Every day I am working on this project I find myself going back to what made us different from everyone else back in 2009. Back then you had only a few options of LED Grow Lights, all of which featured PCBs that were loaded from one end to the next with LEDs like our first prototype:
We were the first company to develop light engines (clusters of LEDs) that were repeated across boards with space between clusters. We then used 60 degree lenses to compensate for the intensity difference of having a PCB loaded with 126 LEDs instead of (288) 120 degree LEDs.
The first concept image I posted to this thread was of a light that resembles most other "quantum board" type panels out there, but being like everyone else has never been my style. So in keeping with tradition I did a re-design today. I figured since this is a new grow light for a new era, why not have a new light engine to go with it? I introduce you to our new "PAR Board" Concept v2.0
Most "quantum boards" have 288 lense-less LEDs on a PCB that measures approximately 10.5 x 6.5" PCB with the LEDs occupying 9.5" x 5.5" of the board. This concept image features 2 boards instead of one, keeping in line with our modular design. Each board is 5.75" wide and 8.6" long with 6 light engines featuring 24 LEDs (144 per board). The two boards side-by-side cover 12" x 8.6" with the LEDs occupying about 7.8" x 11.2". This gives our 288 LEDs about 30% more surface area compared to generic "quantum boards". More surface area means a more even dispersion of light intensity and likewise heat, which will help keep operating temperatures lower.
Each PAR Board consumes about 38-40W of power, compared to 120-150W of power for a "quantum board". This is because red LEDs which comprise the majority of our spectrum, consume much less voltage than blue LEDs and therefore draw less watts. This means we will need more panels occupying more area to achieve the same watts as competing "quantum board" panels, but that also means we'll have more point-sources for a more even spread of PPFD over any area comparatively.
The light engine has been re-designed to illuminate a square area opposed to our iconic octagon pattern. The center LED has been removed from each engine to alleviate "hot spots" that develop at the center-most point of each engine. Each light engine measures 50mm x 50mm on center (almost 2" x 2").
The LEDs I am choosing are 3030 SMD with a 120 degree silicon lens, although I will be testing a prototype without the lens as well. I am almost certain I will stick with the lens for our production model over lens-less LEDs with a reflector, but we'll see how testing goes first. Lenses have always been my thing and I know from a decade of working with them, plus the data from those Osram LEDs, that lenses are the way to go for our prototype in the very least.
WORKING TOWARDS LOWER PRICING
I got a quote last night on my generic prototype design (not this) and was quite stunned by how high it was. I made the supplier provide a break-down of the costs, which allowed me to see where the problem areas were. After developing and manufacturing for 10 years, I'm very keen on what costs should be, what they can be, and what they shouldn't be. Let's just say there was room for significant reductions.
Almost everyone is using Meanwell or similar style in-line drivers for these types of lights. I'm not everyone. We have our own power supply that was developed in 2016 and has been fine-tuned in the years since. It powers up to 100W and can easily operate 2 PAR Boards. Our failure rate is less than 1 in 500 and using our driver can bring costs down substantially. What I will likely do is have a custom case developed for our driver for the production model so it can be used in-line like Meanwell.
Another key difference if we use our driver, is that it is an independent dual-channel driver, meaning if one half fails the other half keeps powering the second PAR board. Most "Quantum Board" models use a single power supply for up to 480W (4 boards). If that power supply fails, your entire light shuts down with it. As someone who developed my first lights for my own rooms, I know how devastating it can be to lose your light in the middle of a crop. Our lights are always designed to avoid that.