Transitioning to LED grow lighting
LED grow lighting has many advantages over high-pressure sodium, metal halide, and fluorescents – they use less energy, emit less heat, reduce water usage and have spectra that are optimized for plant growth. Another great thing about LEDs is their reliability. Instead of re-lamping every year, many LEDs have lifespans of 10 years or longer. But as more growers transition to LED grow lighting, more questions and concerns arise.
For decades cannabis growers have been honing their grow “recipes” on their own and when the light technology “ingredient” changes so do the other variables like nutrient uptake, temperature, humidity requirements and so on. Implementing LEDs into an already dialed in grow can be challenging so let’s look at the first step to make this a successful transition:
Light levels consistency
There’s a saying among lighting experts, “A photon is a photon is a photon.” It doesn’t matter if it’s coming from the sun, an HPS lamp or an LED, this plant growing energy is the same. Photon color is important but when switching to LEDs it’s even more important to keep PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation) at a proper level for each stage of growth.
LEDs have the highest energy efficiency of all grow lighting technologies, and this is critical in keeping operating costs down. All reputable lighting companies will be able to provide this information. Here’s a list of typical energy efficiency values for the various technologies to get you started:
1.1 µmols/joule = High-Pressure Sodium (single ended lamps)
1.7 µmols/joule = High-Pressure Sodium (double ended lamps)
1.5 µmols/joule = Ceramic Metal Halide (315w, 630w)
2.2 µmols/joule = Thrive Agritech full-spectrum LEDs
So, for example, if you want to keep your light levels the same when replacing a 1,000W HPS single ended fixture with Thrive Agritech’s LEDs, here are the steps:
- Divide the efficiency of the old technology (HPS) by that of the new technology (LED).
1.1 ÷ 2.2 = 0.5
- Multiply the outcome by the current wattage your trying to replace.
0.5 x 1,000w = 500w
For this example, you’ll need (4) 130w Thrive Agritech Boost LEDs (520w) to provide the same amount of light as (1) 1,000w HPS single ended fixture and lamp.
Even more important than how much light a fixture emits is how much of that light is reaching your plants. PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density) maps reveal how much PAR light is hitting a square meter of the canopy per second. It’s ideal to work with a grow light company that can customize a lighting layout and provide a PPFD map. They’ll specify the correct mounting height and fixture spacing to ensure uniform light levels across the entire canopy. Here are some recommended PPFD ranges for each stage of growth:
50-100 = Clones/Propagation
200-250 = Early Veg
350-450 = Late Veg
800-1,000 = Flower
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