LED technology has taken off over the last decade, especially in the area of horticulture. LED grow lights are a huge hit for gardeners who have an indoor grow setup. Successfully growing plants indoors rely heavily on the type and intensity of light the plants are given and LED grow light technology produces better results than many other grow light options.
LED grow light technology has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Gardeners interested in LED grow lights can read more at Agron. Below is an overview of what LED grow lights are and how they help indoor plants flourish.
What are LED Grow Lights?
The term LED is an abbreviation that stands for light-emitting diode. LED lights were first invented in 1907, but the then rudimentary technology was mostly ignored because it was only available in red wavelengths. Today, LED lights are available in all light wavelengths, making the lights a top choice for many growers.
LED grow lights are luminaires fitted with LED chips that are designed specifically to aid in the cultivation of plants. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and have the ability to be tailored to the specific needs of a plant.
How LED Grow Lights Work
LED chips generate light by moving electrical current through a semiconductor material. When this happens, it fills electron holes, which are present when atoms are positively charged. The number of electron holes present in a semiconductor can be controlled by adding elements, which creates two semiconductors inside of one crystal. The result is a junction between the two semiconductors that creates an LED light.
The color of light is produced between the two parts of the semiconductor and is determined by the material from which the semiconductor is constructed. This allows LED grow light manufacturers to develop lights that focus on a specific light wavelength, such as the color blue, which promotes vegetative growth.
Some LED lights offer full-spectrum lighting with controls that the grower can adjust based on a plant’s needs. This allows precise control over the growing conditions, which gives growers higher yields than plants grown using other types of lights.
How LED Grow Lights Effect Yield
HPS, HID, and fluorescent grow lights have been staples for indoor gardeners for decades. However, LED lighting has met and surpassed the performance of these lights in most areas, including yield. This is because HPS, HID, and fluorescent lighting do not offer a focused spectrum of light, resulting in leggy plants or ones that are damaged from the lights’ heat generation.
LED grow lights are a more effective lighting option, as they provide a full spectrum and direct the light exactly where the plant needs it. The ability to boost blue or red wavelengths allows growers to support the specific stage of growth the plant is in, ultimately maximizing the plant’s production. LED grow lights maximize photosynthesis in plants, making it easy for them to flourish.
The Cost of LED Grow Lights
One of the greatest appeals of LED grows lights is its low power draw, resulting in a much smaller energy bill compared to HID or HPS lighting. While these lighting options may be more intense than LED lights, they use almost double the amount of electricity to produce light. In contrast, LEDs produce much more light per watt of electricity used.
The lower cost of running the LED grow light is not the only cost-related benefit. LED lights are also much less expensive to keep cool. HID and HPS lights run extremely hot, up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only do growers need to keep their lights cool, but they need to spend extra on ventilation to keep the heat created by the lights from damaging their plants.
LED lights have an internal cooling system, so there is much less heat produced. Growers who use LED grow light systems spend less money, on average, for cooling costs than those who use other grow lights.
Maintenance costs are an important factor to consider when choosing a type of grow light for an indoor garden. Many growers opt for traditional grow lights because the startup cost is much lower than LED grow lights. However, growers will spend more money cooling and maintaining their traditional grow light system than they would when using an LED grow light.
LED grow lights have a much longer lifespan than the more traditional grow light options. LED grow lights can provide more than 50,000 hours of light before needing to be replaced, whereas HID and HPS lights offer somewhere between 10,000 and 18,000 hours of light. Additionally, traditional grow lights begin to lose their efficacy as they get older, increasing the cost of maintaining their output.
Hitting on a hot topic for many gardeners, LED grow lights are a more environmentally friendly option than traditional grow lights. Investing in a LED lighting system means keeping trash produced by using less-efficient lights out of landfills. HPS, HID, and fluorescent grow lights also contain dangerous chemicals, including mercury.
In addition to the chemicals and mass-produced by short-lived, traditional grow lights, those fixtures also require their bulbs to be replaced frequently. With all of this information, it is easy to see how a low startup cost will wind up carrying a higher price tag in the long run.
Other LED Grow Light Benefits
Energy efficiency and better plant yield are excellent benefits of LED grow lights. Still, there are many more benefits that make these lights a superior technology to more traditional grow lights. These benefits include:
LED lights are ideal for indoor gardeners who are working with a small space, such as in a closet or small apartment. That is because they produce so little heat that they pose almost no risk of catching fire or burning plants. Additionally, LED grow lights are less bulky than their traditional counterparts.
Growers using HID, HPS, and fluorescent lights will need to use reflectors to direct the light towards the area of the plant that needs it most. This will increase the cost of lighting overall and could complicate the entire lighting process. In contrast, LED lights are able to focus their light on a specific area by using an internal lens that directs the light where it needs to go.
The directional lighting of an LED grow light allows growers to take control of the growing conditions in their indoor growing setup. They will get precise results rather than spending more money on a less-efficient lighting system and winding up with inconsistent or lackluster production.
One of the most important benefits of LED grows lights is their safety when compared to that of more traditional lighting options like fluorescent or HPS grow lights. LED grow lights run cooler, reducing the risk of fire, and have stationary parts that will not come loose. Additionally, these lights lack fragile external bulbs, which eliminates the risk of sharp, shattered glass in the grow room.
HID, HPS, and fluorescent grow lights emit more IR rays, UV rays, and heat than LED grow lights. Those issues can inhibit plant growth, as they cause the plants to dry up quickly and may even burn them. Growers who use traditional grow lights combat this by increasing their cooling efforts and watering the plants more frequently.
However, even with an increase in water and cooling, the plants will still require more energy to flourish. This often leads to plants becoming stressed, which greatly reduces the quality and quantity of the gardener’s yield. However, LED grow lights produce very little heat or harmful wavelengths, resulting in healthier, stress-free plants.
While LED grows lights are an amazing technology, they are not without disadvantages. As mentioned earlier, they have a much higher initial price than more traditional options. Additionally, the bright blue light that they produce can cause blindness in humans.
One of the most important disadvantages to note is that LED grows lights are sensitive to high temperatures. If exposed to high heat, the diodes could degrade and fail. They will produce a lower-quality light that could negatively impact plant production.
Finally, LED diodes can change color as they age. Though they have an impressively long lifespan, the light quality will fade over time. However, gardeners who invest in a high-quality LED grow light from the start are less likely to experience this flaw.
The Bottom Line
LED lights are not a new technology, but the amazing advancements in recent decades have made them more popular than any other type of light available today. Growers would be wise to invest in an LED grow lights for their indoor gardening efforts, as these efficient lighting systems outperform their traditional counterparts across the board. LED grow lights are safer, more efficient, carry a lower long-term cost, and produce better results in plants than their traditional counterparts. It is not hard to see why they are in such high demand for today’s savvy gardener.