LED Lights in Horticulture

For many years it was widely accepted that LED light had no place in horticulture. But that all changed in 2014 when Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work with blue LED’s.

What Makes Plants Grow

PAR is the acronym for photosynthetically active radiation which is the range of wavelengths that scientists have determined to be important for plants. On this spectrum not only have some wavelengths been determined to be beneficial but others have been determined to be detrimental to plant growth. It is the red and the blue wavelengths are found to be essential for plants to produce food and grow. The issue for plants was that LED light was comprised of light from the entire spectrum so the “good” wavelengths were being nullified by the “bad” wavelengths. But the 2014 discovery of a process to create only the blue wavelength LED light made LED grow lights possible.

The Application

Many people who live in regions of the world with a true winter find that the only way to grow a garden each year is to begin planting seeds indoors to extend the growing season. But the cost of the increased electricity for traditional grow lights could easily eliminate any financial benefit of growing their own produce. In addition, the large amount of heat produced by the incandescent bulbs could actually make the growing environment too hot which then necessitated a ventilation system. But the use of blue LED lights eliminated about 90% of the cost for electricity to illuminate grow lights and also eliminated the need for additional ventilation for climate control.

Incredible Operating Life

Another amazing money saving feature of the LED blue lights is their life expectancy. Several manufacturers are quoting a 50,000-hour life span for their grow lights. That translates to turning the lights on and leaving them on for nearly 5 years and 9 months! But a more realistic example would be using the lights for 3 straight months each year to get an early start for seedlings. In this application the lights would be expected to last just over 23 years.

A Great New Option

Creating a blue LED light has certainly opened up many affordable options in the horticulture field. It might not have revolutionized the entire growing process but it has certainly eliminated many of the financial challenges associated with indoor growing.

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