Making a Floodlight with dirt-cheap AC LEDs. Are They Great? Or Trash? (COMPARISON vs MY DIY LIGHTS)


Hey, how’s going? Today I will be making possibly the cheapest
high-power outdoor light you can build. It includes these dirt-cheap driverless LED
chips. You can find them from ~$2 for a 50W model. I have made all kinds of lighting projects
in the past. Usually, I lean towards the quality, but this
time I went as cheap as possible. So, if you want to know what to expect from
these LEDs, stick around, as I will be making a full comparison with my all DIY lights. First is the build. I salvaged this very interesting aluminum
heatsink. It immediately gave me an idea to make an
outdoor weather-proof light, as I collected so many of these LED chips over time, but
didn’t make anything with them. The surface wasn’t smooth at all, so I sanded
until I get it reasonably flat. It is very far away from perfect, but it will
do the job. To cover the random holes, I cut a few tiny
pieces from a scrap aluminum part. And by the way, you should never cut aluminum
with a regular abrasive disc for a safety reason. It is way better to figure out how to clamp
small parts and cut with a jigsaw. On one side there was a thread for a bolt,
so I needed to make an exact same thread on the other side. This later will be the place for a light holder. As this is aluminum making thread is super
easy. I also drilled the hole for the power cable. Just make sure to countersink the hole that
it would be smooth and don’t cut a cable. To cover the side gaps, I used high-temperature
sealant and bolts with nuts. As I am not chasing for the looks, this will
be a great long-lasting seal. This is kind an overkill, you could use a
clear silicone sealant which is rated for something like from -50C to 150C. To mount the LEDs to the heatsink you should
drill holes, make threads, add thermal compound and secure with 4 bolts. But who’s got time for that? Well, speaking seriously, the frame was too
thin to do that, and I didn’t want more holes at the back that I will need to seal
later. So… I just used thermal glue to secure the LEDs. It is kinda one-way, no-return project anyways. For the power cord, you should use a cable
that can handle high temperatures, this would be something like a silicone coated cable. More realistically, only a tiny part of the
cable will be in contact with the heatsink. So, to minimize heat transfer from it, I wrapped
the cable in heat resistant tape and added a heat shrink tube on a regular power cable. In the end, I added a few additional tubes
just that it wouldn’t be possible to pull out the cord. Next – the soldering. First the most important thing, always ground
the metal surfaces, it isn’t hard and it is a very important safety feature. Second, wires from blue-neutral and brown-live
just splits into two wires as we need to power two LEDs. There are always markings on the LEDs where
which wire goes. I could just leave wires without insulation,
but that would be pretty dumb as this is a DIY project. You never know what could go wrong with it,
so insulating wires with silicone is a great idea. Better safe than sorry, especially as this
will be outside in the rain and powered directly from the mains. Of course, I won’t leave it open like that,
so I cut the exact same size clear sheet of plexiglass. Later it will be secured with four bolts. Drilling without cracking it on a drill press
is easy, but if you try it to do with a hand drill… results can be not that good. To get acceptable looking holes just drill
slowly with almost no pressure, pretty simple. To hide ugly inside wiring and get better
light diffusion I sanded both sides of the plexiglass. At first, I used 80 grit sandpaper, I don’t
know what I was thinking. Just don’t use anything rougher than 220
grit. Finally, to completely seal the LEDs, I added
silicone around the frame, then the cover and secured it with bolts and washers. Don’t overtighten them, you don’t want
to squeeze out all the sealant. By pressing you just want that the sealant
will combine into the continuous mass without any gaps. For the holder, I just bent a cheap rail,
no drilling, no cutting. To secure it – two bolts and some washers. Also, these bends will give great rigidity. And this is all you need to do to make the
light like this. So now let’s talk more about these driverless
LEDs. Over time, I bought and tested some different
types of those chips. What I liked about them – is that they are
really cheap. Usually, you can find them for $2 to $5 depending
on the model and they range from 20W to 50W. You connect them directly to mains power. And that is very convenient and it saves more
money as you don’t need any additional power supply. All of these LEDs have the same holes for
the screws. This makes replacing the chip so much easier
as you don’t need to worry about modifying the mounting. One more thing that is really nice, is that
all LEDs that I tested, worked with an AC dimmer. It wasn’t perfect, but it kinda worked. Probably it’s the dimmers fault, but realistically
I doubt anyone will use anything more expensive than this for these cheap LEDs. So far it seems that these chips are pretty
decent, right? Well, now let’s talk about what disadvantages
they have. And first is that we are dealing directly
with mains voltage. As it is easy to wire the chip, it can be
equally easy to get a fatal injury. You must know what you are doing and you should
handle it with care. But the biggest disadvantage is efficiency. If you watched my previous videos you can
definitely tell that I love to make all sorts of lighting projects. I have used 12V LED strips, basic 34V 100W
LEDs, high-end 36V Cree LEDs and I am working on more high-power high-quality lighting. This experience and few tools give me pretty
good judgment on what you can expect from these LEDs. And one of the most important qualities for
the LED is efficiency, or a proper term – efficacy. LEDs with better efficacy, at the same wattage,
will produce less heat because more electrical power will be converted to light and less
to heat. And less heat equals the longer lifespan of
the LED and the need for a smaller heatsink. Another important quality of an LED is how
good they recreate the colors. The most basic measurement is CRI. Higher the value – the more pleasant and
natural colors are. Keep in mind that higher CRI also reduces
the efficacy of the LED, as it needs to recreate a wider spectrum of colors. You definitely can tell that these driverless
LEDs don’t produce those rich colors, it rather looks dull and lifeless. Let’s be real, no one would sell 90+ CRI
LEDs at such low prices. One more disadvantage is flicker. And this one is really annoying if you are
sensitive to it. Remember that you won’t see the flicker
as a camera sees with incorrect shooting settings like you see now in the video. Without anything moving it’s hard to notice
the flicker, but when something moves it is very obvious. So to summarize. If you are looking for good lighting quality,
I advise avoiding these driverless LEDs at all costs. Extremely low efficiency, bad colors and the
flicker – definitely not the things that you are looking for in high-quality lighting. Of course, you can’t deny that slapping
a dirt-cheap LED on a heatsink and powering it from the mains is extremely convenient. You definitely can’t beat the price if you
have some spare parts lying around and don’t mind putting in some work. Like someone said there are no bad products,
only bad prices. That’s all from me and I will see you next
time!

3 thoughts on “Making a Floodlight with dirt-cheap AC LEDs. Are They Great? Or Trash? (COMPARISON vs MY DIY LIGHTS)

  1. Your workmanship is First class. Both the DIY & video production quality. Keep it up! Channel subscribed!

  2. Your video production (captions, timer for how long you show the photos on screen) is amazing. Good job as usual.

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