In this blog, we’re giving you a short guide to growing with LED lights. Find some recommended grow lights and learn how to adjust your grow room environment to make the most of your new LED lighting system.
Growing with LED Lights
Growing with LED lights is becoming more popular everywhere. In fact, growers all over the world are experiencing massive improvements in both yield and crop quality from effective use of LED lighting technology.
Growers have reported increased yields of 50% or more and a better produce that’s far higher in quality. And because LED grow lights produce less heat, these grow spaces operate on reduced extraction power. Therefore, growers require smaller fans and less air conditioning. The end results are bigger and better, and your grow room is much quieter too - win, win, win!
What is the best brand of LED grow light?
There are so many options of lighting systems out there it can be a minefield trying to choose which LED light is best for you. We’ve chosen to support LED lights that we’ve personally seen improve results for even the most experienced growers. We are currently stocking the following lights for medium to large set-ups:
- Maxibright Daylight 660w LED
- Lumatek Zeus Pro 600w
- Maxibright PRO Daylight 660w LED
- MaxibrightPRO Daylight 480w LED
- Lumatek Zeus 1000w Xtreme PPFD LED
And for smaller set-ups, we recommend these LED lights:
As you can see, there are all kinds of LED light options to suit all sizes of grow room. We’re confident in these choices, and we know you’ll be impressed too.
Changes to growing style
Next, we’re going to talk about the changes you may need to make in your grow room when introducing LED lighting for the first time. This may slightly affect your usual growing style, but the results will be well worth it.
How close do LED lights need to be to my plants?
In general, LED lights can run a lot closer to your plant’s canopy. They work best if you can manipulate your plants to achieve an even, flat canopy across you grow space. This way, you can get the plants as close to the light as possible.
But you must be careful not to get too close, as your plants can suffer under intense light. The early signs of this are distorted flowers and 'bleaching' on the top. If you see this in your plants, then raise your lights accordingly.
What air temperature is needed for growing with LED grow lights?
You’ll often find you need to adjust the temperature in the grow room when using LED lights. Because LED lights don’t kick out the same heat as traditional lighting systems, you’ll need to make sure the room is running a bit warmer to compensate for the loss of heat. This is important to make sure your plant’s leaf temperature is just right for them to produce high rates of photosynthesis.
We recommend using an infra-red thermometer to measure your plants leaf temperature. Once the temperature has been identified, you can adjust the height of your lights, heating system and/or the airflow as needed.
Why is Leaf Temperature so Important?
The correct leaf temperature is important as the leaf can only operate effectively between certain temperature ranges. In fact, the narrower the range, the better. Photosynthesis, which is the driving force behind plant growth, is the most important part of the growing process. It determines whether the specific traits of your plants will be expressed fully, or not.
Wrong leaf temperature or a constantly changing leaf temperature will disrupt these processes and lead to slow growth. This results in poor yields or plants that don't contain the specific traits and characteristics they are being grown for.
What is the ideal leaf temperature?
The ideal leaf temperature varies in each plant species and variants within the species. So, you may need to carry out some research and/or experimentation to determine the best leaf temperature for your plants.
But, as a general rule,25-28 degrees Celsius works well for most plant species being grown indoors.
Adjusting The Nutrient levels:
You may also notice the need to adjust your nutrient levels when using LED grow lights. This is due to the higher levels of growth that occurs under LED systems. As a result, you’ll need to increase the strength of your nutrients and almost certainly introduce a Cal-Mag product, such as Plant Magic Magne-Cal+ or Vitalink Cal Mag.
If you’re hand watering your plants or using a run-off feed system, then it’s a good idea to measure the EC levels of your run-off. This will let you know how much nutrient your plants are taking up and whether you need to increase or decrease the nutrient levels in your water.
As a general rule, you’ll want your run-off water to contain slightly higher EC levels than the feed being given to your plants. To get an idea, you can test the first bit of run-off in your plant’s feed cycle. If the EC is lower than what you’re feeding the plants then simply raise your EC to ensure your plants have everything they need to achieve the best results possible.
TOP TIP: DON’T RAISE YOUR FEED STRENGTH TOO QUICKLY. If it needs raising a lot then do it in daily increments, so you don’t shock the plants.
Balancing Humidity Effectively:
Because LED lights are cooler than traditional lighting systems and require a decreased air flow, your grow room’s humidity levels will increase. This is perfect for plants in the vegetative stage and reduces the need for humidifiers.
However, in the flowering stages this higher humidity can damage your carbon filters leaving them less effective. It can also lead to an increased risk of fungal infections, such as powdery mildew and botrytis (bud rot).
You can keep this under control by monitoring the humidity levels in your grow room. And if you find the humidity levels are too high, then you’ll need to employ the services of a dehumidifier throughout the flowering stage. This will lower humidity and decrease the risk to your plants.
For smaller rooms operating with a pair of LED lights we recommend a smaller dehumidifier such as the Premiair extreem20 dehumidifier.
And for larger set-ups with more light fixtures, the ORA 60l/day Dehumidifier should sort out any humidity issues.
Furthermore, both of these units will add heat to your grow room. This means you won’t need to provide as much heat while the LED lights are running.
LED Grow Lighting Cost:
Yes, the cost of LED lighting can seem expensive to begin with. They are certainly more expensive than traditional lighting, but that initial investment can pay off instantly. When you consider the fact your yields can reach up to 50% or more on your first cycle, LED lighting systems definitely tend to be worth it after the first run.
What's even more impressive is the lifespan of these lights - 10,000 to 12,000hours. That’s over 11 years of use on a 12/12-hour light cycle. When we compare that with CDM lighting, the next best in terms of light spectrum and product quality, you still need to go through the expense of replacing those 315w bulbs every year.
Moreover, you’d need a pair of 315w CDM lights to match the wattage on 660w LEDs. This works out at a cost of £2200 of bulb changes over the same 11 years period that your LEDs remain unchanged. This makes the cost of LED lighting more affordable in the long-term. Especially since the yields should be much much more with the LED.