LED grow lights change everything

led-grow-light-panel-225-led-110-vo.jpgOne issue with HID (High intensity discharge) indoor grow lights has been the energy use. A 1000 watt light uses just that, 1000 watts. This can add up when  it comes to electrical costs. Never the less they are good sellers here at the garden center. You can grow just about any crop under these high powered lights. Now there is something new. LED lights have taken off here. The interest is intense and its for one reason, energy costs. An LED that puts out the equivalent of a 1000 watt HID light only draws 300 watts. Only a third of the energy! The second most popular size of HID lights is 400 watts. A equivalent LED only uses 90 watts. That's one quarter of the energy. Quite a savings.

LED grow lights put out very little heat. HID lights put out enough heat to create an issue as far as having to vent the excess heat. They plug directly into a household outlet, without the need for a ballast like HID lights.

Did you know if we shine white light on chlorophyll, its molecules will absorb certain colors of light?  The light that isn’t absorbed is reflected, which is what our eyes see. One reason plants appear green is the color of the light spectrum that is not utilized by the plant is reflected. Sunlight consists of primarily blue and red light mixed together, which is exactly the colors that chlorophyll molecules like to absorb. LED lights put out just light that the plants can utilize, without using energy to shine light that is just reflected away from the plant. That's what makes LED lights up to 90% efficient.

One other attribute of LED lights is their long life, up to ten years. HID lights usually need to be replaced every year, at a cost of between 70 and 120 dollars. If you start adding up the costs of running a conventional HID system, LED's over time will save you loads of money.

As for the initial cost for LED I was surprised how affordable they are.  We sell a 400 watt equivalent LED system for under $400. If you add up the costs of a 400 watt HID system, including the light, ballast, reflective hood, etc. LED is actually less expensive at the get go. A 1000 watt equivalent LED system runs$1200, which is a about 1/2 the cost of a HID system. Yet when you factor in the cost of replacing the 1000 watt HID light once a year at a cost of approx $100 each, and the amazing energy savings, as well as no need to vent the heat from the HID light, it will soon  pay for itself.

The changes going on in the indoor gardening market are mind numbing. Out here in northern California the market is booming. I have had two new indoor garden centers open within 10 miles of us in just the last three months.The main difference is we are a garden center, with professional nursery people . They operate out of store fronts or warehouses with unknown expertise. We actually grow plants under the lights, so you can see how they work. They don't.

We have talked about this market in the past, and how the nursery industry basically allowed the hydroponic and indoor gardening stores to have the whole market to themselves. The Golden Gecko Garden Center is a new breed of hybrid garden centers carrying horticultural equipment for all gardeners. That elusive garden center demographic of 20 and 30 something males that our industry is concerned doesn't garden? They do. It is now one of our largest customer bases. As a matter of fact, males and females in the 20 and 30 year age group likely account for more than half our business.