The Impact of LEDs and Plant Growth – What is Fact and What is Fiction?

Fact: When the light-emitting diode (LED) bulb was invented, in the early 1960’s, this new light source was expected to be a more efficient way to light a room. What was not anticipated was the huge impact this light source would have on plant growth. And, while most people believe, LED bulbs are, in fact, lifesavers to plants, other people still believe LEDs are expensive and unnecessary.

Fact: Also discovered was that the photons in the LED bulb had the capability of becoming absorbed by a plant’s chlorophyll, which was responsible for plant growth by creating light in both the blue and red wavelengths. Absorbed by the chlorophyll in plants, these wavelengths have, by far, the greatest impact on photosynthesis, leaf development, and flowering.

Fact: Because of the amazing effectiveness of LED bulbs to reflect the type of light plants need to grow, LED bulb usage is on the rise. It is expected that by 2020, the LED grow light market will rise to more than $1.9 billion.

Fact: LED grow lights also provide a certain amount of plant protection.  Every LED bulb comes with its own heat sink, which restricts heat loss. This lack of heat loss saves energy and does not overexpose plants to high temperatures.

Fact: The effects of LED lights on plants was so impressive that, for years, NASA tested LED grow lights in space to see how effective they were in growing food in space.

Fiction: LED bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs. While the initial investment of an LED bulb is more expensive, overall LEDs outlast an incandescent bulb that only lasts 750 to 1000 hours. Therefore, in the long run, LED bulbs last much longer.

Fact: Originally, LEDs were created to outperform the standard incandescent bulb. The incandescent bulb used electricity to heat a filament that then reflected light. But the incandescent bulb emitted more heat than light and did not have a long lifespan. Using the opposite approach, LED bulbs used a cold process that caused movement in electrons that then created photons, which created more light than heat and lasted a long time, 50,000 to 10,000 hours or 15 years to be exact, which is a substantial savings in using artificial light at times when natural light is not available.

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