Gardeners Warm Up to LED Grow Lights
As one of the prime components of photosynthesis, light is critical for plant growth. Generally, this nourishing illumination emanates from the sun. But if you’re an indoor plant, golden rays are a little hard to come by. For this variety, electric light is the best and often only option. For years, indoor gardeners have favored the high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulb. Recently, however, LED grow lights are being recognized for their botanical superiority. They haven’t pushed HPS bulbs off the throne quite yet. But they’re definitely gaining in popularity.
There are a number of reasons why gardeners are warming up to LED grow lights. They are as follows:
The quality of indoor lighting is determined by several factors. The first of these is yield. In general, HPS bulbs achieve a yield of .5 grams per watt. LEDs, on the other hand, usually get 1g to 1.5g per watt, giving them three times the yield power of the competition. LEDs also trump HPS bulbs in the versatility department. Generally, HPS lights are prohibitively bulky, making them difficult to re-position around plants. For obvious reasons, light placement is much easier with less-massive LEDs.
When it comes to wavelengths, LEDs again show their superiority. Unlike HPS bulbs, which produce the entire spectrum, LEDs concentrate on blue and red wavelengths. These are the most productive wavelengths for the flowering and vegetative growth stages. The rest is wasted energy.
Maintenance and Durability
The average lifespan of an HPS grow light is about 10,000 hours. Now you may be thinking that’s a pretty good stretch. Until you compare these bulbs with LEDs. The lifespan of the average LED is about 50,000 – 100,000 energy-efficient hours, or about 15 years worth of bright, evenly distributed illumination. You can pretty much forget about them once they’re called into action. Bulb replacement … what’s that?
Thanks to integrated heat sinks, LED grow lights (and LEDs in general) generate minimal amounts of heat, particularly when compared with HPS bulbs. In fact, one of the main drawbacks of the latter lighting source is energy loss in the form of heat. The high temperatures can cause plant damage. And the wasted heat energy translates to higher energy costs. Energy-efficient LEDs, on the other hand, are kind to both plants and wallets. If we were to quantify the difference, LEDs use approximately 50% less energy than HPS bulbs do.
Solid State Lighting
LEDs utilize solid-state lighting, which consists of semiconductors that convert electricity into visible light. No frills. No moving parts. Uncomplicated and sturdy, solid state components can withstand shocks and impacts far better than conventional lighting elements. HPS bulbs, in contrast, depend on a delicate chemical process in which sodium vapors interact with electricity to produce light. Relying on this process, these bulbs are more vulnerable to damage and malfunction than are LEDs.
With LED grow lights outperforming HPS bulbs in a number of key categories, it’s easy to see why more and more growers are showing a marked preference for the former. Expect those numbers to climb as advances in LED technology bring further improvements to these plant-friendly bulbs.