Gardeners and plant growers now have an effective and much more eco friendly alternative when it comes to growing tender plant shoots indoors: LED grow lights. The potency of these lights was first proven by NASA as it experimented with growing plants in outer space a few years ago. Since then, technology has advanced to the point where LED grow lights are now readily available for a competitive price.
LED grow lights are more environmentally friendly simply because they consume up to 80% less energy than the more popular incandescent, metal halide or high pressure sodium lights. Yet NASA’s experiments show that the light spectrum offered by LED grow lights is just as effective for plant growth at all stages of development.
Different parts of the light spectrum affect different aspects of plant growth. The bluer side of the spectrum affects the initial growing stage, while the red-orange part of the spectrum helps the later blooming stage. Any growing lamp worthy of the name has to be able to address one or both of these growth stages. Additionally, the bulb’s life span is an important consideration given the price point of the typical bulb.
LED grow lights excel on each of these requirements. They come in a combination of blue and red diodes that are manufactured to give the precise wavelengths needed for the growing and flowering stages of development. You can buy “blended” full-spectrum lights that feature both red and blue LED’s, or you can buy all-blue and all-red variants that emphasize a particular stage of plant growth if that is what meets your needs.
Their ability to pinpoint the necessary wavelengths makes them much more energy efficient. They are also more efficient because they emit much less heat than their non-LED counterparts. All that heat from metal halide and high pressure sodium lights is dissipated as wasted energy, serving only to singe leaves that get too close and greatly increase the interior temperature of your greenhouse or wherever you are growing your plants.
Bulb life is impressive, ranging from five to ten years with minimal diminution of output over time. Additionally, LED grow lights do not require a ballast in the way other lamp types do, which is one less part to buy and replace as it wears out on other bulb assemblies.
So do LED grow lights actually induce a higher rate of growth in plants compared to other bulb types, as claimed by some people? I wouldn’t go that far, as there is no scientific evidence I can find to support that. But what matters here is that these grow lights work at least as well as their counterparts while consuming substantially less energy and lasting a much longer time. That makes these lights the definite eco friendly choice.