The Plant Photonics StoryPlant Photonics came about by accident. Back in 2008 a friend of mine bought one of the early led grow lights. It blew after a couple of days and (as usual when anything breaks) I got called in to fix it. I was pretty shocked by the bad quality of the assembly (bordering on the lethal!) but I managed to get it going again and made a few improvements so it would keep working. It was a terrible product, but it did made me curious. I started doing some research both on leds and photosynthesis and realised led grow lights did have serious potential, but a product meant to run reliably for years would need to be a lot better designed and built than the examples I had seen. As I had a background in both science and engineering (my thesis was on calculating PAR from satellite data and I had spent most of my working life doing R&D in telecoms) so I figured I could do better, so I started designing a light.
The more I thought about it, the more different my design became from that of other lights. For starters I realised that because I was dealing with lots of small light sources instead of one big one, I could spread them out so they covered the whole of the grow area evenly. I reasoned that would give the most even coverage and also the best penetration. This is because a single bright light casts a very dark shadow, but lots of small lights spread over a wide area casts lots of weak shadows, so a lot of light would still get through to the lower levels of the plant. I also realised that by spreading out the leds I was also spreading their heat, making the light easier to cool than it would be with lots of leds packed together. Now I had a basic light design it was time to do some testing! I made up lights with different mixes of leds to discover what worked best and compared the results. At one point I was running 6 lights with different spectrums at the same time to speed things up. After about 18 months I was confident I had the best possible spectrum so it was time to build my first “proper” light as the prototypes I had used for testing were definitely not a commercial product!
I knew that controlling heat was vital for the leds top perform their best and have a long life, so I didnt want to “box” the leds in thereby trapping the heat. I designed the whole light around the leds, with the circuit board acting as the top of the case and led heat sink, an aluminum surround and of course a plastic lens to protect the leds. By riveting and bolting it together I wound up with a strong, rigid but very light structure with a large surface area for cooling. I added the power supplies and fan on top which had the added benefit that the fan also cooled the power supplies. It worked perfectly and ran really cool, only about 10C warmer than room temperature. In fact it ran so cool that I lowered the fan speed by 20% which made them even quieter (they are completely inaudible even at 30 cm away!). I showed it to some friends who asked me to make copies for them. They were delighted so I started selling them on Ebay and Plant Photonics was born!
Of course nothing is perfect first time, so over the following years I made changes based on personal experience and customer feedback with the current models being “MarkV”. The current models have the latest Oslon leds with built in 80 degree lenses, custom made power supplies with upgraded Japanese (Rubican gold 120C capacitors) and US (TI and Fairchild power chips) components, German Xilence 120mm fans, the highest grade circuit boards available (2.2 W/K, 2mm thick and gold plated contacts), test points for each led and lastly power indicator leds for each power supply.
Its been an interesting 8 years. Along the way I even had to design and build our own pick and place machines and reflow ovens as commercial units weren’t big enough to handle our huge circuit boards and I wanted to do everything in house for the highest reliability!
Please check out our website and please take to time to read the “Led technology and Plants” section, there is a lot of information that will help you choose a light and understand the technology behind them. Lastly, I am always delighted to answer any led related questions. Happy growing!
My sales method
Educate the customer and clearly explain the science behind the lights. Be completely honest and open at all times. Rely on recommendations from happy customers – my customers are my sales force!
Where are we?
We are based in Valencia, Spain. Our lights are handmade to order and shipped from Valencia, Spain.