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 cheapesthigh-power outdoor light you can build.

It includes these dirt-cheap driverless LEDchips.

You can find them from ~$2 for a 50W model.

I have made all kinds of lighting projectsin the past.

Usually, I lean towards the quality, but thistime I went as cheap as possible.

So, if you want to know what to expect fromthese 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 aluminumheatsink.

It immediately gave me an idea to make anoutdoor weather-proof light, as I collected so many of these LED chips over time, butdidn’t make anything with them.

The surface wasn’t smooth at all, so I sandeduntil I get it reasonably flat.

It is very far away from perfect, but it willdo the job.

To cover the random holes, I cut a few tinypieces from a scrap aluminum part.

And by the way, you should never cut aluminumwith a regular abrasive disc for a safety reason.

It is way better to figure out how to clampsmall 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 supereasy.

I also drilled the hole for the power cable.

Just make sure to countersink the hole thatit would be smooth and don’t cut a cable.

To cover the side gaps, I used high-temperaturesealant and bolts with nuts.

As I am not chasing for the looks, this willbe a great long-lasting seal.

This is kind an overkill, you could use aclear silicone sealant which is rated for something like from -50C to 150C.

To mount the LEDs to the heatsink you shoulddrill holes, make threads, add thermal compound and secure with 4 bolts.

But who’s got time for that? Well, speaking seriously, the frame was toothin to do that, and I didn’t want more holes at the back that I will need to seallater.




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 cablethat can handle high temperatures, this would be something like a silicone coated cable.

More realistically, only a tiny part of thecable will be in contact with the heatsink.

So, to minimize heat transfer from it, I wrappedthe cable in heat resistant tape and added a heat shrink tube on a regular power cable.

In the end, I added a few additional tubesjust that it wouldn’t be possible to pull out the cord.

Next – the soldering.

First the most important thing, always groundthe metal surfaces, it isn’t hard and it is a very important safety feature.

Second, wires from blue-neutral and brown-livejust splits into two wires as we need to power two LEDs.

There are always markings on the LEDs wherewhich 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 thiswill 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 pressis easy, but if you try it to do with a hand drill… results can be not that good.

To get acceptable looking holes just drillslowly with almost no pressure, pretty simple.

To hide ugly inside wiring and get betterlight diffusion I sanded both sides of the plexiglass.

At first, I used 80 grit sandpaper, I don’tknow what I was thinking.

Just don’t use anything rougher than 220grit.

Finally, to completely seal the LEDs, I addedsilicone around the frame, then the cover and secured it with bolts and washers.

Don’t overtighten them, you don’t wantto squeeze out all the sealant.

By pressing you just want that the sealantwill 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 thelight like this.

So now let's talk more about these driverlessLEDs.

Over time, I bought and tested some differenttypes of those chips.

What I liked about them – is that they arereally cheap.

Usually, you can find them for $2 to $5 dependingon the model and they range from 20W to 50W.

You connect them directly to mains power.

And that is very convenient and it saves moremoney as you don’t need any additional power supply.

All of these LEDs have the same holes forthe screws.

This makes replacing the chip so much easieras you don’t need to worry about modifying the mounting.

One more thing that is really nice, is thatall LEDs that I tested, worked with an AC dimmer.

It wasn’t perfect, but it kinda worked.

Probably it’s the dimmers fault, but realisticallyI doubt anyone will use anything more expensive than this for these cheap LEDs.

So far it seems that these chips are prettydecent, right? Well, now let's talk about what disadvantagesthey have.

And first is that we are dealing directlywith mains voltage.

As it is easy to wire the chip, it can beequally easy to get a fatal injury.

You must know what you are doing and you shouldhandle it with care.

But the biggest disadvantage is efficiency.

If you watched my previous videos you candefinitely tell that I love to make all sorts of lighting projects.

I have used 12V LED strips, basic 34V 100WLEDs, high-end 36V Cree LEDs and I am working on more high-power high-quality lighting.

This experience and few tools give me prettygood judgment on what you can expect from these LEDs.

And one of the most important qualities forthe 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 lessto heat.

And less heat equals the longer lifespan ofthe LED and the need for a smaller heatsink.

Another important quality of an LED is howgood they recreate the colors.

The most basic measurement is CRI.

Higher the value – the more pleasant andnatural colors are.

Keep in mind that higher CRI also reducesthe efficacy of the LED, as it needs to recreate a wider spectrum of colors.

You definitely can tell that these driverlessLEDs don’t produce those rich colors, it rather looks dull and lifeless.

Let’s be real, no one would sell 90+ CRILEDs at such low prices.

One more disadvantage is flicker.

And this one is really annoying if you aresensitive to it.

Remember that you won’t see the flickeras a camera sees with incorrect shooting settings like you see now in the video.

Without anything moving it’s hard to noticethe 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 theflicker – definitely not the things that you are looking for in high-quality lighting.

Of course, you can’t deny that slappinga dirt-cheap LED on a heatsink and powering it from the mains is extremely convenient.

You definitely can’t beat the price if youhave 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 nexttime!.

Leave a Reply