LED grow lights, or Light-Emitting Diode lamps, are an increasingly popular choice for indoor plant growing principally because they can deliver more intense light output with less energy and heat production, and they have a much longer useful life than that of high pressure sodium, fluorescent, high-intensity discharge or incandescent lamps. Most grow lamps are used commercially and industrially, but some residential use occurs. LEDs are made in several colors to mimic the ranges of natural sunlight that drive maximum photosynthesis and plant performance. LED grow lights are also popular because they can be used in standard bulb fittings and do not require special ballasts or non-standard electrical fixtures. LEDs come in 2-watt to 15-watt equivalents and in a range of sizes and colors.
Determine the optimal lighting requirements for your particular plant or plants to thrive if they were living outdoors. Figure out the intensity of light and for how many hours a day it is needed. Often this information is on the plant tag or little plastic pick stuck in the soil of your plant. Online garden resources can help you make the determination if your plant is unmarked. This is what you need to mimic indoors with LEDs. If your plants grow outdoors in shade they need less light indoors. If they are vegetables and grow in full sun for 14 hours per day outdoors then that is the bar you must meet in order for the plant to thrive indoors.
Provide a mix of red spectrum and blue spectrum LEDs. Plant photosynthesis is most responsive to these two spectrums. According to research conducted by NASA, mixing at least 80 percent red LEDs and roughly 20 percent blue LEDs is a successful ratio for growing plants indoors. You can easily switch out a few of the blue LEDs for white without harming the plant growth. This will allow you to see what’s happening with your plants much more readily because white LEDs have a spectrum of green, yellow and orange, which is more easily visible to the human eye.
Adjust your LEDs to hang above your plant tops by anywhere from 5 inches to 20 inches, according to the plant’s size and light intensity requirements. Your goal is to have the plant greens showered in light to their edges but not have the light spill or be wasted on surrounding areas where there are no plants. Height adjustment of lighting helps achieve this economy as plants grow, changing in both shape and size.
Determine if your plants require light and dark periods. If so, connect your LED lights to a timer to regulate their on and off cycles to save you time, worry and labor. If your plants prefer long daylight periods and short night periods, program the automatic timer for that length of light cycle.
Proper lighting is an important part of the Hydroponic plant cultivation system. Apart from water and nutrients, proper amounts of lighting are just as important. This is because, as most of us know, plants also take in nutrients by a process known as photosynthesis. Without light, it is very difficult for it to flourish. Not only that, plants also require light with distinct wavelengths in order to grow and mature properly. This includes plants grown for flowers as well as fruits. There are several different options when it comes to proper lighting. The following part of the article will deal with LED or light emitting diode grow lamps.
Out of all the different lighting options available for hydroponics, LED grow lamps are the newest addition to the family. The engineering behind these bulbs has improved greatly over the years. It quickly gained acceptance with growers because of its effectiveness. The main reason for this is because these lamps emit a broad spectrum in wave length and produce small amounts of heat, in relation to the amount of light produced. Not only that, LED lamps are very durable and will last a long time. The only complaint about them is the higher initial purchase cost. But this cost is more than made up by its efficiency and durability.
LED lights are some of the most efficient lights available in the market today. Compared to older incandescent bulbs, they are approximately seventy percent more efficient. This means you will be able to replace a 60-70 watt bulb with an LED that is only around 8-10 watts. As far as coloring of the light goes, LED lamps can easily match color with any of the other alternatives. Ultimately lighting needs depends on the plant. Some plants require more light than others. LED’s come in several levels of wattage based on your needs.
The bottom line is that, plants basically need 2 different wave lenghts for growth. Photosynthesis is needed to provide healthy growth of the stems and leaves. This in turn needs red-orange light. To stimulate flowering and fruit production, the plant needs violet-blue light. All that you, the grower, need to understand is that LED grow lights can be engineered to meet both of these needs. As mentioned before they produce a minimum amount of heat, which means you will not have install cooling systems. With some of the other lighting options a cooling system is a must, other wise there is always the chance of leaves withering.
In today’s urbanised environment many people live in accommodation that lacks significant natural light. If you still have a desire to bring some of the natural world indoors with you, the lack of sunlight can be a significant hindrance. One answer to this is to employ artificial plant lighting and the often the best option for doing so is an LED grow light.
Of course there are other options for indoor plant lighting. Most common amongst these options are incandescent and fluorescent systems.
The problem with incandescent lighting, in comparison to LED grow lights, is that they are very hot to the touch. This is a problem both to a user, who may burn themselves and to young plants who are likely to dry up and die under the intense heat. If the lights are being used in a confined space then this aspect of heat generation can become a significant factor which will require additional ventilation merely to keep temperature levels at an acceptable level. Of course this ventilation costs more money and adds to what might otherwise seem to be a cheap system to install.
Fluorescent plant lighting creates almost no heat and in this respect is a much better option. Fluorescent plant lights do require ballast units to function correctly and these units can be a bulky addition to the size of the plant lights themselves. These plant lights do not require additional ventilation if used on a small scale and basic installations are cheaper. One downside of fluorescent plant lighting is that they are not directional. This means that to be used efficiently reflectors are required. This factor, along with installation of additional wiring for ballast units complicates these plant light installations.
LED grow lights have none of the previously mentioned disadvantages. An LED plant light is warm to the touch, but not so hot that it would damage either delicate plants or the hands of a user who gets too close. As such, 300W LED grow lights with 3W chip require no additional ventilation.
There are other advantages too. An LED plant light, rated at 80 watts, provides an equivalent level of lighting to that which a 400 watt high pressure sodium (HPS) light would deliver. Over time, this can be a significant saving and given that an 600W LED grow light with 3W chip can last 50-80,000 hours this can add up to a tidy sum. Additionally, the light produced by an LED grow light is directional and so requires no additional, heavy, metal reflectors.
Overall, LED grow lights are a superior solution to providing effective indoor plant lighting.