Can Any LED Light be Used as a Grow Light (and Which Ones are the Best)?

Can Any LED Light be Used as a Grow Light (and Which Ones are the Best)?

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There were days when you had to put your plants by the window for them to receive sunlight. Now, we have LED lights! But, can any LED lights be used to grow plants and herbs?

Not all LED lights can be efficiently used as grow lights. It depends on the amount of LED light, range and spectrum, various needs of each subspecies, temperature color, and other factors.

Keep reading more to find out can you use any LED lights to grow plants, what LED light is best for plants, do white LED lights work for growing plants, and how far should LED grow lights be from plants for best growing.

Can you use any LED lights to grow plants?

The answer to this question is a definitive and resounding: it depends.

Especially in the short term, your plants can receive and use a certain amount of LED light. A limited range or spectrum of color will limit the growth potential of certain species or strains. Simply surviving does not equate to the plant thriving. Even the same plant type has different needs depending on its life cycle, surface area, soil composition, etc. Of course, the various needs of each subspecies need to be taken into account. A regular lamp will be enough for most houseplant types to survive. However, your ambition should not be limited to just simple maintenance.

If using regular LED grow lights, be sure that the temperature color matches your needs. Most people use incandescent and fluorescent lights, finding that they yield decent results. For the most experienced growers, halogen and LED bulbs can always remain an option. Many recommend high-pressure sodium and metal halide lightbulbs for a larger crop or greenhouse, while fluorescent and incandescent lights are implemented in household situations.

If the price is your determining factor, then incandescent lights are by far the cheapest ones to implement. They are also highly inefficient. Most of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is converted into heat, not light. Even though these lights are cheaper to buy upfront, their inefficiency will result in a higher electricity bill. Besides, the heat generated makes it impossible to keep the bulbs near the plants, as it can result in them drying or getting wilted and burned. If you must use incandescent bulbs, be sure to keep them at a safe distance, and check the warmth generated with your hand. If the sensation is too warm, move it further away.

This is why LED lights are vastly superior. Instead of superheating a piece of tungsten in a vacuum to produce light, LED bulbs just run a small current through a diode.  It is much more energy-efficient, it produces little to no heat, and plants seem to grow better and faster under LED bulbs. Especially with seeds and younger plants, LED tube lights are the best option. You can hang them above the plants, and it is possible to order extra perks such as reflectors.

What LED light is best for plants?

Before that question can be answered, we need to understand a few basic things about light itself. As it travels, light propagates in waves, with each wave having a specific length. Colors are what we call the waves we can see. However, there are hundreds of thousands of these waves even at the most superficial level, each with its energy and properties.

No matter how good they are, artificial lights will always have trouble imitating the full spectrum of colors that natural sunlight can offer. Given that plants are adapted to living in nature, they thrive in a broad spectrum of light. This is difficult to imitate in an artificial environment. Some plants are more selective than others, and the question is very vague. In general, an LED light that emits the broadest possible color spectrum will be sufficient yet inefficient.

If you can get specific LED bulbs for green, red, purple, orange, violet, you can maximize photosynthesis. For example, red LED lights will be most effective in the plant’s flowering period, while blue is ideal for its vegetation stage. Most likely, a single bulb will not do the trick. It is better to research the exact type of plant you’re growing and get several bulbs. This allows you to adapt to multiple situations, and the species natural life cycle.

Best LED light for growing plants

The best overall LED light for growing plants is BESTVA DC Series, and you can check it out on Amazon. It has dual-chip LEDs which are much brighter and more efficient than traditional ones.

BESTVA DC Series offers a true full-spectrum light, which helps your plants, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to grow indoor at all stages, just like they are in the natural sunshine. You can choose VEG for growing, BLOOM for seedling/flowering, and I recommend lighting your plants for 12-18 hours a day. If your plant needs more energy, you should turn on both switches together.

Holes on the aluminum plate and the glass make heat convection, run 50~60℉ lower than any other LEDs. It’s very effective and reduces energy consumption. You can be sure that you will get from seed to flower with strong healthy growth results (16 week growth cycle). If you want the best for growing your plants indoors, then go with BESTVA DC Series.

Best Budget LED light for growing plants

If you are on a tight budget, then we suggest you go with EZORKAS Grow Light from Amazon. These LED lights are much cheaper than the aforementioned growing lights but are still a great choice. They have an automatic Turn On and Off timing function, as well as adjusting the brightness of the light and the distance between the light and plants, according to plant needs. This is extremely helpful because you can just time it, and go to sleep, or go away from a house without thinking are your plants growing the right way. It is one of my favorite options on LED growing lights.

EZORKAS Grow Light has 80 efficient growing LEDs (red and blue), which meets the conditions of plant growth without sunlight. The red lights promote photosynthesis, germination, bloom, and fruit-bearing, while the blue lights ensure the plants take in more energy through chlorophyll synthesis to help them in germination. It is very bright when you adjust its brightness. This growing lamp is suitable for indoor potted plants, herbs, flowers, and vegetables, or an indoor garden. It accelerates their growth in every stage of development.

Even though its price is pretty low, they are very sturdy and well-built. It has a very strong clamp to hold the light firmly in place, even at unusual angles. The gooseneck arms are also very strong and yet highly adjustable. When you look at the quality of the EZORKAS Grow Light and its price, it is clear that this is a great investment!

Do white LED lights work for growing plants?

As previously mentioned, each color has a wavelength and a certain energy charge. White is not a color, but a combination of several wavelengths. This is why certain environments can act as a prism and separate white light into its component shades. Most people consider it intuitive for hot things to glow red, yet the red and infrared wavelengths have the lowest values on the Kelvin temperature classification. 

The Kelvin temperature classification is a chart that shows the required temperatures to produce a certain color. The energy requirement increases as we move towards a blue and ultraviolet hue. Given that knowledge, even white LED lights can different. It may sound strange but there are different shades of white, depending on which end of the color spectrum is best represented.

The coolest type is ironically named Warm white, given that it is dominated by the low energy red spectrum. Its value ranges from 2700- 3750 Kelvin. Then we have Neutral white, with a temperature energy requirement of 3750-500 Kelvin. Finally, there’s a cool white with 5000-8300 Kelvin. Natural sunlight leans towards a more cool white value, varying between 5000- 6300 K. Given that you want to imitate natural wavelengths as best you can, be sure to search for LED lights with a cool white hue.

If you ask most people with green thumbs, they will recommend a white LED for younger plants. After its initial stages of life, it’s best to implement a more specific LED grow light. The issue stems from the fact that white is made up of all colors. It is a shotgun approach, shooting every shade, hue, and wavelength at the plant, while its absorption spectrum is very specific and limited. This is simply wasteful and inferior when compared to a specific, targeted, grow light.

How far should LED grow lights be from plants?

Thankfully, LED lights will not burn the plants similar to the incandescent bulbs. While heat generation is not an issue, having lights too close or too far can cause your plant to fail and die. Most people kill theirs by raising the LED to high, and not using reflective walls.  Just like the name suggests, reflective walls minimize wasted light by capturing and bouncing it back.