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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning an LED build for my display tank and have most aspects figured out. I do, however, hope to get some advice on the drivers. Here are the few options I am considering for a 120-128 LED unit:

1) 9 mean well ELN dimmable drivers, each can handle up to 14 LEDs

2) 2 inventronics 200W dimmable, which can handle up to 81 LEDs

3) other?

I would wire in series for both instances... I do not want to deal with parallel wiring. Both options would allow me to use a single controller, most likely the DDC-01 as it's easy to use and can accommodate the drivers above. The price likely won't be much different between the two options but option 2 would obviously result in less clutter. The problem with option 2, however, is that this driver is only for use by experts due to its higher voltage... and this could lead to some issues potentially.

So I ask you, LED build experts, what do you run, why, and what do you suggest I use? Keep in mind that I do not have electrical background other than building an LED unit to light my sump. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter!
 

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I am planning an LED build for my display tank and have most aspects figured out. I do, however, hope to get some advice on the drivers. Here are the few options I am considering for a 120-128 LED unit:

1) 9 mean well ELN dimmable drivers, each can handle up to 14 LEDs

2) 2 inventronics 200W dimmable, which can handle up to 81 LEDs

3) other?

I would wire in series for both instances... I do not want to deal with parallel wiring. Both options would allow me to use a single controller, most likely the DDC-01 as it's easy to use and can accommodate the drivers above. The price likely won't be much different between the two options but option 2 would obviously result in less clutter. The problem with option 2, however, is that this driver is only for use by experts due to its higher voltage... and this could lead to some issues potentially.

So I ask you, LED build experts, what do you run, why, and what do you suggest I use? Keep in mind that I do not have electrical background other than building an LED unit to light my sump. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter!
I would not run that many ELN drivers. Going serial with that many LEDs you are going to need a high voltage driver, be careful. Your solder joints need to be very clean and smooth or you can get current jumping. With that many LEDs parallel is really the way to go. Why don't you want to do parallell? You are not doing anything different other than building several series strings and then connecting them together. Add some fuses and you are all set and safe.

which drivers will work best is going to depend on what LEDs you run and at what mA you plan to run them? If you are running these at 50-50 blue/white, 64 LEDs with vf of 3.4 running at 700 mA is going to need to draw over 5 amps.
 

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here is a simple layout for a 60 LED parallel rig. find a 48 Volt 3.5 amp driver. You need 1 for blue and 1 for white. Look at the meanwell HLG or CLG-150-_B (the B series are dimmable) Even if you had 3.2 amps you could run in the upper 600 mA range which is enough. I would also add PN# UB5C-1.0-ND (1.0 Ohm 1% 5W resistors), just add them on each string next to the resistor. This way you can put a meter on the resistor legs and get the readings of how many mA are running through each string

 

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Yo McPuff, how big is the tank again? May have some better ideas depending on it's dimensions that will make things simplier.

Here's the catch 22 with big drivers. The longer the series of LEDs is the less you have to worry about parallel legs blowing up and killing the other LEDs and the easier the circuit is to solder and trouble-shoot. However, long serial runs mean higher voltage, and the higher the voltage the more likely sloppy solders will arc, cause shorts, and drive you nuts. I recall when I moved from 24volt bucks to 48volt Mean-Wells, and I swear I had to resolder everything...which only taught me to pay more attention to soldering. 100volt fixed current driver? Your braver than I am.

Parallel runs are given a bad rap, and deservedly so with small builds. However, with large builds you often don't have a choice. Or, have to resort to many smaller drivers which works, but amounts to a lot clutter.

The problem with fuses is they only work if the circuit fails as planned. When dealing with a large block of aluminum and hundreds of solder joints often the fuse gets bypassed. Still, parallel runs aren't that dangerous *if* you scale correctly. Lets say you have two parallel runs each getting an amp, and one leg fails. Without a mirror / breaker the one remaining run gets 2amps, and that can be bad news for anything other than a XM-L or XP-G. However, lets say you have four parallel runs, and you lose a single leg. The remaining runs get a 25% current boost, but that's not such a big deal. You see a section is out when you get home from work, and you fix it. Nothing is harned. So ironically parallel runs get safer the more you have. Hope that helps. Kick us those tank specs though. Might have an idea to reduce the number of LEDs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, no problem. Tank is 180 with 72" x 24" footprint and 24" high. I do have a canopy so I can hide the drivers and controller pretty easily. Also gives me an easy mount option for the LED units.

Just to clarify, I do NOT want a 100volt fixed current driver! :0)

As far as having 9 drivers in series, what is the following considered:

3 drivers per channel on a DDC-01 controller. Is that the same as what blasterman described... that they are all in series?

I appreciate the help as I am mostly ignorant on electrical issues. It is fun to learn about it though!
 

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I'm referring to logical runs of LED's. With the Mean Well 48D you'd be running a single series of LED per each controller, and then plugging the Mean Well(s) into your controller.

With a higher current driver you split the current in parallel runs of the series above to get your required current, and everything else works the same. Pretty sure that's what Reeferdale was referring to. Both have advantages and potential pitfalls. A lot easier working with fewer drivers, but you have a lot more things dependant on getting that circuit right.

As for tank size, not trying to throw a lot at you, but I really encourage big tank builders to try and think beyond 3watt LEDs. Blue LED's beyond 3watt are junk in my experience and need to be avoided because the big guns don't make them. White LEDs on the other hand over 3watt are state of the art, and both Cree and Bridgelux make premium whites up to tens of watts. There's no reason you shouldn't look at neutral XM-L's, drive them at ~2.5amps, and circle them with royals with the same angle optic. Evil and I have done this with 1000 lumen Bridgelux and the design is clearly superior over a typical 3watt layout because it can match the impact of halides. Fewer LEDs, less soldering, and far better punch on a bigger tank.

With a 24x24 tank and a low canopy you would likely not need optics and just run a series of clusters along the middle. Too bad you don't live on the West Side because I'd bring one over and show you.
 

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Parallel runs are given a bad rap, and deservedly so with small builds. However, with large builds you often don't have a choice. Or, have to resort to many smaller drivers which works, but amounts to a lot clutter.

The problem with fuses is they only work if the circuit fails as planned. When dealing with a large block of aluminum and hundreds of solder joints often the fuse gets bypassed. Still, parallel runs aren't that dangerous *if* you scale correctly. Lets say you have two parallel runs each getting an amp, and one leg fails. Without a mirror / breaker the one remaining run gets 2amps, and that can be bad news for anything other than a XM-L or XP-G. However, lets say you have four parallel runs, and you lose a single leg. The remaining runs get a 25% current boost, but that's not such a big deal. You see a section is out when you get home from work, and you fix it. Nothing is harned. So ironically parallel runs get safer the more you have. Hope that helps. Kick us those tank specs though. Might have an idea to reduce the number of LEDs.
I have found that once a string blows the fuse, all the others also blow. I am running HLG-240-48B driver (5 amp). Before ever plugging anything in you HAVE TO check each solder joint to be sure there are no grounds to the sink. Once you are clear on that a .25 fuse is cheap insurance. I have 252 cree XP series LEDs run off 4 of the HLG-240 drivers. 2 drivers for the whites 66 on each driver, 132 total whites (6 strings of 11 LEDs CW and some NW). 2 drivers for blues 60 on each driver 120 total blues (5 strings of 12 LEDs RB and some BL). I agree that using the XML or 'bigger' LEDs could help to reduce the number of LEDs needed and I would try to go that route if I were designing this today. The reason I would stay away from 9 or 10 of the ELN drivers is there is no PFC with them. I am not an expert but I did not want to take the chance based on some reading I did. I talked with Evil early on when I was learning how to build an LED rig, you guys probably have better technical advice than I do, I know Evil keeps on on all the latest tech.

McPuff, If I can lend any help let me know
 

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You do realize that LED's kill coral right? :3195: Sorry, but the thread above made my all time absurd top ten list. I had a 30gal go bad back in 2001 lit with a 175halide, so I'm guessing LEDs from the future got together why Skynet and sent back a robotic flashlight to cause my tank to crash in 2001.

Anyways Reeferdale, Evil has given an approval on the Inventronics and seems to prefer them over the Mean Wells for a couple technical reasons. I have no real preference and would assume people use what they're comfortable with simply because we both know it's good soldering that counts more than anything with large builds.

One thing that greatly helped me is a simple 10watt $2.00 Thermistor. I can plug in my driver at full power and walk it down a line of LEDs and safely check for shorts without hurting anything. Much quicker and more reliable than using a continuity checker.

The big neutral cluster concept design is the best design I've seen in the industry in a long time - bar none. I have a single cluster on a small sink I use to show other reefers and LFS stores when they don't believe me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Lots to think about indeed! Blaster, I do like the idea of 1 larger neutral white LED surrounded by the appropriate number of 3W royal blue LEDs. It seems much easier to arrange. I'll have to work on a new schematic for that.

As far as the quality of solder joints, can you be more specific? Since I am new this scares me a bit... though on my practice build I made sure the connections were very strong. Not sure that is the same as quality though.

I'll definitely have to stay in contact with you guys about the parallel wiring as it sounds like I may have to go that route. I just want to make sure it's as safe as possible and I want to do everything possible to make sure I won't get a blown string (or all strings!).

The thing I'm having a hard time with is how to get identical parallel strings. I plan to add Red, Green, and UV to each heat sink (just one per). Otherwise, the total LED numbers look like this: 48 royal, 24 blue, 36 neutral white (12 nw XM-L). With the rguv it would be 60 per driver (5 strings?) and without them it would be 54 per driver (# per string?)... and then what to do with the rguv?

I also noticed that ledgroupbuy.com has a triple CREE star with 1 neutral white and 2 royal blue LEDs. This also reduces the # of LEDs but in a different way. Any experience with these?

Thanks again guys!
 

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just be careful mixing LEDs on the same string. They all have different characteristcs (vf, max amps, etc) . If you do add different kinds of LEDs, make sure all the strings are the same, if you add a green, then add a green to each string ( 5 string, 5 greens). You can probably get away without having identical strings, but you really have to understand the LED specs and what/how you mix them. It would be much easier/safer to build the same strings. I combined NW and CW on the same driver, and RB and BL on the other drivers, but I made sure that each string had the same kind and number of LEDs.

I have some WW LEDs and I was thinking about adding these and some others also (red, UV, green). if I do this I will probably just get the ELN 60-48 driver(s) and I can run about 20 - 26 more LEDs on this one driver if I do it in parallel or maybe just get 2 drivers and run 13 serial from each. I probably would not even bother with dimming these, just have them come on during growth photo period.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good points Dale. I was thinking along those lines as well. I don't think I'll be able to run identical strands AND include the RGUV. So perhaps it would be best to just use a constant current driver capable of running 12 LEDs and just turn them on during max photoperiod as you suggested. Probably would be the easiest way to do it. Without worrying about those I can surely run identical strands if I only have royal, blue, and neutral white. Then I'll just make sure to use 2 blue, 8 rb, 2 nw per strand (for example)... or some deviation thereof.
 

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Good points Dale. I was thinking along those lines as well. I don't think I'll be able to run identical strands AND include the RGUV. So perhaps it would be best to just use a constant current driver capable of running 12 LEDs and just turn them on during max photoperiod as you suggested. Probably would be the easiest way to do it. Without worrying about those I can surely run identical strands if I only have royal, blue, and neutral white. Then I'll just make sure to use 2 blue, 8 rb, 2 nw per strand (for example)... or some deviation thereof.
exactly - I had 6 strings of whites with 11 LEDs on each string (on each driver). So I ran 12 NW LEDs and 54 CW, I put 2 NW on each string. that is the general idea. Same with the blues, I put 2 BL on each string of RB I have. Putting the whole thing to gether is not hard, it is checking every solder joint for grounds and then balancing all the strings gets to e a ***PAIN*** when you have so many strings to work with. I would recomend you buy at least 2 extra LEDs for each strring, I found it is easier a aome point to just swap out an LED than to keep moving them all over.

I am going to pick up a couple of the cheaper ELN drivers and run some colored LEDs later this year. I think the NW/CW and BL/RB are enough to get a decent spectrum. There is a lot of debate whether UV maked any difference or not, noone has a clear answer. I tryuly believe that some poor performing fixtures are becasue all they have are CW and RB - nothing else. I wish I would have actually added more NW and BL to my rig, I only have about 24 of each. As for the other colors, Green, Red and Cyan I am going to add these just for looks, I really don't think they will have much impact on the spectrum, but for the cost (<$200) I would rather be safe than sorry. I already have 6 warm whites so I will probably add 6 eacjh of the others as well. I now that the specs on these other LEDs are all over the board so I will probably just create 2 strings with the same # of colors and run them around 300 - 400 mA, should be safe with that. I am actually going to be posting some build pics up on my thread this week. I finally got all the pics togehter over the weekend.
 
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