10 Things You Must Look For When Choosing LED Grow Lights
By Luis Rivera 1 May 2017
Takeaway: LED grow lights bring definite benefits, but choosing the right product usually proves to be quite challenging. Here are the most important things you should look for when making your choice.
LED lights are revolutionizing the way we grow plants, enabling both professionals and enthusiasts to achieve optimal environment efficiency with minimal effort. The advantages are numerous, with just a few of the main ones mentioned below:
- Stimulated growth
- Adjustable wavelength
- Energy efficiency
LED grow lights bring definite benefits, but choosing the right product usually proves to be quite challenging. The wide array of models available on the market, confusing statements from manufacturers and misleading product descriptions are some of the main reasons behind this.
Starting off with the wrong set of lights can be detrimental to your growing efforts, so making an educated purchase is a must. There are many factors and properties that need to be considered, but you should also be aware of your growing purposes, location, and other specifics involved. Following is a list of the most important things you should look for when making your choice.
1. Quality Build & Materials
Durability is one of the best things about LED lighting. If a lamp is built using quality materials, it can last for about 10 years. This is a long time during which you won't have to worry about making any changes to your set-up.
It's best to look for US made lights that abide by the highest industry standards, using only the best components and production methods.
2. Brand Reputation
There are many different brands on the market and each one provides slightly different products. This makes the choice all the more difficult, considering that not all options are of equal quality.
In case you're wondering between different light choices where price and appearance are almost equal, taking a look at the brand can provide the answer. As in other fields, a company with good reputation, long history and extensive research and development efforts is more likely to have a good product.
3. Electricity Output & Consumption
Your LED grow lights will have to operate for at least 10-11 hours each day, which in turn will lead to increased electricity bills.
Making an informed choice and reading the detailed product description can save you troubles in the future, therefore you should always check how many units is the total output. The options go up to 1,000W but you shouldn't settle for anything less than 300W. Have in mind that the higher output helps compensate for any wattage loss.
4. Low Heat Output
This is one of the most important things when choosing LED lights, as it contributes to two main factors – plant protection and durability.
The lights are in constant proximity to the plants and having low heat output guarantees that there won't be any damage but also enables for a smaller distance between the lamp and the plant.
Also, a light with higher heat output would burn out more quickly and will need to be replaced sooner. Well balanced low heat output LED lamps let off less energy as heat and have aluminum heat sinks attached.
5. Quality Semiconductor Chip
The semiconductor chip is the LED light`s core and serves the purpose of converting electricity to light, but also has a part in determining the wavelength. It is advisable that you look for a light that has a chip of at least 3 watts, otherwise it won't be able to provide sufficient illumination.
6. Consider What You Are Growing
The lighting you choose must be suitable for the type of plants you're growing. All LED lights will do the job to some extent, but certain models are made to address specific plant needs, as plants needs different kinds of wavelengths during each growth stage.
For example, if you are growing heavy crops like tomatoes, you will need a different light to maximize its growth than if you were growing flowers. Also, do you need lights only for vegetative cycles, flowering or is it a complete growing process?
7. Plant Growing Space
Space availability is a vital factor when purchasing lighting as it determines the amount and size of lamps you need.
The first thing you need to do is measure the exact size of your garden. Then you need to find out the lighting area size of the lamps you're considering in order to determine the exact number you need.
The general guideline most growers use is that you need 32 watts of actual power per square foot if you're growing high-light plants like tomatoes. Low-light plants like lettuce need somewhere between 11 and 18 watts per square foot.
8. Full Spectrum LED Lights
Although plants can grow under almost any type of light, efficient photosynthesis requires different wavelengths and some of the best led grow lights can provide plants with the full spectrum necessary throughout each growth.
For example, in order to grow most efficiently, many plants need light in the red and blue spectrums, but also infrared and ultraviolet, depending on the stage. A powerful full spectrum LED grow light enables you to cater to the plant's specific needs by providing the proper photosynthetically active radiation values.
9. Easiness of Use and Flexibility
Sometimes you'll have to adjust the position of your lamps, based on the plant type and growth stage. Quality LED lamps are efficient, but also easy to use and will let you fine tune their placement with little effort.
Also, it is important that the wavelength and light intensity are adjustable as well. Look for products that are easy to maintain and ready to use straight out of the packaging.
10. Warranty and Return Policy
LED lights should last about 10 years under normal usage, so you should be wary of warranties that cover less than that. It is usually a sign of bad quality and cheap materials.
Most manufacturers also provide a guarantee on the parts of the light, including a free return shipment policy. Some parts of LED lights function independently, so if you're waiting for a spare to arrive your light can still do its job.
Full spectrum LED lights are becoming increasingly more popular due to their high efficiency and durability. Although selecting the right model can be daunting due to the saturated market and sub-substandard products, following these 10 criteria will help you find what you're looking for. Don't settle for cheap and look for lasting quality.