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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. I know that people get pretty excited about LED lighting and I include myself as one of those people. They look amazing and they save a lot of electricity. I have been looking at different options for pre-built LED strips/tops/pendants/etc. and they are not cheap to say the least. I do understand that they will pay for themselves in about two years just from energy savings. However, the upfront cost is not possible for me at the moment (baby on the way). But I did see some cool stuff about building your own LED system. From the videos I've watched it doesn't look very hard (and I'm told it's not hard), it would be MUCH cheaper than buying a pre-built system, I can repair anything that needs repair, I can control the output, and it looks awesome.

I do not need to build a housing or anything like that as this will be in a canopy. At this point I have 3 x 175W MH with 2 x 40W actinic... not a ton of light but the corals do pretty well... but I would like to increase the light obviously.

I know I can get everything I need from rapidled.com. My question is what should I get? Should I use 3 heat sinks or 4? How many 3W CREE LEDs should I shoot for on each heat sink (24?)? And what ratio of white:blue should I use (3:1)? I know the # of drivers will depend on the # of LEDs but I assume I'll probably need 2.

Any suggestions you can give me would be a big help, especially for those that have undertaken this task already. Tips, secrets, and comments are also more than welcome. Thanks in advance!
 

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i would try and get around 250 watts of the cree led's in place of what you have that is about 40% of the current output you have. if you went 300 watts you could run your led a little less hard increasing the longevity of the led's. (keep in mind you can always turn the led's down but you cant keep turning them up.)

as far as color goes, that is personal choice as usual you will want to be sure you have full spectrum lighting im not sure what the spectrum on the "white" cree led's are if they are 6500k then i would probably go with a 1:1 ratio that would be my personal choice i like a 10 to 12 k look having the 300 watts would also give you a bit more of a choice for color too because you would be able to increase or decrease the colors to get that perfect mix for you and your corals.

as far as heat sinks go the cooler the led's run the better they will actually put out more light per watt the colder they are run as well as they will run longer kinda like a computer the colder the solid state components run the longer they last

hope this helps
 

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2" Rule of Thumb

3w Crees should be just about 2" apart on one of RapidLED.com's heat sinks so that is probably your best guideline to follow. Those babes get hot. Also if you want to be able to control the whites and blues separately you'll want at least 2 dimmable controllers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks! This is obviously new to me and I'm doing my best to figure it out. I'm going to do a test run with only a few LEDs in order to light my sump. For that, I'm just going to probably use 4 CREEs, a long/skinny heat sink, and a constant current driver. I don't need to worry about dimming, etc as this will just be for lighting caulerpa and the underbelly of the tank. But I can practice soldering, etc. so it should be good.

For the main display tank, here's what I'm thinking:

6 ELN-60-48D dimmable drivers (each running 14 CREEs)

1 DDC-01 PWM Controller - I believe this can control blue and white lighting independently but if not, then I would go with 2. It can control all 6 drivers anyway. And I'm not sure I'll need individual control if I'm trying to simulate sunrise and sunset and that's about it.

2 or 4 heat sinks, depending on orientation... though it would be good to have 2 - 30" sinks running length-wise above the tank. Otherwise, 4 - 16" sinks running perpendicular to tank and spaced appropriately. Planning to drill and tap sinks.

Potentiometer, multimeter, wires, power cables, screws, etc.

72 - 84 CREEs. Not sure about color breakdown.
Thinking about cool white (5,000 - 8,300K)
and Blue (mix of blue and royal blue) ??

So... any tips on the following would be most appreciated:

color breakdown: how many whites, how many blues, what types of white/blue, any other colors to add (or just get stunner strips at some point?)

wiring: in parallel or series? Does it really matter?

color control: Should I control blue and white independently? If I only care about sunrise, sunset, and daylight is that control necessary?

Thanks everyone!
 

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Tagging along as I'm in the same boat. I too am leaning toward leds for my 180 build. Hpefully some more people will chime in.
 
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