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We all grew up in Hydroponics using HID grow lights, even though we know the heat and high cost disadvantages. And, to be honest, the technology of LED Grow Lights years ago was not very good or effective for growing Hydroponics plants.
Technology for LED grow lights has improved, and manufacturers have improved the quality and spectrum. So why are so many of us still unhappy with the results, or still afraid to install LEDs as our Hydroponic lighting system?
We have all learned how to maintain Hydroponics plants grown under intense HID lights, what to do about the heat output, plant nutrients, and watering cycles. Why should anything change?
There are two big differences between HID and LED grow lights for Hydroponic lighting; the heat output and the "viewed" light intensity. There is relatively no heat output from an LED grow light, and the light intensity is based on Hydroponics plant requirements, not what our human eye perceives.
Heat from HID grow lights in an indoor grow room affects plant nutrients and watering cycles, just as if your Hydroponics plants were growing outdoors in the hot sun. Take away the heat, and plants do not need as much watering or plant nutrients.
But have you changed your routine after installing LED grow lights? Many customers I have talked to did not, and they lost their plants. When you purchase LED lights, you need to go back to square one using your Hydroponic meters for moisture and plant nutrients strength. You cannot keep the same routine and schedule; you will lose your Hydroponics plants from over-watering or overfeeding.
Over-watering will slow root development or cause root rot, stunt plant growth, and cause plant nutrient uptake issues. Check to see if the soil is drying out before watering again. Use porous grow medium, which will allow more oxygen to reach roots, increase plant metabolism and growth, and will help avoid over-watering problems.
Plant nutrients also must be adjusted in order to not over fertilize, which can also be deadly to Hydroponics plants. Start with a smaller amount of plant nutrients, around half of the amount recommended by the manufacturer. Keep a close eye on the growth pattern and color of your Hydroponics plants and adjust the plant nutrients until the growth rate and color are normal. It is absolutely a pleasant benefit to save money on water and plant nutrient costs also.
Light intensity from an LED grow light is a big difference also. LEDs do not give off a bright light glare like HIDs and electric lights have, which does not mean they are not good for your Hydroponics plants. The spectrum provided for the Hydroponics plants is, again, more like growing your plants outdoors in soil and sun. The plants will grow a little slower, which will take more patience. However, since the spectrum provided by
is more specific to your Hydroponics plants needs, they will absorb the light they require and grow healthier.
Most manufacturing specs show an allowable height of 6' to hang your LED grow lights from your plants. The proper height for maximum benefits when growing tall Hydroponics plants should not exceed around 3'. If you keep your plants pruned and cropped, the light intensity will be strong enough to cover the plant canopy from top to bottom for 5' Hydroponics plants, which is what we all strive for.
If you feel more comfortable with a transition while you convert from HIDs to LEDs, you can experiment with your Hydroponic lighting until you achieve the exact results you are looking for. Use your HID lights for a few hours each day, then use your LED lights for about 10 hours a day. The money you save will still be close to 50%, your HID bulbs will last longer, and your Hydroponics plants will receive the spectrum advantages from LED grow lights. There are also some experiments being conducted, with some initial success, with running the LED grow lights for 24 hours a day, and seeing up to 40% more growth. The Hydroponics plants did not seem to be affected without the day/night cycles.
Give LED grow lights a chance. Get to know their quirks and capabilities, just like we had to do with HID grow lights. Change your Hydroponic lighting to LEDs or a combination of both, change your plant maintenance habits, and save that money every month. With proper installation and plant maintenance, you will become a believer in LED grow lights!
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