LEDs briefly explained
LEDs are currently the most modern lights associated with plants and, unlike other popular light sources such as sodium vapor or metal halide lamps, are not based on a gas discharge.
LEDs are light-emitting diodes that incorporate a semiconductor element that emits light when current flows through it. This emission is non-thermal in nature, which is why conventional LED lamps are characterized by very low waste heat.
However, the innovative light sources also have a whole range of other advantages, which is why many experienced hobby gardeners now swear by LEDs as a source of light. Not least, the low operating costs coupled with high luminous efficacy has convinced many customers worldwide for years.
Development over time
Although modern lamps have only been available to the general public since the 1990s, the first encounters with light-emitting diodes (or the technology on which they are based) took place in the second half of the 19th century.
Much time has passed since then, during which LEDs have traveled a long road marked by several stages of development before finally finding a place among the most efficient and popular plant lamps.
Part of the credit for this development goes to NASA, which in 2012 looked more extensively at the use of light-emitting diodes in growing plants. The U.S. space agency naturally has a keen interest in an artificial, energy-efficient light source that can help grow plant food quickly and reliably. In the course of various experiments in demanding environments, not only was the high effectiveness of LED light sources underscored; it was also shown how plants react when specifically irradiated with individual light spectra. It was thus recognized that blue and red light in particular have special significance for the individual phases of a plant's life.
It did not take long for resourceful developers and entrepreneurs to make use of these findings and launch sophisticated LED plant lamps on the market. Among customers, however, the newly designed lamps met with reservations - the technology was not yet mature and the acquisition costs were too high in relation to this. Many Grower did not see any significant progress in the use of light-emitting diodes and remained loyal to the tried and tested sodium vapor lamps. Even today, there are Hobby still some gardeners who are skeptical about LEDs as plant lighting.
For the most part, however, the old prejudices have evaporated - and not without reason. Since the potential of LEDs in plant cultivation was recognized, a lot of money has been spent on research and development. The result is ultra-modern and powerful light sources that can be individually adapted to the conditions at hand. For example, the luminous efficacy of the lamps has improved considerably; a system efficiency of 2.7 µmol/y is no longer a rarity (system efficiency refers to the number of emitted photons per watt and second). The price development has also been a positive one. Although expensive LEDs are still available and the initial cost remains higher compared to NDL or MHl - the cost-benefit factor is now superior here.
Advantages over other light sources
As mentioned, LEDs have many advantages over other plant lamps. The most directly noticeable is certainly the cost factor: LEDs are incomparably more energy-efficient than other light sources at the same power, which means that the seemingly high purchase costs are quickly recouped in your wallet through the electricity savings alone.
In addition, they are consistently blessed with a high life expectancy - many LEDs can easily survive up to 50,000 operating hours without experiencing significant performance losses (this corresponds to continuous operation of more than 5 ½ years). If a diode does fail, it can be quickly replaced if necessary (here, however, we must refer to the manufacturers). Furthermore, the lamps are shock-resistant and very low-maintenance.
The low waste heat of the lamps may not be missing in this listing. If you decide for an LED, the heat development in your box will no longer be a big problem, which is why you can usually do without cost-intensive cooling systems.
However, one of the biggest advantages of lamps equipped with light-emitting diodes is another: user-friendliness. LED plant lamps can be adapted to any requirement with a wide variety of designs. Whether strip or cluster LEDs, modern ladder lamps for professional use or compact lamps for small grow boxes - you will find LEDs tailored exactly to your needs. In addition: LED lamps can be used immediately without having to rely on external aids such as ballasts.
Light spectrum - individual and precise
However, not only the shape of the lamps can be individually realized; equipped with different individual diodes, LEDs can offer your plants exactly and specifically the light they need for proper growth. This is a feature that no other plant illuminant can offer so far.
In addition to highly efficient full-spectrum lamps, there are also LEDs specifically for the growth or flowering phase, as well as lamps in the infrared range.
Typical light spectrum of a full-spectrum LED
In comparison, the spectrum of a growth LED, which emits mainly blue light:
The Grow Guru LED assortment
There are many experienced and reliable suppliers of LED plant lamps on the market, in Europe and worldwide. Big players worth mentioning include the market leader SANlight from Austria, but also big names like Growking and Lumatek.
But also other, currently still smaller manufacturers, such as Hydroca and Greenception have made great leaps forward in recent years and offer high-quality illuminants at a reasonable price.
In our store, we place great emphasis on the cost-benefit ratio and would therefore like to offer you primarily those lamps that offer you the greatest added value in relation to the price. So you will find not only well-known sizes, but also promising up-and-comers and LEDs for all conceivable uses in the Growing-Range. It's best if you just browse around yourself - but if you still can't find the right one, just let us know! Together we will find the best product for you
You are a beginner in Growing-In the field? Then we recommend a complete beginner's set. The sets contain everything you need at the beginning and are cheaper than all individual components.
Depending on the project size (250 Watt or 400 Watt) we offer you 2 complete sets: We have a complete set for the small purse (Low Budget Grow Kit) in our offer.
However, we recommend our complete set "Top Price-Performance". It is of higher quality and you will achieve better results.
What are HPS or MHL grow lamps and how are they optimally used?
Sodium vapor lamps are normally only used in the vegetation and flowering phase. In the germination phase, ESL (energy saving lamps) or LED are usually used (also available from us in the Grow Shop ).
For the growing phase, a lamp with increased blue content should be used.
In the flowering phase a lamp with increased red light should be used. This is especially important, because certain hormones in the plant lead to increased flower production.
The required power of the lamp is calculated according to the rule of thumb 400 W per m².
What are the advantages of HPS / MHL grow lamps?
The depth effect of a HPS is much better (see PAR value), which is why a HPS is indispensable in the flowering phase for a high yield.
What are the disadvantages of HPS / MHL grow lamps?
HPS lamps consume a lot of power and a ballast is necessary, which should be placed outside the cabinet due to heat generation.
Due to the heat generated by the lamp, care should be taken to ensure suitable temperature control and sufficient distance.
Grow Guru Tips for HPS lamps
Tip No. 1: When using HPS lamps, we recommend a cooling device. CoolTubes (available in our store ) are ideal for this purpose. CoolTubes are reflectors with integrated lamp holder, which are connected to a ventilation system. The lamp is permanently circulated with fresh air.
Tip no. 2: You are a beginner in Growing-In the field? Then we recommend you a beginner complete set. The complete sets are available in different sizes, depending on the project size: 250 Watt / 400 Watt / 600 Watt. We also have a complete set for the small purse (Low Budget Grow Set) in our offer. But we recommend our complete set "price-performance". The components are of higher quality and you will achieve better results.
Ceramic metal halide (CMH) lamps offer several advantages over sodium vapor lamps (HPS) and conventional metal halide (MH) lamps
Firstly, they can withstand significantly more heat due to the ceramic elements used, which has a particular effect on the light emitted by the lamps. With the exception of the so-called green gap at a wavelength of approx. 510 nm, plants primarily require light in the spectrum from 420 to 680 nm for photosynthesis. In contrast to ND lamps, which can usually serve exactly one wavelength, and MH lamps, whose light spectrum is characterized by individual peaks at different wavelengths, a CMH lamp emits a very natural light that is very similar to that of the sun and is more or less constantly strong across all wavelengths. This can be illustrated in concrete figures by the so-called color rendering index (CRI); this value describes the quality of artificial light compared to natural light emitted by the sun. This is why the sun has the maximum possible CRI of 100, while sodium vapor lamps achieve values between 60 and 90. CMH lamps have a value above 90, which guarantees a high quality light that almost completely covers the light spectrum
Your plants are therefore enormously supported in their photosynthesis, which in turn has an effect on growth and ultimately on the yield. Compared to MH or HPS lamps, you will achieve a noticeably higher yieldwith ceramic metal halide lamps.
At the same time, CMH lamps are excellently insulated, which means that they emit less heat and the risk of burning the plant (as can occur with sodium vapor lamps, for example) is significantly reduced.
The comparison with LEDs at this point is mainly in terms of price, since these could theoretically be individually adapted to the particular case of need. In any case, it is certain that most CMH lamps, just like their NDL and MH relatives, are usually much less expensive than LEDs of the same wattage class
However, there are also some things to consider with CMH bulbs. Due to their ability to reproduce an extremely natural and therefore full spectrum of light, UV radiation emitted from the lamp can be a factor in some circumstances. While this is filtered by the tube itself and usually has no effect on your plants or on you - if the tube is damaged, however, there may be a risk of burns or eye damage if you work under the lamp for several minutes. Therefore, if your CMH lamp has external damage, it is advisable to only work on your plants during dark periods until the bulb has been replaced.
Furthermore, CMH lamps work with a low operating frequency. This means that high-frequency ballasts are incompatible with the lamps and you have to use ballasts specially developed for CMHs (e.g. the Prima Klima Lucilu ballast).
Nevertheless, ceramic metal halide lamps have many extremely beneficial properties that are sure to benefit the growth, yield and health of your plants. Even if their popularity is not yet equal to that of HPSs or LEDs, they have long ceased to be an insider tip and are a real alternative on the market.
What are LSR grow lamps and how are they used?
Fluorescent tubes (LSR) offer a wide light spectrum and are much more efficient compared to NDL lamps. This means they use less power and produce less (unnecessary) heat. However, they do not produce as much light in return.
For these reasons, LSRs are mainly used in the seeding and growing phase (for cuttings) or for growing plants that do not need a lot of light to grow. For plants that require a lot of light for growth or flowering, LSRs are of limited use. The plant may be able to reach the flowering state with LSR, but it will not be able to develop optimally.
For plants that need a lot of light to grow, it is recommended to use NDL lamps from the growth phase (i.e. after repotting the cutting into the growth container).
Which LSR set is right for you?
The Lightwave sets are particularly suitable for seeding or cutting lighting. They are also delivered already assembled and can be put into operation immediately.
If LSR is to be used during the entire life phase, i.e. also during the growth and flowering phase, then we recommend the sets from Taifun.
What are ballasts and what do you need them for?
A ballast (VSG) or a ballast fitting (VSA) generates the voltage necessary for the operation of HPS and MHL lamps. You cannot operate an HPS or MH lamp without a VSG.
What should you look for when buying?
When buying, make sure that you buy a suitable VSG for your lamp. It is important that the VSG has the same power (Watt) as your lamp consumes.
Then you have to decide on a price category:
- Low BudgetVSGs / simple VSGs are not adjustable, are not pre-assembled, there are no cables included and produce operating noise. There is always a slight humming or buzzing noise
- Price-performance VSGs are not adjustable, but are pre-assembled. I.e. you don't have to strip any cables, etc. You can just plug the VSG in and go.
- High End -VSGs are adjustable, of course pre-assembled, produce almost no operating noise and extend the life of your bulbs.
What are reflectors and what are they needed for?
A reflector reflects light. :) At the same time it serves as a holder for your illuminant.
Which reflector is the right one for you?
We offer three product lines.
- Simple no-name hammer-blow reflectors serve their purpose.
- The high-quality Adjust-A-Wing reflectors are THE reflectors - and not without reason. They are adjustable and therefore allow an optimal light output. They are made of high quality and are very stable. They reflect the light better and you get thus better results in the growth of plants. In addition, an E40 socket for the bulb is included.
- Cool Tubes are the first choice if you want to get the maximum light output or if there is little space available. We offer only high quality Cool Tubes of the brand Prima Klima brand.
About plants and light
Light is an essential factor in the life of your plants and forms an effective catalyst for their photosynthesis. In the so-called light reaction, the energy of the photons arriving on the leaves is captured in an impressive way and subsequently made available for chemical processes. This process is the driving force, the heart, behind the healthy growth of your plant; without it, it would not be able to form new cells and give you its sweet fruits.
With such importance, it is obvious that many researchers over the years have taken a closer look at the subject of light. It turns out that not all light is the same - your plants have their own requirements in terms of color and duration of illumination.
What exactly these requirements are depends on the plant species in question, or on the conditions it finds in its native biome. The strongest light source is of course the sun - it has a natural day-night cycle, which can vary depending on the region and season. Your plants have now specialized in "their" cycle and thrive best when they also have this available.
Why artificial light?
And that's the crux of the matter - if you want to efficiently grow chilies, oranges or other exotic plants in your home, you should ideally be able to provide them with native conditions.
With an artificial light source is already done in this direction, because you can simulate your plants so the usual light conditions, throughout the year and regardless of the season. This is especially important for useful plants such as chili, for whose development we ourselves have one or two requirements.
For most home gardeners and Grower it is therefore worthwhile to take a little time and money in hand and to set up an optimal (as well as cost-efficient) lighting for their own green treasures. The range of plant lamps is very diverse and covers a wide variety of areas. Therefore, in the following section, we would like to give you an overview of important characteristics of lamps that you should consider when making a purchase.
Light spectrum, consumption, effectiveness - what should you look for?
One of the most important aspects of a plant lamp is the wavelength of the light it emits, as this significantly influences the color temperature. Your plants will react differently to different light spectra. Often this is intentional, after all, the development of the plant can be specifically supported or even controlled.
For example, blue light is particularly beneficial for the growth of a plant, while a red light spectrum contributes to the development of full and strong flowers. Green light is largely reflected by the leaves of most plants (which is why they have their characteristic color) - this is also referred to as the "green gap".
This gap in the spectrum that can be used by plants has led many manufacturers to market mainly LEDs with mainly blue and/or red light. In the meantime, however, research has come to a different conclusion: photosynthesis seems to function better (for reasons that are still unclear) when a small amount of green light is applied to your plants. When buying your lamp, make sure that at least a small part of this color is emitted by the lamp.
Another important property of a lamp is its efficiency, which has become more important with the advent of LEDs in the Growing-Has become increasingly important. In order to be able to measure and compare the efficiency of a lamp, there are different units, which we would like to explain to you here.
- PPF: these three letters stand for "photosynthetically active photon flux" and describe the number of photons that a lamp emits per second and that are relevant for photosynthesis - the measurements here refer to photons that "leave" the lamp and are indicated in µmol/s given.
- PPFD: here the density of photons is measured in relation to an area (usually 1 m²). One hangs a lamp in a certain distance over a measuring device (often 40cm) and determines now, how many light particles per second strike in the different areas of the device; the unit is therefore µmol/(s*m²) - Note: in the picture below we explain a PPFD diagram in more detail.
- System efficiency: this value determines thephoton flux of a fixture in relation to its consumption , i.e. how much light you get for the current used by the fixture - the unit of system efficiency is in µmol/(W*s) which can be summarized to in µmol/J good values for LEDs are meanwhile 2.5 to 2.7 in µmol/J
Don't be confused by the heading - here you see a usual PPFD diagram (in this case from a Hydroca Ambition 320 LED). It shows the number of incoming photosynthetically active photons (PAR) on a 120 x 120 cm area at a distance of 40 cm. As you can see, the illumination is mainly concentrated in the center of the diagram. This is a common behavior of the vast majority of light sources; to counteract this, many grow boxes, for example, are covered inside with a special foil that reflects laterally scattered light back to the plant. A PPFD chart should always be considered relative to area and distance.
Plant lamps not only have an initial cost, but also consume electricity when used. Therefore, it is always worthwhile to consider the efficiency of a light source to keep the overall cost as low as possible.
Which illuminants are available?
As nicely mentioned, the range of lamps in the Growing-Range is very diverse. In addition to specific grow and bloom bulbs, you'll also find full spectrum bulbs and those that are in the infrared range.
In addition, there are lamps of various designs and in many different versions. To give you an overview of the jungle of plant lamps, we list the most important ones for you below:
LEDs are the most modern and efficient light sources on the market in terms of operating costs. They can be individually adapted to the needs of the user and thus enable precise lighting. Lamps with LEDs are characterized by low waste heat, but have the highest initial cost.
Sodium vapor lamps are the classic among plant lamps. They are based on a gas discharge in which light is generated. NDL are inexpensive to purchase and tend to emit a holistic light spectrum. However, there are also special growth or bloom NDLs.
Similar to HPS, metal halide lamps also use a gas discharge and achieve a high light output compared to the power used. Here, too, the light spectrum is usually more comprehensive.
Ceramic metal halide lamps have the advantage of being able to withstand higher heat than their relatives due to the parts they contain. This makes it possible to produce a color temperature very similar to the sun. Coupled with an exceptionally high color rendering index, this results in a lamp suitable for all plants that can produce remarkable results.
Plant lamps with fluorescent tubes are super suitable especially for growing your plants. The luminous efficacy of these lamps is rather low - but this property is especially advantageous for cuttings and clones and allows you to gently expose your young plants.
Grow Guru Assortment
With the articles offered by us we would like to leave all options open to you and thus the free choice, which illuminant is suitable for you best. However, we attach great importance to the price-performance ratio. You will find lamps from market leaders and up-and-comers alike, and you can be sure that every item will illuminate your plants effectively without putting too much strain on your wallet.
Especially beginners in the Hobby often feel overwhelmed by the wide range of lamps, which is why we offer not only individual lamps, but also entire sets that relieve you of time-consuming research.
We are also happy to advise you on site, by mail or on the phone and help you find the right lighting for you. Just contact us - we are there for you!