PROS AND CONS OF LED GROW LIGHTING
| Sean Phillips
LED grow lights are the king key to your crop. Years ago, the technology and innovation did not exist to the point of LED lighting being a logical cost-effective manner to grow. But a lot of fly by night Chinese companies thought it was a great idea to give LEDs a bad name. Pushing products into the industry knowing all too well that the time wasn’t right. But enough on that topic! Hopefully I am able to educate you further in a positive manner for you, your family, your grow and the earth.
LED lights are the future and surround us every day! From streetlights to cellular phones they exist in almost everything. Since upgrades in technology have been moving forward. LED lights have taken the throne with a considerable advantage over other types of horticultural lighting. In recent years there has been some draw backs. Those draw backs are rapidly disappearing with efficiency and innovation.
Let us take a dive deeper into some of those advantages. The first thing that comes to mind when speaking in terms of LED lighting is the lifespan of most LEDs. Generally speaking, LED lights have a lifespan of 50,000 hours. This equates to more than 10 years. By the time they will be at the end of their lifespan, the technology purchased will have evolved beyond the point of sale.
LED grow lights set up in a properly balanced environment can easily be ran for 12-18 hours a day with minimal effect on temperature in comparison to other types of horticultural lighting.
This lower amount of heat helps aide LED fixtures with the longevity mentioned above. Conventional lighting puts out a ton of heat (almost 400o F per HID at the bulb) causing them to need a lot of AC supplementation or sealed units with ventilated hoods (wasted energy that helps warm the earth). Utilizing LEDs can keep you warm in the winter (heat rises) recycling the energy used in your garden.
Less hazard/ global impact
Conventional lighting systems have bulbs and said bulbs are filled with hazardous materials. These bulbs can explode and or break and contaminate the surrounding area. (HID lights contain mercury) Whether that be in your home or a landfill either of which has a negative impact. Back to them exploding, is the risk of a house fire and the thought of potentially losing everything worth the risk? I thought about this and it made me change my whole mental processing of the operation I was running. The heat mentioned earlier as wasted energy is another factor! LEDs along with their PCB boards are 100% recyclable, therefore they have a smaller impact overall on a global level.
Maintaining a room that is “dialed in” comes to mind here.
So, you want your operation to be able to thrive. You spend hours in your room making sure everything is just right. PH, run off, rhizosphere, VPD and CO2. But the biggest overlooked factor is the lighting. Traditional Horticultural lighting emits harmful UV and IR (ultraviolet and infrared) rays along with heat that can be counterproductive to your plant’s growth. Rooms ran with LEDS at a room temperature of 90oF had a significantly lower leaf temperature than in comparison to traditional lighting. This is due to the lack of IR rays that are emitted by the LED lighting. As a result, the water and energy utilized by the plant can focus on growing a happy healthy plant rather than simply survive.
Spectrum and wavelength
Before we dive into this subject, please be sure to check out our spectrum analysis of various types of horticultural lighting.
Top of the line LED grow lights will offer a balanced full spectrum of light for your plant to utilize for vegetation and flowering. LEDs can be designed to give your plant various focused wavelengths such as blue for veg and flower (terpene enhancement and minimal stretching) red enhancements (increased absorption peak of chlorophylls, which do photosynthesis to produce sugars and carbons). And last but not least good forms of UV when its needed most. Whether you choose to run UV all the way through flower or the last 20% you can do it safely with LEDs.
Traditionally LED costs have always been a huge subject. Initial costs of switching from tradition to a new age has always been a target for traditional growers. When in actuality this is very far from the truth. Initial cost of anything you start up will always be high. But its something you can take baby steps with building capital to move forward. I found that it cost more over the period of 5 years to run traditional lighting vs LED. Costs considered were light maintenance, overall utilities, basic upkeep and or replacement of AC units. (save more in the summer than winter when considering AC) The labor-intensive hassle of having to do these things can be enough to make some people throw their hands up.
Within 2 years the LED lights pay for themselves. From there the saving spiral.
A 1000W standard HPS light will cost you $300 more per year to operate then a 600W LED. Keep in mind this is only the cost of electricity!
Would you rather have all the extra work of tending to the need of a caveman or would you rather have a light that you can set and forget.
Cons of horticultural LED lights
There are a few setbacks when speaking in terms of LED Horticultural lighting. This is nothing that a company with innovation in mind cannot handle.
As most of you know LED grow lights are much more expensive than traditional grow lights. At least when speaking in terms of a LED worth mentioning. Technology is cool and new technology is even cooler. With that coolness comes a higher initial cost until manufacturing on a consumer scale has been achieved. I know I get it though! When will the cost go down? Well cost generally goes down for a product when a lot more people are using a product. (mass production)
Hazardous to eyes
LED lights produce more bright blue light which can lead to blindness. This is due to macular degeneration. The blue light penetrates all the way down to the retina. (sorry I made it sound so far away haha). Due to this, light sensitive cells in the retina can be damaged over time.
Good thing this con is easily ailed with some good horticultural sunglasses.
The footprint some LED grow lights can provide are generally smaller than traditional lighting systems. Newer LED lighting systems have made the necessary adjustments through innovation to render this con a thing of the past. I just figured it was an honorable mention because I have to have more content in the con portion of this article haha
In closing LED lights are truly the future of the horticultural industry. Cost will go down over time. The more people utilize these lights for their operations the more these prices will continue to go down! If you are a believer in what you are doing and want to make a difference in your product and your environment, come grow with us! And for the rest of the haters…
LIGHTEN UP WE’RE GARDENING HERE