Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to DIY LED Grow Light Construction

Venturing into the depths of DIY LED grow light construction can be a daunting prospect, especially for true beginners. We are here to illuminate the path towards understanding the intricate workings of LED lights, and in doing so, demystify the art of building your very own set-up. Guided by the expertise of well-known figure, Growmau5, our walkthrough navigates topics starting from the basics and gradual introduction of more complex elements, ensuring the complete comprehension of key terms and concepts surrounding this topic.

Our focal point draws inspiration from a series of video tutorials by Growmau5, designed to enlighten those new to the subject of DIY LED construction. With an instructional approach to facilitate understanding, we explain the ingredients that form the essence of LED lights, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs), Chip On Board (COB) LED, voltage, watts, amperage, LED drivers, and heatsinks. This written guide aims to mirror the depth and clarity of the original video even as it simplifies the essentials of light and heat efficiency, component selection, and the principles of active heatsinks. Buckle up! A flood of LED knowledge is about to wash over you.

Key Terms and Concepts

Let us breeze through the core terms before we dive deeper into the world of DIY LED grow lights. This will not only share clarity on the topic but also serve as a fundamental building block for understanding subsequent concepts.


LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. It’s a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current is passed through it. Looking like small bulbs, they command translated current into light.

Chip On Board (COB) LED

A Chip on Board LED or COB LED, is a relatively new technology in LED packaging. A COB LED utilizes hundreds of tiny LED chips encapsulated in one ceramic or copper module, allowing for a single effective light source. This makes the lighting more concentrated and powerful, per the unit.

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Watts are the measure of how much energy an appliance uses. ‘A watt is a joule of energy consumed over one second,’ perhaps that rings a bell from school days. Computing over time, a thousand-watt usage over 60 minutes wraps up to a kilowatt-hour, which is how energy companies charge us for usage.


When it comes to an LED context, voltage reflects the electrical potential across a diode, determining when it will turn on. For instance, a 36-volt LED won’t turn on with anything below that. But what if you have 37 volts or more? Fortunately, the brightness isn’t affected by this, which leads us to the next term.


Amperage, or current, dictates the brightness of the LED. It’s the current that determines how powerful an LED will be. In the world of diodes, power is king, and that’s governed primarily by the amperage.

LED Drivers

Just as you have a ballast for HID lamps, you need an LED driver for your LED diodes. A driver regulates the power – in terms of both voltage and amperage – getting to the LED. It’s all about delivering the right intensity and duration of current to achieve optimal performance.


Heatsinks are critical in the world of electronics and LEDs are no exception. This metallic item dissipates excess heat produced by the LED, assuring optimal performance and longevity. We have ‘active’ heatsinks, with a fan actively cooling the unit, and ‘passive’ ones, relying solely on the overall room circulation.

Understanding LED Drivers

Input Voltage

Now we step into comprehending one of the critical components of your DIY LED grow light setup—LED Drivers. The input voltage is essentially what you feed into the driver from your power source. Most drivers these days have universal inputs, accepting anything from 100 to 240 volts AC, aligning well with most countries’ power supplies.

Output Voltage

On the flip side of the equation is the output voltage, defining the potential the driver will provide the LED array. This aspect can often confuse beginners, but it’s straightforward once you understand the math.

Matching Input Voltage with Country Voltage

This simply outlines the need to match the driver’s input voltage requirement with your country’s standard power supply. Luckily, most contemporary LED drivers have universal input adapters, accommodating most countries efficiently.

Determining Output Voltage for Number of LEDs

Cracking the mystery of how many LEDs your driver can support is simple math after all. Divide the total output voltage from the driver by the LED voltage to deduce the number of LEDs your driver can light up.

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Comprehensive Beginners Guide to DIY LED Grow Light Construction

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Selecting LED Components

Forward Voltage

The forward voltage (Vf) specifies the minimum voltage required by the LED to light up. This essential characteristic influences many other aspects of the LED’s performance and is therefore a paramount consideration when selecting LED components.

Maximum Current

Beyond voltage, the most potent factor deciding an LED’s brightness is its maximum current, the upper limit of current that the LED can safely handle. Factoring in this feature will allow you to gauge the initial and lasting intensity of your LEDs.

Efficiency of LED Lights

We’re helping you look beyond the simple logic that brighter is always better. It’s important to understand the efficiency of LED lights.

Photon to Heat Ratio

Each LED has a specific ratio of photon (light) production to heat generation. Often with LEDs, this tends to be a pleasant 65% to 35% ratio, which means you get more light and less heat per unit of energy consumed.

Energy Consumption for Photon Production

This essentially boils down to how much energy is utilized for creating light photons. A lower value indicates a more efficient LED in converting energy into usable light, an important consideration when choosing components.

Comprehensive Beginners Guide to DIY LED Grow Light Construction

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Calculating and Sizing Heatsinks

Heatsinks often pose the biggest challenge to those starting with DIY LED grow lights. Do not fret!

Complexity of Heatsink Calculation

Yes, calculating and sizing heatsinks can seem an intricate task, with variables including the LED’s size and output and the room’s ambient temperature. However, some guidelines and formulas can simplify this process.

Choosing Active Heatsinks for Beginners

To make life easier without compromising on LED performance, beginners can opt for active heatsinks. They have the added feature of a fan, providing an in-built safety net by ensuring optimum cooling.

Different Types of LED Drivers

Diving into the world of drivers, not all 200 Watt drivers are made the same. The specification marks only the intake power.

Output Variations of 200 Watt Drivers

Depending on the design, each 200 Watt driver can have different output capacities. This variation affects the number of LEDs a driver can light up and the correlating brightness.

Photon and Heat Output Ranges

Each driver will have its own specific photon to heat output ratio, just like LEDs. This ratio is indicative of how efficiently your driver converts electric power into LED light.

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Comprehensive Beginners Guide to DIY LED Grow Light Construction

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DIY Kits for LED Grow Lights

Many of us want to reap the benefits of DIY LED lights without delving deep into building or calculating the components. Solution? DIY kits!

mal 5 DIY Kit from

One such solution is the “mal 5 DIY kit” available at This kit streamlines the process of starting your LED grow light project, eliminating variables and calculations while ensuring optimal results in your ‘LED-powered’ gardening endeavor.


Mastering the DIY LED basics empowers you to craft your dream grow light setup. Understanding the fundamental concepts, the nuances of LED drivers, and the nitty-gritty of LED light efficiency is undeniably trance-inducing and liberating. As we rode through heatsinks and drivers and composited platter of LED components, we trust you’ve accumulated the confidence to turn your garden into a radiant molecular party. Handpick quality DIY kits, or let your creative wings soar into creating your bespoke setup. Gardening with LEDs – it’s bright, fun, and the future!


Our recommended green top drip caps:

Our choice of round Coco/soil drip tops:

Quality $7 drip line splitter adjustable:

Superior $18 drip line splitter cleanable:

Best cleanable inline strainer for hydro pumps:

Affordable DC controllable hydro pump:

Top res float valve RO:

Nutrients we use:

Our preferred Canna Coco Au0026B 5L:

Our selected Recharge Microbe package:

Chosen Nectar liquid bone meal:

Favored Rock Resinator:

Loved Terpinator:

Perfect CALmag for us:

Good value Roots excell replacement:

More affordable Enzyme than Hygrozyme (just as good):

High-quality Silicate supp:

Trusted MammothP – PO4 liberating bacteria:

DIY LED parts we suggest

Prime wire for COB holders:

Choice crimp connectors:

Picked LED driver AC pwr switch:

Recommended whole circuit power monitor:

Handy remote LED driver to COB wire (4 conductor):

Stunning waterproof connectors:

Durable water-resistant ABS project box (DIY connections):

Our best 4-40 thread tapper:

Top-value metal tap, drill, cutting lube:

Stainless COB holder screws 4-40 of our choice:

Picked AC driver power port:

Our chosen AC Daisy chain female port:

Recommended AC Daisy chain cord:

Top DC power barrel connectors:

Some of us beginners found episode 1 (now entitled part 2 of 7) too advanced, expecting a lot of prior knowledge of LEDs and electronics. We try to explain the terms and take it one step back for those real beginners. Here’s a good place to start learning more:

Comprehensive Beginners Guide to DIY LED Grow Light Construction

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