The technology used to develop LED Grow Lights has improved greatly over the past several years. There have been many companies in the early days of LED that stated their lights were as powerful or better than HID (high Intensity discharge) when at the time they weren’t even close to meeting strength. This created a lot of mistrust in the market space and has lead to people not being willing to explore new LED technology.
Having been testing LED grow lights for over 4 years I’ve experienced many of the early day technologies that weren’t up to snuff and this had terrible effects and results on many grows; I had, some even destroyed. Recently over the past two years numerous LED manufacturers have released top quality LED Grow lights that have forever changed the indoor grow market.
At the currently time LED grow lights are more expensive than standard HID lights. Though these lights are significantly more efficient than standard incandescent grow lights. That statement isn’t opinion but is based on facts. LED light produce 50% less heat than standard HIP lights and use less than 50% of the power consumption.
At the time of publishing this article I’ve had 8 successful grows with LED grow lights and have tracked and measured the success of each grow. I have found no loss is crop yields or THC potency and in fact have seen increase bud density and slightly higher yields, all while using 50% less power. Talk about savings!
Now I’m not going to just ask you to trust my word on how great LED Grow Lights are. I’m going to explain all the confusion over power output between LED and HPS technology, so you understand for yourself what an amazing opportunity you have if you’re in the neighborhood for a new grow light.
The power measurement you’ve always heard is Watts. That’s because until now all lighting was incandescent. It was really simple to calculate the intensity of the light produced; 1 Watt of current was equal to 1 Watt of light energy (or the energy that is produced by the light) So a 60-Watt bulb converts 60 Watts of current to 60 Watts of light energy. With the revolution of the LED Grow Light things kind went off the rails.
Led Grow Lights don’t work the same way as incandescent bulbs, they are much more efficient; meaning that the energy going in to the circuit is less than the amount of light energy it produces. How is this possible you ask? Well its complicated, I get into the nitty gritty of LED grow light technology in another article you’ll find on my website about how LED grow lights work. At this point what you need to know is that you aren’t comparing apples to apples when you are talking about Watts; therefore, another unit of measurement is needed.
The unit of measurement that is used commercially to represent the power output of and LED grow light is “PAR”. This stands for photo-synthetically active radiation which refers to the energy that drives photo-synthesis in your cannabis plants. More specifically it refers to the actual light produced in the usable magnetic light spectrum between 500nm to 700nm.
LED grow lights are extremely efficient at converting current useable light spectrums for plants where as HID (High Intensity Discharge such as Sodium Halide) convert less energy to usable light wave lengths. This means that traditional incandescent bulbs produce light that isn’t usable by your plants and much of that energy that is wasted is converted into heat. LEDs are really just tiny circuits that can be produced to create very specific wavelengths of light very intensely. But sorry it’s still not that simple. PAR isn’t the only measurement needed to calculate the growing energy of a LED Grow Light.
You’ll be wishing for Watts by the time we get through this next section. Take your time, read it twice, if your stoned read it four times. If PAR describes the light produced, then “PPF” or photosynthetic photon flux describes “how much” light is produced per second. This calculation is used to figure out the final part of the puzzle; “PPFD” or photosynthetic photon flux density. This refers to the number of photons that strike your plants surface per second. I know what your thinking, what the hell am I going to do with this information? Well nada. Most manufacturers are going to give you a “comparable Watts” measurement. Or you’ll hear PAR but not often have I see the rest of the info you would need to make hardcore coverage calculations.
The average LED Grow Light uses 32 Watts of power per 1 square foot.
- 1′ x 1′: 32 watts
- 2′ x 2′: 128 watts
- 3′ x 3′: 288 watts
- 4′ x 4′: 512 watts
- 5′ x 5′: 800 watts
- 6′ x 6′: 1152 watts
Evaluation Based on 1 square foot per plant
Another important factor that will dictate your choice of LED Grow light purchase is if the unit provides full spectrum light which also includes Infrared and Ultraviolet chips, these additional circuits produce anti-bacterial and anti-microbial light wave lengths that make it much easier to support your grow indoors.
High end LED Grow Lights will generally have two operational modes, which is also very different from traditional incandescent systems which are only able to be on or off. High end LED Grow lights can be powered lower during vegetation stages and then flip a switch which increases the intensity and color wavelengths of light being delivered to your cannabis plant. For flowering you’ll need much more red wavelengths and that’s just what the second mode on these grow lights is for.
Is the Extra Cost of a LED Grow Lights Worth the Benefit?
When you enter in to the LED grow light market the first thing you will notice is that they cost about 25% more than traditional HPS (high pressure sodium) grow lights. These high power HPS lights have a usable life of about 2 or 3 grows of use so the bulbs which aren’t cheap need to be replaced often where as LED grow lights have life expectancy 50,000 or even 100,000 hours of use. The LED light is going to cost you more up from with out a doubt but the savings in electricity and not having to replace consumables like bulbs ever make it a much more cost-effective solution.
The time of LED Grow Lights is finally here. The more I test and work with them the happier I get. I’m never looking back at HPS I’m a committed LED guy now.
Do your research and read reviews to make sure you get the light that you need and not a piece of junk.