If you have indoor plants, you’re probably familiar with standard “grow lights”. These bulbs mimic natural sunlight and help your plants thrive. But, there’s a new trend in grow lights, and that’s LED bulbs. An LED grow fixture is different from the standard metal halide or sodium fixtures you might be accustomed to. LED grow lighting varies in heat, power, and shape. But never fear, this article is laid out for beginners and will help you learn about this excellent new light fixture.
How is an LED Different?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode (aren’t we fond of our acronyms?) and are considered semiconductors. Because of the way they operate, LED bulbs have a longer use life, use less overall energy to run, and produce more natural lighting. They can also vary the light intensity and spectrum, providing plants everything they need from start to finish.
Plants and their Wavelength Requirements
Seedlings (young plants) require light in the blue spectrum, which is also responsible for green, leafy plants like herbs and vegetables. Plants that produce fruit will need light in the red wavelength, giving them what they need to mature the fruit. Research each plant you plan to grow so you’ll know what color of light they’ll need throughout their life.
What’s the Deal with Light Intensity?
Light intensity is measured in lumens, and the higher wattage the bulb, the greater the lumens it produces. Wattage is used to explain how much electricity the bulb will use when it’s on. Lumens will determine how bright the light actually is, and this is the information you need to know if you plan to grow plants of any kind indoors.
Each plant you grow will perform better under a specific light intensity, so you’ll want to make sure you know everything you can about your plant’s needs before you choose a lighting fixture. If you plan on growing multiple crops in a single environment, then using LED panels with their programming ability might provide you the best care for all your plants in a single fixture.
Why You Should Choose LED Lights Over Other Grow Lights
Halogen bulbs will provide your plants a bright light, but they also burn hot and have been known to burn delicate, new plants. Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb in 1879. They’re perfectly acceptable to light your home, but they burn too hot with too little light for plants.
High Output Fluorescent Light bulbs (HO Fluorescent) are excellent for starting plants from seeds, but they consume almost double the energy, meaning a higher electric bill. LED lighting is more expensive than the other grow lights, but they consume far less energy and have a longer lifespan, making them cheaper to use in the long run.
What Do You Plan to Grow (Or Are Already Growing)?
Carefully consider your crop before deciding on an LED grow light fixture. Each LED unit is designed to grow a plant from start to finish, but some types of crops have fixtures designed especially for them. They can be used for growing flowers, fruits, vegetables, cannabis, and even for research purposes. You can visit Lumi Growth to learn more about growing different plants under LED lighting.
Consider Your Growing Facility
You’ll need about 32 watts per square foot of space for high-light crops (such as cannabis). If you’re growing herbs, they only require 11-18 watts per square foot. In the first example, you’ll need to buy at minimum a 500-watt growing light for an area including 16 square feet. If you have a 25-square foot area, you’ll want at least 800 watts.
Types of LED Grow Lights for Different Plants
Every plant has its own requirements for light intensity, duration of light, and spectrum. Research each plant you plan to grow to determine what its individual needs will be. Some LED grow lights are full cycle, something you’d want if you plan to grow cannabis from seed to flower. Other lights are intended simply for growth and blooming. Many LED lights have user-programmable cycles for lighting schedule, intensity, and spectrum.
There are even differently shaped bulbs, from panels and bars to “UFOs” and tubes that replace fluorescent bulbs. Many LED fixtures allow you to program them throughout the day, closely mimicking natural sunlight in a diurnal cycle.
No matter what you want to grow in your indoor garden, you’ll need to choose a lighting setup that will meet the plants’ needs. Fruit, vegetable, and flower plants each have their own requirements for lighting, including intensity, spectrum, and duration. Before you plant your crops, you should learn as much as you can about the plants’ needs and adjust your lighting scenario accordingly.
Using LED grow lights might be more expensive initially, but they’ll eventually pay for themselves in the amount of energy they save, their long lifespan, and your ability to program them for different plants. They offer a wider range of intensity and spectrum of light than conventional grow bulbs.