How To Grow Plants With Led Lamps: What They Are And How They Work
What Are The Main Features of LEDs That Add Value To Cultivation?
LED lamps have now taken over all the various lighting systems for indoor cultivation, an indispensable resource for those who want to enter the world of private cultivation or the brand new business market of cannabis light.
Among the many peculiarities that these electronic devices have, we recognize the ability to generate and emit heat; in this the LEDs are no exception, but they are created to emit light at high power avoiding that their chip is founded inside. The larger the chip mounted, the greater the performance: different chip sizes can be used for each model you make.
The particularity of a diode lies in the transformation of all energy into light or heat, knowing that the higher the amount of light that is produced the lower the amount of heat. This means that if our LED consumes about 2.5 watts going to transform 50% of its production into light, it will emit 1.25 watts of heat.
The Power of LEDs
To express the power of LEDs we speak in watts, but their classification does not indicate what is the true electricity consumption. It is a fundamental premise before talking about the real classification, which is adjusted so that LEDs produced by different companies are used in the same device.
- 1 watt LEDs operate at 350 mA;
- 3-watt LEDs operate at 700 mA;
- 5-watt LEDs operate at 1000 mA;
- 10 watt LEDs operate at 1500 mA.
The standards apply to white and blue LEDs that consume approximately 2.4 watts in the 3-watt class. The different colours of LEDs in the same class vary in the amount of power consumption, because the materials used for the colour affect the voltage. The Ohm formula (watt = volts x amperes) should be used to calculate the consumption.
How LEDs are Composed
Having the possibility of always being able to keep at the coldest temperatures even during use, the device will be more efficient and above all it can last for a longer time. The high-end LED emission device is fixed on a ceramic base that has a powerful heat conductivity. The special electronic board, to which it is then soldered, is made of a thin layer of material that will retain electricity and let the heat pass through.
Usually the cheap boards have a conductivity of about 0.5 W/K, against 1 W/K of those with a better quality; they are connected to a heat sink that is equipped with a fan. Copper is placed in the dielectric layer in order to emit electricity and ensure that the LEDs are soldered during assembly.
Features and Durability
We report the voltage values of the LEDs, which vary by color:
- BLUE: 3.0 Volts.
- BLUE: 3.5 Volts;
- GREEN and ORANGE: 2.0 Volts;
- YELLOW: 1.9 Volts;
- RED: 1.8 Volts.
Diodes can flash at frequencies higher than Mhz, they can emit cold light (and it is the main characteristic that differentiates them from classic bulbs), they are useful for the transmission of signals by means of intensity modulation of brightness, they have an excellent energy saving and use low power consumption, like our lamps for indoor cultivation low consumption.
But How Long Do LEDs Last?
They are capable of maintaining 70% of the light output up to 50,000 hours, within which time they must be replaced if there is a reduction in brightness. In general, however, they can achieve up to 100,000 hours of brightness. It is recommended to replace a system when it reaches 85-90% of the total output.
One of the latest developments, for example, are our COB LED lamps or the brand new Lumeny Evolution LED lamps with control panel.
Distance and Height
To date, the most modern LED models are able to produce between 40 and 70 lumens per watt; the experimental models, on the other hand, also produce 200 lumens. When talking about cultivation with the use of LEDs, always remember that the LED must be positioned at a distance of 30.5 cm from the plants themselves in order to have a functional and effective effect. They should be grouped together so that there is enough light to help the development of plants, such as medical cannabis for example.
Speaking of lamp application height and irradiation area, it is good to give a small example: if we suppose we have two 180W panels it is better to hang the lamps at a distance of 60 cm, measuring from the centre of one panel to the other. With such power the lamp will be able to cover a central area of about 60cm x 60cm that reaches intensity margins up to 90cm x 90cm.
LED Systems and Bulbs
LEDs can be used in large numbers to be inserted into a light bulb, to form a domestic system; this model has a market cost of between $15 and $30, but is not bright enough to grow plants.
It is, however, the perfect variation for an incandescent bulb. LED tubes, on the other hand, have the shape of fluorescent lamps but can contain up to 200 LEDs, all small in size; those without flicker reach a total life span of over 50,000 hours of use. Their particularity, as said, is that they remain cold and for this reason they can be placed a short distance from plants.
When different LEDs are joined together they form a single system, which manages to obtain a determined light spectrum that will contain glass tubes with LEDs.
An LED is Preferable to a HID
It is almost essential to compare these two different types, in order to evaluate what are the characteristics related to watts, lumens and lm/W. HID (High Intensity Discharge) are high intensity lamps. When you want to measure the amount of light that plants need for photosynthesis, you have to use milliwatts per square meter (mW/m2) and PAR watts.
From here it is recognized that LEDs have qualities that HIDs do not have: the former produce little heat, but can be placed closer to the cultivation, directing the light precisely through a lens that allows you to intensify the light. This is the main reason why it is preferable to focus on LED lamps.
How To Grow Plants And Vegetables With LED Lamps
When you want to grow with lamps it is always advisable to rely on LEDs, considering how long it will be necessary to keep them on. Using lighting systems, however, requires a bit of practice: let’s find out what methods you can use to learn how to grow indoors using this lighting system. The first question to ask is the type of plants you will grow, but in any case you will need to equip yourself with a quality indoor grow box beforehand.
This choice affects the lighting time of the LED lamps, which is technically called photoperiod, which is different for each variety grown and especially for each growing phase. However, it was the biologists who helped us to classify the photoperiod system according to the plants, which can therefore be short day, neutral day or long day. All this is based on the hours of darkness because, as experts have explained, it is precisely this fact that stimulates the plants to start flowering.
Types of Plants
Let’s start with the short day plants, which only form flowers (or fruits) when the days become shorter and therefore the darkness and the night get longer. We are talking for example about rice plants, cotton, medical cannabis and chrysanthemums. Neutral day plants on the other hand, as their name suggests, do not necessarily develop due to the influence of the day (and therefore of light) and darkness.
They tend to bloom when they reach the development stage, or at the precise moment when a given temperature and humidity level is reached. These plants include the tomato, various types of trees and the tulip. In the case of long day plants such as potatoes, spinach, lettuce, sunflowers and the phenomenal microgreens (or micro-orages) develop when the nights and darkness exceed the hours of light.
The Hours Of Darkness
The first type of plant grows from cuttings or seed and has a photoperiod of 18 – 20 hours a day; then it is passed to 12 hours of light to start flowering. The second type needs LED lamps on average for 18 hours a day.
The third type, on the other hand, will start with 12 hours of light and then rise to 18 – 20 hours for the flowering phase. But be careful: when it is dark or at night it is essential that there is no contact with the light for the recommended number of hours. It is enough to accidentally turn on a light to mess up the entire system and cultivation. This is because if you go to interrupt the hours of darkness you may notice a blockage of flowering with the plant returning to the vegetative phase.
At this point it is important to talk about maintaining the environmental conditions: this is in fact the perfect key to always have a good indoor cultivation. Although you have the best LED lamps for growing, the most complete innovations, but if you don’t know how to maintain the recommended environmental conditions you can never be sure to get to a satisfactory flowering and harvest stage.
Too much heat, lack of carbon dioxide are aspects that we can never ignore when approaching cultivation: each different period of the plant’s life cycle requires certain specifications. We can sum it all up by saying that there are mainly three environmental factors that directly influence domestic cultivation: CO2, humidity and temperature.
What Happens In Conditions Of Excessive Cold
Your grow room will need to be well prepared and structured to accommodate your LED lamps: unlike HPS lamps they often tend to be too cold during light hours. This problem should therefore be solved by relying on a few tricks, as exposing the plant to too long periods with temperatures below 18°C causes the growth to stall. Clearly we are talking about a problem that characterises the winter period.
It would be appropriate to use an air conditioner that is able to switch on and off depending on the type of temperature detected in the environment in which it is located. However, we are talking about an object that will require a significant expense during the purchase phase; those who do not want to face such an expense will be able to rely on electric stoves with fans that must be regulated at speed so as to regulate the movement of the air in a personal way.
What Happens In Conditions Of Excessive Heat
The plants also suffer from the heat and to see them grow and develop in a healthy and correct way it is good to always be able to keep them away from the very high temperatures. The heat, in fact, causes a series of mechanisms that make it difficult to manage crops: for this reason, in a completely natural way, plants have learned to defend themselves, for example, by orienting their leaves so as to move away from exposure to light.
However, this requires a great deal of energy for the plant, which can have negative effects on fruiting and flowering. For this reason it is advisable that our home gardens always maintain certain characteristics during the daytime cycle at a temperature between 23°C and 29°C. Thanks to the LEDs in some cases you can even reach an altitude of 32°, if it is necessary for a particular crop.
What Happens In Conditions Of Excessive Humidity
This is perhaps the most important condition for a successful cultivation: the level of humidity in the environment is the key to optimal flowering and harvesting. If you have a room or an area that is too humid compared to what is required by the plant, you will encounter the formation of fungi and mold that do nothing but destroy the crops. If the humidity is too low then the crops will struggle to breathe.
This process allows the moisture to move from the root system to the leaf system and then be released into the air. If there is too much moisture in the indoor growing environment there will be a sharp drop in transpiration and the consequences will be far from positive.
What Happens In Conditions Of Excessive Dryness
A too dry environment is the worst condition among the four just listed, we can only compare it to excessive heat: in this case, through the natural process, the plants go to close the flocks trying to protect themselves but in this way they lose energy and slow down the growth.
Generally it is a type of problem that does not concern LED lamps, where the plants are able to respond well to changes in humidity, although the basic level to maintain is always set at 60%, without ever exceeding. Those who live in an area with a fairly dry climate will not have to buy humidifiers to grow with LED lamps.
Cloning in LED-Based Crops
When we talk about cloning we are referring to a process through which it is possible to obtain a plant that has the same characteristics as the original one, from which the cuttings have been cut. LED lamps are perfect not only in the development phase, but they are the best choice to ensure the maintenance of clones, cuttings, carefully supporting the germination phase. Thanks to the ease of application of these devices it is possible to install them even in a small space.
When LED lamps were first introduced on the market, great curiosity was immediately created. It was clear that their use made it possible to produce clones with a robust root system, always obtaining rapid germination. There was no lack of research and studies to try to understand what their strong point was: why LEDs are so effective, one wondered.
Get to Know LED Lighting Systems
Experts had noticed that light with red-blue wavelengths could stimulate cuttings much faster than any other lighting system. This has to be related to the type of plant in front of us: clones and pods never need the same amount of light as a plant in vegetative or flowering phase. Excessive exposure, especially in the development phase, can block or even kill the plant due to excessive photosynthesis.
According to some growers, it is explained that if cuttings are exposed to a 24-hour photoperiod, root formation could develop faster. Unfortunately, however, this belief must be refuted, because plants also need a break, as is the case with all organisms.
Initial Phase: Pods and Clones
Clones do not have roots and for this reason they will rely on the leaves to absorb nutrients useful in the initial phase: they will use water and therefore you will have to equip our indoor growing area with a humidifier that will raise the humidity level. The pods, on the other hand, rely on the sugars found inside the leaves and stems; from here they find the energy they need to produce roots. In this phase too much light causes an excess of energy that leads to a slowdown in root development with really dangerous causes. Precisely for this reason it is important to experiment in order to make the most of the qualities that are ensured by the presence of LED lamps.
Second Phase: Vegetative / Blossoming
After the first step of “initiation”, we move on to the most important part of a crop: vegetation. From this moment on, it is essential to lower the humidity level and increase control in order to ward off the risk of strong surges that are the primary enemy of drying clones and pods. New seedlings will always have to find a way to acclimatize and adapt to current climatic conditions. You can slowly let outside air in, as long as you do not go beyond an exposure of a couple of hours a day.
At this point it becomes important to maintain them with LED lamps, which are now also available with 3 channels for complete control of light in the Agro Veg and Bloom phase like our Apollo Pro V3+, this is because the mother plants and cuttings will have similar needs especially in terms of quantity and type of light depending on the phase. It is necessary to organize a careful nutritional plan for the donor plants, as their purpose is to be grown for the production of cuttings and not to get the flowers.
Producing Plants With The Best Clones
If we want to produce the best clones we will have to take good care of the mother plants: when they are over-fertilised, poor products will be obtained and the whole development phase will suffer. If, on the other hand, we learn to find the right diet, we will be able to use the basis for quality cuttings, rich in carbohydrates and all those elements that are fundamental for the initial development of the root system. Without carbohydrates, therefore sugars, and nutrients, the cuttings will not be able to grow and develop; at the same time a lack of nitrogen risks making them weak and pale.
An increasing number of growers have chosen to focus on growing with LED lamps, discovering that this technique is much simpler and above all less demanding than the one favoured with the use of traditional lamps, Growledlamp offers you all the support you need to buy your LED lamp to grow.