Grow lights have come a long way over the last few years mostly due to the development of the LED Grow light. LED brings a whole new dimension of energy efficiency to grows which will save you money. Another feature of LED grow lights are their ability to produce a multitude of different light spectrums both visible and nonvisible.
First Generation LED Light Spectrums
When most people think of LED grow lights the thought of blue and red light comes to mind. This is because early LEDs were easier to create in these colors. To your eye, the light can seem almost pink or purple. This early light combination provides plants with the basic building blocks of photosynthesis. However, if you view the light waves on a chart, you’ll notice right away that there are many more spectrums in natural sunlight that these LEDs are no reproducing.
These narrowband lights use monochromatic diodes – ie blue and red LED. If these wavelengths provide the necessary wavelengths of light to support photosynthesis why were full spectrum lights invented?
The truth is that the early LED grow lights did not provide optimum light spectrums that would support vigorous plant growth. While the monochromatic LEDs do support plant photosynthesis it was found that additional light wavelengths increase crop yield, created healthy plants and allowed for more nutrient uptake into the plant. The wavelengths of light beyond red and blue help your plant in many positive ways.
The real definition of Full Spectrum Grow Light
Research into plant growth light spectrums are still underway but experiments and studies are providing early results that point to the fact that plants grow best when provided a balanced spectrum of light. You see, plants perform a myriad of life processes that aren’t linked to just two narrow spectrums of light. Plants evolved under natural sunshine so it only makes sense that your cannabis plants will use different light wavelengths to trigger things such as flowering or fruit production.
To define full spectrum, grow light you would need to take into account the energy ranging from ultraviolet to infrared just like natural daylight since those are the spectrums being absorbed by your plants. When viewing full spectrum or wide spectrum LEDs the light they produce appears to be white light like that you would see from a normal incandescent light bulb only much more intense. Does that mean that any grow light that emits white light is full spectrum? Well, it doesn’t necessarily, and we’ll get into that in the next section.
Different ways to create white light
Traditional monochromatic diodes that provide only blue and red wavelengths but by introducing phosphorous coatings the light spectrum is expanded. Phosphor coatings are helpful to full spectrum grow lights in that by adding it and can transform an LED that emits just 460 nm (blue) and expand it to a wider range of longer wavelength light for example 700 nm (red). By further coating, a blue LED with a mixture of green, yellow or red phosphors a much wider spectrum is created.
The additional phosphors emit light in many different wavelengths, the result being a mixture of colors that are seen overall by the human eye as white.
Currently, you would need a light spectrum meter to measure your grow light to check the light spectrums for yourself or you will need to deal with a reputable LED grow light manufacturer that produces wide spectrum lights such as thegreensunshineco.com who produce the best wideband LEDs, their product is called the Electric Sky 300.
What Is The CRI Index?
Another method to evaluate the color of a grow light is through the color rendering index or (CRI) This measurement tells us how similar the LED is to natural daylight. The higher the CRI indicates the light is more closely related to sunlight or a full-spectrum light source.