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5 Mistakes New Growers Make With LED Grow Lights

5 Mistakes New Growers Make With LED Grow Lights

In this article, we will shed some light on common mistakes that new growers often encounter, specifically related to LED grow lights. Buckle up as we explore five blunders that might be hindering your plants' potential.

Let's kick things off with the first slip-up that many new LED growers make...

Ignoring Light Spectrum Requirements

Each stage of a plant's life benefits from particular wavelengths to optimize growth and yield. For instance, during the vegetative phase, plants benefit from higher levels of blue light, promoting robust leaf and stem development. In contrast, the flowering stage thrives under increased red light, stimulating flower production.

A common mistake is selecting LED grow lights without considering these distinct spectrum needs. Inadequate spectrums hinder essential biological processes, stifling plant development and reducing overall productivity. Plants may exhibit stunted growth, delayed flowering, or compromised yields if subjected to incorrect light spectrums. 

To avoid this mistake, choose a full cycle LED grow light capable of carrying your plants from seed to harvest. Most lights on the market will accomplish this goal, but there are light out there directed more towards vegetative growth and others specifically for flowering. 

Some companies make LED grow lights that have adjustable spectrums that increase blue light during the vegetative stage, and during flowering the blue is dialed this down and red wavelengths are increased. Most LED grow lights do not have adjustable spectrums and that is alright, since a full spectrum has all of the wavelengths needed for good growth and flowering throughout the plants life cycle.

Number 2: Overlooking Distance and Intensity

Proper placement of LED grow lights is a crucial factor that can make or break your harvest. Too close, and you are giving your plants a sunburn. Too far, and they're left in the shadows, leading to spindly, weak stems and lackluster growth.

The magic lies in finding that sweet spot – an ideal distance that ensures your plants bask in the perfect light intensity. Say, you are growing in a 4x4 grow space and your light is designed to flower that 4x4 at good intensity - which I define as an average PPFD of 800 or greater in that space. During the early growth phase, you want to dim your grow light down to about 30-50%, while maintaining about 18-24” above the plants. This ensures that you are not wasting energy since plants in this stage do not need as much light as plants in the flowering stage.

As your plants mature and you flip to flowering, you will want to ramp up the light intensity. Some growers blast their plants with 100% light intensity from the start of flowering, while others may ramp up their light intensity over the next several weeks. 

If there is too much light during flowering and your plants are not able to utilize all of the light, this can lead to photobleaching - a whitening or yellowing of the leaves and flowers. But if there is not enough light your flowers will be small and fluffy. These problems can be mitigated by adjusting the light intensity via a dimmer or by raising or lowering the light fixture. Using a quantum meter can help with the proper distances and intensities.

Number 3: Using Cheap LED grow lights

Opting for inexpensive LED grow lights might seem like a cost-saving move initially, but it often comes at the expense of plant productivity, plant health, and your wallet.

Low-quality grow lights may lack a good light spectrum to support various stages of growth effectively. A healthy amount of blue is needed to keep plants compact during vegetative growth, but too much blue my produce plants that are too stout and will also lead to lower yields. 

Too much red and far red during the vegetative stage will cause the plants to stretch too much, but a lot of red light is needed for optimal photosynthesis and robust yields. Budget LED grow lights may have an unbalanced spectrum or an actual spectrum that does not match what was advertised.

Investing in quality LED grow lights from reputable brands, on the other hand, ensures that your plants receive a full and balanced light spectrum. Although the initial cost may be higher, it pays off in the form of improved plant growth, and better yields & quality. 

Moreover, the durability factor is significant. Low-quality LEDs often suffer from a shorter lifespan, leading to frequent replacements and additional expenses. Imagine your light going out in the middle of flowering, and you can’t get a hold of the company your purchased from or it will be weeks until a replacement light or part arrives. You may just consider buying a new grow light to replace the cheap one, costing you more that if you just bought a good one in the first place.

Alternatively, quality LED grow lights use quality parts and are less likely to fail. Moreover, if your light fails, good manufacturers will stand by your side and send out replacements lights or parts quickly, resulting in less downtime.

Good LED grow lights will put out more light per watt and cost you less to run long term. 

Therefore, buy the best grow light that you can afford if you want to avoid lower yields, subpar quality, lost crops, and wasted money.

Number 4: Neglecting Photoperiod and Light Timing

Photoperiod, or the duration of light exposure, plays a critical role in your plant’s growth stages. In the vegetative phase, plants thrive under extended light periods, typically 18 hours per day. Too much light during the vegetative stage will not give your time plants to ‘sleep’ and carry out important physiological processes, which will affect growth and development. Not enough light during this growth phase will slow down growth. 

The flowering stage requires a shift to shorter days and longer nights, typically 12 hours of light and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness. Any deviation from a regular dark period can hinder the development of buds, impacting their quality and potency. In addition, light from internal or external sources can disrupt this cycle, reverting plants to vegetative growth or causing hermaphroditism. Of course, the 12/12 cycle does not hold for autoflowers which require about a light cycle of 18 hours on and 6 hours off.

While photoperiod and light timing is not specific to LED grow lights, I would like to point out that some LED lights have a timer built into them or the lighting schedules can be controlled via an external controller. These devices can be quite helpful for managing the scheduling for your grow.

To ensure your plants get the proper light and dark cues, follow the recommended lighting schedules for the particular growth stage, block all incoming light during the dark period, and if you need to check on your plants during the dark period, use a green LED light. 

Number 5: Inadequate Cooling and Ventilation

The final mistake is not ensuring proper cooling and ventilation when growing with LEDs.

Many new growers assume led grow lights do not generate hardly any heat. This is not true. Though LED grow lights generate about 30-40% less heat than HID lights, which is quite significant compared to traditional lighting, you still need to manage the heat since otherwise it can have detrimental effects on both your plants and the lights themselves.

Without sufficient cooling and/or ventilation, the heat generated by the lights accumulates, creating an environment that's uncomfortably warm for your plants. Elevated temperatures can lead to wilting, slowed growth, or even irreversible plant damage. 

Additionally, the excessive heat can lower the cooling capacity of the grow lights heatsink, diminishing the LEDs efficiency and lifespan and necessitating more frequent replacements.

Investing in proper cooling and ventilation is an insurance policy for a thriving cultivation space. Regular monitoring and effective ventilation ensure a stable and favorable climate, promoting healthy growth and optimal performance from your grow lights. 


This article has shed light on five common mistakes that new growers often make when using LED grow lights. From ignoring light spectrum requirements to overlooking distance and intensity, and from opting for cheap LED lights to neglecting photoperiod and light timing, these blunders can significantly hinder plant development and reduce overall productivity. Additionally, inadequate cooling and ventilation pose a final challenge that can impact both plants and LED lights. To ensure a successful indoor gardening experience, it is crucial to be mindful of these pitfalls. By choosing full-cycle LED grow lights, optimizing distance and intensity, investing in quality products, following proper light schedules, and ensuring adequate cooling and ventilation, growers can maximize their yields and plant quality while minimizing potential setbacks. Happy growing!


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