The Mean Well HLG line is the undisputed king of drivers in the DIY LED grow light world. The goal for this series of videos is to provide a complete breakdown of everything you need to know about them, whether you’re totally new to DIY LED, or a seasoned vet. We’ll be covering:
- Constant current vs. constant voltage and the pros and cons of each
- Series and parallel wiring, and when you might need to use each type
- A-type vs. B-type drivers and some considerations you’ll need to make when picking between them
- Dimming single and multiple drivers
- Reading the data sheets and applying the important specifications
- Matching any LED to a CC and CV driver
Part 1 of this series provides an overview on the different types of drivers within the HLG line and focuses on constant current models and series wiring.
When it comes to wiring LED COB circuits, series configurations with constant current drivers are generally the easiest way to go – especially if you’re new to electronics. Since LEDs are semi-conductors and operate a little differently than most basic circuits, it’s far easier to simply drive them at their rated current with a constant current driver than it is to try and produce that current by providing a constant voltage. If you check the datasheet and find that your LED COB has a typical forward voltage of 36V at 2400mA, you don’t want to strive to give the LED 36 volts, you want to strive to give it 2400mA at whatever voltage that current happens to occur at.
When you’re picking your components and planning out your system, it’s very important to match your LED COBs with a proper driver. The goal of this guide is to get you comfortable with the basics involved with planning a simple system. If you’re brand new to growing with LED COBs, I’d recommend reading our COB LED Basics for Beginners article.
After you’ve read through this post, take a look at the DIY Guides page for a list of more specific and advanced guides and resources.
When it comes to COBs for indoor growing, the majority of people are currently using 1 of 3 proven brands: Cree, Citizen, or Bridgelux. In my opinion, if you’re looking for low-current efficiency and aren’t overly concerned with cost, go with the Crees. If you’re looking for a good all-around COB that’s easier on the wallet, or intend to drive your COBs with more current, go with Bridgelux or Citizen. The new gen. 7 & SE Veros and Version 6 Citi’s are really closing the gap in terms of efficiency, and can be found considerably cheaper (here in Canada, anyway).
- Currently, the most popular COBs from Cree are the CXB3070 and CXB3590 models, with the 3590s being the best Cree offers for this application. The 3070 is a good alternative, and, while not cheap, is less expensive than the 3590.
- The Bridgelux COBs used by most indoor gardeners are from the Vero Gen.7 or SE Series. There are 4 different sizes in the Vero series: Vero 10, Vero 13, Vero 18, and Vero 29; the number reflects the size of the Light Emitting Surface. Of these 4, the 18 and 29 models are most popular. While these COBs are not as efficient as the Crees, they still put out a lot of light (at higher currents) and are significantly less expensive.
- The Citizen COBs that most growers are using are the Version 6 CLU048 units. They come in a few different configurations like the CLU048-1212 (contains 12 diodes in parallel and 12 in series) or the CLU048-1818 (18 in parallel, 18 in series). There is also a larger model which runs at a considerably higher voltage but puts out a ton of light: the CLU058.
Aside from cost, there are a handful of important specifications that you’ll need to consider when choosing your COB. I suggest you read through the points below, then when you have a better understanding of these few specs, read this post on how to easily compare COB LEDs using manufacturer-provided simulation spreadsheets.