When growing plants indoors, it has always been difficult for cultivators to find an effective lighting source identical to sunlight. Before LED technology revolutionized greenhouse farming, gardeners were attempting to grow plants with traditional lighting, such as compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. These options were never satisfactory because these lighting sources were not matching the growing needs of plants exactly, other options tended to be very expensive. This has led to the increased adoption of LED lighting for plant cultivation. Today, cultivators have realized LED grow lights are extremely beneficial to growing plants indoors and are able to grow healthy and fresh crops all year long regardless of the season. There are many benefits to using LED’s for growing plants, above and beyond simply reducing power usage or “going green”.
Tailored light quality to produce higher yields
LEDs allow cultivators to have more control of their greenhouse environment, where they can supply varied light inputs to steer the yields of their crops. The cultivators can tailor the spectrums of light specifically to their crop requirement, instead of producing unwanted light that is ineffective. The right quality of light will have photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) which is between the wavelengths of 400 and 700 nm (nanometers). That means the grow light can supply wavelength specific light to benefit plant growth at different stages.
Stimulate early or uniform plant growth
Compared to traditional lighting sources, LEDs produce narrow spectrum wavelengths that are highly absorbed by the plants and can be easily customized for various growth needs of crops at different stages. The important phase of plant development is the early vegetative stage, where the plant needs a right light intensity to stimulate the growth. Most of the traditional lights are not viable for this stage because they cannot produce a uniform light. They produce light from a single point on the bulb which can be too intense on plants that are closer. That means plants nearer to the light fixture receive too much light than those that are placed at farther distance. Supplying too intense light at early vegetative stage can cause damage or even hinder further plant development. But, LEDs are very effective during this stage as well because they produce even light through all points of its surface. Using LEDs, growers can ensure uniform distribution of light regardless of the location of the plant in the indoor setup.
Eco-friendly – less heat & humidity
The heat generated by LEDs is much lower than that of the heat given out by the hot filaments used in previous generation bulbs. Especially if high pressure sodium or metal halide lights are used for prolonged hours in a day, they emit a lot of heat which increases environmental temperature and humidity inside the greenhouse structure. This requires additional ventilation to circulate air and cool the environment to avoid the excess heat or damage to the crop. But with LED grow lights, cultivators can control indoor temperatures & humidity easily. Since the thermal output of LEDs is less significant when compared to other traditional bulbs, they keep indoor atmospheres cool and increase growth.
Energy savings & lifespan
In an environment where constant lighting is needed for plant growth, energy consumption and bulb lifetime are crucial, LEDs shine. LEDs that are made using premium, industrial grade components are more efficient and consume less energy. They also have long rated lifespans and can operate efficiently for many years without the need for replacement or upgrade. Some cultivators consider using LED fixtures as a big investments but they don’t realize that they can get their return on investment (ROI) in short order because of the energy efficiency and extended lifetime of LEDs.
Flexibility in design and placement
Another obstacle that cultivators typically face in greenhouse farming is the difficulty of installing grow lights. Since LEDs are comparatively small compared to their alternatives, they allow flexibility in design and placement. Cultivators can employ different LED lights specific to their farming requirements. Besides, the capability of using LEDs closer to the plants allows cultivators to have flexibility in garden growing environments. They can use different methods in cultivating such as multilayer farming where they can stack garden in layers in the same growing space and increase their production volume.