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LED grow lights have finally come of age. But read this before you order your LED light system.
Looks cool, doesn’t it? Futuristic… a space odyssey…
L.E.D. stands for light-emitting diode. It’s a fairly new lighting technology that you probably have seen used for indicator lights on electronic devices, like clocks and stereos. It is now being used more and more for higher power applications, such as super-bright flashlights and area lighting… and for grow lights.
Are LED Grow Lights for you?
Okay guys, here’s the lowdown on LED lighting for hydroponics gardening…
For years we have been telling you not to buy them for growing flowering and fruiting crops. Why? The technology just wasn’t there yet and the results were disappointing. LEDs just didn’t deliver the spectrum of light necessary for vegetable crops.
But we kept an eye on this promising new technology because LEDs have some really attractive advantages… They are very cool and do not create the excessive heat that HID lighting does.
They consume less than half the electricity of the traditional lighting, and the bulbs last for many years. But you must replace HID bulbs every year or two.
So we’ve also been watching ads, reading research articles, and listening in on hydroponics and gardening websites. At last, the hydroponics forums are starting to buzz with more and more LED success stories. As well, we have started to receive emails from our readers, with more of the same.
It appears to us that LED grow lights have finally come of age and is now an acceptable alternative lighting system to be seriously considered.
We want to caution you however that there is a lot of cheap LED garbage out there which won’t grow any better than a $12 light stick from Walmart.
[Don’t get me wrong, light sticks work fine for philodendron]
On the other hand, more and more reports have been coming in that some quality LED lighting setups had produced not only adequate but impressive results with vegetative, flowering and even fruiting of vegetables. So we encourage you to consider LED lighting for your home hydroponics set up.
Advantages of LED lights
Granted, LEDs are more expensive upfront. But you must factor in the greatly reduced electricity costs: no pricey replacement bulbs like HIDs, and the disappearance of heat problems.
- higher initial investment
- lower operating costs and longevity
- no more battling to grow cool cabbage in a sweltering hot box
Disadvantages of LEDs
We like to give a balanced, honest presentation before we encourage you to invest in expensive equipment. So these are the disadvantages to LED lamps
- Honestly, most are just not 100% up to par with the growing power of HID lighting. But they are very close, and can still produce an impressive garden. High-end lamps can perform just as well as HID.
- They do not have quite the penetration through the plant canopy as HIDs. The diodes deliver light at a 90° angle and do not diffuse significantly around the sides and undersides of the plant. However, this can be much improved with reflective materials like foil, mylar, reflectix or titanium white paint for the walls.
Choosing Led Grow Lights
There are three types of LED grow lights on the market today:
Do not choose based on price alone! Go online to eBay, or Google “LED lights” and you will be stunned by the array of inexpensive LED lights hawked as suitable for growing crops indoors. The LEDs we’re talking about here give very little information about PAR levels, spectrum information, or actual wattage draw.
They are usually round, with cheap plastic frames, called UFOs, do not have fans, and each diode or chip is usually only one watt. They are blue and red in color and sell for between $50-$200 apiece.
Don’t waste your money!
These cheap knockoffs do not contain the proper spectrums for serious hydroponics gardens. Yes, they are cheap, but you might as well hang a flashlight over your prized heirloom tomatoes for all the help they will be.
The diodes usually dim and burn out quickly. Avoid. Reports are dismal. These folks will be nowhere to be found when your lamp fails just a few short months later.
Moderately priced LED panels. These LEDs are usually specified as banded units, like 5-band, 7-band, etc. What this means is they cover several spectrums in the growth cycle of plants, and can be quite effective for supporting your hydroponic crops from seedling to fruit.
These units usually have 3 watts or 5-watt diodes, cost between $300-$700 (depending on wattage) and last 5-7 years or even longer without failing. They can have red and blue diodes, most have cooling fans, and are often called BROAD SPECTRUM lights.
We do recommend some of these lights at this time, read the reviews before you buy.
We offer these reasonably-priced, quality cutting edge COB LED lamps.
Sorry, Ships to the USA only.
- Full-spectrum COB (COB = Chip On Board, the latest industry improvement, which allows chips to be mounted or “packed” close together, for brighter, more intense light output
- Premium aluminum heat sinks with quiet, high-efficiency fans
- Interchangeable LED pods so you can customize or upgrade without buying a new lamp
- 6 ft. power cord and hanging wires included
|360 WATT COB LED series 3.0
This lamp is suitable for 3-4 large specimen plants or a 3′ x 4′ growing area
|540 WATT COB LED series 3.0
This lamp is suitable for 6 large specimen plants or a 4′ x 4′ growing area
360 WATT COB LED LAMP
540 WATT COB LED LAMP
Newest generation LED grow lights for the serious grower. These lamps are truly the highest technology; they will produce the same yield as an HPS or MH light with an average of 40% less energy usage.
These babies deliver all the spectra! (Is that a word? 🙂 Anyway, the high end LED lamps have had rave reviews. If you want to buy the best, go with one of these.
After much research, we have selected this lamp due to its impressive specs and favorable reviews:
SolarSystem 550W LED Grow Light
The California Lightworks SolarSystem 550 is a game-changer with its new advanced programmable spectrum control that matches the sun in any growing conditions for better, healthier growth, lower energy usage, and higher yields.
Top of the Line Osram LEDs are driven to their maximum power rating using an exclusive active heat management system. Higher Power = Highest Yields, Guaranteed.
This high-end LED lamp is perfect for:
- Veg Footprint 4′ x 8′
- Flower Footprint 3′ x 4′
- Life Expectancy 50,000 Hours (LED’s and Fans)
- Dimensions 18″ x 8.5″ x 4″
With the Solar System Controller, you can adjust each of the three separate light spectrum channels from 0% to 99%. This can be done manually or automatically using the built-in timer and calendar.
All California Lightworks LED’s are produced entirely in their factory in Southern California. Did you catch that? These are NOT Chinese imports!
California Lightworks Solar System 550
5-year guarantee and friendly US-based support.
Well, that’s our compact synopsis and recommendations for new LED grow lights.
Please drop us a line and let us know how your LED project went. We appreciate your feedback and it will help us keep this page on the cutting edge for other growers.