New DIY grow lights - Strip build or QB build?

I am trying to put together some lights for flower in 2 5x10 grow tents.
I saw the HLG 550 V2 Rspec and 650R. The 650R is a beast it also costs AUD 2k.

@Budstone recommended I look at cutter electronics here in Australia.
Have been doing so much research on the different options, I also got the IES files from Cutter to run in Dialux to run some simulations. I have narrowed it down to 2 options that come in under my budget and meet my needs.

The QBs are the SSK-272-RR-V2 3000k 90CRI boards.

These are the diodes.
Super Red Mix. Nichia 3000k, 90 CRI(256), Cree 660nm(8), Cree XPE-2 Red 630nm(4), Cree XPE-2 Far Red 730nm(2), Infra Red, 840nm(2)

On paper they look like an awesome board. I run some simulations in Dialux and with spreading the boards out I can get pretty good coverage. I would need to run 2 x Meanwell HLG 480h 2100a drivers running 4 boards each and then the HLG 240h to run a further 2 boards. Total of 10 boards all up.

The working plane below represents the canopy.

Running in this configuration I would get an average of 777 PPFD with a max of 978 PPFD. This is running at 18 inches from the canopy. 1200w output to the LEDs. Cutter also tell me the drivers have the ability to be adjusted to increase watts using the onboard potentiometer above the 480w or 240w. That hasn’t been taken in to account on the simulation.

The 2nd option is a strip build using 2 kits.

The strips are the SSK-1560ZGE-35 3000k 80CRI

Using these diodes Cree 2835 HE(96)3000k with Cree XPG-3 G bin 660nm
In total there would be 32 strips. 16 per 5x5 area. The simulations I run were at 1000mA at 15 inches.
Cutter said they can be driven higher if I need them to. The drivers used are 8 x ERP 160w. I have very little knowledge of these drivers they can be found here SLM160W-1.0-160-ZA | Cutter Electronics
At 1000mA cutters figures put output at 600w per kit for 1200w total.

Running this configuration I would get an average of 804 PPFD with a max of 948 at 15 inches from the canopy.

The QB build is considerably more expensive than the Strip build to the tune of about 40%. I have no problems spending the additional dollars if it’s a good idea. I am worried about penetration with the strip build as well as the CRI. I also don’t like is having 8 drivers in total on the strip lights.

What I like about the strip build is much more even coverage though. It’s such a hard decision.

Do you guys think the 90CRI boards will make much of a difference?

Any thoughts on either build would be much appreciated. Cheers


Personally using 4 qb288 boards off single 240w driver, but
Feeling the strip build. More even coverage and 40% price difference for your scale of application, i’m feeling strip.


Well done in your research, more than I did. I just rang them and ordered what was suggested over the phone. I never went that far into it. If you get more coverage with the strips for less $$$ then that could be the winner…


I never build one with out talking to DBRN…never steered me wrong…


Me neither, @dbrn32 what do you think?


@Budstone Thanks mate, Dialux is an awesome piece of software if you can get the IES files. Cutters has done the calculations so the end figures are PPFD not lx. Its free as well.

Yeah I think the strip build is what I like most. I did some simulations with 40 strips instead of 32 and I got an average of 916 PPFD, Max of 1001PPFD and minimum of 695 PPFD at a height of 50cm or 19.7 inches

I think that’s pretty hard to beat, pretty much maxing the whole canopy out. Still comes in cheaper than the QB build. I would need to change the drivers though. Will do a little more research.


He truly is THE reference for lights. Here and on every forums I’ve seen him! It would be great if he came back…


Got that right!..


I don’t really see any reason to not go with strips. The more diffuse light should have better canopy penetration by virtue of greater coverage. You would be trading single point intensity for increase in amount of light that comes in multi directional angles.

You posted 3000k with 660, which would be fine. His flagship pr strip is 3500k though, did you mean those? Final cri on those is something like 93. Not that color rendering index means much, but when comparing 80 cri white to 90 cri white longer wavelength peak is shifted more towards red wavelengths. So if choice was 3000k 80 cri vs 3000k 90 cri there would be some arguments to made for more photosynthetic efficient light spectrum of the 90 cri. In either case, adding the 660nm leds would eliminate as an issue. Then argument could be made for the more light efficient 80 cri package. If you felt like uva or ir was an issue it would be piece of cake to add later too.

If number of drivers is concern you can find others to fit the build. You listed constant current drivers, is using those and wiring in series your preference? That’s how I typically build them. Something like meanwell hlg-240h-c1050a would run 6 strips. If you’re already using 230v input the elg-240h-c1050a would be cheaper option, but built in dimmer sucks (on bottom) may justify going b dimming and using dimmer control. If you don’t mind wiring in parallel there’s hundreds of CV drivers available with 36v output.

Thumb eyeballing the simulator kinda seems like ppfd average is a little inflated. That’s just using cutters posted data in round numbers. 37v at 1000ma is 37 watts, at 2.7 umol/joule is ppf of roughly 100 umols/s per strip. 32 strips +/- 3200 umols, 50 ft²=4.65 m². Ppfd average roughly 688 umols/s. I usually shoot for around 800 using this method, don’t believe anyone has been disappointed yet. A little bonus current may get you there, but so would 37 strips. Even 36 is teetering right there, a nice round number divisible by that 6 strip hlg-240 I posted above, would total 6 drivers.

You’ll want a lighting controller unless you have a lot of circuits to eat up. The inrush current on drivers limits amount of large drivers per circuit. Once you have a pretty good idea of what you want to go with we can pull data sheet and look at manufacturer recommendations.


@dbrn32 Thank you very much for the information its much appreciated. It certainly makes me feel better about my choices here. I have been a little worried to pull the trigger in fear I was making a mistake.

When I spoke to Cutter about the strips his argument was about light efficiency of the 80 CRI which he believes outweighs the benefits of having 90 CRI. I spoke about kelvin temperature and he believes that 3000K or 2700k would be best as a flower only board. I bought the 4000k strips for veg yesterday to light a 4x4 tent. They were not expensive at all with the build coming in at around AUD 400. I bought these basically as a test and also because I kind of need them right now. The flower boards I have some time. Currently I run Phillips CMH 4200K for veg and 3000K for Flower.

I am still very new to this and I am only going off what I have learnt in the past couple of weeks. After speaking with cutter yesterday he said to run the AC cords in Parallel to make 1 power cord. In my 2nd post I mentioned that I was most probably going to do a 40 strip build. This would increase the drivers to 5 per light and 10 total. I am not sure about the light controller but here is the data sheet for the ERP drivers.
Australia residential circuits are 15A. These will not be at a residential property so I am not sure what the circuits will be where this is going. I will know soon.

About the simulator if I change the light configuration and the wall reflection back to default as well as the canopy height back to 18 inches I get an average of 677 PPFD for the 32 strips, and an average of 758 PPFD for the 36 strips. Please see below



As mentioned in my previous post Cutter tells me they have converted lx to be represented as PPFD in the IES file. Again I am only new to this just going off what I have been told. My logic behind the changes was to try a simulate a grow tent. Changing the light configuration was for a couple of reasons. Firstly I was trying to squeeze just a little more out of them, and also wanted to make it a little easier to get them in and out of the tent. I don’t want to have to turn them on their side to get them out, especially if I have a grow in there and run in to a problem.

**EDIT - about the 90CRI diodes vs the 80CRI diodes I was talking about the QBs vs the Strips. The 3500K diode PR strip I didn’t even notice to be honest. Would this be a better option?


How about I say that’s what I bought and leave it at that, haha. Very little data to say it is any better than any other cct. You would choose 2700k or 3000k over cooler cct for flower because of higher ratio of red light. Adding 660nm makes that unnecessary really. Samsungs horticulture module is like 5000k with 660nm, no doubt any of them will grow.

I guess my biggest question about the drivers was why a 160 watt driver? There are 250 watt drivers and maybe even bigger that fit your application. Not sure where cost ends up, but worth looking at.


Ok sounds good mate. Its really hard because I can’t find any reviews of his products on YouTube. I am only new to growing so bit of a learning curve.

The kits Cutter put together have the 160w driver in them as standard that’s the only reason. The kits in their current form are very good value IMO. Adding a couple extra boards and an additional 160w driver adds very little to the overall costs.

I have not done a cost comparison with the meanwell drivers as yet once I get home I will take a look. Happy to look at any options available once I know what to look for. If I go a a 36 or a 40 strip build I just need to match a driver to that build. I have not heard of ERP, I have obviously heard of Meanwell they are everywhere. I was just about to buy the QB build which costs significantly more before I read someones post on one of the forums a couple of weeks ago that strip builds are usually a better option. I do have some money in the budget to play with here.

Cutter said there was nothing wrong with the ERP drivers in fact he liked them more he said they just don’t have the optoins meanwell does. Could have been trying to sell me on it but doesn’t strike me as that kind of bloke. In all honesty I have no idea about them just trying to keep my options open.


The erp drivers are likely fine. It just seemed like you were somewhat uninterested in the amount of them you would need to complete your build. Meanwell drivers aren’t really anything special, just cover so many applications as you said. I just wanted to note larger drivers are plentiful to cut down on how many you would need.

I have a link that you could see journal of some earlier cutter strips in action.

These are cree 3030 j series 3000k 90 cri from cutter. I bought a bunch and got them for about $9 per unit shipped at the time. 290 watt light in 3x3 tent. Long before he offered strips that had 660nm leds included. I think I ordered them summer of 2018.


I probably should have been a little clearer. My main problem with having so many drivers was power cables. If I run them in parallel then that is solved. I compared the 2 builds, the 40 strip ERP build and the 36 strip 240w meanwell build and the meanwell build comes in $200 cheaper. So really there isn’t a whole lot of difference in the price. ERP total build comes in at around $55 per strip and the meanwell total price comes in at $55.50 per strip. Nothing in it.

Less drivers would also be easier to put together I suppose. I don’t know my head is starting to hurt haha


Assembly won’t require this much thinking, that’s a plus. It’s a big space to light, making sure you get it right is worth some extra time.

I mentioned controller earlier, something like this


If you can wire the cords to drivers you can wire lighting controller. It’s just a really to act as a soft start for your lighting.


From the installation diagram it looks like it needs to be connected to mains power. Where this is going all electrical work needs to be completed by a licensed electrician.

Is there another option?


Sure. Just need to figure out how many drivers can be started per circuit and make sure you have enough circuits.


Ok this is the part I am a little confused about. Is this the amount that starts or continually runs? Do the drivers require more amps to start? Would decreasing the mount of drivers fix this issue?

At the moment I run a bunch of cmh, a HPS and an LED light on 1 circuit here at home with no issue. It’s around 3000w worth of lights.


I just read up on it. I understand the issue now.