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Discussions about fluorescent, LED and other types of grow lighting for Venus Flytraps and other plants

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By Intheswamp
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Posts:  1415
Joined:  Wed May 04, 2022 2:28 pm
#424954
I ordered a Hydro Mars TS600 the other day and it arrived today...thank you Santa!!! :lol: I haven't had a chance to do but one thing...plug it in! :lol: It's bright...real bright. I'm thinking my repurposed garage lights *might* be as bright (three 2"x4" LED panels per light)....but I'll have to do some testing. I feel confident that the Mars Hydro will cover more area.

Anyhow, I'm getting ready to plant a few different sundews and sarrs so I figured I'd go ahead and bite the bullet. This is my first "made for growing plants" light that I've bought. Everything else has be re-purposed lights, mostly shop lights.

Once the seeds start germinating what would be a good height to start them off at with this light? The bay window room in the old trailer I'm growing things in has an old desk in it. I'm thinking of sitting the desk in front of the window and hanging the light from the ceiling. The plants would get artificial light and also natural daylight coming in in the morning.

Any tips on using the light? Thanks!
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By Panman
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Posts:  4752
Joined:  Wed Mar 04, 2020 8:41 pm
#424960
One thing that I did when I got my Yescom225 lights was install the Photone and PPFD Meter apps on my phone. With the phone, it won't give really accurate numbers but it allowed me to do a comparison. I had plants growing 6 inches away from 4 48" T8 flourescent lamps and they were growing the way that I wanted. I measured what I got from those grow lights and then measured what I got from the Yescomms. I was able to use that to gauge the distance I needed from the new lights without burning my plants. If your shop lights are giving you reasonable results, you could do the same thing.
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By Intheswamp
Location: 
Posts:  1415
Joined:  Wed May 04, 2022 2:28 pm
#424966
I've got a couple of lighting apps on my old iPhone 6, one measures "lux" and the other one measures W/m2. I've use the W/m2 one to measure my lights and compare them to one another. All my T-8's have finally bit the dust, so now 100% LED...I'm still reserving judgement on these. I've got three 48" shop lights and two multi-panel garage lights. I'll play with the apps and see how I can dial in the Hydro to replicate and play around with it.

Right now the bay-window room where I have things growing is lit up in the dark. Once I throw the Hydro in there I figure training helicopters from Ft. Rucker will be using it as a waypoint and commuter jets will be using the lights for an approach light to the airport in Montgomery. It won't surprise me if I see a couple of sheriff deputies with their faces up against the window peering in. :lol:
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By Intheswamp
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Posts:  1415
Joined:  Wed May 04, 2022 2:28 pm
#424990
Yeah, I'm happy to have the light. I'm hoping to get it going this week sometime. December 8th will be four weeks that my southern sarrs have been stratifying. I may be out of town then, though, but they'll just have to simmer a long a little longer if I am. ;) The MH600 seems very lightweight so what heat it produces should radiate from it fairly quickly.

It's got a heavy cord on it. Reading the specs on the light down at the bottom of the photo, it "looks" like it's rated at 2 amps of current. 100 watts at 120 volts comes out to less than an amp of current, though. :?: I may rig up a short cord to put between the light and wall socket to use my clamp meter on to see what it is actually drawing. Or, if "OCD-Me" turns into "Lazy-Me" I might just plug it into a Watts-Up meter and see what it shows.

It is labeled 100 watts, that may be the output power of the LEDS or it may be the total power used. If it is the total power used then it'll cost me roughly $5.50 to run it for a 30-day cycle @ 14 hours a day. BUT, if it draws 2 amps of current then the energy cost jumps things to 240 watts of power used to produce the actual light and at a cost of a touch over $13.00<ouch!>. I have read in some reviews that it draws down around 0.8 amps which would be great and put it down to around $5.25 operating cost per month. Ah well, we'll see....OCD-Me. :lol:
By SDK1
Posts:  41
Joined:  Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:48 am
#427134
Hate to be the bearer of bad news but I'd recommed giving some serious thought to getting your money back. The TS600 is a legitimately dangerous light and the claims from MarsHydro about how efficient it is are way off.

Read more here: https://old.reddit.com/r/SpaceBuckets/c ... ery_badly/

I know these lights are tempting because of the price point, I really do. I always feel terrible when I see someone get one of these because I know many of us are limited financially and good LEDs get expensive quick. However, the old, "it's more expensive to be poor," adage comes into play when talking about LED lights. Saving up for something made with LM301B chips and a good driver from Meanwell or Osram will cost less money over 2-3 years compared to these LED boards that are cheap up front. Plus the more expensive ones won't kill (or seriously injure) you.

And before anyone comes sharing their experience with cheap quantum boards being fine and having used them for years, don't waste your breath. It's not about whether someone has used these without injury, it's about the fact that people have been injured by these boards through no fault of their own, the company knows about it and doesn't care.

You don't need a seatbelt until you do.
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By Intheswamp
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Posts:  1415
Joined:  Wed May 04, 2022 2:28 pm
#427153
Thanks for the feedback. Would you post what is so deadly about these lights? I thumbed through an article or two but I’m a slow reader.
By SDK1
Posts:  41
Joined:  Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:48 am
#427165
"Up to 156 volts DC on the MCPCB not isolated from ground.

Can easily measure >75 volts probing exposed chips not isolated from ground.

Ingress protection so weak I can easily scrape it off with my fingernails (it's a thin spray-on plastic coating. Fine for a bit of splash protection. Not for essentially line voltage non-isolated ingress protection)."

The above is just the worst of the worst parts about the board. There's enough floating voltage to seriously injure and/or kill you. You can read more at the link I posted previously. It's also worth exploring the r/handsoncomplexity sub for relevant lighting info.

Beyond the lethal parts the board has terrible thermal management, easily reaching temps of 140°F and higher and uses low-quality LED chips. This means the quality and quantity of light you start off with is worse and lower than from a board by HLG, Spider Farmer, ChilLED, etc. Then take into account the fact the chips will burn out faster and become less efficient more quickly and we're talking about a board that has 1/2 the working lifetime (or less) to other boards.
By Bug_cemetery
Posts:  175
Joined:  Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:48 pm
#427167
Interesting information, but I’m not 100% certain about what it means for those of us who already have these lights (or similar). Many of us are not in the position to just replace them.
SDK1, do you have any links to practical (and low tech/simple explanation) information on how to modify lights with these issues to be a bit safer or at least how to use them with the understanding of the risks? For example, maybe shock risk could be reduced if the fixture is hung with plastic zip ties and never contacts a metal rack? Is it possible to insulate or ground it properly?
By SDK1
Posts:  41
Joined:  Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:48 am
#427192
It's an unfortunate situation to be in when you already have the light. That's part of the reason I always feel terrible when someone gets one of these, even moreso when the person is obviously excited about it and views it as a great upgrade from whatever they had before whether that was a bright windowsill, T5s, HPS, or whatever else.

Unfortunately there isn't much you can do to mod them to make them safe. It'd basically require you disassembling the whole board, LED chips included, and rebuilding the board so it conducts electricity safely. The housing is energized so hanging it with zipties doesn't do much to prevent *you* from being the path of least resistance should you touch the board while it's plugged in if some part of the paltry safety measures have degraded or failed entirely.

The only safe way to interact with the board is to do so while it is unplugged from the wall and off. Should go without saying that being in a damp environment where you might get water on yourself and then brush up against the board is uhhh.... the opposite of good. So be extremely careful.

To be clear, I'm not saying this light *will* kill or injure you. I'm saying the potential is extremely, unacceptably high and everyone who decides to use these lights should know that MarsHydro finds the price of your life an acceptable cost of doing business. And anyone who uses these lights knowing all of this agrees that their life is worth $109.98 plus shipping.

Edit: I want to be clear that the last paragraph is not meant to be judgemental. It's meant to force some perspective and hopefully make anyone who has one of these lights or considers getting one that they are taking a serious risk, one that is entirely unnecessary. Don't put your life on the line when you could wait another few months, save up a little more money, and buy a quality light that will last longer and doesn't come with a high risk of putting you in the hospital.
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By MikeB
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Posts:  1401
Joined:  Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:13 pm
#427198
I bought a Mars Hydro TS600 about 2 years ago, and I've never had any issues with it (knock on wood). After reading that post on Reddit, I'm going to replace it asap. It's not worth risking my life or my house just to save a few bucks. I've never gotten shocked by the panel, but I can confirm its terrible thermal management (the aluminum cover is too hot to touch after just a few minutes).

I'm looking at the ViparSpectra XS1000 panel:
  • Samsung LM301B LEDs
  • Mean Well LED driver
  • Dimmer
  • Heat sink fins across the width of the panel
Does anyone have any experience with this brand/model?
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By SDK1
Posts:  41
Joined:  Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:48 am
#427262
ViparSpectra is good. Probably the lowest end I'd go for a solid product. Haven't checked the specs myself but if they're genuinely using LM301Bs and a meanwell driver, that's 99% of any question/concern eliminated imo. I'm not a brand name hussy for most things I buy but when it comes to lights, brand names are trustworthy for a reason. Samsung for diodes and Meanwell for drivers goes a long way in building trust in any light for me.

Osram makes good stuff too. Bridgelux LEDs are good. If you want to get into DIY stuff, looking into the Vero 18s from Bridgelux (look on Mouser or Digikey) combined with a meanwell driver will give you enough light to grow pretty much anything.

ChilLED makes good LED bar lights. Refurbished ones are frequently on sale. Fluence is great but pricey. HLG is solid and their hobbyist level boards are slightly higher on price point but worth it. Spider Farmer is good as far as I know and they seem roughly similar to ViparSpectra. <--- just a few examples. Once you look at reputable lights you'll be able to spot the bad/dangerous ones a mile away. Good lights offer transparency about their efficiency, diode manufacturer and offer 3-5 year warranties and usually have good customer service.

Look up PAR38 builds on reddit for a $5-$20 dollar DIY build to grow high light plants.

This light is cheap-ish, safe, very bright (use that dimming knob), and overall ok for the money. Generic LED chips with no info on the manufacturer so don't expect them to last forever, but if you use it on half power or less, they'll easily last 2-3 years. Most bang for your buck if you have reflective material around the plants. 5-gallon bucket works alright.

https://a.co/d/1a46jni

Edit: the 600W version is justifiably "worth it," in terms of light output, safety, design, etc. The 1000W version isn't; it's an extra $26 for a bunch of LEDs that spell GROW LIGHT FECIDA around the center. Don't get duped. The rectangular versions are an additional $10 for nothing the 600W UFO can't do.

My recent build below
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By Intheswamp
Location: 
Posts:  1415
Joined:  Wed May 04, 2022 2:28 pm
#427535
@SDK1, I appreciate all the time and effort you've put into posting the light info. True, a lot of us are on a shoestring budget and have to go inexpensive, but I see where you're coming from in terms of safety. I used a temperature gun to check the heat generated by the Mars Hydro TS600...I found one spot on the top/back that was a little off-center that read 139F. The rest of the fixture was mostly 115F and lower. Roughly 16 inches below the lamp is a clear plastic lid, it read basically a couple of degrees above ambient...around 77F. I'm debating on what you said. The environment that it's in is not bad, average humidity and not really a danger of getting it wet. BUT, I may move it one day over to my regular shelf area in which the humidity could be higher. I've still got return privileges with Amazon so returning it is not a problem.

The light that MikeB linked to, ViparSpectra XS1000, looks good (and I trust Mike's opinion on things!). I'm seriously considering going ahead and ordering one of these lights in a day or so, then I can simply swap them out and return the Mars. I got the Mars on a deal before Christmas so the pricing is really coming out about the same...a wash. :D

Oh, and the round FECiDA light, that might be an option for my granddaughter's plants...would work perfectly. Thanks for pointing it out! Just gotta get some confirmation that my daughter is good with a new light fixture in her house. ;)
By SDK1
Posts:  41
Joined:  Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:48 am
#428029
No problem, someone's got to care about people and it's obvious that businesses like MarsHydro won't. Plus I hate scammers and they are a dime a dozen in the artificial lighting world since weed got legalized.

Glad you checked the temp on the light. It's good that it's not overheating right out of the box. That said, it doesn't mean there isn't a dangerous amount of current running through the ungrounded parts of the board. I would still urge you to return it if you still can. Check the 1 and 2 star Amazon reviews for some interesting stories.

If you need light over a small space you can also get a couple PAR38 LED floodlights and a couple E26/27 sockets. $10 and it'll give about 36,000 lux at ~8 inches. Roughly 500 ppfd.

I use these
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Have this bucket with them
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And this tank that I'm growing sphagnum (and a ping I didn't have room for elsewhere) in.
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By Intheswamp
Location: 
Posts:  1415
Joined:  Wed May 04, 2022 2:28 pm
#428040
Well, I ordered one of the ViparSpectra's the other day...but, the wrong one. :oops: I ordered the P1000 which uses a Samsung LM281B+ LED chip rather than the LM301B and the specs don't say anything about it having a meanwell driver. Don't place orders when you're fatigued and ready to sleep. :roll: So, I've got the return started on the Mars Hydro, have the XS1000 currently ordered, and getting ready to start a return on the P1000 that is arriving today.<sigh> The XS1000 version ended up costing $25 more than the original Mars Hydro :| , but hopefully it will be worth the cost...in performance and peace of mind.

SDK1, do you have my brain bugged? :lol: I've been trying to figure out a single light system for my granddaughter who desperately needs some lighting for her sundews. They are in a roughly sixteen inch diameter round tray. I've been looking at the LED flood lights and thinking of a coffee can fixture for them. A concern that I've had with the idea has been whether the heat output would be an issue. I figure a coffee can cut out at both ends and with a socket attached via cross-wires at the top. It would have to be somewhat aesthetically pleasing to pass my granddaughter's mother's (my daughter) inspection. I've been looking at these floodlight bulbs from Walmart, but it looks like they got all sucked up by the recent freezeaggedon that we had...heat lamps sold out and folks went to regular bulbs<sigh>... Honeywell 120-Watt Par 38 LED Flood Light Bulb. Oh well, they'll be back in stock and you can order online, too.

There's also got to be a Cat Defender 1000 built for my granddaughter, but that's another story. :roll:

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