groLEDs: Computer Controllable, Adjustable Broad Spectrum, High Brightness "grow 50-LEDs-lamp" kit
The groLEDs kit offers an economical, versatile, safe, efficient, and easy-to-use alternative to traditional and commercial-grade Grow Lamp/Light products.
The three different colors of LEDs all include high luminosity intensity ratings measured in candela’s (cd) instead of ‘normal’ LED millicandela (mcd) ratings. The Blue LEDs emit 57cd (57,000mcd), the White LEDs emit 80cd (80,000mcd), and the Red LEDs emit 80cd (80,000mcd), when they are powered at their nominal operating voltage. The equivalent light output is that of (very bright) 217 (standard) candles when all LEDs are lit.
When the kit is 'for sale' the Web Page will include an additional document, the User's Manual, which includes performance data, listing Lux and Footcandle values for various combinations of LEDs (Red, White, and Blue) at different voltage levels. The "groLEDs 'lit' Photographs" picture (with this overview) were all taken at the lowest light levels possible (very low input voltages) to prevent the 'blinding' of the camera.
Unlike many full spectrum Grow Light Products, which attempt to provide some ‘additional’ red and blue light energy mixed with the standard yellow/white, the groLEDs kit is designed to enable the user to specifically select the light color output based upon growing needs. The color combinations include:
1) OFF (emulating night-time darkness)
2) BLUE Only ON, or
3) RED Only ON, or
4) WHITE Only ON, or
5) BLUE and RED Only ON, or
6) BLUE and WHITE Only ON, or
7) RED and WHITE Only ON, or
8) BLUE and RED and WHITE all ON.
This enables the user to emphasize the Blue end of the spectrum when attempting to promote healthy vegetation growth, while the Red end is used when enhancing the budding and flowering phases of growth, depending upon specific growth requirements.
Common Grow Lamps in the shape of (T5) Florescent Tubes or common incandescent shaped bulbs broadcast their light in almost all directions, requiring mirror-reflectors to aim the light where it is needed by the plants. LED Lamps with narrow beam widths ‘aim’ their light like spot lights right where it is needed by the plants.
Most Grow Lamps, including many ‘hi-tech’ LED Lamp fixtures, only provide on-off capability. The groLEDs kit is designed so that each bank of colors (Blue, White, and Red) can be individually controlled, manually, or automatically via (computer-controlled) relay contacts, or both. This enables the user to control the spectrum and the time that light is on versus off, changing as the growing cycles change on a per-plant basis, if desired.
Mixing water and 115VAC never seemed like a good idea in any kind of growing environment. Nearly every grow light available, including most LED Grow lamps, are powered by 115VAC, whether by a power cord that plugs into a nearby socket, or one that screws into a lamp socket wired for 115VAC. The groLEDs kit is designed to be run from +5Vdc, enabling the user to safely use water near the groLEDs kit fixture without fear of electrocution. The user places the 5volts power supply in a safe dry location remote from the growing (watering) area. Again, the "User Manual" will list the light output values and the operating current levels for a broad range of operating voltages, from about +3.0volts up to over +5.5volts.
Compared to all other grow light solutions the groLEDs kit is very inexpensive. Not including the printed circuit board and optional components, the JameCo catalog list-price for all 50 LEDs and their current limiters is just $21.45.
Many groLEDs kits can be powered from a single, extremely inexpensive, ($15.00 common) Computer (tower) power supply. Because these power supplies source high current levels for both +3.3volts and +5.0volts, relay control of light levels and colors is very simple to implement.
LEDs have a life-cycle measured in tens-of-thousands-of hours, or many years; significantly longer than any other grow-light solution. Many commercially available 115VAC powered LED Grow bulbs include integrated AC-to-DC converters to create the proper power parameters for powering the LEDs within the bulb-fixture. These converters, being active electronics subjected to relatively high-heat conditions are prone to fail long before the actual light-emitting-diodes themselves. The groLEDs kit uses only passive components, making it much more dependable for many years of service. Unlike most Christmas LED strings, if and when a LED fails on the groLEDs kit, all the other LEDs remain lit without changing their intensities.
Since the groLEDs kit is completely passive, it is possible for the user to vary the light intensity, as needed, by varying the +5volts input (down to +3.0volts up to about +5.5volts), to decrease or increase the brightness level, as needed for specific growing requirements. Details about these voltage levels, and the overall power requirements, are included in the "User Manual" for this kit.
The small 1.95” x 2.6” 2-layer printed circuit board uses thru-hole components only, making it a kit that can be built by any level of expertise. All 50 LEDs are mounted on one side of the board (see the picture with this overview), and all of the other components, including optional ones, are mounted on the backside of the board. Since this is not a typical assembly process to include thru-hole components on both sides of a printed circuit board, the instructions walk the kit-builder through the process to ensure reliable solder connections and no scorched LEDs (or fingers). There are four 0.2” diameter holes in each of the corners of the groLEDs kit assembly for mounting, or hanging the fixture for usage.
My wife and live in the woods where consistent growing (sun)light is unheard of, making it difficult to start new plants, and even to keep mature plants growing properly during the winter. We have tried many artificial light sources; all of them with various short-comings; most of them extremely expensive. Necessity is the Mother of Invention. I hope that you enjoy the fruits of this labor.