There are a few very important aspects to consider when selecting the bulbs you’ll use to grow your indoor garden. Let’s take some of the mystery out of the LED option and help make the choice clear.
Can I use regular LED lights to grow plants?
Well, sort of. Almost any light, whether it’s LED, fluorescent or incandescent, can grow plants. But not all will do it well. What matters is the intensity of the light and the spectrum emitted. Bulbs designed for regular use to light a home or work space use wavelengths best for the human eye, namely white. White light is excellent, but bulbs designed for growth emit a colors plants need for growth. Your indoor crop will dictate the spectrum you want. If you want to go more in-depth, this article will help you identify the perfect spectrum for your crop and each growth stage. Vegetative and leafy plants love blue light at 5000K for growth, and 3000K for flowering, but blue won’t be helpful for plants that need to flower. That requires a shift to the red end of the spectrum. Some bulb brands require a change of bulbs for each stage, but some, like GroBar TM provides both red and blue peaks for the full cycle without changing bulbs.
Do I have to have different bulbs for the different phases of my crop growth?
It depends on the crop, but for the average indoor grower, a full-spectrum bulb will fit the bill. Growers that require a healthy bloom on their plants, like floral and cannabis producers, will want to switch to a flowering bulb when it’s time, like VividGro’s FlowerMax TM.
Aren’t LED lights really expensive?
They used to be, yes. Many people explored LED lighting options when they were first emerging on the market, got sticker shock, and never went back. But in the past ten years or so, the price has dropped dramatically as the technology has evolved. And when you factor in lifespan, decreased utility costs and the need for less bulbs to cover the same space as fluorescents, the overall cost is in fact lower. Also, some manufacturers, like VividGro, offer an impressive 5-year warranty.
Are LED lights really that much different than fluorescent?
About as different as you can get: LED lights like VividGro’s GroBarTM has no mercury or lead. It’s also cased in far more durable plastic, instead of glass like traditional bulbs. That means that not only are they less likely to shatter when dropped or installed, they also won’t spread toxic substances and fumes in the space. This also makes them more environmentally friendly, as they require no special deconstruction or management at the end of their lifespan.
Also, fluorescent bulbs use a ballast, which has a limited lifespan and the tendency to go out. Because LED lights use drivers instead of ballast, with no moving parts to add room for failure, they last longer and need far less repair.
Another huge difference is temperature. T5 lights run around 95 degrees at maximum output, which can quickly turn a grow room into a sauna. Growers then begin to battle humidity, temperate and canopy proximity to lighting. LED lights are cool to the touch, eliminating the need for climate control beyond typical comfort measures for the grower.
What kind of care do LED lights require?
First, use a power stabilizer to make sure changes in incoming voltage don’t damage the internal chip. On a regular basis, you’ll need to wipe down the bulbs and fixtures. Unlike fluorescents, which need to be uninstalled to be cleaned, LED bulbs can be wiped down while in the fixture. Because they are cool to the touch, you don’t have to wait before beginning.
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