Choosing the best LED grow light for indoor plants is important, especially if you want healthy crops and low electricity bills. Generally, LED bulbs offer a number of benefits that make them a better option for most indoor farming applications.
If growing crops for own consumption or commercial purposes, there will be more savings or more money to make when the costs are down. Despite their good performance and other benefits, making the correct choice is critical in ensuring that a farmer saves money without compromising on quality.
The LED light capacity and cost must match the requirements and savings desired.
Before we look at the factors to consider when selecting the grow lights, let’s first have a brief look at the benefits.
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Benefits of using the best Led Grow Light for indoor plants
LED grow lights have benefits such as
- High energy efficiency
- Instant on and off
- Stable light with no flicker
- Directional light
- A wide range of colors
- Less heat dissipation
- Small physical size and more
Selecting the best LED grow light for indoor plants
With so many LED grow lights manufacturers and distributors, it can be a challenge deciding on what will provide the best service at a favorable cost. A customer needs to check other things beyond the purchase price. What may appear cheap may end up being expensive to run if it is inefficient, keeps on breaking or requires several replacements.
The most effective way is to balance cost and performance. But you need to understand several things in order to make an informed decision.
Below are some things to consider when looking for the best LED grow light for the indoor plants.
Amount of light the plants require
While some plants can survive under a shade, others require lots of light. The first step is to determine the plants you intend to cultivate indoors and their light requirements. Providing this will guarantee that the crops will flourish in the indoor environment. Some examples crops and their needs are as below.
- Germinating and sprouting works best with little light. However, there must be more light for the fruiting and blooming stages
- Lettuce and other leafy vegetables require at least four hours of light per day.
- Onions, carrots and other root vegetables require at least six hours of light
- Fruiting vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes require more light of at least 8 hours a day.
Taking time to find out about the plants is a good step towards determining the best LED grow light for indoor plants, either to supplement the daylight or work the entire time.
Sizing the LED grow light for indoor plants
There are several factors that determine the rating and number of LED lamps for your indoor garden. Although the wattage and lumens are useful parameters in choosing the standard lights, there are other specifications that are more important for the grow lights. You must pay attention to the coverage area and then check the manufacturer’s guidelines on what their lamps can achieve. Another important parameter is the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR).
In addition to the electrical ratings, the manufacturers often include essential information such as the area a certain lamp will cover at specific heights. For instance, an LED grow light for indoor plants can illuminate an area of 4 by 4 feet or 4 square feet when mounted at a height of 18 inches.
If germinating seeds which do not require much light, hanging the lamp higher than the 18 inches will still be effective and provide a larger coverage area. However, if the growth is at a later stage and the aim is to produce big tomatoes, the lamp will need at a lower height and this will decrease the coverage area.
PAR (photosynthetically active radiation)
This is a measure of the intensity and color the lamp emits. Most of the grow lights emit light in the 400nm to 700nm spectrum. This spans from blue to the infrared. The best LED grow light for indoor plants is that with a high PAR number since this produces more useful light that translated to better growth.
The shape of the LED lamp or panel
The best LED grow light for indoor plants must have a shape that corresponds to that of the area to illuminate. If the growing area is a circle, pick a circular panel. Similarly, if rectangular, choose a corresponding shape.
A larger area will require combining several lamps or panels. It is important to select the correct number and shape. Either, several rectangular panels can be arranged to illuminate a larger perfect square, or several squares can also make a larger rectangle if the dimensions allow.
When there is a need for more than one lamp, it is recommended to choose the models that can be daisy chained or linked together. This makes it easier to control or dim them as necessary.
Lastly, it is sometimes better to choose a light that will provide slightly more than what is required.
The advertised LED chip wattage
The wattage of individual chips that make up the lamp determines its light and heat output. The least wattage chips are the most efficient and emit the least amount of heat compared to the higher rated ones. Generally, there are 1 watt, 3 watts, 5 watts and higher.
The 1 watt has the best efficiency and is the most stable in addition to having the longest lifespan. However, the lamp may not emit light with enough intensity to penetrate deep into the plants. Most often the 3 watts chips provide the best balance between cost, heat emission, size, and performance.
The other consideration is the difference between the advertised wattage and the actual performance. Usually, the LED bulbs operate at a level lower than its full capacity. Sometimes, this helps in extending the lifespan. For example, a 3 watt advertised bulb will in practical applications work at about 1.7 watts, but this may vary according to the wavelength.
A physically large LED grow light provides a more intense and even light over a larger area than a smaller light whose light travels a greater distance since it must be mounted higher.
It is, therefore, best to use several low power lamps instead of going for few high power units.
Besides the physical size of the fixture, the beam angle of the lamp is also important. While a small beam angle of about 30 degrees has a smaller coverage area, it delivers more PAR. On the other hand, a wider angle of about 65 degrees will cover a larger area but at a reduced light density.
Although a small angle seems ideal, a wider angle can be considered when the light is at a height that is closer to the plants. One of the main advantages of the wide angle is that it has a better penetration through the sides.
LED grow light fixture construction
The design and construction of the grow light influence its performance and lifespan. Most often, the high quality or best LED grow lights for indoor plants are housed in metallic enclosures such as aluminum. The plastic fixtures have several drawbacks such as accumulating a lot of heat inside the lamp and hence degrading the electronics.
Due to the excellent heat conducting properties of metals such as the aluminum, its housing dissipates the heat away from the electronics hence improving performance and lifespan.
The best LED grow light for indoor plants provides value for money. Its performance guarantees maximum growth and yield. In addition, the best LED grow light for the indoor plants is that which save money for the farmer and is convenient to use.
Other than the purchase price, the grower must look at other factors such as the shape of the light fixture, output light, consumption and heat management and other issues that impact on the overall performance. Since there are different environments and types of plants, the best LED grow light for indoor plants may not provide all the benefits for all the crops. However, a good selection will take care of a majority of the crops.