One advantage of indoor growing is that it gives you profound control over your environment. This means you can create optimal settings regardless of the time of year or the current weather. The ability to grow year-round can massively increase your profits, but your amount of environmental control is highly contingent on the lights you’re using.
Traditional HPS lights can interfere with your growing environment and make maintaining factors like temperature and CO2 levels an uphill battle. LED lights, conversely, have minimal impact on these factors and can help you manipulate the light spectrum for a better yield. Below, we’ll go over four significant ways LED grow lights can improve environmental control and create an ideal environment for your plants.
Better Temperature Control
One of the most oft-touted benefits of LED lights is that they emit negligible heat. HPS lighting, on the other hand, is notorious for causing spikes in heat. This necessitates fans and air conditioners to stabilize temperature, which drives up your electric bill. Plus, even with using external equipment, HPS lights will cause some degree of temperature fluctuation, which can adversely affect plant growth.
LEDs – for the most part – do not produce heat in the form of infrared (IR) radiation. HPS lights produce light by heating the gas tube, while LEDs contain diodes that convert current into light. As a result, most of the heat from LED lights remains within the fixture. While any lamp will inevitably emit some head, the light produced via LED fixtures is much less. It will have a much less significant effect on the external temperature of your grow space.
The lack of external heat makes maintaining a consistent temperature within a grow room more manageable. You’ll still need to control for temperature fluctuations due to the time of year – likely heating your grow space in the winter and cooling it in the summer months. However, there is less added headache of worrying about the heat coming off your lights themselves. An HVAC system can maintain temperature more easily when not in conflict with excess heat discharged from your lighting system.
It also gives you the ability to provide your plants with supplement light without risking temperature fluctuations, an option that’s unavailable with HPS lighting. You can provide your plants with adequate light to thrive without suffering the drawbacks associated with HPS lamps.
Vapor Pressure Deficit Management
Vapor pressure deficit (VPD) is the difference between the moisture in the air and how much moisture the air can hold. If air becomes saturated, the water will condense – resulting in dew and condensation on your crops, which can make them more vulnerable to pathogens. An HVAC system can typically help manage VPD, but it’s an uphill battle if you’re not using LEDs,
This relates to the above point about LED lights producing minimal heat. When you turn HPS lights on and off as needed, this causes sudden changes to temperature and humidity, making it that much harder for your HVAC system to maintain a stable environment. This makes VPD management that much harder – if not outright impossible.
LED lights eliminate most of the issues with environmental regulation that HPS lighting poses. The temperature stability LEDs provide means all you need to do to manage VPD is switch on your HVAC system and punch in your temperature and humidity set points.
Optimize Your Light Spectrum
Anyone with even passing familiarity with LED lighting has probably heard the term “spectrum control.” Unlike HPS lighting, which gives you little-to-no control over the light spectrum, LED lights allow you to tweak your spectrum throughout the grow cycle. This level of environmental control has enormous implications for plant growth.
While many would assume the best indoor grow lights mimic the same light spectrum as the sun, most photosynthetic activity occurs in the blue and red frequencies. However, the sun’s light tends to fall closer to the middle of the spectrum. With LED lights, you can expose your plants to more PAR throughout the grow cycle, and some studies show a 1% increase in PAR results in a 1% increase in yield.
In other words, with LED lights, you can adjust the light spectrum to more optimal conditions than you could find in an entirely natural setting. You can also change the spectrum throughout the grow cycle to give your plants the exact balance of light for different phases and customize your yield for qualities like color, scent, terpene level, and more. (We have covered this topic in more depth here, for reference.)
Stabilized CO2 Levels
Maintaining CO2 levels is critical to plant growth, with an 800 to 1,000 ppm concentration optimal. However, the issues mentioned above with heat regulation associated with HPS lights again pose a problem.
With HPS lights causing fluctuations in temperature, you’ll need to vent your greenhouse to control humidity. This leads to rapid fluctuations in temperature, which, in turn, causes fluctuations in CO2 levels.
LED lights significantly decrease the need for ventilation and keep your climate more stable overall. This keeps CO2 levels stable, protecting the health of your plants.
The Bottom Line
LED lights allow you to have profound control over your environment. This can help create optimal settings for your plants, leading to better, more lucrative yields.
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