07 Apr Shedding Some Light on Growing with LED vs. HPS
A lot of old school and traditional growers will roll their eyes at me for saying this: But there is certainly a case for LED lights… Ok, just hear me out. Growers, as a whole, have scientific minds. But we can be surprisingly set in our ways. We’ve had success doing X and less success doing Y, so that informs our opinions.
But to help you make your own informed decision, here are the pros and cons for each lighting system.
LED and HPS: Veg and Flower
They didn’t miss anything.You want a company that will notice there’s a great big piece of machinery in the corner that will pump out 10,000 watts of heat per six hours, and the air handling equipment needs to deal with it. Those are things that can’t be missed. With LED lights, you can have one fixture that does both vegetative state and flower state. The vegetative state is generally a nickel metal highlight, which is more of a blueish light. Whereas flower lights, HPS lights, are more of in the orange spectrum because it’s simulating late summer.
But, with LED, you can have both of those spectrums in the same fixture. You just flick a switch when it’s ready to flower.With nickel metal highlight HPS, when you’re vegging, you would have to either change the bulb out or change the entire fixture for flower time. Now, most facilities in this particular industry have dedicated flower rooms and dedicated vegetation rooms. So, that doesn’t really factor too much into it, but the option for LED switching is there, especially in micro rooms.
If you need that room to do some vegging because your other rooms are full, just turn the light on to veg and away you go.
LED and HPS: Heat Factor
Because we asked the right questions, we found out he wasn’t guarding the facility, per se. It was because they upgraded the electrical services in that building. The guard was actually watching a very expensive length of copper wire that they needed to do their termination. If this isn’t something that’s taken into account, it can lead to very expensive problems later on. With HPS lights, there’s more to deal with in the way it heats.
You have to size your cooling system appropriately. Not only for the transpiration of plants you’re going to put into the air, but also the heat from the lighting. With LED the heat is less. It’s not nothing. A lot of people seem to think, “Oh, LEDs. They don’t get hot at all.” Yeah, they do. And your plants can still get sunburned with them.
You’ve still got to keep it 18 to 20 inches away. Or you will want to keep it 30 to 36 inches away if it’s an HPS
LED vs. HPS in Grow Facilities
So, from a facility design standpoint, LEDs use less power, less energy, less heat. There’s less of a heating growth, meaning that the air handling system doesn’t have to be robust.
That also saves money on facility design, because your ceiling height doesn’t have to be 12 feet. You can have a nine-foot ceiling in there and it can still grow under LED lights all day long.You can keep it 18 inches away, as opposed to 36 inches away. But when you’re talking about 1,000 watts of double-ended HPS light, you want to have it at least the full 36 inches away from your plants, or they’re going to get sunburned. Plants can get sunburned just like we do.
Good Rule of Thumb: If you can’t hold your hand over the canopy of your growth because it’s too hot, it’s also too hot for your plants.
My Case For LED
In facility design, you can save money by going LED. But some growers will tell you that LEDs just aren’t quite there yet for maximum yields and maximum efficiencies with the plant. But, I will say that I’m doing a grow right now at home. It’s my first one with LED and it’s going fantastic.
I’m using less power. My issue is I have no heat in my tent, and it’s wintertime, and I have to keep it warm in there. I also have to deal with humidity. Because I don’t have any heat, I don’t have any cooling demand, which means I can’t bring water out of the air.
My little home grow isn’t what I would do for any facility, specifically because of the conditions. I’m in a basement in the winter. It’s been cold and dry. That makes it difficult when you don’t have an entire built-up facility.
We build the facility 3 feet in from the inside walls, and then condition the space inside the facility so you never have to worry about those things. But, most growers are still more familiar with HPS than LED, and they will tell you HPS still gives you a better yield. So, if we’ve got a master grower that says, “No, I’m only gonna use HPS,” then we have to start really looking at a minimum height of 12 feet for the rooms. And it’s a lot less expensive to build 9-foot high rooms, compared to 12-foot high rooms. And the cost for each fixture is more on an HPS than it is for an LED.
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