Since the dawn of hydroponics, indoor gardeners have used HID (High-intensity discharge) lighting methods to grow their plants. This involves the use of volatile, high temperature bulbs and separate ballast units. This is then further complicated by the refinement of Metal Halide, HPS and dual spectrum bulbs. These bulbs also then require a reflector to maximise/optimise their potential. Every part of the HID chain yields possible fragility. Reflectors can be misshapen; bulbs can blow or break under the smallest of pressure. Ballasts from yesteryear regale us with tales of burning surfaces on which they reside. Thankfully, digital dimmable ballasts have mitigated a lot of the thermodynamic risks involved in analogue ballasts.
However, there is an aura of obsolescence beginning to emanate from the HID chain, as we now see the rise and stabilisation of LED technology. LED technology holds the power to maximise your crops potential, at a fraction of the energy cost. It’s that simple.
One of the team at Progrow, the South West’s regional centre for hydroponics and specialist gardening equipment comments, ”We believe the weakness at the start of the age of LEDs was, in part, to do with the evolution from SMD (surface-mounted diode) LEDs, to COB (circuit on-board) LEDs. SMD LEDs are woefully inefficient in terms of effective growing light for plant life, so the development and emergence of COB revolutionised LEDs in relation to hydroponics.” COB LEDs are now standard in all contemporary LED units. All quality LED units on the market are fitted with Osram, Lumiled or Samsung COB LEDs for maximum light quality, build quality, versatility, and efficiency.
Now, 5-6 years later after further refinement of LEDs, the growlight industry now presents a large range of high-quality LED grow lights. Maxibright Pro units come in wattages of 200W, 300W, 430W, 660W and 1030W. Sanlight’s outstanding Q6 generation 2 modular LED, and Gavita’s 1700e just to name a few. So, we have moved from resisting LEDs at their commercial inception, to several brands boasting a healthy diversity of LED ranges. Even bringing us right up to today – we are looking at the Sanlight generation 3 product lines about to be released. This is the first time Sanlight have provided us with more than one unit size/specification to play with.
Supplement plant nutrition with Cal-Mag when using LEDs. Your favourite supplier almost certainly stock a version of this product.
Calcium – magnesium supplementation traditionally increases nutrient uptake in plants, but due to LEDs providing far superior PAR (photosynthetically activated radiation) values compared to HID, growers have noticed that plants regularly need a boosted defence/mineral balance via Cal-Mag for maximum photosynthesis. Essentially – your plants can consume a greater amount of light, without experiencing the stress of COB LEDs.