If you are in the engineering industry, you may be familiar with how efficient light emitting diodes can be as power savers and as an earth-friendly lighting solution. Also known as LEDs, these tiny ‘light bulbs’ come in varying numbers and are used in a range of purposes – in multiple digital watches, signs, torches, electronic home appliances and even Christmas lights and decorations.
The garden wise guys, on the other hand, look at them from a different perspective. Hydroponics enthusiasts have recently started using LED grow lights for their indoor gardens.
Below is a brief summary of the advantages of using this type of grow light for your indoor hydroponics garden.
- Highly efficient – Unlike standard hydroponics lighting systems, LED releases a photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) that provides precisely the right amount of light required for a better plant growth. In fact, most plants only absorb around 10% of light emitted from white Halide lamps. But LED grow lights are different; each LED grow light is designed to only produce the light in the wavelengths that are actually needed by the plants, so the plants grow quicker as well bigger. Red and blue spectrums of light balance the process, so that the plants have enough energy for nourishment and become bigger and healthier than those that are conventionally grown.
- Brilliant power saving idea – LEDs are known for lasting a long time before needing to be replaced (typically more than 50,000hrs) and have relatively low power consumption. You can make energy savings of as much as 75% compared to other forms of lighting; minimizing the impact on the environment and your wallet! With a LED grow light, very little heat produced so your plants will not get burnt or harmed by high temperatures and can be placed very close to the LED light source. Because very little heat is generated by these grow lights, there is no need of watering frequently or to have a cooling system. Additionally, they are mercury-free, shock-proof and not susceptible to any external damage.
- Noise-free atmosphere – The other benefit is that LED lighting produces no sound at all. Unlike fluorescent bulbs, a LED grow light does not buzz. This provides a calmer and quieter environment for both you and your hydroponic plants.
The LED Grow Light Demystified
Most useful for fruit or flower-bearing plants, the red diodes’ role in photosynthesis is for flowering and ripening. The blue diodes are most useful for vegetables, helping to make sure that they will be in good health.
The number of red and blue LEDs required for your hydroponics lighting system will vary on what you want to plant. There will be an ideal ration of red to blue LEDs that produce the best growth and highest crop yield for your plants; so do some research first to figure out how many red and blue diodes you are going to need.
The more recently developed LED grow lights use special optic grade lens technology to amplify and project light output, producing high coverage with much higher light intensity and deeper penetration than the earlier generations of LED grow lights.
Also note that LED grow lights come in many forms: Quantum dot, Phosphorous-based, Miniature, High-powered, Superflux, Piranha, Supernova, OFO and many more.
LEDs produce light at a specific wavelength; the wavelength produced by each LED is specified by a number represented in nanometers (nm). For photosynthesis, the wavelength needs to be in the PAR zone between 400nm and 700nm. Although LED bulbs are identified by their peak nm intensity, they may also produce light of both higher and lower frequencies, e.g. if a LED have a rating of 660nm, it will peak at that intensity but still produce some light in the in the 640nm and 680nm wavelengths. LED chips can be used to produce any wavelength of light.
The following data shows the different levels of light wavelengths (measured in nm) and how they affect plants:
- 200-280nm – UVC ultraviolet range, highly toxic and extremely harmful to plants.
- 280-315nm – Includes harmful UVB ultraviolet light which causes plant colors to fade.
- 315-380nm – UVA ultraviolet light that is neither harmful nor beneficial to plant growth.
- 380-400nm – Start of visible light spectrum. Process of chlorophyll absorption begins. UV protected plastics ideally block out any light below this range.
- 400-520nm – Includes violet, blue, and green bands. Peak absorption by chlorophyll occurs, and a strong influence on photosynthesis (promotes vegetative growth).
- 520-610nm – Includes the green, yellow, and orange bands. Has less absorption by pigments.
- 610-720nm – The red band. Large amounts of absorption by chlorophyll occur. Has the most significant influence on photosynthesis (promotes budding and flowering).
- 720-1000nm – Little absorption by chlorophyll here. Flowering and germination is influenced. At the high end of the band is infrared, which is heat.
- 1000+nm – Totally infrared range. All energy absorbed at this point is converted to heat.
Here is a comparison of light output for plant growth:
1 x 600 watt High Output LED panel = 1 x 1000 watt HID bulb = 194 x 60 watt Incandescent bulbs
Many aspects of indoor gardening have been transformed by the latest LED grow light technology. These lights have lower energy consumption and reduced maintenance costs.
- LED grow lights can provide an unlimited source of light for your plants.
- You can grow your own food and keep your plants healthy even if it is not yet their growing season.
- The use of LED grow lights gives growers a tremendous advantage, being able to maximize crop yield regardless of the season or weather conditions.
But It’s Also About Having Fun
Exploring everything about grow lights and other accessories necessary for hydroponics gardening can be fun, and getting completely hands-on can be a very rewarding experience. You can uncover more ideas, learn new skills, be more productive and make yourself proud.
This is quite challenging for beginners. But with the ongoing advancement of technology and the virtually unlimited source of information available online, it is possible for almost anyone to become an expert hydroponics gardener.
Take notes so that you can draw a plan and be able to find something that will suit on your hydroponic garden without risking your funds. Do not forget to make an inventory of what type of plants you want to grow, determine the size of your garden and set a budget.
As you continue researching about the LED grow light, you will discover websites that offer the lowest rates for the market-leading products, so shop wisely.
Have patience. If you make the effort, the time invested can reduce your risk of making poor choices. You will eventually understand the value that many consumers have attached to hydroponics and the latest LED grow light technology.
I wish you every success and hope everything goes well. I am sure you will enjoy setting up your indoor garden, planting the seeds and watching them grow.