It comes as a surprise to many that LED lights hail from the 1960s. They were invented all the way back in 1962 when a thirty-three-year-old scientist named Nick Holonyak Jr. created the LED. But he did it by accident. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and these little babies come with several unique features.
The Basics of LED Lights
One of the most important features – and the feature that has propelled the LED into dominance in the light bulb world – is their efficiency: they’re around 90 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They work as follows: the electrical current enters a microchip, passing through it. This energizes the LEDs, resulting in illumination. The heat produced as a result of this process is absorbed into a heat sink.
LEDs don’t burn out in the typical sense (the heat sink prevents them from overheating and thus burning out); rather, they fade out. The technical term is called “lumen depreciation” and results in the brightness dimming. This happens slowly and is used to establish an LED’s lifetime use: it reaches its max when the bulb dims by 30 percent.
The Advantages of LED Lights
Not everyone uses LED lights in their grow houses. In fact, some have been slow to take advantage of this technology. The reason for this is that LEDs – while great now – weren’t always such shining stars. First of all, they weren’t energy efficient in the beginning. Second of all, they used to have coverage problems, providing uneven light and hot and cold spots. And they were expensive, something growing cannabis already is! Nowadays, the LED is much more welcoming to THC. In fact, there are many benefits to these bulbs, including:
- Lower power bills: More efficient bulbs result in lower energy costs.
- Safety: Outdated types of light bulbs are well known for the amount of heat they generate. With LEDs, you won't have to worry about burning yourself on a bulb.
- Healthier plants: LEDs can lead to a healthier harvest. They help your pot taste and smell better. Some people also believe that they help ward off certain plant maladies (like bacterium and pests).
- UV Light: We all know that ultraviolet light comes from the sun: the farmer’s tan that makes us look like we’re wearing socks reminds us. But LEDs can produce it too. UV diodes allow you to better mimic cannabis’s innate environment (i.e., the outdoors). Doing this helps increase resin production, the part of the plant where all the cannabis magic happens.
LEDs Versus Compact Fluorescent
Fluorescent lights work differently: they illuminate from an electric current that flows between electrodes on the end of tubes containing gasses. This produces heat and ultraviolet light. The coating inside the bulb turns the UV light into visible light. LEDs last longer, offer better efficiency, and are more flexible and versatile in design and use when compared to fluorescent lights.
LED Mistakes to Avoid
LEDs are quickly becoming the future of grow lights, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. You can help your lights shine correctly by avoiding some of the more common mistakes, such as:
Too much or too little light
The leaves of an overheated plant will start to brown or curl in the areas closest to the light. A plant that doesn’t’ get enough light won’t thrive. Find a happy medium.
You can give too much or too little light by having too many or too few bulbs. But you can also do it by placing the LEDs too close or too far from the plants. The ideal LED to plant distance is between one and one and a half feet.
Using cheap LED lights
You get what you pay for in terms of quality and yield. Lighting is an investment: shell out the big bucks to begin so it doesn’t cost you in the long run.
Watering at will
Plants that are under LED lights don’t require as much water as those under other types. HIDs, for instance, dry out the leaves and soil because they produce so much heat – just as we need more water on hot days, so do plants. LEDs don’t do this, removing the need for overly aggressive H20 supplementation.
LEDs are finally punching their toker ticket – they’re being used more and more in grow houses. The only way to find out if they’re right for your grow is to give them a try and see if they help your harvest shine on.