Creating Smart LED Grow Lights

It is surprising that in the 21st century most grow lights are still controlled by mechanical timers. But now there is a solution. Here you can find out how to make Grow LEDs smart.
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Operating Grow LEDs with a timer (ZSU)

Grow LEDs are typically switched on and off periodically to mimic the daily cycle of the sun. Most indoor gardeners use Mechanical timers. Apart from the fact that these are often of inferior workmanship and can pose a fire risk (experienced this myself!), the setting options are limited. At best, 15-minute intervals can be selected at which the lamp is either switched on completely or switched off. Digital timers partly solve this problem, finer time settings are possible there.

Make Grow LED smart 1
CatalpaSpirit, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Creating Smart LED Grow Lights

With Wifi adapter

There are various ways to make a Grow LED smart. The simplest of these is probably a Wifi adapter. These usually have an app for the smartphone that can be used to specify the switching times. The critical point here is that user data is usually routed via the servers of the Far Eastern providers. The mass use of these products also makes them worthwhile targets for hackers - many a botnet consisting of such smart home devices, has already been discovered.

Goals of the smart Grow LED: sun simulation and more

Although the Wifi adapter plug allows wireless control via app, it does not yet fulfil the wish of most people who want a smart plant lamp. We were frequently asked for sunrise and sunset simulations. In addition, we know that ambitious growers often rely on sophisticated light recipes in which the spectrum is to be changed during the course of the day.

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The classic example is the so-called "sleep light" with Far Red (730 nm). Here, a separate channel with this wavelength is operated for 10-20 minutes after the main light has been switched off. Studies indicate that this leads to an accelerated transformation of the phytochromes, which ultimately allows longer exposure times (e.g. 13 hrs on / 11 hrs off) without damaging the plants.

Control for Grow LEDs

In the meantime, almost every well-known manufacturer has a controller solution for its own lamps on the market. Prices range from just under €100 to over €2000, whereby the range of functions and quality naturally scale with the price. The number of outputs, the control panel (touch or buttons), display size and many other factors play a role.
Our Grow Controller CresControl, for example, almost completely dispenses with a physical control interface, as any terminal device with a Crescience hub can be used for this purpose at any time. Those who do not want to do without a stationary control panel can use a discarded tablet or smartphone for this purpose.

Our solution: Smart Grow LED with CresControl

With CresControl, all resources are invested in an open and versatile platform. With the numerous inputs and outputs and the fully customisable app, CresContrl and Crescience Hub leave nothing to be desired. The basic functions for lighting control alone are already very extensive and are being further refined:

  • Independent control of up to six channels: Allows independent zones or wavelengths to be controlled per controller.
  • Compatible with third-party manufacturers: The terminal block makes CresControl compatible with all 1-10V, 0-10V and PWM dimmable LED lamps and fans.
  • Spectrum Tuning: Crescience LED modules can be configured to visualise the spectral distribution
  • Individual time courses: Not only can you set simple sunrises and sunsets for each channel, but you can also draw individual progress curves with up to 24 points in time in the app.
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LED Sunset and sunrise simulation with CresControl
  • Ecosystem management: The outputs of the controller can be managed individually in order to assign the dimming signals to different mounting zones or lamps. This also allows you to virtually combine several controllers, for example to create a lamp with more than 6 channels.
  • More than LED: With the switchable extra-low voltage outputs, the analogue inputs and the sensAct extensions, CresControl serves for much more than lighting control. Our controller forms the basis for individual indoor cultivation projects that are to be controlled wirelessly and regulated intelligently.

Control LED driver via 0-10V with CresControl

To make a Grow LED smart, you only need to connect the control input to the outputs of CresControl. Normally, the cable has two wires, DIM + and DIM -. Some LEDs have these two wires integrated in an RJ11 or RJ12 network connector. Here you can usually try out without risk which two contacts are occupied with the plus and minus pole.

Once the driver is connected, you can configure the output with schedules and access the lamp at any time via our Crescience Hub app. Crescience Hub ensures a secure user experience with data minimisation, incognito wifi and SSL encryption.

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