If you like the idea of saving money on your home’s energy bills, there’s a very good chance that you’ve switched out all of your incandescent lightbulbs for more energy-efficient LEDs.
A report on LED lighting from the US Department of Energy found that there’s potential for as much as 75% in energy savings when you make the switch, and saving on energy means saving on energy bills.
This is one of the biggest reasons why so many cannabis growers have ditched their less efficient lighting systems and swapped them for LED fixtures. It’s definitely not the only reason why, and there are a lot of perks that come along with using LED lights in a grow room.
Of course, nothing is perfect, including LEDs. There are some minor drawbacks that come along with this investment, so the question is, do the pros outweigh the cons?
What Are LED Grow Lights?
The process of how the light is emitted is a lot more efficient than how light is given off in other types of bulbs, which explains why LEDs are the most efficient type of bulb on the market.
The Pros of Using LEDs for a Grow Op
We’ve already covered the first big pro of using LEDs in a grow room: energy efficiency. Greater efficiency is just the first of many benefits – here are a few more.
Aside from the efficiency, the cool-running operation is the biggest reason that so many growers are incorporating LEDs into their setup. A stable temperature is a really important factor in the health of a crop, but some lights make it difficult to keep temps in the ideal range.
With LEDs, this isn’t much of a problem since they don’t give off as much heat as more intense bulbs, specifically high-intensity discharge (HID) lights. HIDs run extremely hot, which makes them a much riskier choice in terms of fire hazards and overall plant health.
Longer Bulb Lifespan
LED grow lights are rated to operate for much longer than high-intensity lights. A big reason for this is their efficiency, and another reason is the cool-running operation. Depending on the quality of the fixture and how well you maintain it, you could be using your new LED grow light for 50,000 hours or more.
When you do the math, that would be more than 5 years if you had the lights running nonstop without giving them a break. That means you should have no trouble using LEDs for 10, 15, or 20 years depending on how often you plan on harvesting.
Philips has done the exact math for you, stating that a life of 50,000 hours “would imply 5.7 years if the light is operated for 24 hours in a day, 7.6 years if the lights are on 18 hours per day and 11.4 years for 12 hours a day.”
Full Spectrum Light
Out of all the light types, LEDs are the only form of indoor growing lighting that gives off the ideal mixture of different colors of light. HPS bulbs lack blue light and MH bulbs lack red, but you won’t have either of these problems with LEDs.
In terms of full-spectrum light, LED bulbs can provide the perfect balance of colors while giving off a large output and consuming less power.
Smaller Size Options
As you browse through reviews and guide info to LED grow lights, you’ll quickly pick up on the fact that LED fixtures come in a wide range of sizes. The smaller sizes and wattage options are a great choice for growers with just a few plants or with limited space in a grow tent.
Generally speaking, LEDs give a grower more options for fitting fixtures into small, tight spaces. They’re less bulky than high-intensity lights, which is definitely beneficial for growers limited on space.
Better for the Environment
This last benefit kind of goes without saying since energy efficiency and eco-friendliness go hand-in-hand. Many studies have pointed to the environmental benefits of LEDs, especially when compared to more traditional fluorescent and incandescent lighting used in homes and commercial buildings.
At this point, you’re probably thinking that LEDs sound too good to be true. But don’t place your order or run to the nearest hydro store for a new LED fixture just yet. Although they’re minor, there are a few drawbacks.
Less Power than HIDs
More efficiency, less heat, and less bulk all hint that LEDs don’t provide the same sheer power as HIDs. LED bulbs are powerful, sure, but they’re just not as intense as HID bulbs. This is the main reason why some growers will always swear by their HPS and MH fixtures and will never be willing to make the switch to LED lighting.
Big Upfront Investment
Anyone who has switched out their home’s older bulbs for newer LEDs already knows that LED lighting is a big investment. This type of bulb isn’t cheap, but there’s a reason for that, and it all comes down to greater efficiency and a more sustainable design.
As you browse around for LED grow lights, just try not to let the high price tags scare you off. Always weigh the cost vs savings and remember, you’ll end up saving a lot of money in the long run on your energy bills. Plus, you’ll have to replace your lighting less often thanks to the longer lifespan.
Eye Strain for Growers
Because LED bulbs give off the full spectrum of light, every color from red to violet (think ROY G BIV) is emitted. This includes blue light, which is great for plants, but not so great for the human eye.
Most of us know by now that blue light is harmful, but do you know why? It’s because blue light penetrates all the way to the retina at the back of the eye and can cause damage to the cells here. The good news is, there’s an easy solution: blue light filtering glasses.
When you’re working around your plants while the LED lights are on, just be sure to wear blue light glasses for the majority of the time.
Are LED Grow Lights Worth the Investment?
Put simply, LED lights are 100% worth investing in. However, some growers can benefit more than others by switching to LEDs. If you’re limited on space and know that your grow room can’t handle high light temperatures or you’re simply looking for a more efficient lighting solution, LED grow lights are for you.