LED grow lights come in a wide variety sizes; they can be found in cheap little stand-alone lights to large arrays. Let’s look at how to repair an LED grow light when faced with some of the most common issues this kind of hardware can face.
#Things to Test Before You Try to Fix an LED Grow Light
If your LED grow light went dead, you want to check the easiest potential causes before you start disassembling the LED lights. For example, it won’t work if someone unplugged it, and it will stop working if the fuses upstream have blown out.
Don’t assume it is a mechanical problem before you’ve checked the system settings. For example, the system may not be coming on because the timer is turned off. Or the control system has been set on the wrong profile, so it isn’t on because it thinks it shouldn’t be on yet.
You could test whether the controls are the problem by changing the settings; if you switch from a 12 hours on, 12 hours off profile to 24 hours on and it doesn’t come on, then you know the issue is either mechanical or electrical. If the lights come on and stay one with a change of the profile, then the issue is software related. A work-around is turning the lights on and off until you update the software or get the controller fixed.
Another issue arises when you think the lights aren’t coming on correctly, when the issue is system settings. If someone set it for the red spectrum, don’t be upset that the blue lights are off. Switch to broad spectrum lights or set it to specifically light up the bulbs that are off to see if they will work. If not, then there’s probably an electrical problem.
If the unit has power but none of the lights work, the problem is probably the power converter. Depending on the equipment you own, replacing it may be a simple process or be such a hassle you’d rather just buy new equipment. If any lights in the LED system come on, you know it isn’t the power converter.
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If you have several grow lights connected in series, you could kill all of them because the power draw is too great for your power source. Disconnect one or two grow lights, and the rest may work. If one or two grow lights are burned out or malfunctioning, determining which ones aren’t working allows you to disconnect them from the daisy chain, reconnect those that do work, and at least get part of your system working again.
Another potential reason why it shut down is that it is overheating. For example, your LED grow light may not be working because the fan that keeps it from getting too hot has died. The solution is replacing the fan. Depending on your equipment, this may be a plug-and-play part, or you need to break out a soldering kit to remove and replace the fan.
If the control board is too hot because you have the grow light next to a heat lamp, the unit may shut down. Relocating the grow light or the heat source could get the grow light working again. For example, high pressure sodium bulbs will heat up the air around it and may be cooking your LED control board.
However, electrical shorts in the control board because it is damaged or defective isn’t something most users can fix themselves. The solution would be replacing the control board or the entire LED system. If the grow lights are shutting down intermittently, check its temperature before it shuts down. You may be able to solve the issue by cleaning the lights and fan of dirt and debris that inhibit air flow, since a lack of cooling will cause the unit to shut down after running for a few minutes.
#Replacing Conventional LED Light Bulbs
Replacing burned out light bulbs in an LED light fixture can be as simple as unscrewing a dead conventional light bulb and screwing in a good one in your home’s light fixtures. If the LED lights are burning out faster than expected, the root cause may be that you’re using the wrong lights for the application, such as trying to run too much power through the light fixtures.
#Replacing Chip on Board LED Lights
Chip on board LED lights have little LED chips soldered onto the board. The benefit of this design is that the system can be controlled by a microprocessor, showing whatever level of red or blue lights that you want and the levels can be changed through the day. The downside is the difficulty in repairing them. You have to break out the soldering kit to remove them and replace them with replacement LED chips, and you need a multi meter to find out which component needs to be replaced.
The first step to this process is unplugging the LED light strip from the power source. Next, disassemble the power supply. Check the capacitors in the power supply, since a whole string of LED lights might go out if the capacitor has been blown out.
If that’s the case, replacing the capacitor could restore the whole row of lights. While you’re at it, check the can-shaped rectifier, because the unit won’t relay power to the lights if that’s burned out. If this is burned out, you can try to replace it, or you may want to buy a whole new set of LED lights.
The next step is checking the power connections for the LEDs. They’re typically linked like a chain of Christmas lights, and when the electrical connection for one is broken, it shuts off power for everything else down the line. Use an ohm meter to determine where the break is.
This requires testing every LED in the system until you find the bad one. The bad LED will light up when you test it in “diode” mode with a multi-meter. Then it needs to be removed and replaced. You may be able to tell visually which one is bad, since it will have a burned black spot in the middle of the chip.
Install the new LED light, making sure it is put in the right way. Test it with the multi-meter. If everything looks correct, connect power and make sure it works.
It is possible that another LED is burned out, so you need to repeat this process with another LED or two until everything is working. If you don’t want to replace the LED chip or ran out of them, you could create a “short” across the area so that power will flow to the LEDs down the line.