Fixed Lighting - My price plummeted

AnAppleSnail

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I've seen Cree LEDs (XM-L, XP-G2) under $2.00 each in small volumes. That takes a big bite out of the project cost of anything LED. What gives!?

My present plan is to grow delicious tomatoes this winter. Southern Virginia doesn't allow tomatoes to even overwinter in a non-heated greenhouse, so I'd like to grow inside with my hydroponic lettuce. The light requirements for fruit are MUCH higher than for leaves, so I need high-intensity light. I prefer to avoid arc-lamps, so LEDs have been on the drawing board, waiting for the Lumen/$ to get where I want.

At work we just installed a huge overhaul of our lighting. Every Metal-Halide and fluorescent light in the plant got replaced with LED troffers and LED high bay lighting. So far we like the change - The price was right, and so is the warranty service. I think Cree and others are making inroads into the cost per unit as they produce it. The market forces alone will drive LEDs into every light possible.

The $/hour of my time is as high as ever, but I'm finding such low LED prices that it's practical to build my own lighting again. I periodically update a spreadsheet I keep, listing the Lumens per Dollar of LED lighting. I'd set myself a target of 1 cent per lumen, with the whole fixture (Wall plug to heatsink and optics) included. Even with $20/foot heatsink costs, that's freakin' cheap for lighting. Four months ago I was at about $0.02 per lumen, but this is a huge step forward in my projects.

Next step: To see if the vendor delivers. With any luck, we'll see more price points like this. Best regards,
 

Steve K

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hmm... just noticed that for my latest bike light project, the XP-E2 cost $2.44, the star cost $1, and the optic was $3.95. The optic may be a bit pricier than I expected, but the LED price is good.

The other good thing is that I didn't mess up when reflowing the LEDs onto the stars. I hadn't done this before, and just heated up the star (on its edge) with a soldering iron.

Personally, I think I've made everything that I need to make that uses single LEDs. Now I think I want to make up some more lights that can wire to mains power directly. I did make a pricey 100W bulb replacement with a few Seoul Acrich2 modules. Now they have a generation 3 Acrich module with better efficiency, and I think (??) other companies are making similar AC modules? That seems like an area where prices can come down a bit as companies make the multi-die chips in volume. I saw that Cree has a 4.4 watt multi-die package called the MH-B. It's got a Vf of 37v, and is in a 5mm x 5mm package... tiny! That should be an improvement over the multi-die packages in my Acrich 2 modules.
 

AnAppleSnail

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Well, I got a shipping confirmation: 40 of the LEDs, and a few of the optics. I'll consider my choices for replacement optics.

That's $57.20 for 40 XP-G2s on 20mm star, $25 for a MakersLED heatsink, and $12 for a hanging kit. I have a 60W 12v PSU kicking around, so I'll wire 20 of the XP-G2s in a 4s5p array. I'll estimate 5600 lumens for $100, or 56 lumens per dollar. That's about 150% as many as my estimates from this time last year.

In other words, I've gone from about 2.2 cents per lumen with reputable parts, to 1.8. Not bad! Still hoping for 1 cent per lumen, but what can you do (Besides cheap out on some parts and blow up some expensive parts)?
 

slebans

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Moncton, NB Canada
Well, I got a shipping confirmation: 40 of the LEDs, and a few of the optics. I'll consider my choices for replacement optics.

That's $57.20 for 40 XP-G2s on 20mm star, $25 for a MakersLED heatsink, and $12 for a hanging kit. I have a 60W 12v PSU kicking around, so I'll wire 20 of the XP-G2s in a 4s5p array. I'll estimate 5600 lumens for $100, or 56 lumens per dollar. That's about 150% as many as my estimates from this time last year.

In other words, I've gone from about 2.2 cents per lumen with reputable parts, to 1.8. Not bad! Still hoping for 1 cent per lumen, but what can you do (Besides cheap out on some parts and blow up some expensive parts)?

I listened in on the Cree Quarterly earnings call yesterday. Their LED chip business was down in terms of unit sales and the gross margin got hammered due to aggressive discounting. Sounds like you directly benefitted from their discounting.
 

AnAppleSnail

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I listened in on the Cree Quarterly earnings call yesterday. Their LED chip business was down in terms of unit sales and the gross margin got hammered due to aggressive discounting. Sounds like you directly benefitted from their discounting.

I work for a private company and forgot that public ones do that. Neat! Since the market size of LEDs is going up up, it is sad to hear of the margins plummeting. This is about the same market force that has made the flashlight market so boring lately.
 

funkychateau

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How do you go about selecting a "good" LED for a grow light? Since most LEDs do not output a smooth broadband spectrum, do you look for an emitter that is rich in one certain wavelenght?
 

AnAppleSnail

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How do you go about selecting a "good" LED for a grow light? Since most LEDs do not output a smooth broadband spectrum, do you look for an emitter that is rich in one certain wavelenght?

If I wanted to optimize growth, I would probably do some research into selective lighting. However, for an appliance in the center of my kitchen, I chose pleasing white light. This LED will supplement the existing sets of 4000K and 5000K T8 fluorescents on the lettuce shelf (A shelf for growing sandwich lettuce and leafy herbs). With any luck, I'll be able to grow winter tomatoes and peppers next to the cilantro, basil, and lettuce.

For optimum growth, there are a lot of people touting an algae-specific wavelength of red and blue. I have had pretty good results with neutral-white lights, and they don't make my rooms look crazy.
 

AnAppleSnail

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We'll see this week or something. The site still sells them at about this price.
 
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