Do LED grow lights really work? Today, the cost of LED grow lights has gone down significantly. So more and more energy-conscious users on a budget can now use these lights.
But the question is, do they work, or is it all just marketing gimmicks and unproven claims with a lot of fluff aimed at making the lights sound impressive.
This article takes an in-depth look at LED grow lights to help you distinguish the truth from the hype.
What Makes LED Grow Lights Ideal for Growing
The following are features of LED grow lights that make them ideal for growing.
- Energy Efficiency: Granted, LED grow lights emit the same amount of light as other types of light, such as fluorescent, incandescent, and CFL. But there’s a difference. They consume less energy. In other words, they produce more lumens per watt.
- Less heat: Generally, LED lights emit less heat than other types of light, just enough to facilitate plant growth. That’s vital as too much heat significantly reduces the moisture content of the plant’s immediate environment. And decreased moisture can easily cause scorching of the leaves.
- Longer life span: Surprisingly, LED lights can last up to 50,000 hours, about five times more than fluorescent bulbs and much, much more than incandescent bulbs. Thus, you get to save money you would otherwise spend constantly replacing bulbs.
- Suitable light spectrum: LED grow lights have light colors optimized for growing a wide variety of plants at all their different growth stages. Some are even full spectrum.
(Caption: LED light color spectrum)
- Less bulky: LED grows lights are more compact. Therefore, they’re easy to fit in smaller spaces. Additionally, LED grow light fixtures don’t require parts like ballasts and reflectors, which frees up the room.
Does Wattage Matter?
Now apart from cutting down on power consumption, there’s no significant impact that a wattage rating has on your plants. It’s simply the amount of electricity your LED lights use.
So you can opt for LED bulbs with a lower wattage rating to cut down on consumption. Otherwise, the most important aspect as far as what your plants need is color and light intensity.
What to Look Out For In LED Grow Lights
Below are the features that really matter when it comes to choosing LED to grow lights:
Also, it’s within the far right red region of the light spectrum, which is great for blooming. That said, it works best when combined with other light wavelengths.
Interestingly, research has shown that infrared helps plants bloom best in their initial stages of growth. And the reason that is is that the photochromic receptors responsible for trapping light are sensitive to infrared lights.
Another critical quality of infrared is its ability to help plants increase bud formation and flowering. Also, it helps boost the formation of antioxidants in plants, increasing plant aroma and flavor.
(Caption: Full spectrum LED grow lights)
Interestingly, plants need a specific light spectrum that’s similar to that of sunlight to facilitate growth. And anything outside of this spectrum is useless, no matter how bright the light seems.
For total growth, plants need the full spectrum of all three lights (blue, red, and green light. That’s because each light aspect plays a crucial role in the plant’s overall growth as follows:
Blue light helps build strong and healthy stems, roots, and leaves. But the light must fall within the required proportions to positively impact plant growth.
Otherwise, too much of it is harmful to plants. In fact, the blue light plants receive from the sun gets highly regulated.
Now this light spectrum is the critical driver of photosynthesis. If you have the light spectrum chart, you’ll see that the red light is on the section indicating a wavelength of 630 to 660 nanometers (nm).
Such a wavelength is vital for plants to form strong stems, increase leaf synthesis, and enhance the plant’s sturdy features.
Also, flowering, seed germination, and seed dormancy cannot occur in the absence of red light.
Now this light has a wavelength of 600 to 600 nm. And it’s essential for the development of the inside of the leaf. Thus, light is vital for the main stem to thrive.
What’s unique about green light is its ability to penetrate leafy plants, impacting proper development.
The way you position light sources around plants largely depends on the light’s color, as it affects light intensity.
For example, you may place some closer to the plants, depending on factors like plant type, plant growth phase, and wattage.
Also, some lights are easier to position around plants than others. Some are heavy and harder to move around and mount in an indoor setup.
With such lights, the limited mounting options may affect your plant’s light coverage. In turn, this could affect the uniformity and health of plant growth. Therefore, choose LED lights that are easy to position.
As far as safety goes, insist on LED lights that are tested by UL (underwriters laboratory).
That way, you can be sure that the lights meet the environmental safety requirements and have direct specifications on how to position your plants to ensure safety.
Now LED safety depends on the intensity and length of exposure.
When it comes to the effect of the light, it depends on the light’s wavelength. And the shorter the wavelength, the more likely the light is to cause harm.
Also, watch out for UV rays and white lights emitting cooler color temperatures of 5,000 kelvins and above as these can be dangerous.
How Long Does It Take to Grow With LED Lights?
Generally, you should leave LED lights on for 8 to 10 hours a day. That said, it depends on the plant type.
Some require longer periods of light exposure of up to 16 hours. Interestingly, too, plants growing under LED lights tend to grow faster.
However, of course, it will depend on the type of light color that you expose the plants to.
What Are the Side Effects of LED Grow Lights?
Like sunlight, LED lights emit UV rays (both UV-A and UV-B). And UV-B rays are harmful to all living organisms, plants included.
Otherwise, LED grows lights are generally safe. They emit less heat than other grow lights and use LEDs instead of poisonous gasses.
Are LED Lights as Good as the Sun?
Granted no light beats sunlight. But LED lights provide all the essential light spectrums with essential light colors that plants need to grow.
Therefore, plants grown under LED lights enjoy healthy growth just like they would under the sun. Also, unlike sunlight, you can regulate these lights.
For example, you can change the intensity and adjust the color type to suit your plant’s needs.
So, do LED grow lights really work? Besides their light color types that support and even enhance plant growth, they’re energy-efficient, and emit less heat. J
ust keep in mind factors such as full spectrum, infrared, safety and positioning when selecting LED grow lights for your indoor garden.
That way, you’ll get the best out of the lights and provide your plants with an environment they can thrive in.