LED grow lights provide an alternative lighting for indoor gardens with insufficient daylight. These are usually different from the normal LED lamps and are usually optimized for indoor farming. They produce a different type of light that ensures maximum growth built which may not be ideal for normal illumination needs.
Despite the difference in performance, the LED grow lights have almost similar benefits as the standard LED-based lights. In addition, they have extra benefits that make them better than both the standard LED bulbs as well as the traditional grow lamps.
Growing crops in indoor facilities
Advantages of the indoor farming include the ability to provide the ideal environment for the different types of crops. This includes the giving the plants the right kind of ingredients, humidity, and light.
Other benefits for the indoor facilities include protecting the crops from harsh outdoors condition, theft or damage by animals and insects. In addition, the indoor environment is ideal and safer for the plants such that they do not require a lot of pesticides.
By understanding the plants requirements, a farmer can grow almost any type of a crop indoors. Typical plants include the fruits, herbs, vegetables, houseplants, flowers and more. This has the advantage of allowing the farmer to control the indoor environment and produce the maximum production possible.
Artificial lighting for crops
One of the challenges of the indoor farming is lack of sufficient sunlight which is a critical requirement for proper growth. This may arise due to the layout of the structure, small windows or other factors that prevent the daylight from reaching the plants.
Fortunately, people have the option to use artificial lighting to supplement or work as an alternative to the daylight. Different kinds of lighting technologies have models that provide grow lighting to the indoor farms. This includes the HIDs, fluorescents and the LED grow lights. Each of these has its benefits and limitations.
While there are several other kinds of lamps, the LED grow lights have emerged as the best both in performance and running costs. However, the purchase price is usually higher compared to the other lamps, but the benefits such as low energy consumption and long life will outweigh this initial cost.
What to look for in LED grow lights
The LED grow lights are suitable for all the growing cycles of most of the crops. They can provide the light for seedlings, light for the vegetative stage and light for flowering. This means that the produce is healthier, good quality and has higher yields. However, to produce the best, you need to choose the correct type of LED grow lights for indoor plants. Below are the major considerations.
The light demands for the environment
This will depend on the type of crop, growth stage and its lighting requirements. The grow area environment and whether it gets any sunlight. Some plants require more light than others in terms of intensity or duration. Further, the different stages require varying amount of lights. As such, it is important to choose an LED grow light that is easy to adjust or control depending on the needs.
When using the LED light as a supplement to extend the daylight hours, a light with sensors will be the most ideal. This will automatically detect the level of external light and control the indoor LED lamps to provide the deficit so that that plants get an almost constant amount of light.
True wattage output
Most LEDs will be advertised with the maximum output it provides. However, in practical applications, they will run at a lower rating. For example, a 300W capable light will operate at a maximum of 200W in practical applications. It is therefore important to compare your application with the available options. Operating the fixtures at a lower output extends their lifespan and will also have less heat output, tear and wear.
The LED light spectrum
The light spectrum an LED produces is important for the proper growth of the plant. The most important colors for a plant are the red and blue. The plants absorb these colors during the photosynthesis. This is the stage which controls how the plant grows.
The other colors are green, which gives the plants its color. The plants’ leaves reflect most of the lights, hence their green colors, but will also absorb some which go deeper into the leaves, and is important for the plant’s architecture. Some crops may also require some amount of light the infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths at the edges of the visible spectrum. It is therefore important to confirm that the LED grow lights will provide all the light wavelengths that the particular plant requires.
The grow area and shape
The physical dimensions, shape, and height of the grow area influences the choice of the LED grow light. While a single fixture can take care of a small area, a larger space will require multiple units. It is important to check the specifications of the grow LED lights so as to see the coverage area and how to combine the lights for maximum efficiency and yield. Most often, the suppliers will guide in the right selection as long as they understand the indoor environment physical dimensions.
The advantages of LED grow lights
The LED grow lights have both economic and environmental benefits that make them appealing to all type of farmers regardless of the scale. They can be used to plant a few crops inside a room, as well as in large commercial greenhouses. The LED grow lights enable enthusiasts and commercial farmers to create the optimum lighting scheme with little effort. They offer a wide range of benefits that include but not limited to
- High energy efficiency
- Custom or flexible light spectrum
- Long life
- Easy installation or setup
The LED lights consume the least amount of electricity without compromising the growth of the plants. In fact, the lights lead to better growth and produce when customized well. The bulbs use a different technology compared to the traditional lights and do not involve heating an element or gas. Instead, the LED grow light emits the light after a current passes through the semiconductor device. By customizing it to only produce what the plant will use, manufacturers ensure that the bulb conversion rate is much higher and that an insignificant amount or no light energy goes to waste.
Less heat emission
Almost all the light from a LED grow lamp is utilized by the plant. As such, only a small amount of energy that the LED grows light consumes is emitted as heat. Most often, the heat is emitted at the electronic circuit and base of the diode. This is not emitted towards the plants and is easily removed using a suitable heat sink or cooling fans inside the fixture. Some LED grow lights models for demanding environments are water and dust proof. These have IP 65 rated enclosure and do not use the cooling fans. Instead, they utilize high-quality heat sinks and thermal management techniques to remove the heat.
By using consuming less energy and emitting little as heat, the LED grow lights helps the farmer to save on electricity bills and heavy cooling systems.
Generally, the LED grow light consists of many LED bulbs. These are very small components and a typical grow light can have an average 80 or so lamps. The compactness makes it easy to build a lamp in a variety of shapes that can fit different growing areas, including large greenhouses and as small as under the kitchen cabinets. The LED lamps require less space and this allows a farmer to stack vertical gardens with ease and without requiring too much space.
In addition, the small size and less heat dissipation allows the farmers to place the lights close to the plants, hence provide more effective light. This means that the plants will get high-intensity light without the farmer using too much power.
Finally, the small size also translates to low weight. The LED grow lights, in addition to requiring less space, do not need strong mounting structures, hence saving the farmer on the installation costs.
Producing a focused light
The LED grow lamps produce a directional or more focused light. They do not disperse the light like the HIDs and other traditional bulbs and hence do not require reflector. This reduces the installation costs and need to add reflecting walls in the indoor facility hence lower setup costs.
The LED grow lights are rugged and able to withstand shocks, vibrations and other conditions that would damage the other types of lamps. In addition, they are more compact, hence requiring only a small space for mounting. And since they produce a directional light, there is no need for reflectors as is the case with the other type of lights which usually scatter the light around the space.
Providing the right colour for the plants
The plants require plenty of the red and blue colours for their growth. This enables the photosynthesis to occur in the plants. One of the main benefits is the ability to just produce specific colours. This means that most of the energy it consumes goes into the useful light and there are fewer losses as what occurs in the other types of lamps. And this is one of the reasons the LED grow lights are more energy efficient.
The HPS and fluorescent lights usually produce the red and blue colours as well as many others which are not useful for the plants. As such, they consume more energy which then goes to waste.
The benefits of using the LED grow lights are several compared to the other lights. They provide the best alternative to providing artificial grow light for plants that do not receive adequate daylight.
Generally, the LED grow lights are the best in performance and operational costs. However, they are usually expensive than the standard LED models for general lighting, as well as other types of grow lights such as the fluorescent and HIDs. But their long-term benefits such as low running costs and durability outweigh the initial cost.