Similar to all the modern consumer electronics, the quality, specifications and performance parameters of LED growing lights also varies across manufacturers. Without adequate knowledge and insight about the different parameters that make a LED growing light ideal for horticulture enthusiasts as well as indoor harvesting of medicinal plants, making a final decision for the same is quite a dilemma.
What are the factors that make a LED growing light ideal for growing your indoor plants!? What should be the operating wattage of the lighting system that would be ideal for growing medicinal marijuana high in yield and resin content!? These are indeed some crucial questions that need answering, and this article is meant to address the issue in a language that is viable for plant and weed people.[TOC]
Why choose LED Grow Lights?
The one most frequently asked question is why anyone should even switch to LED growing lights instead of the traditional ones!? They are more costly when compared to incandescent or high-pressure sodium vapor lamps; well the answer lies in the fact that LED grows lights are capable of operating in a broad spectrum of visible light that mimics the natural lighting conditions of the sun.
The second most important factor is that LED growing lights consume less power, therefore, making them friendly to the environment.
LED growing lights do not use harmful elements like mercury or gases in their hardware. They, unlike conventional incandescent lamps, are free from fragile outer shells made of glass, filaments or any other component that can lead to electromechanical failure. LED grow lighting fixtures are more efficient, versatile and have a longer operational life than other traditional forms of grow lighting sources.
Things to Consider During LED Grow Light Comparison
In the previous years, it was once a hot topic for debate that LED lighting sources are not as efficient as traditional lighting sources for growing plants indoors. For some time, the claim was somewhat correct but with the discovery of the blue LED storm took light, the world of LED growing light.
The invention of the blue LED was based on the scientific fact that blue light is the most preferred wavelength by both plants and horticulture enthusiasts. It is a critical factor that maximizes yield and overall quality of the plant.
Given below are some factors that need to be considered before making a comparison between the different types of LED grow lights:
Light, in layman’s term, can be defined as the part of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum that visible to the human eye. Plants, on the other hand, makes the use of specific wavelengths in the visible spectrum that boosts growth, enhance the rate of photosynthesis and overall development of the plant body. The range of wavelengths that are favored by the plants for their survival and development is termed scientifically as PAR (or Photosynthetically Active Radiation).
The ideal LED growing light should meet the following conditions:
- The LED grow light should reach the required PAR spectrum with particular emphasis on the red and blue wavelengths
- It should comply with the tester preferred wavelengths or the wavelengths that make the plants look beautiful!
- An LED growing light that is compatible with all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum (ranging from the infrared to the near ultra-violet)
Required Energy Input (Watts)
As per the definition set by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), a watt is the unit of power that denotes the rate at which an electronic device consumes electricity during its operation at any point of time.
In simple words, watt is the smallest unit utilized by electrical equipment that is used by an LED growing light. Watt is directly proportional to the lumen value of a LED lighting fixture.
It should be kept in mind that the electrical input for a LED growing light does not dictate the lumen value of the same. The lumen value for any LED growing light is dependent on the overall design and quality of the hardware that is used for manufacturing the light.
The LED chip used in the light panel, the density of the LED chips, the optics used, the driver and the heat dissipation system including the heat sinks all together determine whether the LED growing light will be consuming more or less power.
Lumen Value, Lux and PAR
It is crucial to get accustomed to these following terms before finalizing for a LED grow light:
- Lumens – It is the unit of measurement that describes the total quantity of visible light in the visible spectrum that a LED growing light emits in all directions.
- Lux – Lux is the technical term for luminance which is the quantity of light that reaches a reflective surface and is measured in terms of lumens per meter squared (or lux).
- PAR – It is the abbreviated form of Photon Irradiation. The difference lies in the fact how the human eye senses the intensity of light (lumen value) and how plants use and absorb light. Since the usable wavelengths for plants are different than the wavelengths useful for animals, the PAR value can be considered as a valuable parameter which is measured by comparing grow light lumen value from different
Intensity of Light
If one uses a light meter (a device used for measuring the lumen value of a light source) to take measurements of a light source from different distances, the reading in the light meter continually drops as the observer moves his/her hand away from the light source.
It is a useful exercise, and the gathered knowledge can be used when you are stuck between several LED grow light products from different manufacturers. It is advised to go for the LED grow light that has the maximum lumen count in the light meter. A maxed out lumen meter reading for a particular LED grow light is an indication that it would assist you to get the maximum yield from your plants growing indoors.
Hence, by comparing the different varieties of LED grow lights, you can understand the product that would serve your purpose. Besides the specs, it is the price that plays an important role when selecting these lights.