do led grow lights work?
Lighting is one of the most vital factors you must consider when growing plants indoor. It impacts growth size, growth speed, and bud quality—leading to higher yields per wattage.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have been perceived as the newest technology to aid indoor growers. This lighting system has solved some of the drawbacks of High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights.
Basically, LED grow lights can produce great yields due to their ability to manipulate spectrum and deliver light precisely, all while only using a reasonable amount of energy.
Did you know that you can get yields of about 0.5 to 1 g/watt by using quality LED grow lights?
This is because LED lights deploy UV-B light, which is responsible for producing strong, smelly, and sticky buds.
Despite their capacity to deliver a full light spectrum, LEDs last a long time and emit less heat.
Note that the effectivity of LED grow lights in marijuana growth would still depend on the wattage, distance, and temperature.
This is why we’ll discuss in the following subtopics How well do LED Grow Lights really work? and how to use grow lights efficiently for indoor plants Before you invest your hard earned money.
What are LED Grow Lights?
LED grow lights are electrical devices that produce a spectrum of energy efficient light, which can encourage plant growth.
They can either be the main source or supplementary source of light to help weed plants reach their full potential.
LEDs emit a spectrum of light that is akin to the sun’s rays. In some models, they only have specific light spectrums that may drive different stages of cannabis growth.
The good thing is that LEDs can become the only source of light for weed plants. In some cases, they could act as a supplement.
LED grow lights make it possible for cannabis growers to have indoor grow spaces. Thus, you can produce marijuana all year round.
How Do LED Grow Lights Work?
LED grow lights pass light energy through semiconductor chips to radiate their light spectrum. There’s no need to use gas, lead, filaments, or mercury to produce light.
They have two types of semiconductor materials that can generate their own light spectrum.
The first semiconductor has negative charges or electrons. Meanwhile, the second semiconductor has positive charges called holes.
This set-up makes LEDs versatile, durable, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly.
How Efficient are LED Grow Lights are?
Using LED grow lights is a wise decision for indoor growers because they deliver the necessary spectrum, low heat, and durability, which are essential for maximum yield. Also, they emit more light per watt than HID or fluorescent lighting.
Unlike HID lights, LEDs can be utilized to emit a specific light spectrum. Hence, your cannabis gets the necessary spectrums at different stages of growth.
There are particular wavelengths that are crucial for cannabis growth. They play a role in photosynthetically active radiation (PAR).
LED grow lights can create and focus PAR on marijuana to encourage marijuana growth. As a result, various wavelengths within PAR drive cannabis growth in different stages.
When the wavelengths touch the cannabis surface, there’s an intensity called Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD).
Preferably, your LED grow light should have a PPFD value from 460 to 925 across your entire canopy.
For vegetative state, you can use white and blue LEDs. Meanwhile, the flowering stage would need red spectrums.
Factors to Consider When using led grow lights for indoor plants
LED grow lights emit wavelengths that encourage cannabis growth, thereby ensuring you get quality results.
Their ability to create an even light source ensure your whole canopy is receiving the necessary light for growth.
Since a LED lighting system provides a custom spectrum of light, they emit a more direct light, which is ideal for indoor cannabis growing spaces.
Size of your Grow Space
The size of your grow space also determines the number and size of LED grow lights you need.
For instance, a typical 3x3 grow space could require a 600 watt LED fixture.
LEDs produce various wavelengths that encourage the different stages of cannabis growth.
A full spectrum LED grow light produces a range of wavelengths similar to the sun, which makes it useful for all sorts of plants at different stages. You could also adjust the light output at certain stages.
A LED grow light’s heat output directly impacts cannabis growth, as well as the light’s durability.
You should avoid a high heat output since LED grow lights are typically positioned in close proximity with weed plants.
Similarly, low heat output is highly recommendable to prevent damaging the leaves. It will also make the LEDs last longer because it will take more time to burn out.
Since LED grow lights can be hanged, you’ll only have to analyze the distance between the canopy and the lights.
Additionally, LEDs have built-in cooling systems. Therefore, you’ll have no problems with overheating.
So, How well do LED Grow Lights really work?
Cannabis growers can choose from a range of light sources: HID, fluorescent, and LED. The important thing is that your light source will help deliver your desired quantity and quality of marijuana yield.
However, using LED is different from using HID or fluorescent lights. Likewise, it will depend on your growing environment, but you can use two 125W LEDs or a single unit that emits 250W.
The important thing to consider is whether your LED grow lights have 3W chipsets, which are advisable if you want best yields without worrying about burning your cannabis plants.
Ideally, your grow space’s LED panels should be 30 to 60 watts per square foot to achieve the best results.
Do note that this would depend on the number of plants you have. Don’t worry, we’ll have a complete discussion for that some other time.
Even if a LED lighting system is capable of delivering even coverage, you can further help by making sure that you have an even canopy. In this way, you minimize shading and obtain proper light exposure across your growing space.
Moreover, the distance between the marijuana canopy and LED grow lights varies from model to model. Nevertheless, they should be placed at least 12 to 18 inches from the top of your plants.
Generally, those with 1W chips should be positioned at least 12 inches away from your plants.
Meanwhile, those with 3W chips or bigger must be placed at least 18 inches away to avoid light burn.
A good indicator of whether your LED grow lights are too close is if you see your plants turning yellow.
But since LEDs produce less heat, you can place them much closer to marijuana canopy. Consequently, you increase the intensity of light.
Lastly, to make sure that your LEDs are suitable for your growing conditions, you can start with growing temperatures of 83 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is because LED lights do not have infrared light, which means you have to make up for the gap by increasing the grow space’s temperature.
5 Advantages of Growing Plants with Led Grow Lights
LED lights consume 60% less energy compared to HID and fluorescent lights, but are still capable of discharging the same amount of light.
Since there’s no need to burn gas, LED grow lights emit less heat, which is helpful in the temperature of your growing space.
In addition, LEDs are capable of producing quality yields all year round, making the investment worth the price.
A lighting system normally creates hot spots, which is where the light is strongest on a canopy. As a result, some parts of the canopy see stretching or rapid growth while less light goes to the outer edges.
But with the help of a LED light, you can point an even light source across the entire canopy, avoiding dead zones and hot spots.
Healthier Plant growth
Did you know that traditional grow lights produce more IR rays, UV rays, and more heat that will cause your weed plants to dry up and burn?
LEDs can still create these rays and heat, but at a significantly reduced amount.
Traditional lights reduce their durability due to their need to burn gas, filaments, or other elements.
On the other hand, LED lamps have a low heat output, which dramatically increases their lifespan. As a result, they can normally last up to 100,000 hours.
LED grow lights are actually pricier than traditional grow lights, but their efficiency and durability make them cheaper in the long run.
Time to Shift to LED Lights
Knowing your growing conditions is the first step. Afterward, learning the proper way to operate LED grow lights is the best way to earn your desired yields.
Not only do LED lights work effectively on growing marijuana, but they also work efficiently on your tasks because you don’t have to worry about ballasts, ducting, fans, overheating problems, and big electricity bills.
It is important that you choose full-spectrum LED grow lights that are capable of adjusting the wavelength to match your weed plant’s needs in each growth stage.
Remember, LED grow lights will ensure there’s no need to sacrifice durability and efficiency in order to achieve quality produce.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.
Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.