When researching horticultural lights, you'll encounter two main types of light-emitting diodes (LEDs): those that produce a specific color of the light (often referred to as narrowband LEDs) and those that emit a broader range of hues. This article will look at the different types of LED lights to figure out which one is best for your crops' needs.
Narrow Band vs Broad Spectrum LED Lights
Let's look at the different LED types.
Narrowband LEDs create a very narrow emission spectrum of a particular light, such as blue or red.
Spectrum LEDs offer a broader range of hues that include a white or whitish light. They are often called broadband radiation. The white light is a blend of red, blue, and green wavelengths, and there are no white wavelengths. Virtually all white LEDs are blue, which have a phosphorus coating that converts the blue light into longer wavelengths.
When shopping for LED lights, remember that most LED lights were designed for people, so white lights are the most in-demand. Many manufacturers focus on changing blue LEDs to white. Nowadays, the price of blue (white) LEDs has been very affordable, and the market is inundated with them for use for both humans and plant life.
Purple LEDs (often called blurples) are a combination of red and blue. The red light typically makes up 75 to 90 percent of the light, and the blue LEDs are only about 10 to 25 percent. Without a doubt, red LEDs have a remarkably high efficacy, which means that they can readily convert the electricity into photons. That’s why there is so much of a higher red percentage in these LEDs.
Blurple LED lights have a truly short wavelength compared with other LED colors, making them favorable during a plant's flowering and vegetative growth phases. LED blurples render outstanding energy-producing light. The light looks purple because of the blue and red diodes, which create a pinkish or more purple glow—and so, the term “blurple.”
Although blurple LED grow lights are trendy, they still are not as ideal as full-spectrum white LED lights, which better mimic natural sunlight.
Remember that red lights are also considered far better at pushing a plant's photosynthesis abilities for a short time but might not be best over an extended period. Many plants start to develop elongated growth from the use of too much red light.
An LED light with a more balanced ratio of red and blue is best because the plant develops a more healthy and naturally compact growth habit. Remember: Spindly growth is not ideal because stems can be weak and topple as plants grow.
Another drawback to red-and-blue LED fixtures (blurples) is the impact on humans. The purplish light creates a work environment that most people find annoying and unpleasant. Another problem is that the red-and-blue LEDs make the plants and everything else in the room look purple instead of green to the human eye, so it's hard to see insect pests, diseases, and other problems until they become critical.
Pink LEDs combine red and white LEDs. They do not create as purple a hue as the blurple LEDs, and they are not as capable. Pink LEDs are less energy-efficient than purple LEDs. The light from pink LED fixtures, however, is whiter and softer. Remember that the percentage of white and red LEDs in the light fixtures varies so that some lights might produce a more purple hue than others.
White LED lights have only white LEDs. Some fixtures, however, depending on the brand, might have a low percentage of red LEDs or other colors mixed in. You'll need to pay close attention to the labeling to figure out if the white LEDs you are buying have other colors.
The appearance of light emitted by white LEDs varies:
- Cool white LEDs create a slightly bluish hue that is soft and barely perceptible.
- Warm white LEDs have a rosy, soft glow that is visually pleasing to most people.
- Mint white LEDs create a greenish hue that makes your plants stand out, but your skin will look sickly under the light's glow.
The color of the white LED depends on the phosphors that are applied to convert the blue light into green and red.
Without a doubt, white LEDs look good and are easy on the eyes, but when used as grow lights they are not as energy-efficient as blue-and-red LEDs. They are, however, more effective at growing and flowering plants than pink or purple LED fixtures.
You can create white lights in the grow room by combining green, red, and blue LEDs. Very few people do this, however, because green LEDs lack the effectiveness of red-and-blue LEDs.
As mentioned, red LEDs tend to promote long, gangly growth in plants, especially flower crops. However, if you buy a red-and-blue LED fixture with no far red, the plants will form compact growth. White LEDs create some far red, so plants grow taller and might flower earlier than if you use a red-and-blue LED light.
Blurple led lights are great for energy savings, and they work well as grow lights, which is why many people use them for horticulture. Typically, they are also affordably priced.
The best LED grow lights are typically full-spectrum LED lights, which are more expensive and not as energy-efficient but mimic natural sunlight. They still use less energy than other types of white lighting, including metal halide (MH), high-pressure sodium (HPS), and ceramic metal halide (CMH). Full-spectrum LEDs contain all the lights needed to meet the growth phases of your plants’ life cycle and draw a favorable reaction from people. If you can't afford full-spectrum LEDs, and you want to create a pleasant atmosphere for people in your grow room, you can opt for pink instead of blurple and still meet the needs of your plants.