Are DIY Quantum Board Grow Light Kits Worth It?
DIY quantum board grow light kits are a popular option for indoor growers. They definitely have certain benefits over the pre-assembled quantum board grow lights, but not every aspect is better.
DIY quantum board grow light kits are unassembled quantum board grow lights that cost less than assembled quantum board grow lights. Despite price savings, the warranty period is shorter on DIY quantum board grow light kits.
If you aren’t sure yet about purchasing a DIY quantum board grow light kit, I think I’ve found an alternative at a much better price.
I lay it all out below so you can decide for yourself.
Benefits of DIY Quantum Board Kits:
Upon looking around the grow light market there actually are some benefits to buying a DIY quantum board grow light kit compared to a pre-assembled quantum board grow light.
The first benefit is the cost is lower. The popular HLG 300 V2 comes with two boards, 578 Samsung LM301B diodes in total. Comparing the cost of that light to a DIY kit containing the same two boards and same LED type, you’d spend about 25-30% less on the DIY kit for the same product.
Higher Light Intensity:
If you go for the larger 4 board DIY model, the HLG 600H (found here), you’re not only saving on cost, but the light intensity is about 20% higher than its pre-assembled cousin, the HLG 550 V2. Those gains go directly to your harvest!
The higher intensity only holds true if you’re buying the 4 board DIY kit. The HLG 600H draws more power from the wall, allowing it to emit more intense light than the HLG 550 v2.
Coverage Area Flexibility:
Another benefit of the DIY quantum board grow light kits is the coverage area flexibility. The pre-assembled quantum board LED grow lights only come in square sizes. For example, the HLG 300 and HLG 550 V2 have a square coverage area. But what if your grow area is rectangular?
You could always opt for the pre-assembled HLG 100 and line 3 of them next to each other for a rectangular coverage area, but you’d still be paying the “pre-assembly premium.”
The HLG 320w XL V2 R-Spec (found here) is a DIY quantum board kit containing three boards lined up in rectangle form.
You also have the option of buying single board quantum DIY kits and forming them any other way your grow space requires. That’s the benefit of DIY quantum board kits.
Downfalls of DIY Quantum Board Kits:
However, the grass isn’t all greener on the other side. DIY quantum board grow light kits have a few downfalls compared to the pre-assembled cousins, as well as other conventional LED grow lights.
The DIY quantum board grow light kits mostly include a 1-year warranty across brands. The manufacturers can’t guarantee a product as long of a time when they didn’t assemble it themselves.
Cost-to-Coverage Area is the same or less compared to COB LED grow lights:
The coverage area from a DIY quantum board grow light kit compared to a COB LED grow light in the same price range just isn’t the same.
For example, the Horticulture Lighting Group DIY quantum board kit with 2 boards covers 2×2, with peak intensity (PPFD) at around 800 uMols in the center and 500 uMols once you get 2ft out from the center.
There’s at least one COB LED grow light out there going for less money, but emits more intense light over the same area. (Click here to see which COB LED I’m talking about).
The same holds true if you go with the 4-board DIY grow light kit. It covers roughly 3×3 feet and you’d be able to cover double that space if you spent the same amount on COB LEDs.
Why fuss over coverage area and light intensity?
The DIY quantum board grow light kits have definitely pushed the quantum board segment in the right direction – more options and more performance compared to the pre-assembled quantum boards grow lights.
But if you actually read up on the science of growing a fruit/vegetable bearing plant (including cannabis), you’ll discover the level of light intensity coming from these DIY quantum board grow light kits is only enough to get a mediocre yield.
I wrote a whole article on the matter of light intensity here, and in short, you’ll need a light emitting 617 uMols during an 18 hour vegetative cycle day, or 925 uMols during a 12 hour flowering cycle day to get the maximum yield from your plants.
You can still grow a plant with as little as 50% below those intensity levels, but you’ll get more mediocre yields.
At this point in time, you can get those higher intensity levels from a COB LED grow light at the same price.
What are the most popular DIY quantum board kits?
By far, the most popular DIY quantum board kits are the Horticulture Lighting Group kits. They’re offered in a variety of sizes from 1 to 4 QB288 quantum boards that range from 135 to 620 watts, and utilize Samsung LM301B and 660nm red diodes.
Take a look at the table below to see the specs on the HLG offerings:
These kits include wiring, drivers, hanging kits and a one year warranty, and have very straightforward assembly. The prices are considerably lower than what you’d pay for an assembled kit.
The Best Option of All?
It’s not a DIY quantum board kit, but it’s basically a pre-assembled quantum board grow light. The well known Mars Hydro grow light company recently released their new grow light line the TS Series.
The Mars Hydro TS 1000 is a direct shot across the bow of quantum board grow lights.
Mars Hydro realized the cannabis growing community was moving towards quantum board LED grow lights, so they designed an entry level light that can compete with quantum boards on every aspect: White light spectrum, fanless design, low heat, high power efficiency, and a coverage area that doesn’t lose light intensity at the edges.
The Mars Hydro TS 1000 will cover a 2×2 foot grow space for about half the cost of a 2-board DIY quantum board kit, while providing the same light intensity.
The Mars Hydro TS 1000 comes with an adjustable ballast, although I don’t think the light should be set to anything less than maximum power. It’s not so powerful that it needs to be adjusted lower.
It only draws 150w from your outlet. The efficiency is pretty high for an entry level light – Mars Hydro says it’s 2.15~2.35umol/j.
How much can you yield with this light? Mars Hydro says you’ll get up to 2.2g/watt. Keep in mind there are a lot of factors that affect plant growth, so these are approximations.
The light has a simple design. No cooling fans required, no dual spectrum switches. The spectrum is all you need, it includes 660nm, 3200-4200K, and 5200-6800K light.
One of the best features of this light, which sets it apart from other similar cost lights, is the coverage. As I mentioned earlier, the light intensity does not fade near the edges. You just won’t see that on other lights in this price range. Your plants are getting 400+ uMol right out to the edge of the 2×2 coverage area.
In summary the TS 1000 is a good bang for your buck. Going back to light intensity, it doesn’t emit the 617/925 uMol needed for max yield during veg/flower, but it’s definitely enough to get you a moderate yield. When you consider the price it’s hard to beat.
Still Set On A DIY Quantum Board Kit?
If you’ve made it to this point and you’re still set on getting a DIY quantum board grow light kit after reading everything I’ve laid out, I can’t say I blame you.
Sometimes I want what I want regardless of whether there are better options. I’ll see a friend with a certain model, see their results, and I’d be perfectly happy knowing that I’d be getting exactly those results instead of picking another (possibly better but less costly) option.
If you’re still set on a DIY quantum board grow light kit, there are a few low cost models on Amazon. If you want to check all of your options, you can also check out LED Grow Lights Depot where they carry several other options from Horticulture Lighting Group not found on Amazon. LED Grow lights depot frequently matches Amazon’s prices, and constantly runs promotions that can be found on their discount page.
If you do go with the DIY quantum board kit, make sure to get one that includes the 660nm red wavelength, so you have enough red in the spectrum for the flowering phase.
How to assemble a DIY quantum board grow light kit:
Assembling your DIY quantum board kit is pretty straightforward. You’ll need a screwdriver and possibly wire strippers depending which kit you purchase.
The assembly involves:
Setup time: ~30 minutes
- Securing the driver to the rear/top side of the light panel,
- Connecting the input wires from the driver to the power cord via wago connectors,
- Connecting the output wires from the driver to the quantum board panels.
- Connecting the hanger clips and hanging wire to the board so you’re able to hang it from your grow tent/rack/ceiling.
Caution: Electrical wiring can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s your responsibility to make sure you connect the end of the each wire to its correct connection place. Please TRIPLE check the instructions, or contact the manufacturer if you’re not completely sure.
DIY Quantum Board Assembly Video:
This video is for the HLG 260 watt DIY quantum board kit. Even if it’s not the model you plan to purchase, it can provide you a good idea of the assembly process.
It’s up to you now:
I’ve provided you the best options possible if you were considering a DIY quantum board kit. Like many grow lights, the amount you’re willing to spend on these DIY quantum boards will determine what quality plants you’re able to grow.
If light intensity is the only factor that matters to you, I strongly suggest the COB LED grow light I mentioned earlier.
DIY quantum board grow light kits are more affordable than pre-assembled grow lights. They also offer flexibility in terms of sizes.
The warranty period on DIY kits is significantly shorter duration.
All grow lights emit some heat. Quantum board grow lights are designed to dissipate heat effectively, but may still emit some heat. Depending on your growing environment, you may need to use a space fan.
In regards to the smaller models, you can get more bang for your buck from a pre-assembled grow light. But for the larger models, the DIY kits offer a better value.
Overall DIY quantum board grow lights are very power efficient, operating at roughly 2.7 uMol/Joule. The kits consume anywhere from 60 to 620 watts depending on the model.
Thanks for reading and happy growing!
- MARUO, Toru, et al. “Effects of Supplemental Lighting with Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) on Tomato Yield and Quality of Single-Truss Tomato Plants Grown at High Planting Density.” Environmental Control in Biology, Japanese Society of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Engineers and Scientists, 11 June 2012, https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ecb/50/1/50_63/_article.
- Chandra, Suman, Hemant Lata, Ikhlas Khan, and Mahmoud Elsohly. “Photosynthetic response of Cannabis sativa L. to variations in photosynthetic photon flux densities, temperature and CO2 conditions.” Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants 14.4 (2009): 299-306.
- Sharakshane, Anton. “White LED Lighting for Plants.” bioRxiv (2017).
- Eichhorn Bilodeau, Samuel et al. “An Update On Plant Photobiology And Implications For Cannabis Production”. Frontiers In Plant Science, vol 10, 2019. Frontiers Media SA, doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.00296. Accessed 14 Oct 2019.
- Lin, K., Huang, M., Huang, W., Hsu, M., Yang, Z. and Yang, C. (2013). The effects of red, blue, and white light-emitting diodes on the growth, development, and edible quality of hydroponically grown lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. capitata). Scientia Horticulturae, 150, pp.86-91.
- He, Dongxian & Kozai, T. & Niu, Genhua & Xin, Zhang. (2019). Light-Emitting Diodes for Horticulture: Materials, Processes, Devices and Applications. 10.1007/978-3-319-99211-2_14.