What you need to know before buying and using grow lights

I recently started using grow lights because of changes in my furniture which resulted in some plants being blocked from the sunlight. They’ve been very convenient in that I no longer have to rotate my plants around to ensure that they get enough light, so they’ve cut out a lot of the work when it comes to making sure that my plants get enough light. I suppose that if I so choose, I could also use grow lights to introduce plants into parts of my home which aren’t currently viable because they lack the amount of light I need. I decided I’d share some of the factors you should consider for when buying and using grow lights.

Light Colour

Light colour is extremely important when selecting grow lights. Ever notice how when you look at professional sellers’ plant “storage areas” (I say storage areas because I wouldn’t really call them greenhouses), the lights are always purple? This is because the light produced is a mixture of red and blue light. Different light colours will affect your plants differently:

  • Red light encourages flowering
  • Blue light encourages vegetative (root and leaf) growth
  • Full spectrum white light encourages both

You might be wondering why people don’t just use white light instead, in that case. The answer is actually quite simple: white light contains red and blue wavelengths, but it also contains other wavelengths that the plants don’t need. Thus, plants will take in less light over all if the light doesn’t completely saturate the plant’s leaf mass (maximising its ability to photosynthesise), since some of the wavelengths are reflected off of the leaves without being used at all. That being said, white light is more aesthetically pleasing when viewing plants, and it still gets the job done if used correctly.

I would personally recommend getting a grow light that has multiple settings of light intensity and colour so that the light can be modified according to your needs. However, this is merely a suggestion; overall, any reasonable combination of red and blue light should do the job.

The red+blue setting on my grow light

The red, blue, and white setting

Electricity needs

It is important to consider the energy usage of the light for sustainability reasons. LED grow lights are a great way to ensure your plants get the light they need while also looking after the environment. Also consider what kind of outlet it needs to be connected to, so that you can feasibly place it where it needs to be placed for your plants. The ones that can be powered through a USB cable may actually be able to work while plugged into a mobile power bank, making them a lot more suitable for use around the house without having to plug extension cords and power boards into a whole bunch of sockets.

Heat and safety

In terms of safety for our plants, we should pull them far enough away so that they cannot be burned by the grow lights. However, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, sunburn only really happens to plants when the heat of the sun’s rays damage the cells on plant leaves. It seems implausible to me that this could happen with grow lights, but I suppose some might also emit heat. My grow lights do not emit any heat, so I’m not too worried about this, but I would recommend pulling your grow light a little further from your plants to begin with, say 60cm (2 feet) away from the plants, and then leaving it on for a while to ascertain whether it radiates any heat before using it closer to your plants.

Also consider whether the light is safe for use in terms of UV light. Most LED grow light nowadays do not contain UV rays, or if they do, only emit a narrow spectrum and a small amount of of UV rays. However, it may be worthwhile to check if this is the case before buying a specific grow light.

Published by plantboye

Tech illiterate and pretending to be proud of it.

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