Why Use LED Lights in Your Indoor Garden

Long time readers of my blog know I often recommend using high pressure sodium lights for indoor growing.  The light intensity beats most other lights, and the yellow/red spectrum is great for flowering.  Not to mention the HPS lights sold today have come a long way from the revamped ‘street lights’ that were used in many of the greenhouses I worked in through college and beyond.  I still use HPS in my greenhouse, but there are many benefits to using LEDs to grow your plants indoors and not too many down sides. I have tested several different wattages of Tri-Band LED’s from HTGSupply.com, and I have posted pictures of tests of these lights on my blog.  The first thing indoor growers should think about is energy usage.  I have read that a measurable percentage of the entire USA’s energy usage is for indoor growing (that is a lot of watts).  For minimizing energy use without sacrificing growth, LED’s are the go to light for multiple reasons.  Firstly these lights use energy much more efficiently than any other type of light, meaning less power used (lower energy bills).   Second is the often overlooked long life span of LED’s.   These lights have a far longer life span than other lights, lasting as long as 50,000 to 100,000 hours compared to the 5,000 to 10,000 hour lifespan of HPS bulbs.  LEDs also do not suffer the decrease in output efficiency you see in other bulbs.  Most bulbs will have a detectable decrease in light output as they age. For example, some bulb’s will have more than a 40% decrease in output after a year of use.  LED’s do not have this problem. Last, the directionally of LED’s is a benefit over other types of lighting systems The LED’s emit the light directly on your plants which means you don’t need to bother with reflectors to control the light’s direction. This contributes to the ease of set up of LED’s which in my opinion is yet another benefit.  You just hang up the LED 2-3 feet over your plants and turn it on.  With most HPS systems, you will have to hang the light, reflector and have a shelf for the ballast, and most likely will have to set up duct work and drill holes in walls/ceilings if you don’t have a large area to handle the heat put out by the HPS.  The design of the Tri-Band has the ballast built into the lights, so you don’t have a separate (hot) ballast to fit into your grow area. 
Serious growers have used HID (High intensity discharge lights), like Metal Halide (MH) and HPS for decades. The main drawback of these lighting options is that they produce a lot of heat.  LED’s being more efficient produce much less heat than other bulbs. Do not read this as NO heat.  LED’s will produce heat, but much less compared to an HPS or MH.  Like with a fluorescent bulb which is warm to the touch, the ballast (the part that converts electricity to light energy) will generate heat.  If you use a LED in a space that is at least 5x3x8 the major benefit is that you will not need to use special fans, ductwork and cooling equipment to keep your indoor garden at the temperature that will get you the best growth.  This means LED’s are less likely to burn your indoor plants.
If you have looked into LED’s you may have heard the debate about LED’s light spectrum. The red and blue light (the most important colors to promote photosynthesis) look red and blue to human eyes, but are not the right colors to promote plant growth. This was a controversial point about LED's.  Many manufacturers would claim that their lights have an optimum light spectrum but even today many tests still contradict this. The most important thing to note is that you get what you pay for. Cheap LED grow lights will produce light that is not going to give you the best plant growth. The Tri-Band LED’s from HTGSupply.com have been and are continually tested.  I have grown the same plants in the same area first using a 400W HPS, then a 300 Watt Tri-Band LED grow light from HTGSupply.com.  The temperatures with the HPS were in the 90-100’s so I had to add a vent/fan in the ceiling.  With the LED’ the temperatures stayed in the upper 80’s even after I sealed the hole in the ceiling.  I also noticed the plants grown under the LED were much more compact (shorter) which is what most indoor growers want.  If you are thinking of expanding your grow area, trying something new, or just getting into indoor growing I know you will be happy with a Tri-Band light from HTGSupply.com.
Good Growing
Dr. E.R. Myers

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