Now that you have gotten your LED grow lights for your grow tent, the next step is knowing how to get the best out of these excellent lighting devices. LED grow lights are designed to provide indoor plants with the optimal lighting conditions required to get through the different stages of their growth cycle. However, this is only possible when you know how to use them effectively.

Whether you are an experienced or newbie indoor grower, this article exposes you to important precautions for the first use of your LED grow lights.

1. Nutritional imbalance.

One of the essential aspects of indoor plant growth a grower should pay attention to when using LED grow light is nutritional imbalance. Upgrading to LED lighting can affect nutrient efficacy in indoor plants. This is because the change in the spectrum, intensity, and uniformity profiles affect plant growth differently. For example, increasing light intensity increase transpiration rates. This, in turn, pulls more water out of the soil, increasing the concentration of mineral ions like calcium and magnesium around the root zone. The implication of this is a reduced capability of plants to absorb water and nutrients, leading to nutrient imbalances.

Here is what you should do:

Maintaining an ideal fertilizer concentration is the most efficient way to ensure your soil is nutritionally balanced. Therefore, you should measure the pH and electrical conductivity (EC) of the growth medium. The ability of the mineral ions in the fertilizer to conduct electricity means we can measure the EC to determine if it contains optimal nutrient concentrations for plant growth. It also helps prevents over-fertilizing.

Depending on your findings, you can add more or reduce the amount of NPK-based fertilizer you add to your plants. Alternatively, you can opt for calcium and magnesium supplements if your growing medium is nutrient-deficient. Whichever you decide on, it is crucial to avoid overfertilizing.

Similarly, measuring the pH of the soil offers valuable information about salt accumulation. Ammonium-based fertilizers are known to increase the pH, thus making the soil more acidic. However, the optimal pH range for most plants is between 5.5 and 6.5. You should also adjust the pH in your growing medium to optimal levels.

Nutritional imbalance

2. Differences in wattage.

Growers coming from HID/HIS grow lights are most likely not used to the relatively lower wattage of LED grow lights. For instance, if your grow room currently relies on an HID/HIS grow light of 1000 W, you cannot replace it with an LED grow light of 1000 W. This is because HID lights, including HPS and metal halide, produce large amounts of infrared radiation as part of the lighting spectrum they deliver. With 60% of the light from HPS lights being infrared, it means grow rooms require models with higher wattage to meet indoor plants’ lighting requirements.

Here is what you should do:

Since the light from LED grow light contains a lower percentage of infrared radiation, they are better optimized to produce safer and optimal lighting for plant growth. Therefore, introducing LED grow lights of similar wattages to HIS/HID lights will lead to excessive lighting production. Instead, growers should adopt LED grow lights with lower wattages than their existing HID grow lights.

For example, if the wattage rating of your current HID/HIS grow light is 1000w, you can replace it with a LED grow light of 800w while ensuring the lighting requirements of your plants are optimally met. The rule of thumb suggests a maximum of 50 watts per square foot in your grow space.

Additionally, it would be best if you adopted dimmable LED lights, so you can adjust the wattage and prevent your plants from experiencing light burns, especially during the seedling growth stage.

Differences in wattage

3. Changes in temperature.

Grow rooms that run on HPS grow lights often require a special cooling system to lower ambient temperature. This is because these lights produce a significant amount of infrared radiation, which can sometimes spike their operating temperatures up to 5,000oF. Unfortunately, the radiation from these lights can also easily heat up the leaves of a plant by up to 10oF, putting your plants at risk of poor growth, and your expected harvest is threatened.

On the other hand, LED grow lights are known to keep your plants at safe temperatures, helping you save considerably on the cooling bill while optimizing growth. A temperature range of 83 and 85oF is excellent for photosynthesis but is also a relatively higher ambient temperature. These ambient temperatures can become problematic if other environmental parameters like CO2 concentration, humidity, and differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures are not adequately monitored.

The higher the ambient temperatures, the higher the chances of your plants holding and evaporating more water. This may not be a problem until the humidity gets overly high. An excessively humid environment is perfect for plant fungal infections. Similarly, too much moisture in the air prevents your plant from transpiring at the expected rate, slowing down growth.

Here is what you should do:

If you are using LED grow lights in your grow room, it is best to dehumidify your grow room or up the ventilation. This measure becomes even more necessary if you have a significant difference between the day and nighttime temperature ranges. You can also add more CO2 into your grow area to compensate for the depleted CO2 levels caused by the absence of a heat extractor.

Changes in temperature

4. Distance of grow light from plants

Another area of uncertainty for new and existing users of LED grow lights is their positioning in the grow room. Growers are often unsure if their LED grow lights can be close to their plants. In the case of HPS/HID lights, the standard procedure is to keep them considerably far away from the plants’ canopy. This is because these lights produce excessive heat, which can raise plant temperatures and cause damage.

Here is what you should do:

While LED grow lights can be hung closer to the plant canopy, they must not be too close. This is particularly true for some of the more powerful LED grow lights models in the market. In addition, the ambient heat from LED grow lights may also trigger higher transpiration rates, especially at very high levels. This leads to calcium and magnesium deficiency in most cases.

In addition, it is important to note that young plants cannot withstand the same light intensity as the older plants nearing the completion of their cycle. The rule of thumb is to keep your LED lighting systems 12 to 18 inches away from your plant’s canopy. However, it is best to stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations on the distance between the light and the plant’s canopy.

Distance of led grow lights from plants

To Round Up…

LED grow lights are essential equipment for any grow space. Irrespective of your growing experience or the type of plants you are growing, you need to get your grow lights setup and operations right to achieve your goal of optimal growth and maximum yield. We are confident that the tips offered in this article will take you closer to this goal.

Good luck!

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