When you are growing indoors, you need a grow light, and the grow lights you choose must obviously be good (I Hope). They have to be capable of producing the type of light your plants need to promote healthy plant growth and yield incredible flower.
You may have noticed that in recent years, that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have increased in popularity among growers. Many prefer HID grow lights which have been the go-to for indoor growing. HID grow lights are much cheaper to purchase than LED grow lights, but LED grow lights outshine them in terms of efficiency, Not only that but the low up-front cost is offset by their reduced lifespan, higher use of electricity, excess heat generation and limited light spectrum.
Overall HID Lights are good for big grow areas that need high intensity light to penetrate all the way down the entire canopy to increase yields, but LED Grow Lights are quickly becoming the better alternative.
The History Of LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights in the early stages were rather impractical and cost inefficient. With the newest advances in technology, LED grow lights have now become the best grow lights on the market. Full Spectrum LED grow lights for example, are the newest technology designed to replicate the only real full-spectrum light source, the sun.
So, What Are LED Grow Lights Good For?
LED grow lights need to provide the light, luckily through research we can determine what the optimal light for plant growth is. It is important to consider that different plants react differently to various light spectrums (even different strains of the same plant).
Thus It is important to research the grow light you pick supports the plants needs. Fortunately, many LED Grow Lights provide a full spectrum which suites the needs of most plants throughout the entire grow cycle.
Plants only require PAR light for photosynthesis. So, if your grow light is optimized within the PAR spectrum (Which LED Grow Lights are) you’re going to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to minimizing electrical costs while maximizing plant health.
Beyond PAR, it’s important to choose a light spectrum that’s:
best for the environment you’re growing in (greenhouse or indoors)
tailored to your plant’s growth phase (propagation, vegetative, flowering, or finishing)
specific to the cultivar being grown
Luckily, there are many LED grow lights available with designs intended to do just that. Lets take a look at some of the advantages of LED grow lights.
Advantages Of LED Grow Lights
Are there substantial advantages to using an LED system as opposed to HID lighting for your indoor grow? Actually, yes. LED grow lights have become popular with growers for good reason — they offer many benefits that other lighting systems don’t. Advantages of choosing LED lights for growing plants indoors include:
come in a variety of sizes
intense full spectrum light capabilities
variable sizes for customized growing spaces
highly efficient watt to lumen ratio
They save energy
Greater Efficiency The energy-saving that growers can expect from using a very efficient LED grow light, instead of an HID grow light, is around 48%. This percentage may drop to as low as 20% with less efficient LED grow lights.
Cooler Temperature LED grow lights produce significantly less heat. This means you won’t spend as much energy on cooling with an air conditioner.
It also makes them better for growing in small spaces. This gives them the ability to be placed closer to plants due to the low heat output, sometimes as close as a few inches!
This is advantageous to growers growing in areas limited by height. This feature also allows growers to place the lights closer to plants to ensure optimal light penetration deep into the canopy.
Longer Lifespan One of the reasons why LED lights are increasing more in popularity is that they have a longer lifespan. A top-quality set of LEDs can last as long as 50,000 to 100,000 hours. Which means they require less maintenance. So you won’t have to worry about changing bulbs every year compared to HID Lights.
The Full Spectrum A major advantage of using LED grow lights is the huge spectrum of energy they provide. When you choose LED, you don’t have to worry about switching out lights as your crops mature through their growth cycle. Even better, you can actually install a system that’s tailored specifically to the type of crop you grow.
Less Bulk Are you growing in a close area like a grow tent for example? If so, that’s another reason to go with LED Grow Lights, which have the distinct advantage of being able to fit into smaller, tighter grow areas. This advantage goes hand in hand with the cooler temperature of LEDs, not only can you create a more compact grow room, but your crops can grow fairly close to the lights without the risk of heat burn.
Keep in mind that heat burn isn’t the same as light burn — being too close to any type of light bulb puts your crops at risk of suffering from light burn. Reduce the chance of your crops facing light burn by keeping them within the ideal distance from your LEDs — 12 to 18 inches.
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Disadvantages Of LED Grow Lights
Even though LEDs have many advantages, there are some disadvantages when choosing LED Grow Lights for your grow room.
So before you buy LED Grow Lights, let’s take a look at some disadvantages. Because the truth is, just like any other kind of grow light, LED grow lights also have a downside. These disadvantages include:
Risk of light burn
Less Powerful HID lights are more powerful than LEDs when it comes to light intensity. More power means more intense light, and more intense light means bigger and better yields.
Blue Light Your crops thrive on light from the blue end of the spectrum, especially when they’re in the vegetative stage. Your eyes, on the other hand? Not so much. Prolonged exposure to blue light, one of the types of light that LED bulbs emit, can damage your retinal cells.
RELATED POST: Are LED Grow Lights Safe? Well, Yes And No
An LED Grow Light Is A Big Investment Many growers are turned off by the high upfront costs associated with LED lights. Buying an LED system means making a larger initial investment than that of a similarly powered HID system, but you’ll actually save money in the long run when you go with LED grow lights because of their high efficiency.
Risk Of Light Burn Your plants can only withstand a certain amount of light. After a certain point, your plants will start turning yellow or otherwise exhibit signs of stress on the leaves near the sources of light and/or heat.
If you see light bleaching and unhealthy discoloration only on the parts of the plant directly under your LED grow light, or only on older leaves that are exposed to the light, it often means it’s too bright for your plants and you should move your grow lights further away!
When And Where To Use LED Grow Lights
As you can tell, there are definitely some BIG advantages when choosing an LED grow light, but whether they’re the best choice for indoor growing depends on a few things. For a lot of growers, the low temperature, efficiency, lifespan, size, and spectrum of LEDs make them ideal for indoor grows, especially if you are growing in a grow tent.
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Other growers, typically those running commercial operations, prefer HID lights because they provide the most intense light.
Of course, HIDs come with their own challenges. They may be much cheaper to purchase than LED grow lights but LED grow lights outshine them in terms of efficiency.
For the average grower, LED grow lights are going to be the best option. They are great for small growing spaces and will grow big, beautiful plants if done right.
Although, if you do plan on starting a commercial grow, HIDs may be the better option. But do not use HIDs in a vertical setup. If you are growing with vertical shelves, for example, LED grow light strips are the best option.
So, what do you plan on growing? And which grow light is the best option for you? Anyways, Happy Growing!