Phew, what a scorcher this summer has turned out to be, the hottest since records began and all that jazz! And whereas most of us love a bit of sun, it can cause problems for growers, notably how to keep your grow room temperature cool.
As much as we’d like to, we can’t control the weather. But what we can control is the environment we create in our grow room. So, in the second in our series of ‘Ask Us Anything’ blogs, we’re taking a look at LED lighting as it is a topic you asked us about a lot.
Check out our range of LED lighting here!
What is LED lighting?
Before we get into how growers can use LED lights, let’s take a quick look at what they actually are. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and the diode is the part that lights up when an electrical current is passed through it – essentially the bulb. But it works very differently from a traditional lightbulb. The LED consists of two conductive materials that are touching each other. When electricity is applied to the diode, small, charged particles called electrons move from one conductor to the other emitting energy as they travel. This energy is released in the form of visible light, as well as infrared and ultraviolet light.
The benefits of LED lighting
When it comes to growing, LEDs have a lot of advantages over traditional lighting. For example, they are very long lasting and are toxic free. However, when it comes to growing, three benefits stand head and shoulders above the rest. These are:
- LED lights are much more energy efficient than traditional lights (up to 90% more efficient according to some manufacturers) and therefore significantly cheaper to run.
- LED lights enable light wavelengths to be better controlled. This means more of the light created is usable by the plant during photosynthesis.
- LED lights emit very little heat compared to traditional lighting.
It is this third point that makes LED lighting so useful in maintaining the temperature of your grow room. Unlike traditional lighting, practically all the electrical energy used by the LED goes into creating light rather than heat. This means the lights can be placed much nearer to the plants, and that they don’t fuel an overly hot environment that is detrimental to growth.
Switching to LED
If you’re considering switching to LED to better maintain your grow room temperature, there are a few things you need to consider. LED light intensity drops off more quickly than HID lighting, so fixtures need to be closer to the plant canopy. This is fine though, because as we’ve discussed, they don’t create heat.
Also, unless you are a commercial grower, choosing a complete spectrum LED is best as this will give the plant the most usable wavelengths of light and therefore, better yields.
When switching to LED, experiment with your light scheduling as plants may react differently to the new source and type of light. Experiment with distance too. Although the recommended distance an LED should be placed in relation to the plant canopy is 12 – 18 inches away they can be placed as close as six inches. However, higher intensity LED lighting can bleach plants if placed too close, so make sure when you know the intensity of your lights and adjust them accordingly to avoid damaing your plants.
One of the main problems associated with switching is over watering. As we’ve discussed, HID lighting gives off a huge amount of heat which can dry out plants. LED lighting doesn’t do this, so you might need to cut back on how often you water.
Tips for getting the best out of your LED lights
As well as ensuring you don’t damage your plants, there are a couple of things worth bearing in mind when switching to LEDs. Firstly, plants grown under LEDs tend to favour organic nutrients, so if you are using chemical nutrients switching to organic might help you achieve the yields you’re after.
They also prefer a higher humidity, around 70% compared to 55%, and slightly warmer growing environment of typically 30oC. At this time of year those conditions are easily achievable, but as the colder weather begins to creep in, the judicious use of a humidifier and heater could well be the answer to high yield plants grown under LED lights.
LED lighting is one of the best ways to help maintain a consistent temperature in your grow room whether the weather is scorching as it has been recently or freezing during winter. This is because you can take the residual heat produced by lighting out of the equation and let your thermostat have full control over the ambient temperature.
If you are considering switching to LED, take a look at our range here, or drop us a line so we can talk you through how best to make the change.