...That HID Does Not Have and Never Will.
Image Credit: Kind LED
The Ability To Manipulate The LED Unit
A handy feature of some LED grow lights is that they can be manipulated or programmed directly from the unit itself. The type of manipulation will vary with the brand of LED light. For example, you might be able to manually change the light intensity on one light unit from a particular company, while another brand offers the convenience of setting up grow 'schedules' that changes the intensity, spectrum, and on/off cycle without intervention! In contrast, High Intensity Discharge (HID) setups do not allow a change in light intensity nor can the spectrum be altered. In addition, HID lamps require that you control the on/off cycles at the wall via a timer.
LEDs are unique in that they can be dimmed down to very low intensities and powered up to very high levels (though, high intensities are not recommended as this severely decreases bulb life). They also power up in a split second, where as HID bulbs must warm up before they are at their full power. Also, LEDs come in many spectrums, ranging from the applicable UV to IR wavelengths. By focusing on only the narrow spectrums of light that the plants require, less heat is generated by the diodes and you reduce the risk of leaf damage. These features allow the user full control over their grow and the chance to experiment with different light spectrums and intensities.
Now, let's look at some light units and brands that feature 'on the unit' manipulation to get an idea of what is possible though LED technology:
Kind LED K5 XL750 and XL1000
Just released, late Summer 2014, the K5 series is a step up in features and power from the K3 series. The K5 series delivers:
- A fully customizable spectrum to target the unique light requirements of all plants
- 8 separately set stages (to mimic the outdoors) with adjustable spectrum intensities and duration
- An internal timing function
- A IR remote control to program and change the light cycles
Illumitex Neosol DS
The Illumitex Neosol DS is one of the highest quality LED lights for personal and commercial horticulture. The unit's wavelengths can not be adjusted (though they do not need to be altered, because the proprietary and patented spectrum was designed for growth and flowering), nor can multiple light stages be set or internally timed. However, the Neosol DS exhibits on-board dimming control from 100% down to 10% light output. This feature eliminates the need to raise and lower fixture and therefore saves energy for low light applications.
The Intensity Series II grow lights by Intelligent-Gro feature Grow, Bloom, and Veg channels that allow varied spectrums and intensities for a variety of plants and growth phases. The channels can be adjusted, via a remote control, for every hour of the day. You may also choose between the pre-programmed light modes of Sunrise/Sunset, Moon Lighting, and Cloudy Days or customize your own mode. With full control over the lighting schedules spectrums, and intensities , you can save energy and, if you choose, change the growth traits of plants via the spectrum mixture. What a neat idea!
Lights by Eonstar allow growers the most freedom out of any other light. They have 5 different units of varying wattage and size, featuring manual or remote control and the option of wired or wireless controllers for the ultimate grow setup. All lights contain 5 different modes: Veg, Flower, UV, DIY, and Manual, comprised of a different combination of 4 unique light channels (red, deep red, UV/blue/red, white/red). Veg and Flower mode are used for vegging and flowering, respectively, while the UV mode is turned during the final weeks of growth to increase potency. DIY mode gives the grower control of the light channel mixture through an 8 point setting, with light intensity dimmable to 1%. Manual mode is the easiest way to dim the light channels down through 100% to 0% and turn them on and off. The four light channels can be easily controlled through an RF remote control (included) for all phases of the grow cycle.
As you can see, many more options exist in the world of LED grow lights, compared to HID, that allow growers the highest level of control over their grow. This is only the beginning of what is possible with LED grow lighting. The coming years will deliver more options for personal and commercial growers, saving them time and money as plants are able to grow more efficiently and ultimately yield a higher quality crop.
Are you using a programmable LED grow light? Comment below to let us know.
Check out the aforementioned brands here:
Here is a guide on what to consider when choosing an LED grow light.