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LED Grow Lights – An Emerging Preference Among A New Era of Growers

A shift from classic to emergent LED technology…

Long have Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs been the standard amongst the experienced indoor bush-pirates of BC’s historic cannabis growing community. Grow rooms filled with 600-1000W+ fixtures lining the ceilings used to be the norm; with bare bulbs hanging around here and there to scald careless passers-by and overtired bud-tenders…

…but there has been a growing trend among old and new growers alike; the shift to LED grow lighting.

Gavita LED light top lighting early bloom stage cannabis.
Gavita LED light top lighting early bloom stage cannabis.

As our understanding of how chlorophyll and light photons interact continues to advance, so does our selection of available technology. Until the past few years, light emitting diodes lacked both the punch and spectral availability required to sustain effective photosynthesis during budding & blooming growth stages. Now we have the capabilities of Far-red and UV producing diodes, paired with new-age drivers which efficiently power those arrays of tiny bulbs.

Benefits of LED Grow Lights

  • Increased Efficiency
  • Increased Efficacy
  • Higher Cannabinoid Concentration
  • Long Lifespan
  • Reduced Heat
  • Controllable / Dimmable

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Image by Robert B.

Increased Efficiency and Efficacy

What is lighting efficacy anyway?

Lighting efficacy is how much use-able light is produced per unit of power. This can be measured in lumens per watt (lm/w) or μmol/m2/s (PPFD). LEDs are considered a point source and have a very directional light spread pattern whereas incandescent, fluorescent and HID bulbs scatter light inefficiently. With the augmentation of secondary lenses to control the spread of individual diodes, one can further increase their light fixtures efficiency – the percent of light produced that actually reaches the plant. This is one of the reasons for LED’s growing popularity; they are much more directional than their high pressure sodium and metal halide counter-parts.

To clarify:

Efficacy – Light produced per power unit.

Efficiency – Percent of light that actually reaches target.

Cannabinoid Concentrations

An important consideration for growers is that while conventional high powered HPS / MH lighting have been known for producing enormous yields, LED’s are now coming close or matching them in weight, with one caveat… potency.

…the optimal spectrum for a specific photoperiod scheme may have diverse beneficial effects on cannabis growth, yield, and cannabinoid profile.

Magagnini G, Grassi G, Kotiranta S 1

With the introduction of deep and far red diodes, we are seeing an approximate 30% increase in THC & CBD w/w concentrations compared to HPS bulbs and other similar lighting spectrums. As phytochromes absorb red, blue, far-red, and UV wavebands of the spectrum, we can attribute these increases to the specific spectrums we are able to provide with LED light boards and fixtures.

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Image by Comfreak

The future of Indoor Grow Lighting…

We’re currently on the cusp of a major technological shift. In Canada, energy consumption from marijuana production has been expected to outpace Canada’s auto sector 2. This is an industry that is only 2 years old at the time this article was written. While energy costs continue to rise, the cost of LED’s, and specifically the high quality, binned items manufacturers have held tightly will continue to drop in price and begin to reach the masses of new growers budding up across Canada, the United States, and world.

References
  1. Magagnini G, Grassi G, Kotiranta S: The Effect of Light Spectrum on the Morphology and Cannabinoid Content of Cannabis sativa L.. Med Cannabis Cannabinoids 2018;1:19-27. doi: 10.1159/000489030[]
  2. Hall, J. (2019, November 24). The electricity consumed by growing pot in Ontario is forecast to grow by 1,000 per cent over five years. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/business/2019/11/24/ontario-cannabis-industrys-electricity-use-forecast-to-grow-by-1000-per-cent-over-five-years.html[]

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