Agriculture and gardening are shifting from the traditional approach that relies on natural light to a more modern solution like supplemental LED grow lights that involve modifying different production aspects.
You can use supplemental lights as a primary light, although it is employed when natural light is insufficient.
And by producing specific light wavelengths corresponding to chlorophyll absorption peaks, this light improves the overall plant health by supporting photosynthesis.
Surprisingly, you can customize supplemental lights to meet the needs of plants and different growth phases.
Gardeners prefer these lights to conventional options thanks to their low heat emission, extended durability, and high energy efficiency.
This piece helps you understand supplemental LED grow lights by highlighting the benefits, best practices, and alternatives. Let’s get rolling!
What Are Supplemental LED Grow Lights?
These special leds grow lights enhance or supplement natural light to support plant growth.
Therefore, you can employ them when natural light is unavailable or insufficient, especially in indoor gardens, grow rooms, or greenhouses.
Generally, the lights are designed to provide wavelengths that specifically support photosynthesis and plant growth.
One benefit of supplemental lights is their high energy efficiency and supply of targetted light spectra.
And by Adjusting the different colors in the spectra, like red, green, and blue, it becomes easy to target specific growth stages (fruiting, flowering, and vegetative growth).
Moreover, these lights offer high durability and emit less heat than conventional options like incandescent lights.
Supplemental lights have become the go-to commercial and indoor gardening solution for the above reasons.
Benefits of Supplemental LED Grow Lighting
(An indoor farm with LED lights)
Below are reasons people prefer using supplemental LED grow lighting over other alternatives.
Customizable Light Spectrum
Modern supplemental LED grow light allows you to customize the spectrum to meet the plant’s needs.
We understand that different wavelengths in the light spectrum serve a specific purpose in plant growth.
Therefore, by adjusting and balancing the ratio of blue, green, and red light, you can cover all the growth phases (vegetative, fruiting, and flowering).
Anything designed with LEDs consumes less energy and produces more light; supplemental LED grow lights are no exception.
These lights convert at least 90% of their input energy into useful lights to support plant growth. As a result, they consume less electricity meaning you’ll pay less in energy costs.
Supplemental LED grows lights have a lifespan of over 50,000 hours which is higher than incandescent or high-pressure sodium lights.
For example, you’ll be lucky if your incandescent light lasts for more than 2,000 hours.
Therefore, you’ll experience little maintenance and replacement when you use supplemental LED grow lights.
Low Heat Emission
As mentioned, LED grows lights are highly energy efficient, converting most input electricity into usable light rather than heat.
Therefore, you don’t need to implement costly heat management systems to speed up heat dissipation.
Moreover, you can position these lights closer to your plants without risking damage to the plant or extreme evaporation.
Surprisingly, a small LED light can produce the lights emitted by a very large incandescent or fluorescent light.
Therefore, supplemental LED grows lights are easy to install and fit in various indoor gardening setups.
Handling these lights is easier than metal halides, incandescent, and high-pressure sodium lights.
(A city farm using LED grow lights)
LED lights are highly energy efficient and have no harmful elements like mercury available in incandescent and fluorescent lights.
Therefore, using supplemental LED grow light means contributing to environmental sustainability, especially concerning carbon footprint reduction.
Flexibility and Control
With supplemental LED grow lights, the power to control light intensity and brightness is purely in your hands.
Also, you can tailor the lights to meet the needs of specific plant and growth phases.
And regardless of the available weather or sunlight, your indoor plants will be in good shape.
Supplemental LED Grow Light Alternatives
(Someone holding a high-intensity discharge light)
If you can’t afford supplemental LED grow lights, you can opt for any of the below options:
High-Intensity Discharge (HID): These lights include metal halides and high-pressure sodium lights that have been around for a long time.
Generally, metal halides support vegetative growth, while high-pressure sodium support fruiting and flowering stages.
And although these lights offer a higher intensity than LED grow lights, they consume more electricity.
Fluorescent Lights: These lights include T5 fluorescent tubes and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and are among the most affordable lighting options.
Usually, they emit a wide spectrum that supports plant growth, are energy efficient, and emit less heat than incandescent lights.
However, these lights aren’t perfect if you have a larger area or want a high intensity for your plants.
Induction Lights: These lights produce the same spectrum as HID lights but with little heat.
Moreover, they have high durability, thus attracting minimal replacements and maintenance. However, these lights are uncommon and are more costly than other options.
Plasma Lights: This is a new technology common in horticulture farming and mimics the characteristics of natural light.
And although expensive, these lights offer a longer lifespan and high energy efficiency.
Supplemental LED Grow Lights Best Practice
(Vegetable under LED grow lights)
Maintain the following best practices while using supplemental LED grow lights for your plants to achieve optimum growth:
- First, understand your plant species’ different light requirements, including photoperiod, intensity, and spectrum.
- Secondly, select the right supplemental LED to grow lights, especially those that offer balanced blue and red wavelengths.
- Thirdly, stick/hang your supplemental LED grow light at the right height from your plants to avoid supplying insufficient light or burning your plants.
- Fourth, maintain the right light and dark cycles to allow your plants enough time for growth.
- Consider the manufacturer’s recommended light intensity and stick to it to eliminate light inefficiency and stress.
- Maintain proper temperature and ventilation by supplying heat management systems like fans.
- Lastly, do regular inspections to clean and maintain your LED grow lights. Allowing dirt accumulation reduces light efficiency, thus increasing your energy costs.
How far apart should supplemental grow lights be?
There is no standard distance between plants and supplemental grow lights.
Generally, the distance depends on factors like growth phase, plant type, and light intensity.
But generally recommend 30-60 cm above the plants during the vegetative phase.
However, a 20-45 cm distance is good enough during the flowering and fruiting phases.
Experts recommend monitoring your plants closely to adjust the distance to avoid inefficient light and burning cases.
Are supplemental LED grow lights energy efficient?
Yes! Supplemental LED grows lights, like other LED lights, are among the most energy-efficient solution in the industry.
Surprisingly, these lights consume less energy than other options but convert at least 90% of them into useful light for plants.
Moreover, the high energy cost means little heat, thus limiting plant damage.
Therefore, the overall cost of running supplemental LED grow lights is way lower than other solutions.
No light can compete with natural light regarding plant growth. However, you can replace or supplement natural light with supplemental LED grow light if natural light is absent or inefficient.
This light is energy efficient, and you are sure of getting at least 90% efficiency.
Also, they last more than 50,000 hours compared to less than 10,000 for some alternatives. However, without supplemental LED lights, you can settle for high-intensity discharge, plasma, fluorescent, and induction light.