Until recently, indoor growers only had traditional mechanisms of indoor hydroponic growing with high heat bulbs such as high pressure sodium, metal halide, and more recently, compact fluorescent. The light bulb would provide massive amounts of light, measured in lumens, to replicate the sunlight necessary for photosynthesis which drives vegetative growth and flowering.
These lighting sources provide white light, which is the combination of all the colors in the visible spectrum put together. The problem with these traditional lighting sources is that they are inherently inefficient and waste a great deal of energy in the form of excess heat and light in the visible spectrum which is not beneficial to indoor growing. For example, the green spectra is not necessary for photosynthesis as green light is reflected and does nothing to the plants (green light bulbs are good to use when you need to enter your grow room during the sleep cycle of your plants because they will not be detected by the plants).
Although different plants have different lighting requirements (orchids have different light needs than cannabis plants), most plants flourish with only a limited range of light – reds, orange, and blues. This is because various processes and chemicals involved in photosynthesis respond most readily to these bands of light. Unfortunately, only about 15 percent of light emitted by HID/CFL bulbs is available in the bands of light needed for photosynthesis.
This is where LED technology makes the photosynthesis of indoor grown plants a more efficient process. Hydroponic LED lights concentrate their diode ratio around the reds, oranges and blues, along with the weighted value of other spectra needed to get the optimal blend for a particular plant. By concentrating on the wavelengths actually needed for photosynthesis, LED growlights can save a tremendous amount of energy as compared to high pressure sodium bulbs. This is why a 300 to 400 watt LED growlight can replace an entire 1000 watt high pressure sodium or metal halide system.
Furthermore, the LED grow light does not need a ballast assembly because the power supplies are built into the panel. If you start adding up all the capital and operational savings, it is easy to see why LED grow lights are becoming the future of hydroponic gardening.
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