How Can Growers Improve Energy Efficiency In Lighting ?

LED lights for plant growth.

If you are thinking of growing cannabis or any type of vegetation, you will need to understand the basics of plant life cycles and how to care for the type of plant or flower you are interested in producing. If you want to streamline the process of growing cannabis, learning about the importance of energy efficiency and energy cycles is also a must. When you are well-versed in improving energy efficiency with grow light energy, you can find the lights and lighting solution(s) that are right for your setup and growing rig.

Lighting Considerations

Whether you are new to the world of cannabis or if you already have a track record of having a green thumb, working with cannabis is often a bit different than planting a traditional herb or vegetable garden. If you are getting started with a cannabis-growing operation, you will first need to consider the following aspects of choosing a lighting setup and solution that is right for you:

  • The location and amount of space available to work in using your designated grow room or space
  • The intensity and brightness of the light(s) you have available and/or intend to use
  • The distance of the light itself from the plant(s) you intend to cultivate
  • The lighting schedule or the frequency of the light(s) you intend to use to grow your plants

Because you are choosing to grow your plant(s) indoors with LED lighting or other solutions, you will need to create your photoperiod, providing a natural cycle between both night and day, which is necessary for optimal plant growth and care.

Selecting the Proper Intensity

Improving the energy efficiency of lighting used to grow your cannabis plants begins with the lighting source you are using and the types of LED or alternative lights you intend to keep running throughout the entire growing process. A light’s intensity plays a major role in how a plant sprouts and develops, which is why it is so important to understand what type of lighting rig(s) you are using for your crop.

When the light is too dim while growing cannabis, or not powerful enough, it can result in lackluster growth or a plant that is below average in terms of size and potency. Lighting that is too harsh or intense may also result in the burning or death of your yield, which can be discouraging at the very least. Typically, when growing cannabis and other plants or flowers, light brightness is measured in both lumens as well as in lux.

Understanding the difference between lux and lumen can help you to find a lighting rig that is just right for your indoor grow setup.

Lux: Lux typically means the light intensity that reaches a surface. Light levels of an object or on a surface can be measured easily using lux.

Lumen: Lumens help to ultimately measure the overall flow of light that is coming directly from a source. When the lumen is greater, the source of light will also be much brighter.

A couple of examples of recommended lumen/lux intensities are below:

Stage of Life Minimum Lux Optimal Lux Maximum Lux
Vegetation Est: 15,000 Est: 40,000 Est: 70,000
Flower Est: 35,000 Est: 60,000 Est: 85,000

Lighting Colors

When browsing for grow lights improvement of growers tips and lighting rig solutions, you may be wondering what color of light is best for your setup. Most lights used for growing a wide range of flowers, crops, and vegetation today come in standard lighting colors as well as purple, blue, pink, and red colors as well. Because the color of light can have a direct impact on how your plants grow and/or thrive, understanding the differences between each can come in handy as you work to improve your skills as a gardener and as a budtender.

Blue/Purple Light

Blue and purple lights when growing cannabis has many similar effects to UVA light. In many instances, blue lighting is measured as being a bit less intense, although it has been shown to potentially increase the overall cannabinoid concentrations in a plant. In some instances, blue lighting has also been shown to enhance a plant’s overall growth and bushy appearance, which is optimal for certain lineages that are naturally fluffier and more spread out.

Green Lighting

Green lighting for cannabis growth is also a little more uncommon than working with traditional LEDs, sunlight, or blue/purple lighting. While there have been a few studies on green lighting and how it impacts the growth of marijuana, there are no long-term conclusive studies quite yet. In some experiments, however, greenlighting was shown to reduce secondary metabolite activity while also reducing potential THC concentration in the plant(s) themselves.

Red Light

So far, there is a lack of long-term data when it comes to choosing a red light for cannabis growth. Most often, cannabis plants are cultivated using traditional sunlight schedules, traditional LEDs, or a combination of blue and purple lighting. However, there have been more recent studies that indicate that red lighting may result in a taller cannabis crop, which requires further investigations to confirm or debunk it.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Lighting

So you’re familiar with the types of lighting used for cannabis growth and you have a viable workspace available to get started–now what? Knowing how to improve the overall energy efficiency of your lighting setup is often just as important as seeking out high-quality seeds and/or seedlings to plant.

Use Lighting Controls

One of the best ways to streamline your growth operation while also optimizing the energy efficiency of each growth you take on is to use your very own lighting controls. Whether you have settled on LED lights, fluorescent, or even incandescent lighting, you can install your own lighting controls to keep a better eye on your crop at all times. Using lighting controls can also help with ensuring your lighting schedule is not interrupted and that it is also handled automatically, especially if you have access to home automation tools or a smartphone app that is right for your operation.

Space and Distance

Regardless of the strain(s) of crops, you are growing, cannabis plants typically require anywhere between 30 and 50w of lighting per square foot of growing space. You may need to use LED lights that can be dimmed or brightened over time throughout the course of cultivating your crop(s).

Find the Right Lighting

Selecting the right lighting for your growing operation can help significantly when it comes to maximizing your crop’s yield and ensuring the best health and growth of your plants altogether. Always conduct thorough research on the type of lights you are thinking of using for your cannabis plants to ensure they are suitable for your grow room size and the type of lighting and intensity you require.

Today, LEDs have come a long way. Choosing an LED lighting solution can provide a number of advantages that are not always readily available with incandescent and fluorescent lighting setups, such as:

  • Increased energy efficiency: With most modern LED lighting setups, you can increase your overall energy efficiency by up to 50% in total.
  • Longer lifespan: Using LEDs can provide you with up to 50,000 grow hours.
  • Direct lighting: LED rigs have more coverage than standard lights, which can help the cannabis plants you are growing to utilize photons more efficiently.
  • Safety: LED lights are typically protected and encased in their own protective casing and housing. Additionally, LED lighting rigs are also less likely to utilize potentially harmful or dangerous materials that other lighting systems, such as fluorescent and incandescent lighting may include.
  • Environmentally-friendly: Because LED lights are extremely energy-efficient and last for up to 50,000 hours in total, they require fewer repairs and replacements, ultimately making them a more eco-friendly choice for those who are environmentally conscious.

Schedule

Setting a schedule in place anytime you are growing a plant (especially cannabis), is vital. Without a lighting schedule, growing cannabis indoors can quickly become disastrous, as cannabis requires a strict lighting schedule that mimics nature. As plants outdoors are not exposed to sunlight 24 hours each day, they must also follow a similar schedule when being grown indoors, regardless of the type of lighting rigs you are using.

Throughout the vegetation stage of growth, your plants will require around 18 hours of light versus 6 hours of darkness each day. Once your plants begin to bud and flower, you can then switch your lighting schedule to 12 hours of lighting with 12 hours of complete darkness.

Improving energy efficiency in lighting when growing cannabis does not require extensive education or decades of experience to get right. With an LED setup that is modern and useful for your space, you can begin growing your next crop while maintaining confidence and peace of mind from start to finish.

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