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Author: Danny Donello / Category: Article / Published: Jun-18-2019
Light is life. This is especially true for plants that use light for photosynthesis. The Sun provides enough light and plants follow genetic programming for all stages of growth. Sunlight has the full range of colors in the spectrum ranging from ultraviolet to infrared. Each part of the spectrum plays a role at each stage of the plants’ growth. Duration of light is another important factor influencing leaf growth and flowering processes. The variables color and duration can be manipulated in artificial environments to control plant growth and stages of growth. Blue and violet light waves are conductive to leaf growth. Adding red stimulates the plant to progress to the flowering stage. Extended exposure to light will make a plant grow faster and if the light contains higher amount of light in the blue spectrum then growth is maximum. Conversely, if plants are placed in the dark they do not grow and will eventually die.
Hydroponics growers grow plants for personal or commercial purposes indoors in controlled environment where some form of artificial lighting is absolutely necessary for the photosynthesis process. Long before the advent of LED lights growers used ordinary tungsten filament lights and fluorescent strip lights. Halogen lamps, tungsten halide and sodium vapor lamps are currently used by growers to provide sufficient amount of blue and red as well as some orange and tallow light necessary for all growth stages of plants. In recent times LED lights for hydroponics are becoming popular. There solid reasons why LED grow lights managed to become the preferred source of lighting for hydroponics.
Traditional lighting has drawbacks. Tungsten lamps generate more heat than light. If placed too close to lamps the heat will wither the plants and also slow down growth. Light radiates in all directions and necessitates the use of reflectors that also reflect heat on the plants. Tungsten lamp light spectrum has more of red and yellow light which is better for the flowering part of the growth stage. Fluorescent strip lighting is an improvement but again, the drawback here is that it has more of blue and green and less of red and yellow. Sodium vapor lamps emit more of yellow light. In all cases the lamps consume more power and emit more heat than light and thus prove to be inefficient for optimum plant growth. If tungsten lamps are good for the flowering stage, fluorescent strips or mercury vapor lamps are good for vegetative growth. No one source satisfies the requirement of photosynthesis and all stages of plant growth. LED lighting for hydroponics, on the other hand, is a quantum leap ahead, overcoming all defects and with very few drawbacks, a good reason to use them for plant growth.
LED lighting is fully controllable from zero to maximum. With special LEDs for hydroponics, one can even use special digital controllers to control the light spectrum. Just one module contains 200 to 600 3 watt LEDs arranged in an array for even distribution which means the light can be placed close to the plants. Heat generation is the least which again is a plus. LEDs output twice the amount of light and therefore consume half the power of other lighting. They last for 100k hours in comparison to 10k to 20k hours for traditional lights. These are very convincing reasons to use LEDs for hydroponics.