Advantages and Disadvantages of LED Grow Lights

LED grow light diodesWhen it comes to farming indoors, LED lighting technology has been gaining in popularity day by day and is slowly replacing traditional lighting systems. LED lights are seen as the technology of the future and they have a number of huge advantages over other types of horticultural lighting. That said, they also have several disadvantages.

 

Advantages of LED Grow Lights

Quick Harvest Cycle

LED grow lights can be used for 24 hours a day with little effect on temperature. When growing plants indoors, lack of environmental feedback means the plants rely on you to tell them what season it is and with it, how they should behave. The use of LED lights enables you to change the daylight hours and the amount of red wavelength light at the exact right time to maximize the plant growth rate. When LED light is used to grow auto flowering plants, multiple harvests are possible in one season. The grower is able to alter flowering times in plants and increase production.

Increased Lifespan

LED grow lights have a lifespan of over 50,000 hours, which is much longer than traditional lighting systems. A large reason for this is the low operating temperature of the lights. Conventional lighting systems produce a lot of heat, which reduces their lifespans significantly. The longer lifespan of LEDs means you can grow crops for many years without needing to replace the lighting systems, which reduces costs.

Energy Savings

LED grow lights are more efficient than traditional lighting systems, consuming 60% less energy to give the same level of light. They emit less heat and provide more usable light than traditional lighting systems. This is because an LED diode does not burn anything to produce light. Due to their reduced energy use and heat production, LED grow lights lower energy bills considerably.

Healthier Plants

Light sources that emit more UV rays, IR rays and heat are counterproductive to plant growth. This is because they can cause plants to burn and dry up quickly, which leads them to need more water and energy to stay alive. With LED grow lights, heat and harmful wavelengths of light are limited. As a result, the water and energy is used to grow and develop healthier plants and not to merely survive.

Target Wavelength

The use of LED grow lights enables growers to regulate the wavelength of light, which enhances photosynthesis. Traditional lighting systems emit a lot of light in the green and yellow wavelengths, which plants don’t really use. This is basically wasted energy. With LEDs, you can give the plants the exact spectrum of light they need. This way you get the most our of your energy dollar.

Full Spectrum

LED plant lights produce a balanced full spectrum of light. As mentioned above, they give you all the light your plants need and nothing more. And most fixtures allow you to turn off specific wavelengths, so you can produce the perfect light for every stage of plant growth. This means that LED lights are actually better for your plants than natural light.

Cool Operating Temperature

LED grow lights do not give off a lot of heat. This is unlike HID lighting systems that produce temperatures approaching 400 or more degrees. LED light does not much affect the operating temperature in a greenhouse or grow room. LED plant lights eliminate the need to install cooling systems in your grow area.

Environment Friendly

LED grow lights are 100% recyclable. Unlike HID lights, they do not contain toxic substances like mercury. To ensure this, all quality LEDs are certified by RoHS.

 

Disadvantages of LED Grow Lights

Despite their many advantages and growing popularity, horticultural LED lights do have some drawbacks.

Produce Directional Light

LED fixtures provide light that is directional like a flashlight. The area they cover is generally smaller than that covered by traditional lighting systems.

High Purchasing Cost

LED grow lights are much more expensive than HID or fluorescent lights. At least good ones are. You can find some that are actually cheaper than HID lights, but those are not very good. That said, these days there are a couple of quality LED companies that sell their lights at a very low cost. You can even get fixtures for less than $100.

Light Pollution

LED grow lights produce a bright blue light (in addition to other colors) which can cause blindness in humans.

Affected by Heat

LED grow lights are sensitive to high temperatures. The diodes may fail much more quickly under high temperatures and the quality of light they produce suffers as a result. This is why a good heat sink and fan system is an essential component of any quality LED grow fixture.

Aging Effect

LED diodes may also begin to change color as they get older. Despite having a long lifespan, as they age, they may fail to consistently produce the expected quality of light. This is much more a problem with cheaper LED chips. If you get quality lights from a reputable company, you won’t have to worry about this issue.

 

LED grow lights are almost certainly the future of the horticultural industry. Even today, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, with the high cost being the only serious drawback. But prices are falling fast, so that one last disadvantage is already all but gone. These days, you can even get quality LEDs for less than $100.

February 12, 2017