Contrary to regular indoor Growing light bulbs, LED grow lights use diodes to transform electricity into usable light. Their name itself (Light Emitting Diodes) refers to the semiconductor components through which electricity flows.
These diodes can produce more specific spectrums of light, making them both more efficient and better for your plants. It is often said that LED units are the future of indoor horticulture. But is that true? Let’s see how LED grow lights achieve better efficiency ratings than older growing lamps.
The Difference Between HID and LED Lights
The main difference between LEDs and HID (High-Intensity Discharge) bulbs, is the mechanical build, as they utilize an entirely different method of producing light.
HID bulbs contain inert gas within a glass casing (High-Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide), which reacts with the electric current. As a result, their heat emissions can’t be adjusted, and a significant portion of the light they produce is either UV or IR, both of which are unusable by plants.
On the contrary, LEDs are designed to produce specific wavelengths of the light spectrum, minimizing waste on non-visible radiation. UV and IR LEDs are available, but it is usually added to higher-end fixtures to provide supplemental lighting
HID and LED Grow Light Efficiency
LED grow lights advanced technology means that they will always be more efficient than HIDs when it comes to the reduction of light waste and spectrum. But if that’s the case then why people keep buying HID grow lights?
The answer is that HIDs are super bright and consistently reliable when it comes to indoor plant growing. After all, it took LED companies years to achieve similar results, and to this day, the results are still not enough to convince all growers. Many of them simply don’t trust LEDs, no matter how efficient they are.
However, the results that can be achieved with a good quality grow light cannot be ignored any longer. HIDs are great when it comes to turning electricity into light, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. The important part is how much light reaches the plants and that’s a question of efficiency.
Most HID fixtures are made out of dozens of parts, including chemical gasses inside the bulb. All of these additional components radically decrease the luminous efficiency of these lamps, to the point that only 25-30% of the light is usable. Add to that the relatively short lifespan and the high running temperatures, and you’ll realize that HID grow lights are indeed effective but also, extremely wasteful.
On the contrary, LED grow lights are based on solid state technology to minimize waste, reaching a luminous efficiency of 50-60%. While it is true that the light may not be as bright, it is indeed much more efficient. Also, LED lights come with dedicated heat sinks and fans that eliminate the need for additional air conditioning in your grow room.
HID fixtures have no mechanism to regulate their temperature nor their intensity. They burn bright and burn fast, making replacement necessary every few months. Although they do have a marketed lifespan of 10,000 hours, the chances are that their intensity will drop well before that, as the filament inside the lamp slowly burns away.
Although getting an HID lamp (HPS, MH or LPS) is considerably cheaper than a LED grow light, it doesn’t make as much sense in the long run. LED light bulbs will last 50,000 hours at a minimum and will require far less maintenance. In addition, less energy waste means that you will see considerable savings on your electricity bills.
Getting a LED light bulb is a long-term investment that will ideally last you for the next 5-10 years. If you are curious to find out how much money can you save over time, try this handy ROI calculator.
Although LEDs are a groundbreaking new technology for indoor growers, there are undeniable merits in using HID lamps. However, when it comes to efficiency LEDs light bulbs are the unquestionable winner. Considering that this technology is advancing rapidly, it is not long before we see LEDs beating the competition in all aspects.
Check out some of the best LED grow light models in the market here. With over seven years of experience and free shipping all over Europe, we’ll make the switch to LED technology smoother than ever.