LED INFORMATION ~ LED 101 ( led )

Hi Folks !

Well, the long awaited LED information is here !

This will be as detailed as I can possibly be, and I will attempt to be as accurate as possible.

If you know electronics, and you find mistakes or blatantly incorrect information PLEASE correct me !

LED’s are the wave of the future for lighting. No doubt about it. They use milliwatts of power and compared to other forms of lighting they hold up well in terms of brightness, depth of colors, power use, and especially lifetime.

On average a LED will burn for 100,000 hours the equivalent of 11 years. Not all LED’s are the same, as in everything else, the quality of manufacturing is key. ALL LED’s grow progressively dimmer as they burn, it is the MFG quality that determines how fast that arc of burn down occurs. Some will lose a lot of brightness in their first few hours, while others will take years to lose noticeable brightness. With that in mind you have to consider your application of the light, and if it is critical that it performs consistently.

All LED’s are DC voltage.

While there are AC house current “bulbs” that are LED, they contain in their base an AC to DC converter. Here again the quality of manufacturing is key, as lifetime can be considerably shorter due to burnout of the converter while the LED’s in the “bulb” may still be functional. (so DON”T throw a AC LED “bulb” away, dismantle it and harvest the parts !!)

The COST of the AC-LED “bulb” is NOT a guarantee of quality ! Some are quite cheap, some are quite expensive, and sometimes the cheap one will outlast and outperform the more expensive one ! The LED market is in it’s infancy, and as such it is the wild west out there. Myriads of manufacturers mostly in Asia, Myriads of stores, and even greater number of websites are popping up everyday.

Just now I did a simple search on google on the term “LED”:

About 425,000,000 results (0.11 seconds)

So, you can spend hours and hours of looking at websites and never reach the last of the 425 MILLION sites !

I will attempt to narrow it down a tad for you, or at least make you a more educated consumer.

If you are still using incandescent light bulbs, you are wasting money.

I know all the pundits are angry because congress just banned the old light bulb, and even more angry that the alternative: the CFL-Compact Fluorescent Lamp, contain Mercury, have strict disposal rules, and are subject to the same quality of manufacture quirks as everything else. Again, they are not made all the same, they have differing burnout rates, and most notably differing color temperatures, (valued in Kelvin (K)

 The uninformed consumer, and a store with limited supply, often result in complaints that the CFL is not the same as the old incandescent light bulb, which is true, however, CFL come in many flavors of K and you should be aware of the fact, so that you can purchase the right CFL for your application. For example, the CFL you use in the garage will NOT be the same CFL you want in the lamp at your reading chair. Finally, the quality of manufacture definitely affects the quality of the light, and there is some false claims of meeting a certain Kelvin range. So it is best to look for the UL, and “RoHs compliant”{Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive} labels. Here again, price is not the determinant of quality, I have purchased expensive CFL that burnt out in a few days and have cheapo’s in the outside porch lights that have been there for 14 years and going strong. {I am saving my burnt out CFL lamps, as I can adapt an LED array to the housing, not recommended for you at home as you have to break the glass and release the mercury etc, I’m old, something is gonna get me anyway 😉 }

 The same differences exist in LED lighting.

Let’s jump into some common terms when discussing light and light devices:

I got these definitions from another website  a long time ago:

Ambient: The surrounding light level in a given area. It is also the temperature in which a LED light source is expected to operate in. Referring to light, it is the light given off by the Sun, Moon, other light fixtures nearby or even within the same space.

 Amperage: The strength of an electrical current measured in amperes. The higher the amperage number, the higher the ability to place more devices on a circuit that will be driven by that amperage.

 Amp: The basic unit of electric current adopted under the System International d’Unites; “a typical household circuit carries 15 to 50 amps”

 Bulb: A bulb is a light bulb, a flashlight bulb, a MR16 or E27 light bulb. A LED light bulb is a finished product that has the LEDs installed, electrical components installed and is ready to be used by the consumer. A LED light bulb is screwed in place, twisted and locked in place, pressed into sockets or contact terminals.

A LED is not a bulb, but a bulb can contain LEDs

 Bulb Base: The part of the bulb that is used to set it into place and to make contact with electricity. There are many types and sizes. Most common are E26/27, USA and European standard household size, or medium base as it often is called. The 26 or 27 equates to the diameter measurement in millimeters of the threads of a screw-in bulb base. This type of bulb also includes the PAR 20, PAR 30 and PAR38 types, and a few others. There are MR16 and MR11 type base LED bulbs as well as GU10s.

 Correlated color temperature (CCT) is the measure used to describe the relative color appearance of a white light source. CCT indicates whether a light source appears more yellow/gold/orange or more blue, in terms of the range of available shades of “white.” CCT is given in Kelvin’s (unit of absolute temperature). See also Chromaticity

 Chromaticity: Chromaticity tells you what the lamp itself or a neutral surface illuminated by a lamp will look like. Chromaticity sets the “tone” or atmosphere of a room: warm, cool or something in between. Chromaticity (sometimes called color temperature) is usually measured in Kelvin’s. It can also be defined by using x and y coordinated against a standard chromaticity scale developed by the Commission Internationale de l’Éclairage (CIE). See also CCT.

 Color Rendering Index (CRI): indicates how well a light source renders colors of people and objects, compared to a reference source. A measurement of the amount of color shift that objects undergo when lighted by a light source as compared with the color of those same objects when seen under a reference light source of comparable color temperature. LED light CRI values generally range from 60(average) to 90(best). High CRI equates to sharper, crisper, more natural colored pictures while at the same time reducing glare.

 Color Temperature: A measure of the color of a light source relative to a black body at a particular temperature expressed in degrees Kelvin (K). Incandescent lights have a low color temperature (approximately 2800K) and have a red-yellowish tone; daylight has a high color temperature (approximately 6000K) and appears bluish (the most popular fluorescent light, Cool White, ia rated at 4100K). Lamps with color temperatures below 5000K tend to be more yellow/red.

 Foot-Candle: The unit is defined as the amount of illumination the inside surface of an imaginary 1-foot radius sphere would be receiving if there were a uniform point source of one candela in the exact center of the sphere. Basically, the amount of light that a single candle would provide to a 1ft. radius sphere.

 Full Spectrum: A light bulb or lamp that produces a light spectrum that covers the entire range of visible light (400-700nm) without gaps in its spectral output. White LEDs are inherently a full spectrum light source.

 General illumination: is a term used to distinguish between lighting that illuminates tasks, spaces, or objects from lighting used in indicator or purely decorative applications. In most cases, general illumination is provided by white light sources, including incandescent, fluorescent, high-intensity discharge sources, and white LEDs. Lighting used for indication or decoration is often monochromatic, as in traffic lights, exit signs, vehicle brake lights, signage, and holiday lights.

 Intensity: Is a measure of the time-averaged energy flux or amount of light striking a given area. For bulbs alone this is measured in terms of lumens while for lighting fixtures it is measured in lux (lumens/sq. meter).

 Kelvin Color Temperature: A measure of the color of a light source relative to a black body at a particular temperature expressed in degrees Kelvin (K). Incandescent lights have a low color temperature (approximately 2800K) and have a red-yellowish tone; daylight has a high color temperature (approximately 6000K) and appears bluish (the most popular fluorescent light, Cool White, is rated at 4100K). Today, the phosphors used in fluorescent lamps can be blended to provide any desired color temperature in the range from 2800K to 6000K. Lamps with color temperatures below 5000K tend to be more yellow/red, lamps rated between 5000 and 6000K are viewed as white, while lamps above 6000K tend to have a blue cast.

 L.E.D.: LED means light emitting diode. LEDs are a solid state device and do not require heating of a filament to create light. Rather, electricity is passed through a chemical compound that is excited and that generates light.

 LED Cluster or Array: A group of LEDs set in a square, rectangular or linear pattern, and formatted to be operated at a specific voltage. They will always include two wires called leads. One is positive, the other negative.

 LED Drivers: are current control devices that replace the need for resistors. LED Drivers respond to the changing input voltage while maintaining a constant amount of current (output power) to the LED as its electrical properties change with temperature.

 Lumen Maintenance: How well a LED light bulb is able to retain its intensity when compared to new. Typically a high quality LED bulb will retain 70% of its intensity for 40,000-50,000 hours. That means a good quality LED bulb will run 8 hours a day for 13 years at 70% of its new condition. No other artificial light source can do this.

Luminous efficacy: is the most commonly used measure of the energy efficiency of a light source. It is stated in lumens per watt (lm/W), indicating the amount of light a light source produces for each watt of electricity consumed.

 Lumens: The unit of luminous flux in the International System, equal to the amount of light given out through a solid angle by a source of one candela intensity radiating equally in all directions. Used to measure light bulbs as stand alone light sources. Lighting fixtures are measured by lux output which is lumens per square meter.

 Lux: Typically used to measure the light intensity produced by a lighting fixture. The higher the lux reading the more light the lighting fixture is producing over a given area. Known as lumens per square meter

 mA: stands for milliamp. 1000mA equals 1.0 amp. All LEDs run on current and current is measured in milliamps. All LED products have a mA rating at which they are to be powered at.

Max Rated Temperature: or Operating Temperature is the ambient temperature where the LED light source is installed at and should be maintained at. In most case that is around 40-50° Celsius. That is comparable to 104° F to 122° F. Operating a LED light source beyond the Operating temperature will lower the LED’s life span.

Nanometers or nm: Used to measure the wavelengths of light. The lower the wavelength eg. 400nm the bluer and stronger the light source. Longer wavelengths above 600nm are red. Above 680nm, they fall into the InfraRed category, which is colorless to our eyes. White LEDs have no specific wavelength. They are measured by the color of white against the chromaticity scale.

 For a particular species of plant, your will want to know the particular nm of light they respond best to. It varies from plant to plant, and even in the growth, flower, and fruit stages. This field of plant growth under LED light is pioneered by NASA and is still growing as a science. NOT all grow LED lamps work, and are notoriously expensive.

 Phosphor conversion: is a method used to generate white light with LEDs. A blue or near-ultraviolet LED is coated with a yellow or multichromatic phosphor, resulting in white light.

 RGB stands for red, green, and blue, the three primary colors of light. When the primaries are mixed, the resulting light appears white to the human eye. Mixing the light from red, green, and blue LEDs is one way to produce white light. The other approach is known as phosphor conversion.

SMD/SMT: A type of low profile LED that is surface mounted to a PCB. These type LEDs are very powerful and range in lumen output from 35 up to 170 lumens. With the latest LED technology being applied today, these have shown to have the most promise in delivering light levels and coloring that we are used to having. Those smd LEDs we talk about, use and sell are in the .5 watt, 1 watt, 3 watt and 5 watt power range. When you see a 7 watt or 9 watt LED light, it will contain 1 watt LEDs x 7, or 1 watt LEDs x 9, or 3 watt LEDs x 3.

Solid-state lighting (SSL) technology uses semi-conducting materials to convert electricity into light.

 Task Lighting/Lamp: A LED light used to specifically light a particular area used for work or reading. Typically found in the form of a desk, floor, or clamp-on lamp, it can be a high powered LED light in any form.

 UV-A: (380–315 nm), also called Long Wave or “blacklight” because it is invisible to the human eye. Can cause skin irritation and fading of fabrics.

 UV-B: (315–280 nm), also called Medium Wave radiation. Can cause severe damage to the skin and human eye through exposure.

 UV-C: ( <—280 nm), also called Short Wave or “germicidal” for its ability to destroy even bacterial life forms. Extremely hazardous to all life forms due to its ability to cause immediate damage to cellular DNA.

 View Angle Degree: Also referred to as directivity, or the directional pattern of a LED light beam. The expressed degree dictates the width of the light beam and also controls to some extent, the light intensity of a LED. View angles range from 8 to 180 degrees, and are provided through the use of optics, special lenses made to collimate light to into a desired view angle.

 Voltage: The rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity (amperage) in a circuit. The difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit is expressed as volts.

 Voltage Regulator or Step Down Transformer: A device which limits or controls and stabilizes the voltage being applied to a using unit such as LED lights and motors. Regulators also take higher voltages than required and reduces it to the working voltage that makes a specific product run correctly. In many instances a lack of a Voltage Regulator will allow higher voltage than a product can work with and will cause irreparable damage.

Volts: The International System unit of electric potential and electromotive force, equal to the difference of electric potential between two points on a conducting wire carrying a constant current of one ampere when the power dissipated between the points is one watt.

 Waterproof: meaning the LED product can be submerged into calm water but there is a limited depth as stated for each specific product, and must be specifically stated for “submersion”. It also means that the product is made to withstand water being splashed onto it like rain, or having snow on it. These products will be made of high grade stainless steel, aluminum, or high strength plastics.

 Watts: The unit for measuring electrical power. It defines the rate of energy consumption by an electrical device when it is in operation. The energy cost of operating an electrical device is calculated as its wattage times the hours of use. In single phase circuits, it is related to volts and amps by the formula:

Volts x Amps x PowerFactor = Watts.

 Watt per LED: It can be confusing when two watt numbers are used in product specifications. For the application to smd high powered LEDs, the 1 watt, 3 watt, 5 watt, etc, refers to the power consumption of that specific LED installed in that product.The watt numbers expressed as light output are a comparison to an incandescent light bulb light output,IE: a 60 watt light output is equal to a 60 watt incandescent light bulb.

The Watt Output is equipment measured.

Weatherproof: meaning the product will take water splashing and high humidity without deterioration to the LED or circuit. LED product cannot be submerged into water.

 White: White is defined by Kelvin Temperature or Degrees Kelvin.

 Whew !

Now that you have read and memorized all these terms, we can proceed. 😉 Seriously though, you can see why the punditry on CFL is ignorant. There are many factors that determine artificial light, and as many different type devices, many types of CFL, many types of LED.

 If that were not enough there are further terms when discussing types of LED.

You have a regular flavor of LED{inexpensive}, then “Bright” LED’s{a tad more}, and Super-Bright LED’s {more expensive}

There are the familiar “bulb” type:

There are the “Cree” type : These tend to be VERY BRIGHT, called HIGH FLUX

These tend to be the most expensive.

There are “Bulb(s)” :

This one appears to have an E27 base, the typical screw in type we are familiar with in our households-properly called LAMPS.

There are strips:

There are Bi and Tri colored LED’s that look the same but are wired differently:

These also come in “Cree” types.

There are Blinking LED, typically a single or bi color, they have a circuit that is used as a timer. They generally do not require a resistor although some do, so check to be sure

There are more, but I won’t go into them here. They tend to get more specialized as to application. For instance the Numerical display of clocks now are typically an led based device.

Suffice it to say an LED can come in all shapes and sizes, from a flat-long led to the one we are familiar with. They come in every color of the rainbow, and in every numerical sequence of the light spectrum. They come in every range of the Kelvin, nanometer and in varying angles or output, lumen output, candle output and CRI.

What a wonderful new device they are !

They typically use milliwatts even when combined in arrays !

This makes them THE most efficient artificial lighting source we have in production today !

THAT is GOOD NEWS to we the consumer and electric ratepayer !

ARE YOU EXCITED YET !?!

I am, VERY.

If you replaced every Bulb in Vegas with LED, you could vastly reduce the electrical power consumption. in FACT, the most common practical application is in signs and displays. So it is happening. A new growth sector for small business IS adapting existing signs to LED -can You say SMALL BIZ ?

There are equivalent street light replacements, and even arrays that you can grow plants and vegetables under. It all depends on your application.

We are witness to a technical revolution of LIGHT.

I recommend you go purchase some LED flashlights, some cross country ski headlamps-which are extremely useful for MANY other tasks besides skiing, I even read with one. Kids love them, everyone should have a few flashlights, you can even buy adapter kits to replace your old flashlight bulb with LED, or modify it yourself -once you get thru this document. No more yelling at kids on camping trips to save the batteries, an LED flashlight typically will last weeks without a recharge or new batteries. My PETZL headlamp lasts MONTHS. Finally, it now is VERY cost effective to have rechargeablebatteries for your devices, you will save a LOT on battery costs in the first year, and never run out, buy extra sets, and a large battery charger.

MEAT and POTATOES:

Typically, you will want to build an array.

Simply put LED’s are directional beams of light, while they do have flavors of the VIEW ANGLE DEGREE,

The lesser expensive ones will be very narrow 20 degrees or so. Therefore you will want to group a number of them together. to make a better LAMP or “bulb”.

You can experiment with optic lenses, that you project the beam of light thru, and the lens will do the work of spreading the light out., you can put your group together in some sort of fixture that effectively aims them in varying directions, or you can simply create arrays that have an overwhelming number of LED thereby making the result brighter and having a longer range of output, or a combination of all three methods. Get creative.

Watchman’s design:

I am NOT the brightest bulb in the pak -Get it ? 😉

However, I am satisfied with my simple design. and have even sold a few of my creations.

my cost is around $10 per array. and I am building HUNDREDS for my dual wired home (AC & DC)

My design is 12 volt DC ONLY. but you could add an AC to DC circuit to power it.

First you need a supply of LED, that you carefully select considering ALL the factors outlined above, including price.

Generally you get more value by buying in bulk.

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I will soon put up on the website a SUPPLY and price outline if you want to buy from me.

I am confident I can beat 99% of the websites out there on price, some outright GOUGE on price !

I have a supplier in Taiwan, who can even mass produce my design, and house it in a nicely designed “bulb” package that I and my son are working on. Using an E27 base, so all you have to do is wire a lamp fixture for DC with the center of the socket being positive. I may even include the AC to DC converter built in the base to make them AC “bulbs”, or may even have it available as a kit.

If you are anxious to get started drop me a line, and we can get something going. I am also considering a CO-OP, so a group of us can make an order, and get a great price for our supplies !

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I prefer superbright LED’s in the typical familiar LED configuration of:

My first ones built were in amber color, as white light attracts BUGS. 😉

You will need to know a few things about your LED selection:

  1. What it’s forward voltage is: typically 1.9-2.3volts for this design/LED type
  2. What it’s forward current is: typically 20 milliAmps also expressed as (20 mA)
  3. What your source voltage is: 12 Volt DC for this design (NO AC EVER)
  4. and the number of LED in the array.

The simplicity of my design is the array is made up of multiple rows of three (3) LED connected to a positive and negative “BUS”

ALL ARRAYS include a resistor. NEVER connect an LED to power without a resistor or it will burn out in an instant.

So, some calculation is necessary to figure out the resistor VALUE you will use in your array.

The math:

Calculating an LED resistor value

An LED must have a resistor connected in series to limit the current through the LED, otherwise it will burn out almost instantly.

The resistor value, R is given by:

R = (VS – VL) / I

Given:

VS = supply voltage

VL = LED voltage (forward voltage)

I = LED current (IE: 10mA = 0.01A, or 20mA = 0.02A) (forward Current)

Make sure the LED current you choose is less than the maximum permitted and convert the current to amps (A) so the calculation will give the resistor value in ohms.

To convert mA to A, divide the current in mA, by 1000, IE: 1mA = 0.001A.

If the calculated resistor value is not available, choose the nearest standard resistor value which is greater, so that the current will be a little less than you chose. In fact you may wish to choose a greater resistor value to reduce the current (to increase battery life for example) but this will make the LED less bright.

A single LED:

If the supply voltage VS = 12V, and you have a red LED (VL = 1.9V), requiring a current I = 20mA = 0.020A,

R = (12V – 1.9V) =10.1 / 0.02A =505 , so choose 505 (the nearest standard value which is greater).

Working out the LED resistor formula using Ohm’s law

Ohm’s law says that the resistance of the resistor is: R = V/I,

where:

V = voltage across the resistor (= VS – VL in this case)

I = the current through the resistor

So R = (VS – VL) / I

NOW, using my designed array it will look like this: I call this the “Watchman’s set of three Rule”. 

The math for my design given the formula R = (VS – VL) / I -looks like this:

R = (12V – 5.7V) =6.3 / 0.02A =315 , so I chose 330 for the resistor (the nearest standard value which is greater).

The 5.7 Volts is the COMBINED Forward Voltage values of the three LED’s.

That array results in this:

  • each 330 ohm resistor dissipates 132 mW
  • 1/4Watt resistors are fine for your application
  • together, all resistors dissipate 132 mW
  • together, the diodes dissipate 114 mW
  • total power dissipated by the array is 246 mW
  • the array draws current of 20 mA from the source.

The Circuit boards I use that cost $2 a piece have room for 11 rows of 3 LED =33 LED’s and 11 resistors:

That combined array uses:

  • each 330 ohm resistor dissipates 132 mW
  • 1/4Watt resistors are fine for your application
  • together, all resistors dissipate 1452 mW
  • together, the diodes dissipate 1254 mW
  • total power dissipated by the array is 2706 mW
  • the array draws current of 220 mA from the source.

Given the above you can see that HALF+ of the consumed power is via the resistors and results in heat. even with that they are safe to touch and barely feel warm.

A further conversion from milliamps to watts:

  • 1mA = .001Amps
  • Watts = Amps * Volts
  • (220mA * .001A)=0.22A * 12 Volts = 2.64 watts !!!

Given a 850 Amp hour battery:

  • 3863.6363 HOURS THEORETICAL RUN TIME !!!
  • 160 Days ON 24/7
  • Given our 10% discharge battery rule that’s 16 days runtime before recharge !
  • (or one month+ of just ON at night)

and that is ONE battery !!

{PLAN your battery bank for a WEEK runtime of all connected equipment, and you have a simple weekly chore of recharging, or wicked easy makeup charging from solar and wind !!}

NOW can you see WHY I love batteries and LED’s !?!

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A note on LED, there is a positive (Anode) and negative (Cathode) side to an LED.

There are two ways you can tell:

The Anode is the longer stem, the Cathode(K) is the shorter.

Also, the Cathode side of the plastic housing is FLAT or squared:

Seen from the TOP

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Here is what my completed array actually looks like:

Note: that you create a “bus” for connecting each set of three LED’s & resistor.

Resistor is on the negative bus, and negative side of each set of three LED’s

{technically, some say the resistor can be on either negative or positive side, I put it on negative(cathode)(K) side because the flow of power actually goes from the Cathode to the Anode } Change that at your own risk.

Granted, I only learned to soldier 2 years ago, and use a GUN type with a thick heating element. My friend who is a WELDER taught me how to soldier 😉 I am sure there are folks out there who KNOW how to do electronics soldiering Having a fine tip soldiering iron results in finer looking results.

You will also note from the picture that I actually snapped the original board into 3 pieces, so I get 3 arrays for the $2 per board.

I have the resistor free standing, and I suppose I could find a board that will also accommodate the resistor being soldiered to the board making it more neat and flatter, but as it is, it’s only an inch in height and width and only 4 inches long, making it quite compact with the 33 LEDs it gives off quite a bit of light !!

My welder friend is using one in his trailer’s bathroom overhead light fixture, and it lights his whole bathroom nicely. It certainly will last longer than ANY 12 volt bulb he can buy !!

When I first powered it up I was quite impressed with the light output, probably the equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent bulb. I got soft/warm white LED’s and in superbright, and they are VERY easy to read with, and easy on the eyes.

If anyone ever used a laptop in the dark, you can’t see the keyboard without light, even the light from the monitor is not enough

Here’s a pic of my LED array over my laptop, no other light source is in the room, although you can see an early amber version:

I also pinned up some tinfoil thingys for added reflection LMAO…. the stuff on the screen is THIS spouting being created…

I used superglue to glue the led to the board to make soldiering easier, and to take it a bit further I had extra LED’s hanging around so I glued them together and soldiered them to make mini spotlights, remembering the “watchman set of three rule”

You can combine colors on the same board, or make even HALF boards using HALF of the 4 inches. As long as they have the same forward voltage and forward current values. I’ve done that for “lamps” that don’t have to be as bright or for other colors I had a few LED’s of. You can experiment, as light can be mixed much like paint to make a new color !!!

Here’s a lit blue half board:

It is quite Bright.

Here I use it to stage my star wars characters so I can play while bored LOL

Actually, I aim my web-cam at them when I am not teleconferencing, the last thing I want is someone looking in at me, without my knowing it

{YES, they can !}

A Fan configuration I tried to spread the light out, it worked but was before I discovered my “watchman set of three rule”:



And to get 180 degrees I mounted three on a stick:

It worked, but not as bright as I hoped, largely due to not having discovered my “watchman set of three rule”

I had put 7 in each fan, as I simply added the 1.9 forward voltage so that the array would be under 12 volts.

They work, but again, not as bright, nor using the full potential of the LED.

So I was technically incorrect in my math… 😉

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So, THAT ought to get yer wheels spinin’, I can smell the wood burnin’ now.

I am so pleased with my final LED array, that as I said earlier, I am building hundreds of them. I am using them to replace EVERY light source in the house.

These combined with my hunting down the “vampire” devices in the house, and turning them off when not in use resulted in my electric bill being $25 for the month !!

You will note I use an electric clothes dryer, the normal size fridge, a well pump, dishwasher, washer, and the furnace was off for the season. I was careful of when and what I used. and it goes a LONG way to be using a laptop for TV/entertainment, the lights are normally only 10% of your electric bill, but the vastly reduced wattage of my design, encouraged me to try to see how low I could go.

NOTE: also in most districts $25 is the MINIMUM connection fee, meaning that just to keep you connected to the grid, they charge $25, so you should at LEAST USE that amount of power, or waste money. -That is: until you get advanced enough to go OFF GRID.

One thing you may have noticed is that all my LED arrays above are open, exposed, in that if something crosses the positive to negative bus, it will short and BURN

THEY ARE great BUG ZAPPERS 🙂

However, enclosing them in some sort of case that is high temp proof, is in order, especially if you have children or they will do the mailman dance.

A low voltage fuse is definitely in order, and I USE them !

Another thing is since these units draw so little power even when you have multiple arrays on a line, I am using cat 5 (around the same size as the phone wire) to wire the lighting circuits in the house, along with a low trip fuse in case something goes wrong like a bug or a nail/staple thru a wire. I have been doing this over a year, and no noticeable heat, and no issues, not even a blown fuse.

A coil of cat 5 is very inexpensive.

If you start to add arrays up on a line, add up the amperages, and gauge your power line accordingly, as the more power you draw the larger the gauge wire is required, the same is true for longer distances.

One final note about wire, is that SOLID conductors have no place in DC wiring.

I get away with the cat 5 because of short distance and very low voltage. If you have anything else besides these lights, you need stranded copper wiring. I recommend Marine wiring as the sheathing is heavy duty and less apt to adsorb moisture. ALL wire adsorbs moisture over time, it is called attenuation and can reduce bandwidth in computing uses which is why lines are often replaced first, as it’s the cheapest item in the list of things that need replacing.

I also, besides my LED design, use HIGH FLUX led flexible strips.

These have the high power “Cree” type LED, and you will notice that these also follow the “watchman’s rule of three”

Every three LED, the resistor is wired in.

These puppy’s are GREAT for under counter lighting, and “WASH” lighting for large areas their light output is immense, and you can also CUT them down to units of three LED with a resistor to have more flexibility in placement/more arrays. They are mounted on “flexible” fiberglass strips, so you could “bend” a one foot section to 180 degrees in either direction without breaking. they are mostly used in signs, but have many other applications. I use them in lighting areas where you need to see for safety, and inside window curtain Valences to wash the ceiling and curtain:

The picture doesn’t do it justice, it is quite bright, in fact lights the whole room easily.

I have a rope-type red LED light in the top of the window valence.

There are two superbright Cree type strips in the underside.

There are also 5 of my fan type in amber that I installed when the Valence was first built.

You can see a hint of the amber at the corners, -again before my “watchman’s rule of three”

The effect is quite dramatic.

I was very pleased the first time this puppy was lit.

I also use them to light a utility closet that also houses the trap door to the basement simply strung up not finished yet :

Two of them are overkill, and SO bright that it hurts !

I included the pic here so you can see that they too are directional, but they do have a greater VIEW ANGLE DEGREE but that doesn’t matter, their wash is HUGE the whole area is like daylight, the strips pictured are one foot long.

I can get these for $20 a piece, let me know if you want some.

The White ones are AWESOME !

Let me know if you can find them cheaper !

A final note about the superbright LED is you should NOT look at them directly. They are so bright they can damage your eyes, not as fast as the sun, but still caution is advised. They can Burn your retina, just like welding can. Another reason why they are used INSIDE signs, and for washing surfaces, the LED itself is hidden.

==============================================================================

It’s Christmas time !

You probably have noticed that most of the strings of lights they sell these days are LED.

You may even have a few already. Some are quite inexpensive to buy. Again quality of manufacture is key. I had one string burn out in only a months use. Others are over a year old and still fine.

One guy in town used white LED Christmas lights to highlight the main branches of a tree out front. It lights the WHOLE street, can be seen from quite a distance, and is far more powerful than ANY of the streetlights in town !! I can guarantee far more cheaper to run than a streetlamp as well !!

Here are a few other uses for Christmas LED light strings:

The light ball:

A friend gave me this clear plastic 2 piece ball, so I stuffed a whole string of Christmas white lights in it.

I haven’t figured out a home for it yet, but thought you may want to see it.

I also went to the local dollar store, and found these neato super clear plastic cylinders made for storing spaghetti I stuffed a string of LED blue lights in them and made a little shelf next to the window, these are bright but not as bright as the valence.

I also got a simple little device that screws into a lamp bulb socket, and converts it to a plug-in, then I took a string of Christmas LED lights straight out the the box, left them in their bundles and draped it over the lampshade harp. you can see ALL of them lit in this pic:

The room is quite well lit with them all going, and we are STILL not even close to the electrical consumption of even a CFL bulb !! the string in the lamp is blue and white mixed together with the result of WHITE light, obvious in the pic.

ANOTHER use, that I find MOST creative is the sparkleball !!

This pic is from the front page of http://www.sparkleball.com/ Pay them a visit, you will be hooked !!

Very inventive, very crafty, lots of FUN !!

People use them for replacement hanging lights, during holidays obviously, camp lights, porch lights etc. You will find plans and directions at their site.

DON’T show it to the WIFE, or I can guarantee you will be busy until NEW YEARS !!

So once you have the LED circuit design, the real dilemma is finding a neato place to put it.

There are many uses, and I recommend investigation into optics. For instance. If you have a dremel tool, and a grinder bit, go grab a piece of plexiglas.

Find a neato line drawing, and use the dremel to scratch it into the plexi.

Then build a box to mount the plexi into that has a tight fitting slot for the edge of the plexi. make the box large enough to house the LED array, make it light tight except for the plexi slot, and the LED will make the scratched in drawing light up !!

THIS is optics, light the edge of glass and Plexiglas, it will travel up the sheet, where you scratched in the drawing-interrupts the light path and lets it “leak” out revealing the drawing. Otherwise only the edges of the sheet will glow faintly.

Great for bathroom shower doors (light the edge from above) picture frames, artistic works, you name it.

For my 12 volt system, no home is complete without an X-10 system (www.x10.com)

I use the universal module http://www.x10.com/automation/um506_s.html

You simply cut into either the positive or negative wire feeding your LED array, and wire each side of that cut to the screws at the bottom of the module (pick ONE wire either positive or negative NOT both) the other wire goes straight to your led array as usual.

What the universal module does is allow you to use a remote control clicker to operate your creations !!

So expanding on my color theme for the house lighting, I am having the whole house be able to be red, blue, green, white lights !

Using as many universal modules as necessary, at least one for each color, as you need to expand, you can set the same color modules to the same house and unit code for expansion, and one button operation ! Again, do not exceed the total wattage/amperage the x10 module is rated for, so keep track of your 12 volt devices on your power line.

WARNING: X10 is addictive !

Sign up your spam mailbox for their newsletters so you can peruse their frequent sales flyer mail. They have all sorts of modules for security, home automation, audio/video, and even cheapo security cameras. Almost all of it is wireless, so all you need is their module, plug in and go.

VERY damaging to a budget as you will want one of each thing they offer !

I am lazy, so the ability to control the WHOLE house from a clicker is simply awesome to me. I have spent thousands with them over the years, and even buy the starter setup as gifts. Great for elderly folks, and no wiring or great experience necessary.

Currently, I am going to yard sales and craigslist and buying cheapo lamps and lighting fixtures, and adapting them to LED. I am not much of a designer/artist, so it’s easier to adapt an existing design, although my son the industrial design engineer is working up some ideas for me. I plan on reselling some of my creations at fairs and flea markets, and perhaps will hang a few here.

I ask you was it worth the wait for this spouting ?

If yes, please send me mail, tell me what you got out of it and tell your friends, hell send them the link…..

I am sure I have you going in several directions by now, and thinking of uses and applications to your needs.

In all, the LED will change our lives.

Send me pics of YOUR creations !!

I’ll hang them here put your name in lights -LED light of course 😉

Let me know if you are interested in getting your supply thru me, and I will get it going faster.

Send me mail for a CO-OP as well, it will be good for all of us. MY LED habit is EXPENSIVE !!

Oh, I almost forgot: I built a little calculator, so you can design your own circuit if you have special circumstances

Click here: http://www.watchman2012.com/ledcalc.htm

-Watchman

LINKS:

http://www.sparkleball.com/ Sparkleball

http://www.x10.com

http://www.santaslites.com/palmtree.html LED PALM TREES otherwise VERY expensive site

http://www.instructables.com instructables hobby site, TONS of LED ideas and other-purposing of electronics

http://www.bigclive.com/flud.htm sells kits similar to what we will have here at watchman2012.com soon !

Fairly detailed and kind of expensive considering shipping from the UK and the CC charges for currency conversion these days.

http://www.absoluteglass.com/home.html Stained Glass supplies, you can create LED containers or use LED to light up your creations

Plexiglas and plastics, look for MIRRORED Plexi, you can use it to multiply your light source

http://www.laminatedplastics.com/ Plastic masters, they can bend shape and mold to your specs, also sheet goods

http://www.tapplastics.com/shop/category.php?bid=14 PLASTIC SHAPES !!! tubes etc. awesome !!

http://www.coolneon.com/index.html Not LED, but very cool neon wire, sew into clothing ! safety vests etc

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-better-RGB-LED-controller/ Build your own LED controller

http://www.customaquarium.com/ Spice up your fish’s life and your decor, add some LED’s

http://lighttape.com/default.asp LIGHT TAPE ! uses 12 volt, used in nightclubs and movie sets awesome stuff

http://www.skylightguys.com/index.asp TUBE skylights, bring in natural light where a reg size won’t work !

***Credit to my web friend linear1 for his drawing of the led and resistor, and use of his calculator. Also to the many sites around the web I have borrowed pics from, I did it years ago, and have lost links, so if you want me to remove them I will or I will put up a link to your site.

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