What is a suncircle? (circular light mover)
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What is a suncircle?
Contributed by : Erliquin
American Hydroponics, it is a 360 degree rotating light
balancer. It will rotate a single lamp or lamps and even
of mixed wattage and type over a crop profile in
continuous fashion without flex getting tangled. The
advantage it gives is a more even profile coupled with
greater efficiency of the lights used. They come in
three colors and three styles.
As said, they come in
three styles and they are the 1LRS (One Light Rotating
System), the 2LRS (Two Light Rotating System) and
finally the 3LRS (Three Light Rotating System). For the
sake of this document, the discussion will be on a
Avoid the green model as it has a light weight
yet weak chassis and can break away from the ceiling
mount. I know this from experience. Chose the yellow or
purple models as they can truly take the weight of low
bays which means remote bays will be a cinch. I have
used the yellow 2LRS and yellow 3LRS as well as the
purple 3LRS with satisfaction. Although heavier to
handle, the solid construction makes all the difference.
It is vital that a suncircle has inherent structural
integrity as lamps and a suncircle crashing down onto a
crop below would be a disaster. The purple 3LRS is rated
at 9kg (20lb) per arm load bearing.
equally important that it is mounted to a ceiling with
sufficient load bearing. Check the joist or frame with a
few chin-ups. If it can take that, then a suncircle will
be safe to mount. Always over engineer in the
construction of a grow room.
This document will
also outline how to wire a suncircle, what a suncircle
consists of as in components, their maintenance as well
as ceiling mounting.
If considering the purchase
of a suncircle, it will consist of the suncircle, a set
of bull arms with extention arms, including low bay
bracket mounts and cord with pulleys for the lamps. It
will be expected that you use flex from your HID systems
to set the suncircle up. That's easy as this document
Note: The cord and pulleys that
come with a suncircle are ridiculous. Far safer and
easier to use chain with dog collar clips. You won't get
electrocuted as one should always wear rubber soled
shoes in a grow room. It is after all a plant workshop
and not a fun parlor.
Note: Suncircles do not
come with male and female plugs for your hats. You must
buy a pair of female and male plugs for each hat you
wish to use with your suncircle. I will discuss this
Note: The extension arms that come with
the bull arms have not been employed as I like to keep
my light concentrated so the crop is full of solid bud.
The extension arms simply slot into the bull arms and
increase the over all arm stretch by double. Depending
on model, suncircle arms can come in box aluminum or box
galvanized steel. The ones shown in this document are
Photograph showing clearance of a 3LRS suncircle
on a ceiling grow room exhaust with bull arms pointing
down. If one has a low ceiling without ceiling exhaust
encumbrance, the bull arms can be positioned facing up,
giving extra height on the hats to garden below. In
either configuration of bull arm use, always make sure
you secure bull arms firmly with the screws provided in
the bull arm mounts.
Please note that
all styles of suncircle will have different mounting
plates so the holes on the plates will not correspond to
the ceiling mount alignment you might have from another
model. If so, then make a plate that will accommodate
varied styles by lining up the plate at the hydroponics
shop. This will give one the advantage of borrowing a
suncircle from the hydroponics shop of purchase, if and
when you have a problem with your suncircle for prompt
garden installation and bearing you have good will with
the hydroponics folks. You will note in this picture
that there's holes in this aluminum plate to accommodate
three styles of suncircle. So make the ceiling mount
with two plates. One set permanently to the ceiling that
holds the fasting bolts and the other you can take to
the shop for easy measurements.
In this picture,
the suncircle is fully wired and flex attached. Short of
being ceiling mounted, bull arms attached and connected
off to hats/ballasts and with the power on, it is fully
operational as can be seen in this photograph.
Please note, that the suncircle is actually
upside down, as the ceiling mounting plate is sitting on
a tiled floor -- so imagine that the tiled floor is a
ceiling. You can see the black cord that brings power to
the the suncircle motor. Note the three flex cords on
the junction box located near the ceiling mounting plate
for the HID ballasts and the three flex female plugged
lines from the other junction house for the hats.
closer look at the suncircle and again without the
attached bull arms. It's actually the other side of the
suncircle not seen in the first photograph. For the sake
of ease to photograph, the suncircle is again upside
down with the ceiling mounting plate resting on a
kitchen sink. Note the two junction houses, electric
motor, brush points, ceiling mount plate, bull arm
mounts with securing screws and flex for lamps and
ballasts which lead off from the two junction houses. I
will discuss these shortly.
A close look at a
junction house with junction housing plate removed. This
junction house is the one that takes the flex from the
ballasts. It is identical in wiring to the junction
house that takes the flex to the hats.
It is a
good idea to write in indelible pen at each flex entry
point what station it is. In the case of this 3LRS,
there's three stations per junction house. Not only will
this make it make it easier in the wiring of the
suncircle, it will ensure that the two junction houses
are identical in all regards.
Ensure that the
flex is held secure with the suncircle junction house
clamps as seen in the photograph. You want no wires
inside junction caps coming lose from flex being pulled
due to insecure hold as that can cause short circuit. I
will discuss wiring shortly.
with ceiling mounting plate removed exposing the
interior mechanics in relation to the external electric
Note: Because a suncircle has to be taken
down so you can inspect and lubricate the inner
workings, you must set the suncircle up in your grow
with intention that it will come down in an ongoing
basis. So think carefully on how you will ceiling mount
it. It may seem silly to say, but do not for example,
set it so the nuts to the mounting bolts can only be
accessed from the crawl space of a roof. Always have the
nuts on the bolts facing downwards to the grow below.
closer view of the internal mechanics.
simply a drive shaft from the motor to a central cog
which in turn rotates the central core. It is advisable
every twelve months to take the suncircle down and
remove the ceiling mounting plate and grease the drive
shaft and the central cog. This can be seen in the
photograph with an evident blue residue of fresh grease.
Ordinary automotive grease is sufficient.
When in operation, do not force the suncircle. Doing so
can cause misalignment of the drive shaft to the central
cog which will result in the suncircle not rotating.
In this suncircle shown, one garden rotation
happens every 4 minutes and 20 seconds, so a little
patience is needed if a hat happens to be in the way
when inspecting a plant.
A view of the
Note: It needs an oiling every
month and you can see the oil well on the side of the
motor. Sewing machine oil is sufficient. Just a few
drops is all that's needed.
A look at the
brushes of the suncircle. Note: Some people refer to
brushes as bushes. Simple to remove with a flat head
screwdriver from the brush points.
A closer look at
Being that the rectangular prism is
copper it will wear out before the central core will and
this is intentional in design so the suncircle has a
long working life. Brushes are cheap but a worn core
equals a dead suncircle. However, it is advisable to
inspect the brushes along with your once every twelve
months check. Give the brushes a light sanding on
contact end if dirty from carbon. This will ensure that
there's adequate contact so circuit is effected.
If ballasts are in working order as well as
lamps and you note lamps failing to charge or failing to
fully charge and your suncircle wiring is correct, it
may be poor contact with a brush.
to inspect a suncircle or taking down a suncircle, you
must switch off all HID's with allowance to five minutes
discharge time for the HID capacitors. That will not
only insure a sound working life of the capacitors, it
will prevent potential electrocution. Then pull the HID
plugs from the wall as well as the suncircle motor plug.
Now it is safe to inspect the brushes. A suncircle with
i.e. 3000w of HID is not a toy and it can deliver a
lethal electrocution. Treat all use of a suncircle with
care. If the brushes appear in working order, then you
will need to take down the suncircle and inspect the
junction houses for possible lose wires. If all appears
normal and you know for a fact that your ballasts and
lamps are in working order, you will have to take the
suncircle back to where you bought it for service. Only
a qualified electrician should service a suncircle.
Wiring Guide -- picture showing an open and
wired junction house with earth junction cap removed.
Once having purchased a suncircle, you have two
choices. You allow the shop to wire your suncircle or
you do it yourself if you have no problems with some
basic DIY sparky work (electrical work). Doing it
yourself brings several advantages.
* It can
save you some money by not shelling to a hydroponics
* You can get on with your
* You will become familiar
with how the suncircle operates.
* You will be
confident to attend to minor trouble shooting yourself.
* You will be able to cut the flex to exact
lengths based on what lengths are needed in your grow
room -- a task not easy to do when in a hydroponics
shop. The less length in flex from suncircle to ballasts
and suncircle to hats the better, as there's loss to
resistance in circuit in excessive flex.
do decide to wire it yourself, you must do so correctly.
One must ensure that all wiring to the two junction
houses is exact to both junction houses. Failure to do
so will cause a short circuit which could not only
damage the suncircle, it could damage the HID ballast
and lamp. A very costly mistake to make. Fortunately
correct wiring is a simple task of following exactly a
chosen color combination of the wires inside the
Now it would be pointless
showing each and every wiring step of colored wires in
sequence, as it would simply be a series of photographs
of confusing "electrical entrails". So a text worded
description is best.
The following example is
how I wired this suncircle. In this example, it is a
3LRS and in lesser armed suncircles, there's simply less
wiring to do. The only important issue, other than
ensuring all wiring to both junction houses is
identical, is that the earth (green wires) is all set to
the one junction cap. Green is always earth.
Note: All wiring is to be held by junction caps
of approved safety standard. The junction caps that came
with this suncircle were inferior and I replaced them
immediately with what you see, which meet ASA in
Australia. This is most important as wires coming lose
from junction caps when suncircle is in operation could
cause a disastrous short circuit.
strip back 7.5 cm (3 inches) of outer flex insulation
and 1.5cm (2/3 of an inch) of inner core insulation. It
should come with your HID kits.
Note: If in the
case of a 3LRS as this one is, you will need 14 junction
Blue wire to Black wire of
Brown wire to Red wire of suncircle.
Blue wire to White and Blue stripe
wire of suncircle.
Brown wire to White and Red
stripe wire of suncircle.
to Blue wire of suncircle.
Brown wire to White and
Blue stripe wire of suncircle.
All green wires
joined to one junction cap.
The above is
repeated again exactly in the second junction house.
You could chose any other combination of colored
wire to colored wire, as long as both junction houses
are identical in wiring and again at risk of repeating,
that all green wires are always to one junction cap.
It's also probable that the colors that I've spoken of
will vary, as they did in my experience on 2LRS and 3LRS
yellow models. No problem, just make sure both junction
houses are identical to the color code you chose.
Looking at the photograph provided, you can see
the green earth is four wires in total with the junction
cap taken off to demonstrate. The fourth green wire is
the suncircle earth as the three green wires are from
the three HID flex.
Aside how the
suncircle is ceiling mounted, it should also be center
of your grow footprint. The old 3,4,5 math will do that.
That is, 3 squared plus 4 squared equals 5 squared,
which will give you a right angle so you can footprint
section a square from a rectangular room. Then suspend a
plumb bob at central point and you will know the central
floor point if needed i.e. to square out where the
reflectors of your grow will go.
important is making sure that the suncircle is level in
mount. Simple tighten or loosen the bolt nuts on the
ceiling mount plate till level. You can if unsure,
inspect with a spirit level by laying it across the bull
arms. This will ensure that there's no strain placed on
the suncircle motor when system is in rotation.
Another view of the suncircle ceiling mounted
and now awaiting the hats to be attached. Use cup hooks
to tie off the ballast flex to ceiling and position the
hat flex on the bull arms.
As seen in the
photograph, it is a wise idea when attaching and wiring
your flex to the suncircle to use female plugs from the
suncircle and male plugs from the hats. This allows fast
removal and setup of your hats. Often times suncircles
on display in hydroponics shops will not have female and
male plugs set on suncircle to hats. That's perfectly
fine for a shop display, not very practical for growing
I will repeat stating this important
point. Always use female plugs from the suncircle and
male plugs from the hats or risk electrocution by errant
contact to active male points. Use common sense.
If using a mixed lamp
configuration of Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium
and/or different wattages such as 400w and 1000w, always
mark clearly with an indelible pen on the female plugs
from the suncircle which are which. That way you will
avoid plugging in a hat to the wrong ballast.
Final picture of a marijuana crop with suncircle
and lamps in action.
| Last modified: 04:24 - Jul 12,