February 26, 2019
What Features to Consider When Comparing Grow Lights
Deciding which lights to purchase can be a daunting task. With dozens of choices on the market with differing capabilities, it is easy to become overwhelmed. But an experienced grower understands that lighting isn’t a place to skimp — the right lights can have a huge impact on the outcome of an eventual harvest.
To narrow your search, it’s important to identify which features matter most for your goals and facility layout. Even those new to the industry can make a confident and educated purchase with a little research. Knowing which features take lighting systems from good to great can make all the difference.
A practical place to start is understanding what kind of lighting system physically fits into your facility and realistically knowing how much room you have to dedicate to your new lights. ProGrowTech lights are typically designed in an industry-friendly 4’x4’ and 2’x4’ size. In addition, our lights can be vertically racked so your space can be measured in terms of cubic footage. This versatility is a huge asset. Making this comparison among grow lights will not only help you decide which lights to purchase, but also how many units are needed.
Each crop has its own specific biological needs, and this absolutely includes the type of light it best responds to. Cannabis, for instance, requires a much different spectrum and intensity than lettuce to flourish. Keeping this in mind, a cultivator might buy lights that have the correct spectrum settings or dimming capabilities required to keep plants at their healthiest.
This is one category (among many) where LED reigns supreme over old school HPS lighting technologies. As LED lights have advanced, they have only become more efficient. While some growers may still be more comfortable with HPS, as these were the standard during the industry’s infancy, more are realizing that LED is the light of the future. LEDs offer powerful light at a fraction of the energy costs, outperforming other lighting options by doubling the output and operating at a cooler temperature. Cultivators can slash their expenditures and reduce their carbon footprint by transitioning to LEDs.
This aspect relates to efficiency — it is important to consider how often your lights will need to be replaced. HPS lights generally start to degrade after only one year, costing hundreds of dollars over time. In comparison, LEDs remain effective for five years when cared for properly. While they might be more expensive initially, LEDs are an investment: cultivators choose high quality technology to support their grow, cut down on maintenance costs and reap the rewards over time.
Ensure your lights are built to survive all kinds of wet conditions — whether due to leaks, spiking humidity or a flood — by checking if they’re waterproofed. The term “waterproof” can mean many varying levels of durability so, in order to clarify just how waterproofed something is, manufacturers have developed a certification process. You’ll want to keep an eye out for an IP certification for your lighting fixtures. At ProGrowTech, we’ve got you covered with an IP66 or IP65 certification, meaning our lights can withstand a true deluge.
LED Chip Durability
A light’s quality is determined by its chip: the smallest building block to all LED lighting systems. A seasoned lighting expert understands not all chips are created equal – look for LED chips that are crafted from durable materials and protected with a tempered glass cover.
Cultivators also need to recognize the importance of uniformity. Systems that are not uniform cause “hot spots” in a crop, resulting in too much heat or light in certain areas. Excellent uniformity leads to happier plants and a healthier harvest. Uniformity is typically measured in photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), which indicates the amount of photosynthetically viable light that falls on an individual plant at any given moment. Before purchasing, make sure you check out the PPFD measurement — some LEDs deliver more uniformity than others.
Some growers want to control all aspects of their grow. Those growers tend to love spectral tuning. By mastering spectral tuning, cultivators can experiment with all the different effects varying light spectrum deliver to the structure of a plant. Spectral tuning also presents some powerful capabilities like encouraging plants to flower faster or extending the vegetative cycle.
Considering each of these features will allow a buyer to make an informed decision on what lights to purchase. Buying the right lights is a necessary step toward a fully functional indoor grow and these considerations may play a role in the success of an eventual harvest. ProGrowTech is happy to provide guidance through this decision-making process.