Growing Tips for using LED Grow Lights and Solid State Lighting

A list of tips for gardening with LED grow lights and low heat solid state lighting.

  • These tips come from experience, and should be considered, to insure success with LED Grow Lighting Arrays. These tips apply to general gardening, and are techniques you are already using. Now you need to develop these techniques with 90% less heat in your system.

  • Keep environmental temperatures in the range of 70F° -80F° (Lower Temp = Slower Plant Growth) (Monitor Root-zone Temp as well)

  • DON'T over water your plants (Less Heat from LEDs = Less water loss due to evaporation) (Overwattering = Slow root development = Slow and Stunted Growth and Nutrient Uptake issues)

  • Use a more porous medium = more oxygen to roots = higher plant metabolism.

  • Water plants once, let them run low on water = plant water usage rate for your particular plant species (Under LEDs).

  • If you keep the root medium saturated = no need for plant to develop larger root system = stomata closure, slow and stunted growth, and symptoms of overwattering.

  • Monitor your CO2 levels (Some LED grow lights contain LEDs that emit a large amount of plant specific usable light, therefore may require slight augmentation of CO2 levels (300-500 PPM)

  • Start with a lower amount of nutrient (400-600 PPM) or 1/2 the Oz/Gallon, or ml/per Liter recommendation on your plant foods.

  • On fruiting plants: Reduced photoperiod = plant stress = more flowering.

  • Remember, It doesn't look like much light to you, but it is very much light to your plants.

  • Dictionary of Lighting and Horticulture Terms

    Dictionary of Lighting and Horticulture Terms

    The efficiency of a particular plant molecule at absorbing wavelengths of light to conduct photosynthesis. LEDs are very efficient at producing the wavelengths of light that plants can best use.

    A system where plant roots are in an environment saturated with fine drops (a mist or aerosol) of nutrient solution.

    The unit used to measure the strength of an electric current.

    The cultivation of water plants and animals for human use or consumption.

    Is the integration of aquaculture and hydroponics.

    The luminous discharge of electricity between two electrodes in HID lighting.

    A transfer of electricity across two electrodes (anode and cathode), characterized by high electrode current densities, and a low voltage drop at the electrode.

    The enclosure which contains the luminous gases, and also houses the arc.

    organisms which make their own food using photosynthesis.

    An auxiliary piece of equipment designed to start, and to properly control the flow of power to gas discharge light sources such as fluorescent and high intensity discharge lamps. In metal housed systems, it is composed of the transformer, capacitor, and connecting wiring; sodium systems require an ignitor in addition to the transformer and capacitor.

    An industry code indicating that the bulb is to be operated only in a base up position.

    A colorless, odorless, incombustible gas, somewhat heavier than air that is a product of respiration and combustion.

    The two primary pigments involved in photosynthesis. These two molecules most efficiently absorb light at the red and blue ends of the light spectrum.

    Chloroplast are like a container that contains chlorophyll.

    An abnormal yellowing or veining of the leaves. Some times caused by nutrient deficiencies.

    A bulb of a certain spectrum type (e.g. sodium) specially designed to operate while used in the fixture/ballast of a different type (e.g. metal halide). The most popular conversion bulbs, by far, are sodium conversion bulbs, which allow one to have the sodium spectrum while still using a metal halide system.

    A specification of the color appearance of a light source, relating its color to that of a blackbody radiator, as measured in Kelvin (K). CCT is a general measure of a lamp's "coolness" or "warmness."

    A method for describing the effect of a light source on the color appearance of objects, compared to a reference source of the same color temperature (CCT). The highest CRI attainable is 100. Typical cool white fluorescent lamps have a CRI of 62. Lamps having rare-earth phosphors are available with a CRI of 80 and above.

    The portion of a HID outer bulb located opposite the base (the neck and threads).

    The spring-like brackets which mount the arc tube within the outer envelope (bulb).

    A lamp that produces light by discharging an electric arc through a mixture of gases and gaseous metals.

    Filaments located at either end of a discharge lamp that maintain an electrical arc between them. See arch discharge.

    The electrical fitting used to contain the electric components of a lighting system.

    A discharge lamp in which a phosphor coating transforms ultraviolet energy into visible light. Fluorescent lamps are good for starting seedlings and rooting cuttings, but do not have enough intensity to sustain aggressive growth in plants in the later stages of life, and are not efficient enough in their conversion of electrical power to lumens of light output.

    A standard measurement of light intensity, representing the amount of illuminance on a surface one foot square on which there is a uniformly distributed flux of one lumen. More simply, one foot-candle of illuminance is equal to the light emitted by one candle at a distance of one foot.

    The number of waves, or cycles, of electromagnetic radiation per second, usually measured in Hertz (Hz).

    GROWTH INFLUENCING FACTORS (GIF) – most important GIF is light.

    A short name for the tungsten-halogen lamp. Halogen lamps are high-pressure incandescent lamps, containing halogen gases such as iodine or bromine which allow the filaments to be operated at higher temperatures and higher efficacies. While excellent for home lighting and similar applications, halogen lamps are not effective or efficient as grow lights, due to their limited spectrum and high operating temperatures.

    The popular acronym for High Intensity Discharge.

    A general term for mercury, metal halide, and high-pressure sodium lamps. HID lamps contain compact arc tubes which enclose various gases and metal salts that are operating at relatively high pressures and temperatures.

    High-pressure sodium lamps operate by igniting sodium, mercury, and xenon gases within a sealed, ceramic arc tube. Sodium lamps emit light energy in the yellow/red/orange regions of the spectrum; the red spectrum stimulates flowering and fruit production. Many indoor gardeners switch to sodium lamps when it is time to induce flowering or fruiting of their plants.

    The reflective cover used in conjunction with a HID lamp. The more reflectivity a hood can provide, the more effective it is.

    An industry code indicating that the bulb is to be operated in a horizontal position.

    The art or science of growing flowers, fruits, vegetables or shrubs, esp. in gardens or orchards.

    The area immediately under a HID lamp where the light intensity is strongest. Hot spots cause uneven growth, but can be remedied by using light.

    The length of time required to bring a HID lamp to 90% light output after a short power interruption.

    The growing of plants without soil. A nutrient solution provides food and water for the plant.

    A component of the ballast necessary for the starting of the bulb in sodium systems.

    The density of incident luminous flux on a surface; illuminance is the standard metric for lighting levels, and is measured in lux (lx) or foot-candles (fc).

    The act of illuminating, or state of being illuminated. This term is often used incorrectly in place of the term illuminance to denote the density of luminous flux on a surface.

    A light source which generates light utilizing a thin filament wire (usually of tungsten) heated to white heat by an electric current passing through it. Incandescent lamps are the most familiar type of light source, with countless applications in homes, stores, and other commercial settings. Light is produced by passing electric current through a thin wire filament, usually a tungsten. Incandescent lamps are totally ineffective as grow lights; they have very limited spectrum, and are very inefficient in their conversion of electrical power to lumens of light output (lumen-to-watt ratio). They also put off far too much heat per watt to use in horticulture, even if the above-mentioned problems did not exist.

    A term referring to the magnitude of light energy per unit; light intensity diminishes evenly as you get further from the source.

    The unit of measurement to express the color (spectrum) of light emitted by a lamp; the absolute temperature of a blackbody radiator having a chromaticity equal to that of the light source (see correlated color temperature). A standard clear metal halide HID lamp has an average Kelvin temperature rating of 4,000 K.

    A unit of electric power usage equal to 1,000 watts.

    A measurement of electrical energy. A kilowatt hour is equal to 1,000 watts of power used over a period of one hour.

    An electrically energized source of light, commonly called a bulb or tube.

    A measure of lamp performance, as measured in median hours of burning time under ANSI test conditions.

    The decrease over time of lamp lumen output, caused by bulb wall blackening, phosphor exhaustion, filament depreciation, and other factors.

    Generic term used to describe a discharge lamp's starting characteristics in terms of time to come to full output, flicker, etc.

    Radiant energy which can be sensed or seen by the human eye. The term generally applied to the visible energy from a source. Light is usually measured in lumens or candlepower. When light strikes a surface, it is either absorbed, reflected, or transmitted. Visible light is measured in lumens.

    Produce light of specific wavelengths which can be selected to best meet the needs of growing and flowing plants.

    A motorized device which moves a HID lamp back and forth across the ceiling of a grow area to provide more even distribution of the light.

    A measurement of light output; refers to the amount of light emitted by one candle that falls on one square foot of surface located at a distance of one foot from the candle.

    A complete lighting unit, consisting of a lamp or lamps, together with the components required to distribute the light, position the lamps, and connect the lamps to a power supply. Often referred to as a "fixture."

    A standard unit of illuminance. One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter.

    A high-intensity discharge lamp in which the light is produced by arcing electricity through a mixture of metal halides. The light produced by metal halide lamps is in the white-blue spectrum, which encourages vegetative growth and "bushiness," while discouraging upward growth. This is the bulb to use in the first, vegetative phase of plant growth.

    The oldest member of the HID family, mercury vapor lamps work by arcing electricity through mercury vapor. While more efficient than incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent lamps, mercury vapor lamps have the least efficient lumen-to-watt ratio of the entire HID family. This, combined with an improper color spectrum for horticultural applications, makes mercury vapor lamps a poor choice for a grow light.

    The narrow, tubular end of the HID bulb, attached to the threads.

    OXYGEN (O)
    A colorless, odorless, tasteless, gaseous chemical element.

    A lighting distribution control device that is designed to redirect the light from a HID lamp in a specific direction. In most applications, the parabolic device directs light down and away from the direct glare zone.

    The relative periods of light and dark within a 24-hour period. Also referred to as daylength.

    The growth process by which plants build chemical compounds (carbohydrates) from light energy, water, and CO2. (Carbon Dioxide).

    The gravitation of a plant part toward a light source.

    Are chemical compounds which reflect only certain wavelengths of visible light. This makes them appear "colorful". Flowers, corals, and even animal skin contain pigments which give them their colors. More important than their reflection of light is the ability of pigments to absorb certain wavelengths.
    In plants, algae, and cyanobacteria, pigments are the means by which the energy of sunlight is captured for photosynthesis. However, since each pigment reacts with only a narrow range of the spectrum, there is usually a need to produce several kinds of pigments, each of a different color, to capture more of the sun's energy.

    Measure of alkalinity or acidity of nutrient solution.

    The term sometimes used to refer to the reflective hood of a HID lamp.

    The measure of the reflective quality of a surface; the relative ability of a given surface to reflect light away from it without absorbing, diffusing, or otherwise compromising the light's quality, intensity, and spectrum.

    The threaded, wired receptacle that a HID bulb screws into.

    High-pressure sodium lamps operate by igniting sodium, mercury, and xenon gases within a sealed, ceramic arc tube. Sodium lamps emit light energy in the yellow/red/orange regions of the spectrum; the red spectrum stimulates flowering, and fruit production. Many indoor gardeners switch to sodium lamps when it is time to induce flowering or fruiting of their plants.

    A sodium bulb which, according to the manufacturer, Philips Lighting, produces 30% more blue light than standard sodium bulbs. The 430-watt SON AGRO also emits 6% more light than the standard 400-watt sodium lamp.

    The series of colored bands dispersed and arranged in the order of their respective wavelengths by the passage of white light through a prism. The six main colors of the spectrum are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

    The redirection of incident light without diffusion at an angle that is equal to, and in the same plane as, the angle of incidence.

    A unit solid angle on the surface of a sphere equal to the square of the sphere's radius.

    The component in the ballast that transforms electric current from one voltage to another.

    U (for UNIVERSAL)
    An industry code indicating that the bulb can be operated in any position: Horizontal, Vertical (base up), or any other.

    Light with very short wavelengths, out of the visible spectrum.

    A private organization which tests and lists electrical (and other) equipment for electrical and fire safety according to recognized UL, and other, standards. A UL listing is not an indication of overall performance.

    The distance, measured in the direction of progression of a wave, from any given point to the next point characterized by the same phase.

    First posts in the LED grow light links section!

    Here are some useful links with *more* to come...