LED Grow Lights Update
Plants need ample light to thrive. In an outdoor garden, they receive light from the Sun for a little over 12 hours a day. During winter months, the sun still provides enough light for plants to grow and yield fruits and flowers. Because indoor gardening can't utilise this free light, we add artificial lighting which come with the benefit of working whenever we turn them on! So we can grow plants for 18 to 20 hours a day instead of being limited by daylight hours.
As technology has been advancing, LED grow lights have emerged as the cheapest lights to run when considering their length of life and running costs. However only recently have challenged high intensity HPS lights and ceramic metal halide (CMH) for quality of plants and yield per watt.
Do LED Grow Lights Work?
Some growers are naturally sceptical about LED grow lights because they don’t seem as intense and warm as traditional grow lights. They worry that the new bulbs won’t provide their plants with sufficient light and kill their crops. LED grow lights have proven their effectiveness in real gardens. LED technology has evolved considerably over the past few years and there are several products from American companies like Spectrum King, Black Dog and KIND that offer specially designed LED grow lights that provide great results.
These lights might require more upfront investment, but you can’t argue with the results. They provide substantial light to the plants and allow you to control the cycle easily. These lighting systems are self-contained and don’t require ballasts and cooling system to maintain efficiency.
Why Should You Invest in LED?
Good quality LED lights have a higher upfront investment but they do offer many benefits that make the expense worthwhile in the long run. Here are some of the most important benefits of these lights.
- Running Temperature – One of the best advantages of LED grow lights is the lower running temperature. If your grow room is above 30 degrees celcius, plants don't grow as well and result in a lower yield. With traditional lighting, you need to install cooling systems and ballasts to control the temperature. LED has a naturally cooler running temperature, so the heat is less of a problem
- Ventilation – The latest LED grow lights from Spectrum King do not have cooling fans, so they not only are silent, but heat managment is even better. The heat coming from the unit is able to rise directly to the top of the growing space - away from the plants, instead of mixing in the growing space as the cooling fans blow air out of the unit.
- Power Consumption – LED lamps will provide ample light but consume very little power to produce it. This lowers your energy bills and helps you save some money in the long run. Consider the latest SK LED which uses just 140W to cover a 3 x 3foot area, the same as a 330W draw CMH fixture or a 440W HPS fixture. The traditional "400W" lighting system which draws 440W consumes more than 3 times more power than the latest LEDs. Going with LED will pay itself off within 2 years on your power bill! Keep in mind, white LEDs are more efficient than red and blue LEDs, so white spectrum LEDs provide even more light per watt of energy.
- Lifespan – Traditional grow lights provide up to 20,000 hours of use before they have to be replaced by new bulbs. However, their peak performance is usually for the first 3,000 to 6,000 hours, then they are discarded because plant growth is slower with older lights. LED lights, on the other hand, provide 50,000 hours of use, which is more than five times the lifespan of traditional lights. You won’t have to replace your LED lights as often as traditional lamps.
- Space – LED lights are smaller and only have a single cable. This helps save a considerable amount of space and allows you room to move freely through the garden. You will have better access to your plants so you can care for them better.
What are the alternatives to LEDs for indoor growing?
If you want something that’s almost as efficient as LED, you should consider CMH (LEC) lighting - . It’s a HID lamp and produces a more even colour temperature of light than HPS. This means it has a better likeness to the suns's light spectrum, resulting in healthier plants. It also creates less heat than HPS lights.
For the cheapest options, HID lights called Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium are the cheapest upfront, but do make more heat and use more power.
And for plants which are less light hungry, compact flourescent grow lights are the way to go. Click here to see our range of CFL's.