2010, 4:23 pm

any questions you have just contact me. I also know how to make it able to turn off differant ligths seperately. Costs a little more though.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by AquaticEngineer on June 11th 2010, 5:57 pm

I have been looking into doing LED's on my new temperate system. How much heat do the Cree LEDs put out? I wont be housing many, if any, photsynthetic animals so output and spectrum isnt a huge concern.

Mostly I want high visability with low heat output.

Any suggestions?
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on June 13th 2010, 1:02 pm

they put out no heat at all. that is the reason for the heatsink. If it does warm it up it shouldnt even be by one degree.

How big is your system? I can put together the plans for you. Do you want them dimmable? generally four Crees can light upa 10g pretty well.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by AquaticEngineer on June 13th 2010, 2:27 pm

HERE is the link to my tank setup thread. Its a 110 gallon.

The problem I am running into is that I would like to keep the top looking like it is now with just the black covers over each side. So my first though was use water proof led light strips attached to the under side of each cover. Something like THIS on Ebay
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on June 13th 2010, 11:14 pm

So if i am understanding right youa reworried about water getting on the LEDs?

If that is the case you could build the fixture with plexi glass underneath it is a cover.

Leds are going to be pretty expensive for that tank. Standard fleurescent might be the way to go. Buy a shop light from Lowes or Home Depot and put differant bulbs in it. It is only like $40 with good bulbs too. For heat output you could equip it with a bunch of fans. I could help you with that too.

But if you are still interested in LEDs I will gladly help you. If you are interested in CREEs then you would need about 40 to light the tank nicely. With that many LEDs your tank will be pretty bright. Similiar to a metal Halide look but bluer. If youa re not interested in that much brightness you could use like 30 LEDs and save some money. Either way if youa re using High power LEDs like CREE it willbe over $250. THe light would be very nice though.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by loyalhero90 on July 10th 2010, 10:13 pm

Hello Rambo,
I am very new at the LED DIY thing but very interested. I have a 9g biube and I wanted to modify the existing light for my zoos, shrooms and macroalgae.
I have been mostly looking at the luxeon lights instead of the crees but I think it holds the same concept:
The items in my tank can thrive under a 9w compact flourescent so I wanted to get:

(2)Cool White (6500K) Rebel, Pre-Mounted On A 20mm Tri-Star Base - 540 lm @ 700mA
(2)Royal Blue (447.5 nm) Rebel, Pre-Mounted On A 20mm Tri-Star Base - 1575mW @ 700mA
(1) 700mA, Externally Dimmable, BuckPuck DC Driver - With Leads
(2) 15V, 6.7A 100W POWER SUPPLY. I wanted to create and sunrise/sunset effect
The heatsinks that I wanted to get are 40mmx40mmx10mm. Are these too big for the 20mm stars?
Do I need 2 Buckpucks for the sunrise/sunset effect?

The existing fixture is 18mm thick. Here is a picture and more specifications: http://www.petco.com/product/109708/Intelligent-LED-Light-for-biOrb-and-biUbe.aspx.
I have seen this done before but I do not really know how the person did it and what they connected etc.,?
If you have a better plan I would be happy to listen.

I also know I need a DC adapter(?)...any suggestions for that? And does the Buckpuck just connect to the adapter like a plug or do I need to connect some wires? I do know how to connect the stars in a series but I don't know how to connect the stars to the power supply, to the buckpuck and then to the adapter.

I have only seen these items on the internet so I have not seen them be connected physically...sorry that I sound so new but I would really appreciate your help. This seems like a fun project and every one has to start somewhere...




Last edited by loyalhero90 on July 12th 2010, 10:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on July 11th 2010, 12:29 am

I will gladly help you build this. but woah, there are a few things off about your plan. It has a good concept, but is not as reliable as you want. I can make you a plan with drawings and equipment list. The buckpuck will need an AC-DC adapter and it aslo cannot be plugged in. The buckpuck will have to be sauterd to the adapter. Luxeon LEDs are nice, but not very effecient or controllable. Crees and luxeon run on the exact same concept, but Crees put out higher PAR and they also are brighter. For this tank you will need 12 Cree LEDs. With this many LEDs you can keep any corals you want.

i will get you a complete list set up tommorow. I am ready for bed right now. Very Happy
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by loyalhero90 on July 11th 2010, 4:00 pm

(Clouds open and sunlight shrines through the darkness. Chorus of angels in background can be heard singing 'Hallelujah'!)

Thank you so much! Excited Happy Dance

I knew there had to be some flaw in my plan...which is why I asked for help.

I looked up some of the CREE Leds and I saw this one: CREE XR-E Q5 Cool White 3W LED on Star. The chart said that the lowest output was 107 lm so do you know what the highest output is?
Also would it be easier to use a buckpuck or meanwell driver since I want to simulate the sunrise/sunset effect and the driver comes with a power cord?

Thank you very much!


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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on July 11th 2010, 10:21 pm

I saw your post on NR. lol I will help you out no problem. meanwells need a seperate controller to make dimmable. So two buckpucks will be your choice of drivers. that way you can also control whites and blues seperately.
here is the lsit of things you will need and places to buy them.

the following items can be bought at LED supply.
4 cool white Cree XRE Q5 LEDs
4 royal blue Cree XRE LEDs
24 VDC 60 watt 2.5 Amp power supply
2 700mA constant current output with external dimming with pot
Arctic silver premium thermal adhesive.

This heatsink http://www.heatsinkusa.com/storename/heatsinkusa/dept/263911/ItemDetail-10502730.aspx

You are going to need a soldering iron. Solder of course. And solder flux. Also do you ahve any old fans hanging around?

I will get you a diagram tommorow. Hope I am helping.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by loyalhero90 on July 12th 2010, 12:26 am

You are helping me very much!!! Very Happy
This is in the price range for the amount that I was going to allocate for my aquarium light so all of this is perfect.
I have an old computer that I know has a fan in it but I don't know if my family wants to keep that... even if they haven't used it in a year...
I have also found some fans on rapidLED.com just in case my family won't let go of the old computer.
Also the LEDs are not waterproof so will I have to buy some type of special plastic to put over them?

I am very exited and you are helping me very much. Thank you!! Bounce Happy Dance
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on July 12th 2010, 11:13 am

Its no problem. Radio Shack carries fans. They should have a 12VDC fan and a 12VDC power supply for a very cheap price. I will be working on your visual diagram soon.
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by loyalhero90 on July 12th 2010, 10:15 pm

How many watts for the solder iron? Is 30-watt okay?
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on July 13th 2010, 11:01 am

30watts should be fine. Heck, I use a wood burner. lol. I am still working on teh diagram. Rigth now I am going to buy a new tank to put LEDs on. Excited
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by loyalhero90 on July 13th 2010, 1:32 pm

Okay 30-watts it is! Have fun with your new tank!
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Rambo on July 31st 2010, 10:37 am

I kinda did a few upgrades to the fixture. I connected a project box to the fixture to hold the driver and potentiometer in it. I also took down the one gallon and put the fixture on a 3 gallon. this light can succesfully keep sps in up to 5 gallons. Well, Marsh, how do you know that? Well, the lights on my 14g biocube went out so I recently had to move the LED to the cube. All the softies in the biocube were loving the light. So if it can keep softies in the biocube I am sure it can keep sps in up to 5 gallons.
here is a pic of the new looking fixture

I always loved the pic of the LEDs themselves, they are so freeking bright.


loyal hero- did you build your light?
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Re: LED reef lighting build and guide with three parts to it

Post by Hero on July 31st 2010, 9:22 pm

Way brighttt haha.

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