Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

LED Grow Lights – Do’s and Don’ts

First, when it comes to growing with LED lights it’s important to know what the light you are using is made of. The wattage of LED, the angle of the lens, and the total wattage consumed by the light. These factors paired with the intensity of the light will determine the best method to follow when using your new LED grow light.

Determining Color and Power of LED Grow Lights

Let’s start with the type of plant and light intensity you desire first. Vegetative types of plants like lettuce or spinach do not need as much intense light to grow. If you are growing flowering and fruiting plants you will need a very intense light with a strong emphasis on red colors. Flowering plants can be hard to grow with LED grow lights if the light uses very cheap 1w LEDs and a wide angle lens (120 degrees) which makes the light spread out and drastically reduce the intensity of the light. Flowering plants should have as much light as possible and usually do much better under all 3w LEDs with a 90 degree lens. With this type of high intensity LED grow light, flowering plants are grown best with the light hung about 18 inches above the plant canopy.

If you have cheap low wattage 1w LEDs with the traditional 120 degree lens you will want to hang the light no higher than 6 inches above the plant canopy in order to produce results. If you have less than 1w/LED of in your lights then I would suggest only using them for vegetative growth, seedlings and clone transplants. These cheap low wattage LED grow lights are not all they are claimed to be and usually will result in a frustrated grower with little to show for a harvest.

Using Light Movers with LED Grow Lights

Another factor in growing with LED grow lights is side light and light movers. LED grow lights are directional lights that focus their light in one direction. If you add some florescent lights to the side of your garden you can see proportional benefits in harvest without much of an increase in your wattage or cost per unit of harvest. Light movers with high powered LED grow lights work great to increase the number of leaf sites that receive intense light and will allow your plants to fill out more evenly. Remember though to check your lights specifications regardless of side lights and light movers because if your wattage or lens angle is weak you will need to be much closer or not use those cheap lights on your flowers at all.

The #1 Rated 3w LED Grow Lights

If you are looking for a great place to find high intensity LED grow lights with all 3w LEDs and 90 degree lens angles then check out Advanced LED Grow Lights. They have the best LED grow lights money can buy and they back it up with a 90 day risk free guarantee. They also sell many custom LED grow lights and small LED lights they call SpectraBoost LEDs to add certain colors to your garden.


LED Lights vs HID Lights

LED lights have been a very efficient way of producing light for the last 4 years and each year the technology gets better. The LED manufacturing companies themselves have really increased the Lumen per watt ratios and are now increases the available applications of LED lights with the advent of globes, tubes and LED grow lights. These new LED applications not only replace the inefficient incandescent lights they also replace fluorescent lights and HID grow lights as well with lower wattage and less heat.

Power Savings
LED lights are known for their drastic reduction in power used to produce the same effective light when compared to HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights. The LED is the most efficient way to produce light and can be used with power from the grid or off-grid applications such as solar and battery power. The reduction in power is usually hard to see with the sticker price of an average LED application well over the price of a regular incandescent or HID light. This high cost can be offset by the long life of the LEDs however.

LED Lifetime
The average life of a florescent light is around 1 year before the bulb needs changed. The average life of an HID grow light is or incandescent light is about 6 months with daily use of more than 12 hours. Compare this to the average life of a quality LED light at more than 5 years. This long lifetime is another benefit of LEDs over others but is almost completely reliant on the quality of the LEDs themselves. If you buy a low cost LED light and save money upfront it is almost certain you will be losing some of the time the light will be usable due to the lower quality parts and workmanship.

Quality vs Cost
The most important factor when you purchase an LED light is the quality of the LED and the quality of the heat sink used in the light. A heat sink is a finned aluminum part used in LED lights to dissipate heat from the LED chip itself. All LEDs need some sort of dissipation device (heat sink) or the LED would burn out very quickly. When you look at LED lights you should look for the heat sinks fins, or lack thereof. If the LED light has a simple flat aluminum sheet, this is a sign of poor quality and inferior parts that will lead to a lesser quality of light in a shorter period of time.

The Latest LED Technology
The latest advancements in LED technology have been in two fields, high powered LED grow lights and LED street lights. Although there are many new applications these two types of LED lights are growing quickly and have some top quality suppliers that offer great warranties. These new types of LEDs feature long lasting components that make the initial investment a win for municipalities, retailers (Wal-Mart is testing LED lights in there parking lots), and greenhouses that can now use LED grow lights that replace HID lights.

LED lights are a great choice to replace your old lights but only if you are able to purchase a quality light that will pay for the large upfront cost of LED lights.


All Blue LED Grow Lights: The Perfect Vegetative Light

All Blue LED Grow Lights: The Perfect Vegetative Light

Plants in vegetative growth cycles are mainly using wavelengths of light in the blue spectrum, specifically the 415nm-460nm range. This spectrum of blue light can be found more prevalently in the spring months when plants are growing structure and leaves (vegetation). The latest advent of LED grow lights has allowed indoor growers to target this powerful blue spectrum of light during their vegetative growth cycles by using all blue LEDs. Some all blue LED grow lights have multiple shades of blue LEDs to allow for a broader range of spectral output but still focusing all that energy in the highly active blue band of light.

It has been proven that the blue color spectrum causes very dense vegetative growth and increases fruiting sites on most plants. Another common result with all blue LED grow lights is quick seeding and cloning phase transition in plants that are grown under blue LED grow lights that feature High Intensity LEDs.

The benefits of all blue LED grow lights may be enough to entice an indoor grower to try them but caution is always needed when looking at LED grow lights. Like other grow lights, LED grow lights can range in quality and performance. Quality is the most important factor when buying LED grow lights due to the high cost of this technology. Indoor growers must recover their costs over time and if the light they purchase only works for one year or less they will not recover those costs. It’s always advised to look for a supplier of all blue LED grow lights that offers a long warranty period to guarantee results.

Rest assured that a top quality all blue LED grow light will provide some of the best vegetative growth any indoor garden has ever seen with the least amount of electricity and very little heat.


LED Lighting from the UK

We are big proponents of LED lighting, as spot lighting a task area with a low wattage device makes much more sense than filling unused areas with a high wattage bulb. We use LED lights ourselves, and are proud to showcase the following from our friends in the UK. – Steve Spence

AVR Lighting have pioneered traditional track lighting systems by introducing clearly intense, ultra efficient LED track lighting products that connect directly to 240v mains track systems such as global track. By offering an easy to install, long lasting solution we have led the way with a range of low energy track lights that deliver powerful yet defining light output.

Here are the benefits of using commercial grade led track lights such as an AVR LED track light system:

Low energy usage – Up to 80% energy saving compared to traditional track lights. This can be as little as 4.8W for a 50W halogen replacement to just 28.8W for a CDM70 replacement.

Intensely Powerful – Using Cree MCE LED’s has enabled us to deliver outstanding intensity whilst being ultra efficient.

Defining – Proven LEDs like Cree MCE’s offer beautiful defining effect that brings objects to life. There is also a variety of source colour temperatures available. These include warm (3K), soft (3.5K), neutral (4k) & cool (5K). These temperatures can also be split further offering warmer/cooler temperatures if needed.

Thermal – LED’s are much cooler than traditional lighting products therefore offering less heat. It is common myth that LED’s offer no heat. This is not the case as LED’s can get very hot and are very delicate. Therefore there is a need for thermal management systems that take away the heat from the LED’s and direct it to the heat sync (body of the fitting) which is often made from aluminium.

Life Expectancy – Proven LED track lighting systems that use quality LEDs combined with excellent thermal management will last upto 70,000 hours with minimal drop in light quality.

Instant – LED track lighting products offer instant illumination without the need to warm up.

AVR LED track lights are extremely robust as they are manufactured in the heart of the UK at our Leicestershire lighting manufacturing facilities. We design, develop and deliver quality commercial grade track lighting products that last upto 70,000 hours. All our products include a three year warranty. AVR use only the best components such as Cree MCE diodes, Italian optics & AVR thermal heat sinking & drive systems. Even the best components require expertise. AVR has the experience and knowledge to design & assemble revolutionary products that deliver cutting edge performance every time.

AVR are currently looking for trade partners who share our passion and vision of delivering an LED track light to every major store globally. AVR products are already supporting many leading retailers within the UK by delivering diamond standard illumination whilst saving up to 80% in energy savings compared to traditional track lights.

AVR systems are the perfect fit for commercial & industrial applications. Our LED track products are both aesthetically & visually pleasing to the eye, which offers a refreshing outlook. AVR lights are contemporary in design, bringing us to forefront not just in technical ability but in how the physical product is perceived.

AVR have started a revolution and will now be pushing to introduce many innovative LED products over the course of 2010/2011.

For more information feel free to visit our led track lights lighting page.


Pressing your own fuel from crops

Our friends and neighbors the Martin’s have their oil press up and running. They are pressing oil from oil seed crops, and experimenting with a variety of crop types to determine the best crops for our climate and geography. Pictures can be found in our photo album, and movies can be found at:

Movie 1, 3.2M
Movie 2, 61.8M
Movie 3, 49.2M
Movie 4, 12.1M
Movie 5, 9.3M

Additionally, Melvin and Luray are working with some new >1 watt LED’s. Melvin had this to say:

We got some new LEDs to replace the old ones we installed last winter. The old ones were not right from the day we got them, and since, they have lost their light output. The new ones act like they are supposed to, they are many times brighter, they have a much wider viewing angle, cheaper per amount of light output, more efficient, and give a nice white light. As you can see in the picture, these new LEDs need to have a big heat sink. So far we really like them.