After sifting through my posts, I realized that I’ve neglected to write something that’s a little more suitable for somebody who’s brand spankin’ new to the world of LED COBs. This guide will serve as a short introduction to the basic elements of COB LED lighting systems, and is a good place to start if you’re looking to make the switch from other types of lighting, or if you’re new to indoor gardening altogether.
COB LED systems are actually quite simple – there are only a handful of different parts, and they all go together pretty easily. The main components of a COB LED system are:
- The COB LEDs themselves
- Heat sinks that the COBs are mounted to
- LED drivers that power the COBs
- The wires that interconnect the COBs and drivers.
Not so bad, right? Let’s delve a little further in.
A note prior to getting started: most people that build space buckets use them to grow weed – the links I have provided to the official space bucket website showcase some pretty impressive engineering of the systems themselves but are NSFW since many build logs include pictures of weed growing, so don’t visit during work!
After discovering and browsing the r/spacebuckets subreddit and seeing all the incredible things the folks from that community have built, I was inspired to build my own pair of space buckets using the 2 LED COB grow lights I put together last week. If this post intrigues you, I recommend you check out the subreddit as well as visiting the space buckets website itself.
It’s been a little over a week now since I shared pictures of my little herb grow and things are definitely moving along! I came down with a mean fever when the first plants were starting to sprout, and wasn’t able to check on them, so they grew quite leggy. I couldn’t believe how tall they got in such a short period of time. If I was on my game, I would have had them under the lights as soon as they broke soil, but I’m hoping I can salvage the leggy seedlings when I repot them by burying them in the soil a little deeper than normal.
I threw 3 lights into my wire rack to get things going quickly, but I plan to revamp it. I’ve ordered this Black & White Poly to wrap around the rack and reflect light back in towards the plants.
Time for another quick guide. In this one, I’ll go over how to use a digital multimeter to check 2 important characteristics of your LED COB circuit: voltage and current. If you haven’t worked much with electricity, I’d recommend brushing up on the very basics, so you can minimize your risk of zapping yourself. These circuits can be very powerful and you need to exercise caution when working with the voltages and currents inherent to high-powered LED systems. Be careful!
There’s nothing like a little indoor gardening to restore your chi when you’re nice and hungover from a Halloween party the night before. Today, I mustered the motivation to get all my seeds into soil, coco coir, and a couple rockwool cubes to start germinating. I’m starting a whole whack of seeds, since I figure I’ll probably inadvertently kill off 80% of them anyway. To recap, I’ve decided to grow a nice little variety of herbs, with a few other favourites of mine.
I visited a seed store called Apache Seeds today to browse through and pick out what I wanted to grow this winter. It’s getting very difficult to find seeds here at this time of year, but these guys had a great selection and are open year-round. I’ll definitely be visiting again. Last winter I started several different types of peppers in January, and they did really well. The only problem was that nobody but me wanted to eat them. With that in mind, I based my choices this year on what will prove enjoyable for my family and friends as well – here’s what I’ll be growing this Fall/Winter:
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.