"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Marcus Tullius Cicero
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LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)
Two plants growing under an LED grow light
LED grow lights are composed of light-emitting diodes, usually in a casing with a heat sink and built-in fans.
LED grow lights vary in color depending on the intended use. It is known from the study of photomorphogenesis that green, red, far-red and blue light spectra have an effect on root formation, plant growth, and flowering, but there are not enough scientific studies or field-tested trials using LED grow lights to recommended specific color ratios for optimal plant growth under LED grow lights. It has been shown that many plants will grow normally if given both red and blue light. However, many studies indicate that red and blue light only provides the most cost efficient method of growth, plant growth is still better under light supplemented with green.
White LED grow lights provide a full spectrum of light designed to mimic natural light, providing plants a balanced spectrum of red, blue and green. The spectrum used varies, however, white LED grow lights are designed to emit similar amounts of red and blue light with the added green light to appear white. White LED grow lights are often used for supplemental lighting in home and office spaces.
A large number of plant species have been assessed in greenhouse trials to make sure plants have higher quality in biomass and biochemical ingredients even higher or comparable with field conditions. Plant performance of mint, basil, lentil, lettuce, cabbage, parsley, carrot were measured by assessing health and vigor of plants and success in promoting growth. Promoting in profuse flowering of select ornamentals including primula, marigold, stock were also noticed.
In tests conducted by Philips Lighting on LED grow lights to find an optimal light recipe for growing various vegetables in greenhouses, they found that the following aspects of light affects both plant growth (photosynthesis) and plant development (morphology): light intensity, total light over time, light at which moment of the day, light/dark period per day, light quality (spectrum), light direction and light distribution over the plants. However it's noted that in tests between tomatoes, mini cucumbers and bell peppers, the optimal light recipe was not the same for all plants, and varied depending on both the crop and the region, so currently they must optimize LED lighting in greenhouses based on trial and error. They've shown that LED light affects disease resistance, taste and nutritional levels, but as of 2014 they haven't found a practical way to use that information. A small ficus plant being grown under a black LED light fixture emitting warm white light. Ficus plant grown under a white LED grow light.
The diodes used in initial LED grow light designs were usually 1/3 watt to 1 watt in power. However, higher wattage diodes such as 3 watt and 5 watt diodes are now commonly used in LED grow lights. for highly compacted areas, COB chips between 10 watts and 100 watts can be used. Because of heat dissipation, these chips are often less efficient.
LED grow lights should be kept at least 12 inches (30 cm) away from plants to prevent leaf burn.
Historically, LED lighting was very expensive, but costs have greatly reduced over time, and their longevity has made them more popular. LED grow lights are often priced higher, watt-for-watt, than other LED lighting, due to design features that help them to be more energy efficient and last longer. In particular, because LED grow lights are relatively high power, LED grow lights are often equipped with cooling systems, as low temperature improves both the brightness and longevity. LEDs usually last for 50,000 - 90,000 hours until LM-70 is reached.
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