More and more growers are using LED lighting to optimize crop yields. With the right LED setup, plants receive adequate light while reducing reliance on high-heat and energy-consuming HID and fluorescent lights. They simulate sunlight and promote successful plant growth. Choosing the right LED grow light can be challenging due to the so many types available. In this post, we will discuss the types of LED lights that are helpful and beneficial for your grow settings and grow stages.
3 Main Types of LED Grow Lights
There are three primary types of LED grow lights. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Currently, there isn’t a definitive “best” LED type, as their suitability varies depending on specific circumstances. Certain LED types excel in particular settings compared with others.
Spread-style LED grow lights are named based on how their diodes are distributed on the surface. They offer affordability and comparable effectiveness to other LED grow lights. These lights usually don’t use domed lenses, which is quite space-saving, thus allowing more diodes for increased brightness.
Though they offer wide and even light distribution, their coverage is less concentrated than other industrial grow lighting. Consequently, spread-style LED grow lights require more diodes for higher power. Adequate space for adjusting the height is important when using spread-style LEDs. If your grow space is limited, choose a spread-style LED featuring a dimming option.
Two main spread-styles LEDs are:
1. Quantum Board
Quantum board lights consist of numerous small LEDs evenly spread across a wide, flat surface. These full spectrum grow lights utilize white LEDs and often feature passive cooling, allowing safe placement near plants without overheating concerns.
Spider-style LED grow lights feature individual diodes that are spaced out and relatively small, resembling Quantum Boards. However, what sets them apart is the arrangement of diodes on a panel with “arms” resembling a spider. These lights are often considered high-end and come with a higher price tag, but many growers highly recommend them as among the best LED grow lights available.
Chip On Board (COB)
COB, or “chip on board,” refers to a type of LED lighting technology where multiple small semiconductors are integrated into a single diode, resulting in a powerful and efficient light source. Some grow light manufacturers combine multiple COB LEDs into a single fixture, often incorporating lenses and reflectors. Alternatively, there are fixtures that consist of a single COB, which can be advantageous for larger growing areas when multiple fixtures are evenly spaced for uniform light distribution. Compared with other types of LED lights, COBs have fewer components, making them more reliable with fewer potential points of failure.
One notable benefit of COB LEDs is their ability to penetrate deep into the plant canopy due to their high intensity. They also emit a light spectrum that promotes healthy growth and is highly energy-efficient.
However, a limitation of COBs is their restricted spectrum availability. They typically offer warm (3500K) and cold (6000K) spectra, but lack multi-colored wavelengths, as well as infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) spectra. Despite this, COBs are an excellent choice if you desire LED grow lights with intense illumination from a compact source.
In recent times, traditional LED grow lights have been widely utilized in plant cultivation. These lights are known for their versatility and are considered among the top commercial LED grow lights available.
Typically, each diode in these lights consists of 1 to 5-watt chips, depending on the desired light intensity, and is often equipped with 1 to 2 lenses to aid in light projection. By using a combination of lenses, the lights can achieve a focused beam of light with a 90° angle, and the addition of a secondary lens can further enhance the focus by providing an additional 60° angle.
One of the key advantages of traditional LED grow lights is their ability to offer a broad range of light wavelengths. They can offer cold and warm temperatures like T5s, as well as deep purples, ultraviolet (UV), and infrared (IR) illumination. This versatility allows growers to cater to the specific light needs of their crops.
Traditional LED grow lights, however, can be bulky. Additional equipment is required for stronger light output, which adds weight to the overall system. You must make sure that your grow space is capable of securely mounting lights that can weigh at least 25 to 30 pounds. Excessive light falling directly on plants, especially from high-powered traditional LED grow light panels that can weigh over 30 lbs, can cause damage or even destroy them.
When opting for traditional LED grow lights, it’s essential to select an LED that offers the necessary light spectrum required by your plants and to consider the weight and mounting capabilities of your grow room to ensure a safe and efficient setup.
Other Types Of LED Lights
Achieving equivalent PPFD levels between the edge and center of a room is an unattainable goal, even when employing common strategies like doubling the number of edge fixtures. The plants situated in the center always maintain a slight advantage. To address this issue, the implementation of side lights can help alleviate the problem.
However, there are certain challenges associated with side light installation. Make sure the side lights do not protrude excessively from the wall to prevent damage from accidental contact. Additionally, side lighting may pose risks to workers’ eyes. Therefore, it is important to invest in side lights that offer dimming or the ability to be turned off when someone enters the room. As side lighting is a relatively new concept in LED technology, finding safe options might currently be challenging. However, it is an area worth noticing in the upcoming years.
The concept of intra-canopy lights involves positioning LED emitters within the canopy of plants. However, there is a limited availability of intra-canopy lights in the market due to the current lack of significant demand for them. These types of lights are predominantly utilized in greenhouses that cultivate vine crops like tomatoes.
Greenhouses are large facilities with high foot traffic, making lights susceptible to potential damage. Additionally, greenhouses are exposed to external weather conditions such as heat, humidity, UV light, rain, and snow, which can impact the performance of lights. Therefore, when selecting greenhouse lights, durability becomes the primary consideration.
The durability of grow lights is indicated by their “IP rating,” which stands for “ingress protection.” This rating measures the level of protection provided against both solids and liquids that could potentially interfere with the functioning of the light fixture. A higher IP rating indicates a more robust and durable fixture.
For greenhouse applications, it is recommended to aim for a minimum IP rating of IP65. If budget allows, opting for a higher rating is always preferable. The highest attainable IP rating is IP68, which provides nearly complete protection against foreign objects and water damage.
Lights For Grow Stages
During the vegetative stage of plant growth, it is generally unnecessary to modify the light spectrum. However, it is crucial to gradually increase the intensity of light. This promotes the development of robust roots, stems, and leaves, ensuring that the plants are in optimal condition for the flowering stage. During this stage, it is advisable to consider the following:
1. Dimming Capabilities
In the case of using lights in a multi-tier racking system, there can be challenges related to light uniformity, with plants in the center potentially experiencing excessive heat. While a fixture with greater emitter density around the edges could potentially address this issue, such a fixture is currently unavailable.
Therefore, having dimming capabilities is crucial. Lowering the intensity of the light can help prevent early burning, considering the heightened sensitivity of seedlings to light. If dimming capabilities are not available, adjusting the distance between the lights and the plants can also help mitigate overheating problems.
2. A Higher Blue-to-red Ratio
Increasing the proportion of blue to red light aids in achieving light uniformity. This can contribute to more balanced growth across the plant canopy.
During the flowering stage, it is essential to utilize a high-performance light with comprehensive dimming capabilities and independent channel control. These features aid in transitioning plants from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage and provide optimal support throughout the flowering phase.
Initially, in the early flowering stage, the red and far-red channels are typically deactivated. After a period of around two to three weeks, these color spectra can be gradually reintroduced. Independent far-red controls are especially valuable for growers who wish to experiment by adjusting the light spectrum throughout the entire growth cycle.
This guide serves as a rough introduction to types of LED grow lights. And it is highly recommended to conduct your own research to ensure you select the appropriate fixtures that meet your specific needs. It is worthwhile to invest time and effort into researching and selecting high-quality fixtures. It will ultimately result in a healthier yield and a more satisfying overall growing experience.
At MokoLight, we provide LED lights suitable for both personal and commercial use, offering complete spectrum control and dimming capabilities. If you have any inquiries regarding lighting, please click here and our team will be glad to assist you.