Do LED lights work as grow lights? If you’re looking for answers, you have come to the right place.
LED lights can work effectively as grow lights if you optimize and specifically design them for plant growth.
Still, LEDs without optimization will work but won’t provide the specific spectrum that plants need for growth.
Remember, plants require specific wavelengths and spectra like red and blue to support growth phases like flowering and fruiting.
Therefore, as an indoor gardener, it’s in your best interest to distinguish between LEDs for general illumination and grow lights for indoor gardening.
Today’s article answers all questions about LED and grow lights outlining their differences. Let’s get rolling!
Can You Use LED Lights As Grow Lights?
(Cucumber growing under LED grow light)
Absolutely yes! You can use regular LEDs to support plant growth, although you won’t get the same results as grow lights.
Usually, grow lights undergo some optimization to provide the right light intensity and spectra to support plant growth. But if you use regular LEDs, keep the following in mind.
Light spectrum: Choose a regular LED with a perfect spectrum balance.
Simply put, the spectrum should have a perfect balance of red and blue wavelengths critical for photosynthesis.
Light intensity: When you use regular LED light, ensure it provides enough light intensity for plant growth.
This is only possible by setting the right distance between your plants and the light source.
Duration: Ensure you expose your plant to light for the right duration. At least 12-16 hours per day during the vegetative stage would be enough.
Coverage and distance: Ensure you hang the lights at the right angle and height to ensure the best distribution and coverage.
Why LED Lights Won’t Work Well As Grow Lights
(A biotechnologist holding plant under light)
Inadequate Light Spectrum
Regular LEDs provide a wider light spectrum to support general lighting but fail at offering specific wavelengths to support photosynthesis.
Plants will require blue and red wavelengths to support the specific growth phases like flowering and fruiting.
Insufficient Light Intensity
Although LEDs for general illumination produce enough brightness to support visibility, they fail to have the intensity to support growth.
Generally, lack of enough light intensity causes poor plant health, lower yields, and leggy growth.
For an LED light to meet all plant requirements, it should be able to supply the specific light aspect to the plants.
This means having programmable, intensity, control, and spectra adjustment features to meet the specific needs at every growth stage.
Inefficient Energy Conversion
Grow lights are more efficient than regular LEDs and convert a larger percentage of their input energy into useful energy by plants.
And although standard LEDs are also energy efficient especially compared to other lighting options, they still waste a lot of energy, thus translating into higher energy costs.
Grow lights are designed with the perfect conditions to support plant growth, including the ability to emit limited heat.
However, we can’t say the same about regular LEDs since they emit more heat that causes damage to plants.
And to eliminate the effect of the heat, you’ll have to invest in heat management systems that could potentially increase the operating costs.
Benefits of Using LED Grow Lights
(Plants growing under colorful LEDs)
Using LED grow lights to support indoor gardening has the following benefits.
Energy efficiency: The number one reason you should adopt this lighting option is to convert most energy into useful light.
Therefore, they’ll consume less energy and trickle down to a lower energy bill.
Tailored light spectrum: Surprisingly, different growth phases require unique light spectra or wavelengths.
Fortunately, LED grow light lets you manipulate the light spectrum by adjusting the intensity or wavelength to meet a plant’s specific needs.
Low heat emission: These lighting options produce less heat than incandescent or HID lights.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about your plants getting damaged due to too much light.
Also, you won’t always have to keep watering your plants.
Customizable lighting parameters: Your plants won’t grow well if you don’t supply the specific light spectrum to support growth at a particular growth phase.
Fortunately, grow lights come with customizable features that let you adjust light intensity and spectrum to meet the need of your plants.
Moreover, customization allows you to mimic natural light and avail the conditions for optimum growth.
Environmental benefits: These lights are environmentally friendly, especially since they don’t emit harmful substances like mercury, which are available in high amounts in incandescent and HID lights.
Moreover, their high energy efficiency guarantees lower carbon emissions to the environment.
Types of Grow Lights To Use for Growing Plants
(A plasma lamp)
We have several grow light types, each with its benefits and use cases, as we’ll highlight below.
LED grow lights are the most efficient option and function when current passes through light-emitting diodes, causing holes and electrons to recombine.
We like these lights for their customization option, high energy efficiency, and improved durability.
Moreover, they’re responsible for less heat; you can optimize them for optimum yields.
HID grow lights: We categorize these lights into high-pressure sodium lights, which emit orange and red light for flowering, and metal halides, which emit blue light to support vegetative growth.
And although these lights are very powerful, they produce a lot of heat, thus requiring proper heat management systems.
Fluorescent lights: Some common fluorescent lights include T8 and T5, which emit less heat and are more cost-effective than HID lights.
These lights offer great flexibility and are available in various spectrums, including full, warm, and cool white.
Induction lights: These lights employ electromagnetic induction to generate lights, offering an energy-efficient and balanced light spectrum.
Also, these lights support almost all growth phases, including vegetative and flowering stages.
Plasma lights: These lights employ plasma technology to produce a full light spectrum with characteristics of natural light.
And although these lights promote optimum growth, they’re uncommon and costly.
Are LED grow lights efficient?
Yes! These lights consume less electricity and emit more light energy to support plant growth. They’re more efficient than all the other types of grow lights combined.
Another vital efficiency aspect is the low heat production, thus having limited negative effects on plants.
Therefore, expect to pay fewer energy bills anytime you use LED grow lights to support your indoor garden.
What’s the durability of LED grow lights?
With continuous use, expect your LED grow light to register about 50,000 operation hours which could extend to 100,000 hours with proper care.
Generally, this durability is far better than incandescent, HID, or fluorescent lights.
But remember, the durability might vary with the LED light brand you choose.
How long should you leave your LED to-grow lights on?
The time you leave the LED light on depends on the plant you support and its growth phase.
Different plants have different light requirements, which you can research or ask an expert.
But generally, 12-14 and 14-18 hours should do well for flowering and vegetative stages, respectively.
Additionally, leave your plants without light for about 6-8 hours to give them time for rest.
In conclusion, you can use any LED light as grow light, but you won’t get optimum yields.
Regular LED lights aren’t optimized to provide the specific light intensity and wavelength to support plants through specific growth phases.
It would be worth spending more money and buying reliable grow lights to guarantee healthy indoor plants.