Can LED Lights be used as grow lights?
Home gardeners who are looking to grow plants and vegetables indoors are looking to find the right grow lights without spending an arm and a leg on the most expensive grow lights. It may be possible to use standard LED lights to grow plants for flowering, or fruits and vegetables.
Can LED lights be used as grow lights?
LED lights absolutely can be used as grow lights but there are different types and some are better than others. It is important to use the right LED lights to get the most out of your plants. As a result, we would recommend LED lights that are made specifically to be grow lights because the provide all of the light colors that plants need.
Why do Plants Need Light?
Plants need light for photosynthesis which is how plants turn light into food or sugars. Humans eat food and convert that energy into cell growth. We often hear the term “you are what you eat”. Well, for plants the type of light also will determine the amount of growth and the quality of growth that a plant will experience.
While many novice gardeners focus heavily on plant food and fertilizers, ignoring the importance of light will produce poor plant growth results.
What Type of Light is Best for Growing Plants Indoors?
Natural light is always the best option for growing plants. The problem is not everyone has a green house where natural light can be used. Natural light helps the plants to grow most effectively. When ineffective light is used, the plants will not grow to their fullest showing thin stems or discolored leaves.
The most effective grow lights will have both red and blue wavelengths which is why selecting the right LED bulbs for plant growth is important.
Which Kelvin Color Temperature is Best for Growing Plants?
We talk a lot about the importance of color temperature when lighting a room. The temperature is also a factor when it comes to growing plants. Not sure what the Kelvin Color temperature is? Read our article on the Kelvin Color Temperature, then come back and continue reading below about choosing an LED light as a grow light.
Plants are looking for lights that have more of a blue color for initial grown but then a red color to them for flowering. As a result, you should select a grow light or LED bulb with a kelvin temperature of 5,000 Kelvin or more initially. Then, when the plants are fully developed and begin to flower you can switch the bulbs to the lower the temperature of about 2700 Kelvin.
How Much Light Do Plants Need?
Every plant will require different types and amount of light. Some do better in colder and less sunny areas than others. Plants that will produce fruits and vegetables will likely need more light than a succulent for example. Plan on keeping your LED light on for at least 14-16 hours per day. Keep them on a timer if possible to make sure they get the same amount of light every day.
LED Bulbs for Grow Lights
You can use any LED bulb to grow plants if they are emitting enough light. Plants often also look for warmth to come from the light source and we know LED bulbs do not provide much of that. If you are looking for just basic LED bulbs, then you can see our recommended LED bulbs page for what we consider to be the best LED bulbs at the right price.
If you are looking for LED grow lights that are specifically made for growing plants, then please read our LED grow light page which goes into detail on which grow lights we recommend.
How Many LED Bulbs are Needed to Grow Plants?
If you have a few plants that you are trying to grow, you will need more than one bulb. The goal should be to surround the plants with light so that every leaf is getting the same amount of light. When plants grow outside, the sun moves across the horizon and gives equal light across all of your plants. However, when you have a single lamp over a group of plants, there will be areas of the plant that get more light than others.
We suggest using 3-4 LED bulbs depending upon the size of number of plants you are trying to grow. If you are growing just one plant, then 1-2 bulbs may be sufficient. You may also consider using mirrors to reflect the light back onto the plant if your budget cannot support the purchase of multiple lights.
Benefits of Using LED Lights to Grow Plants
Traditional grow lights are extremely hot and require ventilation to remove the heat from the air. Those other grow lights create the heat when converting the energy to light. However, LED lights do not use as much energy to produce the same light output and therefore are much cooler.
If you use LED lights to grow plants, you will not have to purchase equipment for ventilation due to the reduced temperature. The cooler temperatures also mean the plants will not dry out as quickly.
Can LED lights be used to start seeds?
LED lights can be used for starting seeds but they will need a lot of light and may require some warmth. Use a bulb with a Kelvin temperature of at least 5,000 when you are starting with seeds because they need the maximum amount of light during that state in their development.
Can white LED lights grow plants?
Yes white LED lights can be used to grow plants but they also need both blue and red light spectrum mixed in to make sure they grow fully.
What is the difference between regular lights and grow lights?
The difference is regular lights typically just have a white light color spectrum while grow lights also offer blue, red and even green colors which is what plants need. Grow lights help promote photosynthesis while regular lights do not.
Is light intensity important to grow plants?
Light intensity is extremely important and often overlooked. Plants need more than just the right colors in the spectrum, they also need intense light. This should not be confused with lumens which is the brightness of the light that we can see. Intensity is different than brightness or lumens.