Are you looking for the best LED grow lights?

led lights photo
Photo by trentv11182

Are you planning to grow high quality crops using the best led grow lights? Are you an amateur and have not yet planted your feet firmly into the world of LED grow lights? Not sure about your spending returning the desired results?
In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about the best led grow lights. By looking through our recommended best led grow lights, our goal is to prepare you, so that you can make a wise decision.

What is an LED Grow Light?

An LED grow light is basically an artificial source of light which is designed to stimulate plant growth by emitting light, which in return helps in the photosynthesis process. These lights are commonly used in places where sunlight is unable to reach. They are also used when there is a need for supplemental light for plant growth. If plants do not receive enough light, they grow long and thin. So, during winter when there is not sufficient sunlight for the desired growth of plants, these lights can come into play. LED grow lights extend the light receiving time for the plants, which will result in healthier growth.

The best LED grow lights provide a light spectrum which aims to mimic that of the sun, and so can provide a spectrum according to the needs of a specific plant. You can imitate the outdoor conditions by adjusting the color, temperatures and spectrum of the grow light along with varying the intensity of the light.

Light Technologies to Grow Plants:

There are four classes of technologies that produce visible light. These are Incandescent, CFL, High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and LED. We are not going to discuss incandescent lights here for a couple of reasons. Incandescent lights are by far the least efficient of the four options and they don’t usually produce wavelengths that are appropriate for plant growth. So, let’s take a look at the other three technologies.

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL):

Compact Fluorescent Light photo
Photo by Horia Varlan

CFL bulbs were originally invented in 1890, the technology really took off in 1970 when mass production allowed them to be economically viable. They consumed 1/3 to 1/5 of the energy used by a conventional incandescent bulb and have a life span 8 to 15 times longer. CFL had an energy efficiency of 7 to 10 percent. However, in some cases it was reported as high as 15 percent. Most CFL bulbs emit spectrums with blue and red wavelengths which combine to make up the white light you see.
The farther the CFL bulb is from the plant, the less usable energy will hit the plant. Hence decreasing their efficiency. Most CFL bulbs do not emit significant amounts of heat so you have to place them closer to the plants to achieve the maximum efficiency.

High Pressure Sodium (HPS):

High pressure sodium lights were invented in mid 1950s. In terms of use, for growing vegetables, they are more flexible at producing high volumes of wavelengths which plants can use. As HPS have high energy outputs, you should not place them close to the plants, unlike CFL bulbs.
There are low pressure sodium lights available on the market. However, they are not suitable for growing plants as they only produce low energy yellow wavelengths and not red and blue wavelengths that your plants actually require.

High pressure sodium has some characteristics that are typically not ideal for an indoor growing situation. They emit heat which in some cases requires special ventilation systems to be installed in your indoor growing fixture. With heat production and high energy output of these lights, energy efficiency drops in caparison to other grow light systems. The cost of high pressure sodium is generally higher than CFL bulbs and has a shorter life span.

Light Emitting Diode (LED):

led  photo
Photo by usblsb

LED’s were initially invented in early 1900s. However, the visible light spectrum and wavelengths appropriate for plant growth was only developed in the 21st century. The best LED grow lights are very quickly becoming the light of choice for commercial growers.
LED lights are by far the most efficient light technology. In comparison to CFL, with maximum energy efficiency of 10 %, LED can typically achieve 21 % efficiency. With a recent development of LED fixture, it is reported to have 67% of efficiency. The life span of LED as compared to CFL is 6 to 7 times greater and has nearly 0% percent heat production while running.
LED’s do not need to be place close to the plants they are growing. The wavelengths produced by LEDs are not only much more targeted as the exact wavelength plants need, but they also are much more efficient as they don’t lose energy whilst traveling. LEDs unlike CFL and high-pressure sodium, are able to emit exact wavelengths of light that target photosynthesis, allowing them to specialize in plant growth.

Things to Consider before buying the best LED Grow Lights:

Before buying any grow light you need to do your homework. You need to have a clear picture of what you are looking for. You should take the following things into consideration before buying the best LED grow lights for yourself:

-Available Space
-The Plant You Are Growing
-Light Spectrum
-Electricity Output and Consumption

Available Space:

The first and foremost thing you should consider is the total area in which you are going to install LED grow lights. The indoor space for planting can vary so you need to choose the best LED grow lights for yourself accordingly. If you try to install a light which has low spectrum on a large area, chances are that your plants won’t grow properly or in the worst-case scenario die.
The easiest way to find the appropriate LED available for you is by following the rule of thumb. According to the rule you need to have a 32-watt LED for each square foot of your area. This mean if you want to grow on a 10 square feet area then you’ll need to have a 350-400-watt LED grow light.

The Plants You Are Growing:

Now after deciding the area of plantation it’s time to decide which plants you will grow. There are different LED grow lights available in the market that are capable of growing little seedling to a full blossomed flower. But each plant requires different intensity of light for its proper growth. So, choose wisely!
Light Spectrum:
The colors produced by LED grow light have great impact on the growth of a plant. For example, blue light is great for vegetative state and good during the flowering stage. However, you will need a light with greater spectrum for quality growth.

Electricity Output and Consumption:

You will need to operate your LED grow light for at least 10-11 hours daily. This will lead to increased electricity bill. However, making an informed choice and reading the product description in detail can help you tackles this trouble. Always check for total output units. Keep in mind that you should not select any LED light less than 300W if you want to save your money. Higher output units help in compensating any wattage loss.

Important Scientific Acronyms Related to LED Grow Lights:

There are many acronyms which are used to measure light. Understanding these acronyms can be a little confusing. The reason it is confusing is because there are a lot of different ways by which we can measure light. There are ways of measuring light that is good for human and there are ways of measuring light that is good for plants. We are going to discuss some of these measurements, what they mean and why they are important.

-Photometry
-Radiometry
-PAR
-PPFD

Photometry:

“Photometry is the science of measuring visible light in units that are weighted according to the sensitivity of human eye”.

You have to understand photometry is a quantitative science based on a statistical model of human visual response to light. This common measurement is called illuminance and is measured in lumens per square meter or LUX. In a nutshell photometry basically measures how we as humans perceive light things like brightness.
How Many Lumens Are Needed Per Square Foot?
How many lumens are needed per square foot? Well, the answer to this question is difficult because it depends on a lot of different factors. Apart from considering how big your room is, you also need to consider the type of plant you are growing and what type of yield you are aiming for. There is no such ideal amount, but producing 300 and 800 lumens per square foot will let your plants grow properly.

Radiometry:

“A method of measuring light based on its electromagnetic radiation, which is far more appropriate for quantifying how a plant would interact with light.”
Radiometry actually tells us about the energy within a light and how the plant is using that energy for the photosynthetic process.

PAR:

PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation. Plant biologists have designated light wavelengths from 400 to 700 nanometers as a range in which photosynthetic organisms are able to process light energy for photo synthesis. This measurement is referred to as a PAR rating or photosynthetically active radiation. Good LED grow lights have wavelengths that are within PAR rating.

PPFD:

Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density or PPFD for short is the measure of photons in 400-700 nanometer range received by the surface over a specified amount of time. It basically measures the light photons which are emitted over one square meter per second and is expressed in µmol/m2/s. This is the most appropriate way to measure light because photosynthetic receptors in plants are activated by the photons itself and not by the energy contained in that photon.
According to photobiology one photon excites one electron during photosynthesis. UV which falls below 400 nm and Infrared radiation (IR) which fall above 700 nm are counterproductive to plants growth. So, before choosing a LED grow light you must consider this factor if the quality of harvest is important to you.

The general difference between PAR and PPFD:

PAR tells us how much overall energy is within the photosynthetic range
PPFD tells us the actual number of photons within that energy that is actually reaching out your plants.
Unfortunately, a PPFD measurement can be easily manipulated by lighting manufacturers. PPFD is a spot-based measurement. The reading can be drastically changed based on height and location of where the reading was taken underneath the LED light. Lighting manufacturers can cherry pick these readings and misrepresent the effectiveness of their natural product. So, if you ever see a PPFD reading but it is not disclosed where the measurement was taken, it is basically meaningless. Watch out for it.

Setting Up Your LED:

For the success of your LED grow lights there are several factors that come into play. The only way to get the best results is to strike a balance between all of them. What are these factors? Following is a little list:

-Distance from plants
-Nature of Humidity
-Right Temperature
-Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Distance from The Plants:

LED lights do not produce much heat as compared to other lights so you can place them close to your plants without any risk of damaging your plants. You need to set up your LED lights no more than a couple of feet above your plants in order to make sure that they get the right amount of light. This can be done by hanging grow lights above your plants with help of wires and support. If you are using a grow tent than you can cover the walls with some reflective material. By following this approach, you could make the most out of your LED grow lights.

Nature of Humidity:

Your plants need the right amount of humidity to grow properly which is somewhere between 60 to 80 percent. When humidity is less than 60 percent, the plants don’t get enough moisture, and moisture is essential during photosynthesis process. And if the indoor humidity increases from 80 percent than there is a risk of fungi growing on your plants. So, maintaining the right humidity level is the key.

Right Temperature:

Setting up lights properly and maintaining the right humidity levels do not guarantee you the perfect yield of your crop. You need the room temperature to be spot on as well. Ideal temperature for indoor plant growing is 75-80 Fahrenheit.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2):

 

CO2 is to plants what oxygen is to humans. Without CO2, plants stand no chance to survive. If you are using an artificial indoor grow house then it is clear that you would need to maintain sufficient carbon dioxide inside. For this you might need a ventilation system that lets the fresh air inside the grow house. This can be achieved by simply installing a window.

Led Grow Lights Pros and Cons:

indoor plants photo
Photo by kaizendofr

LED grow light technology is getting popular day by day and slowly replacing the traditional lighting systems. Let us take a look at some of its pros and cons.

Pros:

Speedy Harvest Cycle:

We can use LED grow lights 24 hours a day with a minute effect on the temperature. As far as indoor plantation is concerned there is a lack of environmental feedback, due to which these plants rely on us to tell them what season is going on and how should the plants behave. Using grow lights helps you to change the daylight hours and provide the red wavelength light at the right time, thus, maximizing the plant growth. Multiple harvests are possible while growing auto flowering plants with the help of LED grow lights. This not only helps in better growth but also results in increased production.

Greater Lifespan:

LED grow lights have a much longer life as compared to the traditional lights. Major reason for this is their low operating temperature? Traditional lights produce a lot of heat which results in drastic decrease in their lifespan. Having longer life means more years with increased production excluding frequent replacement cost.

Less Power Consumption:

LED grow lights consume 60% less energy than the traditional lights. They produce less operating heat and have longer life. The reason behind this is that the LED diodes do not burn anything to generate light. Because of less energy use and heat emission, LED consume much less power.

Better Plant Growth:

Traditional lights produce more heat and IR rays. This causes the plants to burn and dry quickly, causing increase in water and energy usage. LED lights on the other hand produce very less harmful wavelength of light. This results in better growth of plants.

Accurate Wavelength:

By using LED grow lights, you can regulate the wavelength of light that helps in photosynthesis process. Conventional lights emit wavelength of light that are of no use to the plants. But with the help LED you can give the plant the required spectrum light. This saves energy as well as cause the plants to grow healthier.

Cool Operation:

Installing LED grow lights eliminate the need to install a cooling system in your grow space. Heat is counterproductive to the growth of plants. Traditional lights produce a lot more as compared to LEDs. This makes LED the best choice for growing indoor plants.

Cons:

Initial Cost Is High:

LED lights would cost you a more than other lights like HID or fluorescent lights. But you get energy saving and long life plus healthier plant growth. All this for a little more money is worth it.

Less Coverage Space:

LED produce directional light as produced by flashlights. This cause them to generally cover less area as compared to the conventional lights.

Heat Affects The LED:

LED grow lights are reactive to high temperatures. Heat can cause the diode of LED to malfunction and the quality of light produced may suffer. That’s why good LED grow lights come with heat sink or fans.

Are LED Grow Lights bad for your eyes?

There is a myth that LED lights can cause damage to one’s eyes and even cause complete blindness. As, I mentioned, it is only a myth. Obviously, if you keep on staring at any artificial light source, it can cause some damage to your eyes. But if you use it the way it is supposed to be used, you are good to go. CELMA (Federation of National Manufacturers Associations for Luminaires and Electrotechnical components in the European Union) has released a paper which states clearly about LED grow lights being safe for intended use.

Can you use regular LED light for grow lights?

The answer to it is no . Regular LED lights cannot be used to grow plants. Normal LED lights are not capable of emitting the type of spectrum that is required by the plants. Sunlight has a specific spectrum which helps the plants to grow. Regular LEDs cannot mimic that.

Conclusion

Well, if you have read this article then I assume you are very serious about buying the best LED grow Lights. All I want to say is that growing plants is good for the planet so, you should really convert your idea into a reality. I hope this article was somewhat helpful in guiding towards finding the best LED grow lights.

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