A History & Backstory On Our Other LED Growing Lights

We talked about our preferred grow lights yesterday, but we sometimes get questions about the “other” lights we use in our main growing tent. They are different and people get curious since it’s not something you see every day.

I actually designed and built these lights way back in 2016. I really wanted to get into LED technology, but at the time, quality LED lighting was going for multiple thousands of dollars. As you might imagine, this was well outside of our budget for growing garden starts. I then discovered this whole subculture of people that were building DIY LED grow lights using what are called COB (or Chip On Board) LED’s. Essentially, I learned everything I could, did all the electrical calculations to make it safe and then chose all the equipment selections I wanted to use. I then worked with a company to develop a “kit” that I could use to build my own lights.

They are entirely passively cooled, using heat sinks to evacuate the heat from the high power LED’s. We actually run the LED’s at half their rated strength, mostly to save power and the fact that we simply don’t need more light strength. Despite their power, the electrical efficiency is so good that they barely increase ambient air temperatures. We learned a ton about LED technology, LED drivers and the general design of lighting systems with this project.

At the time, eight years ago, this was revolutionary. Few people had access to the high quality LED lights we were using at that time. Most everyone that was using LED technology were using those “silly” purple LED’s, which never really made sense to me. (Yeah, it might have been designed by NASA, but the sun ain’t purple, folks!) These lights are still working great eight years later, so that gives you an idea of the longevity you can get from LED grow lights. They’ve now grown over 10,000 plants for us so far! Not too bad for a few hundred dollars at the time!

We use these lights in our grow tent. They are 100% responsible for our initial germination and early plant growth. They run 14 hours a day from early March until about early May when we can safely kick our plants out to our greenhouse.

Honestly, these days, we really wouldn’t recommend anyone go down this DIY route. Not only is it more expensive to DIY, but the commercially available tech today is equally as good. But, it is a super interesting project and you can still do it today. So, if you’re interested in electronics and DIY projects, then something like this might be up your alley. For most people though, going commercial is the way to go. We talked about what we do recommend yesterday, in case you’re curious about that.

So, when you see these “other” lights growing our plants, that’s what they are about and the back story behind them!

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