Come learn all about using grow lights for seedlings or indoor plants, with tips on choosing lights, LED vs fluorescents, FAQ, and more! Thinking about growing cannabis? Here’s why you should consider LED lights and how you can use them. Grow lights are a great tool for making the growing process more efficient. Here are 10 things you should avoid doing when using LED
Using Grow Lights for Seedlings or Indoor Plants
Grow lights are an incredibly useful tool for growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers from seed indoors. You can also use grow lights to keep houseplants happy and healthy, grow microgreens, or even to provide supplemental light inside a greenhouse. Plants rely on ample bright light to photosynthesize and live, after all. But, where to start? If you’re new to using grow lights, you’ve come to the right place!
This article will provide tips and information about using grow lights for seedlings and other indoor plants, including:
- A quick introduction on the benefits of using grow lights, including what types of plants and situations they’re most useful for.
- Part One: Considerations for choosing a grow light. We’ll explore the differences between LED and fluorescent lights, along with various ratings to look for like temperature, color, lumens, and size.
- Part Two: Best practices and common questions about using grow lights, such as how high to hang them, how many hours to leave them on, and safety considerations.
- Part Three: Finally, we’ll highlight a few popular and well-rated grow light options by category, such as “biggest bang for your buck” or the most versatile houseplant light.
By the end, you should have a pretty good idea on how to choose and use the best grow light for your individual set-up and plants! Then once you’re ready to start seeds, be sure to stop by our Seed Starting 101 tutorial for more start-to-finish tips. After all, not having adequate light is one of the top 9 seed-starting mistakes you can make!
Why use a grow light?
Plants rely on light to survive! Through the process of photosynthesis, plants harness energy from sunlight and convert it into chemical energy that is used to fuel their growth. In most cases, the amount of light a plant receives directly correlates to how vigorously it will grow. Using grow lights is an easy and excellent way to provide supplemental light and support plants where adequate natural sunlight is lacking.
Have you seen seedlings that are super tall, or even leaning towards a window? They’re stretching in search of more light. In the seedling world, taller doesn’t mean better! Without sufficient light, veggie seedlings get lanky, thin, and weak (also known as getting “leggy”) and are at risk of flopping over or breaking. Other indoor plants may struggle to grow, produce, or otherwise thrive to their fullest potential without enough light.
One of the best ways to prevent leggy seedlings and grow the most healthy, successful plants is by using grow lights inside. I hate to say it, but more often than not, a bright sunny window alone won’t provide enough light for starting seeds indoors. Especially in the winter months when daylight hours are already scarce; the time most gardeners start seeds for the spring and summer season ahead. The ample light provided by grow lights will keep seedlings short, stocky, and strong. However, bright windows and ambient light are typically sufficient for most houseplants.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products for your convenience, such as to items on Amazon. Homestead and Chill gains a small commission from purchases made through those links, at no additional cost to you!
Despite having a grow light over them, these seedlings are already looking a bit tall and leggy. Leggy seedlings aren’t the end of the world, but not ideal. This article has more information about preventing and correcting leggy seedlings.
A few of these seedlings are a tad tall, but far less leggy than the previous photo. An example of healthy seedlings receiving adequate light. This photo was taken in our greenhouse, which doesn’t receive full day sun so we also use supplemental grow lights.
What plants need a grow light?
Certain plants require impeccable bright light for the majority of the day, described as needing “full sun”. Light-loving plants include most flower and vegetable seedlings, warm season annual crops like tomatoes or pepper plants, and hemp. Those guys will all benefit from a grow light while they’re indoors, no matter how naturally bright the space is. Succulents, cacti, microgreens, and herbs also enjoy full sun, but may be grown successfully inside without the use of grow lights as long as they’re near a very sunny window (ideally south-facing if you live in the northern hemisphere).
On the other hand, some plants can get by with lower to moderate light, such as pothos, philodendron, or sansveria – all popular houseplants. Ferns, orchids, and leafy greens can also happily grow in partial shade. Whether or not your houseplants will need a grow light depends on your space. In our home, we’ve found the ambient light from our windows is adequate for most common houseplants. However, plants in darker homes or interior rooms without windows will greatly appreciate a light! See our Houseplant Care 101 guide for more details on low, moderate, and bright light plant types.
Growing something unusual? Do a quick search on that plant’s unique light needs.
These summery tomato, bean, flower, pepper and basil plants all love full sun – and grow lights! This all-in-one LED light shelving unit is from Gardener’s Supply. We recently added one of these to our grow room/barn at the new homestead, and grew the most healthy, robust seedlings EVER!
PART ONE: CHOOSING A GROW LIGHT
Grow lights come in all sorts of shapes, types, and sizes. So much so, that the various choices and number of grow lights on the market can feel overwhelming. Trust me, I get it! We’ve used several styles of grow lights over the years. LED, T5, multi-bulb arrays, single bulbs, with and without reflectors… the list goes on. Each of them has their pros and cons; it all depends on what you intend to use them for. And that’s the very purpose of this article – to help you figure it out!
Which grow light should I buy?
You’ll have to evaluate your unique needs to decide. As you read through the information below, consider the area and type of plants you want to use grow lights for. For example, how much square footage you need the grow light to cover. Will you need multiple lights, or one strong one? Can the style you’re looking at ‘daisy chain’ or connect several lights together? Is there a lot of headroom above your plant to hang a light high? Or, will it need to be kept fairly low, such as over trays of seedlings in between shelves?
The price for grow lights also varies widely, so do whatever fits within your budget. No matter what you choose, providing indoor plants with supplemental light will make them significantly more happy than going without!
Fluorescent vs LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights are all the rage these days! LED, which stands for light emitting diodes, are very efficient, and can also be quite powerful. Yet some old school gardeners swear by their classic fluorescent lights instead.
Note that there are many types of ‘fluorescent’ lights, including compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), basic fluorescent tubes, high-output T5 fluorescent tubes, and more. When it comes to fluorescent grow lights, T5s are considered the best choice for plants. T8 tubes aren’t quite as effective and bright, but are cheaper and can do a decent job for indoors seedlings or lettuce plants.
In general, a standard 45 or 60 watt incandescent light bulb (or LED equivalent) that you’d use in a household lamp fixture will not provide sufficient light for starting seeds or growing other plants that require ample light.
Differences between LED and fluorescents:
- LED lights are generally more energy-efficient than fluorescents, and therefore lead to lower electric bills.
- LED lights typically have a higher upfront cost than classic fluorescent tube lights, but may have a longer lifespan.
- Since they’re made up of dozens of diodes, LED lights come in a wider variety of shapes and sizes. T5 fluorescents are long slender tubes (e.g. “shop lights”) with either one or several tubes mounted in a ballast fixture.
- Per watt, LED lights give off more lumens of light. Therefore, a compact LED fixture has the potential to give off stronger light than a comparatively larger T5 fixture (but it depends on each light’s specifications). Some LED lights are weaker than T5s.
- It is usually recommended to keep LED grow lights suspended significantly higher above plants (feet) than T5 fluorescent lights, while fluorescents can be kept only inches above plants. This makes fluorescents more ideal for shelving systems with close quarters. Read each light’s specific recommendations!
LED lights. Note that not all LED lights look colorful like this! Some emit a more natural white light, shown below.
Grow Light Ratings: Temperature, Brightness & More
As you shop for grow lights, you’ll notice various ratings for light temperature, Kelvins, watts, lumens, and more. This topic has the potential to get complicated (and often does), so I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible!
What color grow light should I get?
For growing seedlings indoors, choose a grow light that is described as “full-spectrum” or broad spectrum. I recommend the same for houseplants too. With a full-spectrum light, you’re getting a good balance of both blue and red light – and the closest thing possible to natural sunlight! Makes sense, right?
If you’re really curious to know the difference, cool blue light is great for promoting leafy green foliage but also regulates plant growth, keeping plants short and stocky. This is great for microgreens and seedlings (or plants in the ‘veg’ stage), but too much blue can also lead to stunted plants over time. Warm red light stimulates both vegetative growth and flowering, yet excess red light can make plants tall and lanky. Average household incandescent light bulbs emit mostly warm light, giving off a comfortable and cozy vibe – but not ideal for plants.
If the grow light temperature isn’t stated outright, look for its Kelvin rating. That will tell you the color of light it will emit. A full-spectrum grow light that closely resembles daylight will have a Kelvin rating of 5000 to 6500K. Cooler blue grow lights are rated around 4000 Kelvins, while warm or reddish lamps have even lower ratings – around 3000K. If you can’t find a full-spectrum light in the ideal Kelvin range that also fits your other needs (budget, size, availability, etc) a “cool white” light (4100-4500K) will also work well for germinating vegetable seedlings, growing microgreens, and raising young transplants.
Kelvin ratings reflect the temperature and tint (warm or cool) of the light. Image courtesy of BG Energy Solutions.
Light Brightness and Lumens
Lumens is a measure of visible light that a source emits. The more lumens, the brighter and more powerful the light is. Vegetable seedlings and other “full sun” plants require about 2000 to 3000 lumens (at minimum) per square foot of growing space. So, if you’re growing just a single standard tray of seedlings, using a grow light that emits 3000 lumens is sufficient. Otherwise, do the math and scale up to a brighter light. Or use multiple light fixtures to provide a good canopy of light over a bigger space.
For example, consider a grow space that is 3 feet by 3 feet, or the equivalent to 9 square feet. Multiplying 9 by 2500 lumens (the average of the adequate range) tells us that a 22,500 lumen light would work well (or several lights that add up to cover that space). If math isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry. Most grow light manufacturers provide specs on the square footage they’re designed to cover.
Finally, keep in mind that wattage doesn’t dictate brightness! As we briefly discussed previously, LED lights give off more lumens per watt, so a low wattage LED (say, 20 watts) may give off even more bright luminous light than a 60 watt incandescent or fluorescent bulb.
This powerful little LED light panel gives off 15,000+ lumens despite it’s low wattage and fairly small footprint (perfect as a supplemental winter light in our greenhouse, allowing plenty of natural light around it). According to the manufacturer, it is rated for a 2 by 2 foot space of flowering plants, or a 3 by 3 area of seedlings/clones. Note that it has to be kept much higher above the plants than T5s.
Size of Grow Light
Consider two variables when it comes to sizing grow lights: the size of the actual light fixture, and the size of surface area it’s rated to adequately illuminate below the grow light. (See the section above about lumens and square footage too). Your growing area, ideal set-up, and number of plants directly influences the size of light that will work for you.
Are you growing trays of microgreens or seedlings on a shelf? Try fluorescent tube lights or strip LEDs suspended from the shelf above. Is there a dark corner in your living room where you’d like to keep a houseplant or two? You could use a single strong LED bulb or a sleek lamp fixture that blends in with your home decor. Panels or boxy light fixtures are ideal in a grow tent, starting seedlings on a table in your garage, or other larger area.
Some grow lights illuminate an area significantly wider than the light fixture itself. Others only adequately support the plants that are directly below the lights. If you aren’t sure, your plants will tell you! Seedlings on the outskirts of the light canopy will often lean inwards towards the brighter light. In that case, you may need a larger light. Or, you’ll need to routinely rotate the seedling trays below the light every day or two so all the plants have equal time in the spotlight.
Also remember that most gardeners pot-up their seedlings from small seed-starting cells to larger containers at least once (sometimes twice) before transplanting them outside. That move to a larger pot size will also increase the space the plants take up under a light! Meaning, you may need larger (or more) lights than you imagine when you first set out planting seeds!
We use grow lights in our partially shaded greenhouse as supplement light, so we opt for compact and slender T5 light fixtures so they won’t block the natural sunlight the greenhouse does receive. For seed starting indoors, I recommend a more full-coverage light style, like the one shown below.
A more full-coverage boxy grow light style (with several T5 fluorescent tubes) ideal for indoor seed starting.
A sleek spotlight like this is perfect for a handful of houseplants. Be sure to check out my top choice houseplant light in Part Three below!
PART TWO: USING GROW LIGHTS
How high should I hang my light above my plants?
A common question about using grow lights is how high to hang them above plants. The answer is: it depends! Usually, it’s recommended to hang high-output LED lights at least at foot (or higher) over plants. If they are too close, LED lights can and will burn your plants – known as ‘light burn’, and akin to a human sunburn. On the other hand, many fluorescent lights do best when they’re kept only a few inches above the plants.
When in doubt, follow the height recommendations provided by the light manufacturer. If that information isn’t provided, watch your plants for signs! Happy seedlings receiving adequate light will grow straight upwards, and stay fairly short and stocky. Seedlings that are hungry for more light will stretch tall and thin, and/or lean towards the brightest light source. If a light is too close and intense, burned leaves will turn yellow or brown, and sometimes have papery dry brown spots or tips.
In most cases, you’ll want to be able to raise the lights as the plants grow taller. This can be accomplished with an adjustable light chain, pulley system, or good old-fashioned string. Keep that in mind if you’re starting on a shelving unit that is already tight.
As you’ve seen in other images in this article, fluorescent lights are usually kept fairly low above plants. These huge tomato seedlings had been potted up several times and were just about to be planted out in the garden. We raised the grow lights every week as the plants became taller, and eventually stopped using them all together as part of the hardening off process.
Leaves suffering from light burn; the result of a strong LED light being too close to the plant. Image courtesy of growweedeasy
How long should I leave my grow lights on?
Seeds don’t need light in order to sprout. Steady warm temperature is more important for sprouting, such as that provided via a seedling heat mat. So, you technically don’t need to turn your grow lights on until after they emerge from the soil. However, you’ll want to provide light as soon as possible after germination. Freshly sprouted seedlings have the tendency to get leggy, fast! To play it safe, you could turn on the light a few days after you plant seeds, even if they haven’t popped up yet.
Once sprouted, most vegetable seedlings and other garden plants require at least 12 hours of good light per day, along with 8 hours of darkness. However, they’ll grow the best with around 16 to 18 hours of light. Houseplants are happy with less, where 6 to 12 of light is sufficient (depending on the type of plant).
To help keep our light schedule on target, we’ve found it incredibly convenient and useful to add a timer to our grow light set-up! The timer is set to turn the lights on around 6 am and off at 9 pm. You can find a full list of all our favorite seed-starting supplies here.
The short days of winter (January-March, when we start our spring and summer seeds) don’t provide enough natural light to the seedlings. So, we use grow lights to extend the hours of light they get – giving priority to heat/sun loving crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. The leafy greens, herbs, and flowers do okay with the natural daylight in the greenhouse as they become larger and spring draws near, though we keep those under lights for the first few weeks after germination also.
Grow light reflectors
Most grow lights come with built-in reflectors around the bulb fixture, helping to amplify and cast the light downwards. You can also create additional reflectors in your grow space! For example, one of my good friends starts her garden seeds using grow lights in a spare closet. Lining the back and side wall around the seedling trays with tin foil creates a reflective surface that bounces additional light back to the plants. The inside of specialized grow tents are usually lined with a reflective material for the same reason.
Can grow lights hurt my eyes?
The short answer is yes, so don’t stare at them. Any type of extra bright UV light can be damaging to our eyes. Blue light is also known to disrupt brain activity and sleep patterns. Working around colored grow lights can be generally uncomfortable to some folks (as opposed to those that emit white or “natural” looking light). We tried using an LED light that produced a very pink/purple hue one year, and being around the light gave me an instant headache. The plants that year also didn’t look nearly as healthy as they normally do with T5s.
Personally, I can’t stand being around colored lights like this. Even this picture makes me feel ill. Maybe they won’t bother you, but it is something to consider… especially if you’ll be working around the lights a lot or have them in your living space.
Other safety considerations
Always be sure to mount or hang your light in a safe and secure manner that meets the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some grow lights give off heat. In general, LED lights are the least warm, T5 fluorescent tubes are also fairly cool but slightly warmer than LED, while T8 fluorescent, CFLs, or incandescent bulbs heat up the most.
Choose quality, reputable light brands that have good reviews. The light should be UL-listed or certified, meaning it has been tested to meet safety standards for electrical devices. If you’re using grow lights in an area that may be exposed to moisture (e.g. a humid greenhouse or one with ceiling vents), seek out a light that is considered waterproof or otherwise safe to use in that setting, and connect the light to a grounded outlet.
PART THREE: POPULAR GROW LIGHT OPTIONS
Biggest Bang for Your Buck
Several of the customer reviews for this Durolux T5 high output light fixture literally say “the biggest bang for your buck“! I haven’t seen many comparable units at this affordable of a price. With four fluorescent bulbs that emit a combined 20,000 lumens, this four-foot long shop-light style unit provides ample bright full-spectrum light for growing seedlings and more. It would be perfect hung over a table or mounted inside a wire shelving unit, and is equipped to connect several lights together if needed. Despite the strength, you can still keep them as low as 3 to 4 inches above plants without burning.
Looking for something a tad more compact? Check out the shorter two-foot version here.
Most Versatile Houseplant Grow Light
This sleek little LED grow light is ideal for houseplants that could use a boost! It can clamp onto a variety of surfaces (e.g. bookshelf or table) and has 3 swivel heads that move around as needed. The lamp provides a cozy warm-looking light but is indeed full-spectrum, and has 5 different brightness levels to choose from. It also has a built-in timer! This unit is so versatile, it could probably also work for small number of veggie seedlings (especially as supplemental light with a sunny window). The three-light version is shown below, and a smaller two-light option is available as well.
Best all-in-one set up for serious seed starters
Vermont-based Gardener’s Supply Co has created some awesome all-in-one grow light shelf kits! If you plan to start more than a handful of seedling trays, or have dozens of small potted plants, this could be a great option for you. After all, once you factor in the cost to purchase several quality lights plus a shelving unit, this snazzy 3-Tiered SunLite shelf would just about break even. The unit gets great reviews for being sturdy, mobile, easy-to-use with adjustable lights, and most importantly, effective at providing high quality light. I’ve also seen folks hang additional light over the unit and create a 4th upper shelf! The one shown below is the full-spectrum 6500K T5 fluorescent version.
You could also step it up a notch and go for the ultra-efficient LED version. We recently added this grow light shelf to our grow room/barn at the new homestead, and had the most robust, healthy seedlings we’ve ever grown!
Best Little Lights for Beginners
If you’re a brand new gardener, only need one modest light or two, or otherwise want to keep things as simple and inexpensive as possible, consider these options. First, check out this two-pack of 2-foot long T5 fluorescent lights. We’ve used the 4-foot long versions, and they’ve held up to many years of use. They aren’t the highest output lights in the world (2500 lumens per two foot bulb), but they’ll do the trick! Their mounting/hanging system is admittedly a bit wonky too. We had to MacGyver that. Another similar (perhaps brighter) option is this two-foot long box light from VivoSun.
If you’re a beginner looking to try LED lights on the other hand, MarsHydro is a really well-known brand. Here is one small and affordable full-spectrum light fixture they offer. It’s rated to light a 2 feet by 2 feet space of veggie seedlings. However, keep in mind you’ll need to hang LEDs much higher over your plant canopy. The one recommends to hang the light about 18 to 24 inches above.
Best overall LEDs for grow tents (& more)
Are you venturing into grow tents, or creating a DIY grow set up in your closet or shed? Horticultural Lighting Group (HLG) Quantum board lights are incredibly well-rated and powerful. The lighting portion of the lights are made by Samsung, and are quite popular with the herb-growing community (if you catch my drift). Yet you can use them for other types of plants and locations too of course! We have this model (shown hanging in our greenhouse earlier in the article), which is rated to adequately light a 3×3′ space of plants in veg, or 2×2′ area while they’re in flower. Note these lights can’t daisy-chain together, but they do have larger options. Another popular brand with similar specs and options to HLG is Spider Farmer.
And that concludes this crash course on using grow lights 101.
Well that was illuminating, now wasn’t it? I hope that this article turned on a few light bulbs in that noggin’ of yours, and helps you plan your grow light set up for the happiest plants possible! I also hope I made this somewhat complex subject nice and easy to understand. Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback in the comments below. Also, please help spread the love and knowledge by sharing or pinning this article. We appreciate you coming to us to learn something new. See you next time!
I think these related articles will tickle your fancy too:
How to Grow Cannabis Using LED Lights
It used to be that lighting was one of the most expensive aspects of growing marijuana. A good set of HID or CFS lights could set you back a couple hundred with all the required equipment. Now, thanks to LED lights , cannabis grow lights are much more affordable, making growing cannabis at home much more attainable.
Growing Cannabis Using LED Lights
Related: 4 Best Grow Tents for Growing Marijuana
Different Types of Cannabis Grow Lights
The main types of cannabis grow lights are HID, or high-intensity discharge, CFL or compact fluorescent lights, and of course, LED or light-emitting diode lights. HID lights were the most commonly used cannabis grow lights when indoor growing first became popular in the 1990s. This was because they produced just the right number of lumens to grow cannabis indoors.
Though they work exceptionally well, HID lights are not without issues. For instance, a good setup is very expensive. If your plants don’t produce to your liking, you could find yourself out a few hundred dollars with no way to make your money back.
Those who could not afford a good set of HID lights would resort to CFLs, which, while not as effective during the flowering phase , managed to get the job done most of the time. Often times, these were the only options for growers with smaller operations, or those growing a couple plants for personal use. CFLs have gained some popularity over the years, but they would never be as popular as HID lights, which are trusted by growers all over the world. That is until LED lights entered the picture.
Why Use LED Lights?
There are many reasons to use LED lights when growing cannabis.
For many, the main reason is that they are relatively inexpensive when compared to the much pricier HID setup. This is especially true if you are growing a smaller number of plants. Our grow lights at A Pot for Pot are specifically designed for growing a small number of marijuana plants and is priced well under $200 – proof that high-quality lighting doesn’t need to be expensive.
This was not always the case. When LEDs were first gaining momentum among growers, the technology was still fairly new and had not entirely been perfected. Think about how expensive and inconvenient cutting-edge technology like smartphones were when they first came out, and it often wasn’t worth it. For example, many agree that the first-generation iPhone was not the greatest. However, today’s smartphones are much more affordable, and they are everywhere.
Energy Savings and Privacy
Another thing to consider is how much money LED cannabis grow lights will save you on your energy bill. HID lights are good at what they do, but the amount of energy they use will cause your energy bills to skyrocket. This not only hurts your pocketbook, but it can also draw unwanted attention in your direction either by a landlord, a nosy neighbor, and/or the police. When people had to keep their marijuana growing activities under wraps, spiking electricity bills often gave them away. While cannabis is legal in more areas now, this does not necessarily mean that you want the whole neighborhood knowing what you are up to.
Reduced Water Usage
Not only are LED lights more energy-efficient , but you’ll also save on water usage as well. As you are now aware, HID lights use a lot of energy, which in turn produces more heat. This dramatically increases the temperature of the grow room, causing your plants to consume more water. Cannabis is already quite the water hog when compared to other plants and growing even just a small amount of plants uses a lot of water. Any way to reduce water consumption is great for the environment, not to mention great for your utility bill.
Finally, LED lights last longer than HID or CFL bulbs, ensuring many years of good use before they need to be replaced. Traditional cannabis grow lights last for only 20 thousand hours. In contrast, LED bulbs last more than twice as long, for up to 50 thousand, or sometimes even 100 thousand hours. That’s five times the life of HID lights!
Convinced? Check out A Light for Pot to start growing cannabis with LED lights.
Start Growing with LED Lights
Cost is not the only reason to make the switch to LED lights . Experienced growers know that seedlings and plants in the vegetative stage benefit more from blue light, while flowering plants need red light to thrive. Before LEDs, growers would have to purchase two different types of lights: metal halide for the vegetative or blue light stage, and high-pressure sodium bulbs for the final flowering stage.
With LED cannabis grow lights, this is not the case. Different color LED bulbs give a grower the ability to manipulate the color spectrum, thus allowing you to use the same light setup for both phases of growth. This not only eliminates the need to purchase two different types of lighting setups, but you’re also guaranteed the best results in your plants!
The benefits of using LED cannabis grow lights are many. The next big question is how to grow marijuana using only LED lights. A good rule of thumb is one light per every 1.5 square feet. This generally will yield you up to 6 ounces per plant, which ends up covering what you spend on the light and will definitely end up saving you money in the long run. If you are growing only 1-2 plants, our single 75 watts LED light supplies plenty of light for your plants.
Even if you’d like to grow more than a few plants, you don’t have to go for the more expensive HID lights. Simply add to your setup with either a few larger LED bulbs or several of the smaller ones. If you opt to go for the latter option, make sure that your plants and your lights are spaced out correctly, as you want to make sure that each plant gets adequate amounts of light. Using too few lights can cause stretching, whereas using too many lights leaves you at the risk of light burn, as well as energy overconsumption.
If you are willing to step up the quantity of your grow, that is, really take it to the next level, you should be prepared to spend a little bit more cash. A large scale 350-400 watt LED operation that will outdo the average 600 watts HID lighting system is not going to come cheap. However, a larger LED light setup will still be more cost-effective than an HID setup of the same size.
Related: Smell-Proofing Your Indoor Marijuana Grow Room
Drawbacks to LED Lights
If there is one drawback of using LED grow lights, it is that your plants’ grow time will be slower than if you were using HID lights. Again, this is because HIDs emit more energy than LEDs, leading to faster flowering.
You should also be aware that while LEDs don’t put out as much energy, your plants are still susceptible to light burn. So, like any other lights, make sure that you are keeping your lights a proper distance from your plants and keep plants dry when under direct light.
With LEDs, you don’t have to place your plants as far away as you would with HIDs. Keep lights below 300 watts about 30-70cm away, or just around 12-27 inches. Lights above 300 watts should be kept at 70-80cm away, while gradually decreasing space when flowering. Larger wattage like 450 should be close to 80 cm or 31 inches.
Be careful when making any changes to your light setup. Decreasing the space between plant and light too quickly might have detrimental effects. Keep an eye on your plants and take it slow!
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Using LED Grow Lights
Grow lights are a great tool for making the growing process more efficient, but they can also be harmful to the plant if not used correctly. Here are 10 things you should avoid doing when using LED and other types of grow lights.
Source: Maximum Yield, May 31, 2019
For people who use cannabis derived products on a regular basis, it is very tempting to try growing the plant at home. The benefits are quite obvious: the cost is drastically lower and there aren’t any hassles related to the actual purchase of medical marijuana.
Many people all around the world grow cannabis at their homes, be it for recreational or medicinal purposes, and while some of them do quite well and manage to produce a good product, for others it doesn’t work so well – their plants wither quickly or produce insignificant yields.
These issues can be related to improper usage of lighting. (The same issues affect other types of plants as well.) Grow lights are a great tool for making the growing process more efficient, but they can also be harmful to the plant if not used correctly.
In this article, we’ll provide you with the 10 most common things you should pay attention to when using LED grow lights so you can grow healthy looking plants and avoid any unnecessary hassle. This information is extremely relevant to beginners.
Overheating the Plants
You will know the plant is taking too much heat if the leaves that are closest to the light start turning brownish. The first signs look like thin outlines on the outside of the leaves, so if you catch this quickly you will have a chance to avoid further damage. If some of the leaves start curling up, it might also be a sign that the plant is too close to the light. Good ventilation usually also helps with this issue.
Providing Insufficient Lighting
It is important to consider the scale of your operations. Think about how many plants you’re growing and how many LED lights you’ll need in order to illuminate them properly. You should also be aware of the luminosity of the lights you’re using. For example, a 200W LED light is said to be sufficient for a yield of about 100 grams. Make sure that you have enough lamps but still look for a good balance between providing sufficient lighting and not overdoing it.
Setting the Lamps at an Improper Distance
Overheating or insufficient lighting can result from having too many or not enough lights, but it can also result from placing the lights too close or too far from the plants. There is no universal rule for setting the distance but it’s recommended that LEDs are placed 12 to 18 inches away from the plants.
Using Inferior Products
Light is among the most vital factors to consider when growing plants because it triggers the photosynthesis process. If you’re using regular incandescent lights, you’re not very likely to grow strong and healthy plants. Therefore, for best results it is recommended that you use full spectrum LED grow lights. They are specifically designed for the purpose and have the feature to deliver light in the exact spectrum the plant needs.
Selecting the Wrong Light Spectrum
In order to grow efficiently, plants need different types of light for each growth stage. With full-spectrum LED lights this is easily achievable, but if you select the wrong setting, the plant will not develop well. You should also take into consideration the conditions in the room where you’re doing the growing. For example, plants benefit most from light in the blue spectrum when they’re in the vegetative stage of growth. That means that if you set the light to emit light in the red spectrum, you will only be hindering the plant’s growth.
Using the Wrong Light Schedule
You should be careful not to leave the lights on all the time, or worse, the opposite – forget to turn them on. It might sound trivial but it’s quite easy to mess up the light schedule and even a minor change might have a negative impact the plant’s growth. Cannabis needs about 18-24 hours of light during the vegetative stage and 12 hours of light during the flowering stage.
Forgetting to Adjust the Lights
Many people forget to adjust the height of the lights as the plants grow bigger and end up with burnt leaves. Another important thing is to occasionally rotate the pots in order to prevent the plants from leaning towards the light too much.
Not Protecting and Maintaining the LED Lights
LED grow lights are your friend and an important investment, so you need to take proper care of them. They bring numerous benefits to the growing process and a little maintenance and preparation can save you a lot of trouble. It is recommended that you set up a power stabilizer and connect it to the lights in order to equalize the incoming voltage, thus protecting the chip inside the LEDs.
Overwatering When Switching from HIDs to LEDs
Regular HID lights produce a lot of heat and generate lots of infrared light. This dries out the plant and the soil and results in the need to water the plant more often. However, LED lights generate no infrared light and don’t emit nearly as much heat, so there is no need for abundant watering.
Not Considering the Other Factors
LED grow lights are a great aid when growing plants indoors but by themselves they cannot do much. In order to produce big and healthy yields there are a lot of factors that need to be considered – room temperature, airflow circulation, soil, nutrients, plant genetics, and many others things. Don’t just focus on a single part of the growing process. Instead, try to get an overall understanding of the whole chain and how everything is interconnected.
Grow lights are a vital piece of equipment that every aspiring grower should have. Although they are easy to use and set up, you should pay attention to this list of common mistakes and save yourself from headaches.