Choosing LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights from nokotech

In the realm of indoor gardening, LED lights have firmly established themselves as the top choice for growers. They’ve shifted from being the future to the present standard. However, with numerous options available, selecting the right LED grow light can be a daunting task. Every grower’s needs are unique, and finding the perfect match requires careful consideration. Before making a decision, it’s essential to ask yourself several key questions to ensure you choose a light that aligns with your specific requirements and goals. From understanding the needs of your plants to considering factors like budget, space, and energy usage, this guide will walk you through the essential considerations for selecting the ideal LED grow light for your indoor garden.

Why LED Grow Lights Outshine HPS?

1000W and 600W HPS grow lights from nokotech

LEDs have emerged as the optimal choice for indoor growing operations for several reasons. Firstly, LEDs offer significantly greater energy efficiency, resulting in larger yields with the same wattage. This is made possible by their higher light intensity. Additionally, LEDs emit light in specific wavelengths tailored to plants’ needs, resulting in higher-quality yields. More advanced LED grow lights, such as the SMART 880 fixture or the Berry 265 vertical farming light from NOKOTECH, offer functions to select a specific spectrum for each growth stage. Moreover, unlike HPS lights, which generate substantial heat, LEDs produce less heat, reducing the need for additional cooling systems and minimizing the risk of heat damage to plants. Furthermore, quality LED lights maintain peak performance for extended periods and boast a longer lifespan.

What is the full-spectrum light?

Full spectrum light spans the entire range of wavelengths essential for plant growth, also called PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation). This encompasses visible light, as well as segments of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light. Each color within this spectrum holds a pivotal role in plant development: blue light, spanning 400 to 500 nanometers, fosters vegetative growth by bolstering sturdy stems and vibrant foliage. Although less utilized, green light aids overall plant development and is vital for photosynthesis. Red light found between 600 to 700 nanometers, is indispensable for flowering and fruiting stages, spurring chlorophyll production and carbohydrate synthesis. Furthermore, far-red light, surpassing 700 nanometers, regulates light cycle responses, impacting flowering and dormancy. By offering a harmonious blend of these wavelengths, full-spectrum lights optimize plant growth, ensuring robust development from seedling to harvest in indoor growing environments.

SMART 880 indoor grow grow fixture from NOKOTECH with 4 full spectrums

Premium LED grow light fixtures now offer the flexibility of incorporating UV and IR bars for enhanced versatility. UV (Ultraviolet) and IR (Infrared) light also wield significant influence on plant growth under full-spectrum illumination. UV light, especially UVB (280-315 nanometers) and UVA (315-400 nanometers), spur the production of compounds like flavonoids and anthocyanins, fortifying the plant’s defense mechanisms against pests and diseases. Moreover, UV light can impact plant morphology and elevate essential oil production, contributing to flavor and aroma in select herbs and crops. Conversely, IR light, notably near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths (700-1100 nanometers), aids photosynthesis by penetrating deeper into plant tissues, stimulating growth, and augmenting overall plant metabolism. Together, UV and IR light bolster the health, resilience, and productivity of indoor-grown plants under full-spectrum lighting..

Before investing in LED grow lights for your indoor cultivation endeavors, it’s imperative to weigh various factors: power, size/shape, brand, and other pertinent specifications.

How much power of LED grow light do I need?

Choosing the right power for LED grow lights hinges on various factors: plant type, growing area size, and desired results. Typically, higher-powered lights cover larger areas; for instance, 600-700W lights efficiently illuminate spaces of 1.2×1.2m, while 1000W LEDs cover 1.5×1.5m. Smaller setups, like a 90×90 cm grow tent, may suffice with 100W to 300W lights, suitable for herbs, small vegetables, or ornamentals with lower light demands.

However, light-hungry plants like fruits or cannabis may require 500W to 1000W LEDs for adequate intensity and coverage. Increased power often translates to higher yields, given proper environmental conditions. Yet, each plant type has its PPFD limits under normal circumstances, usually not requiring CO2 supplementation. In many cases, a 600W-700W fixture with PPF around 1500 umol/s can deliver maximum yields without CO2.

ECO 660 PPFD map of LED grow light from NOKOTECH

Do LED grow lights exceeding 700W, like 800W or 1000W, necessitate additional equipment like CO2 generators? Not necessarily. Many lights offer dimming options, allowing growers to adjust wattage levels. Dimming or increasing distance reduces PPFD levels, offering flexibility. For instance, a dimmed 1000W light emits less heat than a full-powered 600W, extending the LED chip lifespan. Alternatively, dimming while increasing distance may maintain similar PPFD levels to a 600W light, with expanded coverage and airflow. A powerful fixture offers versatility for potential CO2 integration and other operational upgrades in the future.

The PPF meter serves as a valuable tool for measuring PPF levels at various points over your canopy. With this information, you can adjust both height and dimming levels to ensure the plant receives optimal PPF levels. Given that PPFD maps are approximations, they may not precisely reflect conditions in your personal growing area. Therefore, using a PPF meter provides accurate measurements tailored to your specific environment.

Lastly, consider the facility’s electricity capabilities and associated costs.

What size/shape light to choose?

In today’s market, LED grow lights come in various shapes and sizes. Selecting the right one largely hinges on the dimensions of your growing area. If you’re using a tent, it’s essential to ensure that the light’s dimensions align with those of the tent. Ideally, the light should cover the entire area designated for your growing operations, maximizing efficiency and ensuring all plants receive sufficient light. Moreover, consider the height of your growing space and the light’s coverage area to prevent shadows or uneven light distribution, which could affect plant growth.

Before making a purchase, it’s crucial to review the manufacturer’s PPFD maps. These provide valuable insights into the Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF) your plants will receive at various points and heights within the light’s coverage area. This ensures you choose a light that offers the optimal light intensity tailored to your plant’s growth needs. Additionally, when using a powerful fixture such as an 800W or even 1000W and adjusting dimming options and height from the plants, a PPF meter becomes indispensable, as mentioned before.

 What is Efficacy (PPE), and Why is it Important?

Understanding efficacy (PPE), or Photosynthetic Photon Efficacy, is crucial, especially when considering the cost of fixtures. PPE measures a grow light’s efficiency in converting electrical energy into usable light for plant photosynthesis. It calculates as the ratio between the fixture’s total wattage and the total PPF it produces.

For example, if a fixture is rated at 1000W and produces a total of 2700 umol/s of PPF, the PPE is calculated as follows: 2700/1000 = 2.7 umol/j.

While PPE values are increasing due to advancements in LED chip and driver technology, higher PPE doesn’t necessarily guarantee better yields. Fixtures with the highest PPE on the market may produce larger harvests at the same wattage, but the difference in yield often doesn’t justify the significant price difference. For example, in 2024, opting for fixtures with PPE levels between 2.7 and 2.9, which offer more budget-friendly prices (compared to 3.1 or 3.2) while still delivering excellent results, is often a wiser choice.

It’s crucial to be cautious when encountering LED grow lights claiming very high PPE values but are significantly cheaper than others. These fixtures may use low-quality LED chips that degrade quickly, leading to poor long-term results. When considering purchasing an extremely overpriced fixture with a very high PPE (3.0 and higher), at least ensure that it features reputable LED chip brands, such as Osram, Samsung, San’an, or Seoul, to avoid sacrificing quality for cost savings.

 Choosing a Brand

Almost all of LED grow lights are manufactured in China. Brands that claim their lights are made elsewhere, such as Europe, typically only assemble them, with critical components like the LED driver and chips sourced from Asia. Despite marketing claims, no LED grow light manufacturer produces their LED chips. Thus, “made in China” lights can vary in quality, depending on the brand and price. While the lower prices of lights directly from Chinese companies may seem attractive, there are potential pitfalls to consider. Firstly, the end price may significantly increase due to customs taxes and expensive shipping fees. Secondly, these lights often use cheap components, compromising performance and longevity. Thirdly, obtaining warranty service may be challenging compared to local brands. Dealing with warranty issues from overseas companies can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Therefore, while initial cost savings may seem appealing, the risks and potential complications of purchasing LED grow lights directly from Chinese companies should not be overlooked.

Each brand has its strategy for reaching its target customers. Some produce low-quality LED lights at the lowest possible price, attracting customers who prioritize price over quality and longevity, potentially leading to poor yields. It is advisable to avoid such brands, as low quality can result in various problems, including fire hazards, especially with high-wattage fixtures.

For those prioritizing quality, it’s crucial to choose reputable brands that offer reliability, warranty, and high-quality customer support. While it’s easy to find such brands, the challenge lies in avoiding overpaying for high-quality products. Always check the specifications and compare them with similar ones from other brands. Beware of brands that do not disclose the type of LED chips they use, as this may indicate the use of cheaper LEDs, resulting in overpaying for inferior quality.

At NOKOTECH, we position ourselves as a company delivering high-quality products at reasonable prices. We believe there’s no need to overpay for high-spec LED grow lights, and we always strive to maintain this ethos.

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