I see a lot of folks still trying to grow with off-the-shelf “blurple” LED lights. This discussion thread will explore a vastly better alternative, using mid-power LED strips to build your own lights that will deliver better spectrum and far more lumens per sq. meter, at 50% better energy efficiency, for less than half the cost per watt of commercial fixtures.
The key to pulling this off is using recently introduced high-efficiency mid-power LEDs mounted on rigid PCB strips, mounted on simple aluminum sheets or bar stock.
Because the LEDS are only around 3 watts, are spread out across the PCB strip, and are highly efficient, they generate less heat than COBs, and far less heat than HID lights. They generally need no large heatsinks like COBs, and their thin profiles allow the DIYer to employ them in tents, cabinets and micro grows where HIDs, COBs and even CFLs are not tenable due to their heat load and/or vertical space requirements.
This technology is so new that most grow light manufacturers aren’t aware of it, and almost none are employing it in their products. The manufacturers of these mid-power LEDs and strips, Samsung, Phillips, Bridgelux, are focused on the big market for commercial lighting retrofits and so aren’t producing strips designed specifically for the horticultural market yet, so finding the right LED chips, mounted in the right configuration, on the right sized strip, in non-wholesale quantities can be challenging.
So I decided to design my own strips. I’m calling them SolStrips.