When it comes to growing cannabis indoors, there is one universal requirement needed to support plant life regardless of what type of setup used. That requirement is lighting. Grow lights must be used to replicate the sun for a cannabis plant to thrive indoors. Full-spectrum light facilitates the process of photosynthesis, where a plant converts energy from the light source into stores of chemical energy within carbohydrates like glucose.
There are many different types of grow lights available that cover a wide range of needs. One kind of light that is receiving accolades in the cannabis cultivation industry is LED lighting.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the fastest-growing light technology available today. They are quickly surpassing competitors such as HID, HPS, and MH lights, with LEDs showing high performance, long lifetimes, and energy efficiency. They give growers a variety of options and control over how their cannabis will grow that other systems do not, such as concurrent red-spectrum wavelength technology to boost flower development.
Whether a grower is looking for something that is easy to set up, that will cause few maintenance issues, that will save money in the long run, or that will provide a high-quality aesthetic— LED grow lights are the way to go.
LED lights can promote high yields, similar to those provided by HPS or fluorescent lighting options, with a smaller ecological footprint. They convert a better ratio of electricity into light, while generally using less power than the competition. Even if there’s a more significant initial investment in purchasing LED grow lights, that money will be recouped in the long run.
They also last much longer, meaning growers can focus on their plants instead of having to replace burnt-out bulbs. A good LED setup can last years without any additional maintenance.
LED lights to provide growers with control over what colors of light their plants receive by mimicking the full spectrum of light supplied by the sun. Blue spectrum lights are the best for enabling rapid growth during the vegetative stage, and red spectrum lights are often used to help produce a higher yield of buds with higher density.
Growers should be aware of what colors of light the plants need during each stage of growth. White LED’s are often used for growing marijuana as they are full spectrum lights, but experimenting with light recipes or color ratios can have a significant effect on a plant’s development and yield.
Keep in mind that cannabis typically requires 7500 – 10,000 lumens per plant. An LED’s light output is approximately 100 – 300 lumens per watt!
LED lights are also known for producing much less heat than the competition. When using HPS or fluorescent lighting, venting solutions are often required to keep the plants from burning up and withering, as the space closest to the bulbs will get hotter than the relative room temperature. With LED lights, the bulbs do not get hot, making the temperature at the top of the plant more easily regulated.
LED grow lights may reduce the amount of water a cannabis plant needs. Less heat means the plant and its soil won’t dry out as much, moderating the plant’s water consumption. Over-watering is a frequent mistake for novice growers and one that should be avoided at all costs.
LED grow lights still should not be positioned too close to the plant, as excessive light intensity can result in light burn and bleaching, leading to leaf discoloration and weak growth. The ideal distance for the light position is twelve to eighteen inches, but more may be required when using more powerful LED lighting systems.
LED grow lights often give growers an easy way to manipulate the intensity of the light for different stages of a plant’s development. As seedlings, the cannabis plant doesn’t need a lot of light. Some LED grow lights include a “vegetative stage” or dimmer switch that can be used during this phase to ensure the lights are not too intense. If the light does not have that switch, then it can be moved further away from the plant to reduce intensity.
During the vegetative stage, the plant will require at least 18 hours of light per day. This can go as high as 24 hours per day, depending on the strain and the type of grow setup being used. Growers will need to do some experimentation to find the optimal light amount. It is essential that during this stage, the plant is growing to be robust and bushy. If the grower notices that the plant is becoming leggy and limp, it is likely not getting enough light and/or could be experiencing nutrient deficiency.
To bring a cannabis plant into its flowering stage, growers will need to switch the light schedule to 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of dark. It is essential not to interrupt the dark phases during this cycle, as light leaks could confuse the plant’s growth cycle, resulting in stunted growth or even hermaphroditic traits. During the flowering stage, LEDs should be at maximum light intensity for more substantial growth, though the increase should be done gradually over several days to avoid shocking the plant.
LED grow lights are designed for plug and play. They can be plugged into any residential electrical socket, and do not require unusual rigging or a ballast to get set up. They are usually ready to be played with right out of the box.
LED grow lights also often have manufacturer recommendations for how far to place them from a plant, and how much space they will cover with light. A larger growing area and multiple plants may require numerous light fixtures, so growers must be sure to verify how much space an LED setup can adequately cover while remembering that cannabis typically requires 7500 – 10,000 lumens per plant.
LED grow lights are an energy-efficient, highly customizable lighting solution for indoor cannabis growers. They are easy to work with, can be set up with minimal effort, and provide a wide spectrum of low-temperature light while keeping energy costs down.