LED Grow Lights

 

In general, grow lights are capable of emitting an electromagnetic spectrum necessary for photosynthesis. LEDs have become an increasingly viable alternative to the metal halide and high pressure sodium bulbs that have been used in the past. Earlier versions were usually not bright enough to offer an effective alternative to HIDs, but today’s three watt and five watt designs are often excellent alternatives. They have been even been clustered in 1200 watt configurations. NASA has now tested such designs for possible use on space missions to facilitate photosynthesis. Their low energy requirements and low heat output are considered potentially advantageous in such applications.

intercanopy_LED_lighting_for_tomato_production

Advantages

This newer type of grow bulb can be configured so that it only emits the wavelengths that correspond to the so-called absorption peaks of the usual photochemical processes of a given plant type. Chlorophyll and carotenoids have multiple absorption peaks, and these can be addressed by configuring diodes of varied colors that overlap with these peaks. Blue diodes in the approximate 450 nm range are advantageous for vegetative growth, while red diodes in the 600-640 nm range are more often used for growing flowers and fruit.

The ability to “fine-tune” these creations by mixing diodes to optimize production of the right wavelengths makes them far more efficient than their traditional counterparts. The illumination produced falls more perfectly within the spectrum of photosynthetically active radiation.

Deliscious lettuce grows with LED lighting Philips

Such illumination can also be directed more precisely. Reflectors are not needed to “focus” the illumination where it is needed. For example, a florescent tube emits illumination in all directions, which is inefficient. A reflector is required to better direct the illumination where it is needed.

Unlike florescent grow tubes, diode clusters do not require ballasts. They also generate much less heat than fluorescents, high pressure sodium and metal halide bulbs. The fact that they generate less heat often allows more time between watering events. Also, leaves are less likely to get burned on the edges.

Competing Types

Standard florescents have been traditionally used for indoor germination and for growing seedlings. They are also used for growing vegetables and herbs. Full-spectrum “daylight” bulbs (5000 K) are commonly used as grow bulbs. They have a usable life span of 20,000 hours, which is much more than that of MH, incandescent or HPS bulbs. However, such a life span still falls far short of that offered by LEDs. Compact fluorescents have a usable life span of about 10,000 hours, and they require reflectors to properly direct the illumination.

led grow images
Metal halide bulbs have tended to replicate a bright summer day. However, today’s MH lighting is available in cool white, warm white and even heavy UV types. Still, energy consumption is far greater than that of modern diode fixtures, and the amp rating is much higher. They are typically rated at about 5000 hours of life, about 5-10 percent of the life span of diode-type fixtures.


growtomatoesimages

 

A major drawback disadvantage to HPS illumination is that the orange/red spectrum created tends to produce a taller, leggier plant. However, they can facilitate the growth of fruit and flowers, so they may be used in conjunction with metal halide or fluorescent bulbs, depending upon the application. Another drawback is the amount of heat that these fixtures typically generate. The amp rating or requirement is also much greater than that of fixtures creating illumination via diodes.

The use of incandescent bulbs for growing plants has been limited by their relatively low color temperature of 2700 K, which puts the illumination at the red end of the spectrum. Some incandescent bulbs coated with blue filter material have been marketed as grow bulbs, but they are limited in two key ways. They generate a large amount of heat, and they are therefore very energy inefficient. They also only last about 750 hours. Contrast that with the life span of modern diode-based fixtures, which are generally rated at 50,000 hours or more.

Uses

Today, diode-based grow fixtures are used by hobbyists and commercial growers alike. Indoor, sustainable urban gardening combines hydroponics and grow fixtures. Greens, vegetables and fruits can all be grown in these indoor locations. Grow bulbs are being considered in the production of algae that can be effectively used as a biofuel source. This form of algae production can yield a carbohydrate/protein solid that can be used as an animal feed.

Growers of medical marijuana have increasingly turned to diode-based designs. Commercial growers can cut their electricity costs by as much as 40 percent or more by switching to Such fixtures. Less heat generation means a reduced need for exhaust fans. Less heat may also enhance quality because THC is known to degrade in the presence of heat. This gives LEDs the edge over MH bulbs, because a given strain of cannabis will produce more THC when grown under such lighting.

growmariqua2imagesgrowmariquana1images

Hobby gardeners love these fixtures because they make gardening possible on a year-round basis. Hobbyists often enjoy growing herbs, produce and even orchids. Some start the germination of their seedlings indoors in advance of the outdoor growing season. In the past, such gardeners relied extensively on HID fixture. Now, newer diode-based fixtures are capable of promoting photosynthesis in basic greens as well as watermelons and cacti.

Summary

LED grow lights are increasingly chosen for more applications than their counterparts because they use less energy, generate less heat, and better produce illumination of the type needed for photosynthesis. Red and blue diodes can be combined to create appropriate illumination. They also offer much longer life spans than all other competing types of bulbs.

growbig

LED Headlights and Car Lighting

LED headlights are improving and growing in popularity as the auto industry increasingly adopts the technology. As of 2013, there were 20 car models with an available headlamp in this form. This new type of headlight has seen somewhat slow adoption by consumers until recently, with concerns about fog safety, heat, and lamp life being at the forefront. These concerns appear to be have been satisfactorily addressed by the industry, however, if the current trend is any indication.

battle-of-the-headlights-halogen-vs-xenon-vs-led-26530_12

The lights are also available in lights other than the headlamp. They have also been used in tail lights, running lights, and parking lights. As the technology has improved, the level of adoption by automakers and the public has kept pace. Many drivers seem to prefer the lighting offered by the LED headlight, particularly the h/l beam. Some drivers feel the h/l beam is good enough for both the driver and oncoming traffic in terms of visibility and glare.

left lvr rope hl index

H/l Beam

LED-lighting is increasingly being used in headlights. Low beams are usually LED lights at the low end of the market since they are always on, even at times when the main beam with conventional bulbs is on. Car makers are expected to continue adopting this hybrid approach over the next few years. The compact part of the market should also be hybrid because of the cost-effectiveness.

LED-light Applications

Recent advances in technology allow the lights to be used in task lighting and for environmental settings. Their advantages over traditional incandescent lights include lower energy consumption, smaller size, longer lamp life, faster switching, and improved physical robustness. Light-emitting diodes are now found in applications like fog lamps, parking lights, running lights, and traffic signals.

various inside car lights images

The lights are solid state devices that normally experience very little wear and tear if used within a low temperature range and with low currents. Many of those made 30-40 years ago are still in service today. Although heat can shorten lamp life, 25-100,000 hours of use are typical. The most frequently observed sign of light failure is a gradual reduction in light output. Also, a reduction in efficiency is usually noted. Sudden failures are rare. If you are using these lights in tail lights, you should notice that they are gradually weakening, as opposed to a sudden failure.

UV Lights

LED-lights or ight-emitting diodes are quite different from UV lights. For example, these ight-emitting diodes are two-lead semiconducter light sources resembling a simple pn junction diode.

Phosphor-based Lights

The phosphor form of lighting involves a process of coating the lights of one color with different colored phosphor colors. The finishes products are called pcLEDs or phosphor-converted white LED-lights. Phosphor lights work well, although they sometimes have problems with efficiency losses.

inside car light images

Efficiency losses from the phosphor-based version of the lights are caused by temperature loss and degradation issues. The original wavelength of the light and spectral distribution determine the luminous efficacies of the lights. The luminous efficacy of a standard phosphor-based light is up to five times the efficacy of the original blue light, since the human eye is more sensitive to yellow than to blue. However, phosphor is still the method that is most popular for manufacturing the lights because of the simplicity involved in the manufacturing process.

The output of the lights increases at lower temperatures. This makes them good for uses like in grocery store freezer lighting. Since the lights generate less heat than other bulbs, they are considered highly energy efficient for applications like freezers and refrigerators. One caution is that ice and snow could accumulate on the bulbs in colder climes. This has also sometimes caused problems when LEDs are used in traffic signals in snow-prone areas. One solution is adding an inexpensive heating circuit to the traffic light.

Rise time for the lights is defined as up to 90 percent of the pulse’s maximum value. Rise time is also a function of the light’s capacitance, amplitude, and recombination lifetime. Bulb manufacturers prefer measuring, not calculating rise time.

Using LED-lighting in headlamps has several benefits. One is that the bulbs are cooler, meaning they waste less energy than conventional bulbs. They are more durable, largely because they do not contain glass. They are also brighter and shine on a larger area than other bulbs. They also have less glare and provide better safety in dark or bad weather.

Summary

LED headlights are improving and growing in popularity as the auto industry increasingly adopts the technology. It appears the future is “bright” for this technology (pun intended).

LEDs: The Future of Household Illumination

The beloved incandescent bulbs are gone now, victims of the drive to reduce energy consumption and lower carbon footprints. For years, the only replacement that looked viable was CFL (compact fluorescent lighting), but that comes with a number of problems – safety, disposal, longevity – that have made the general public uncomfortable. Fortunately, developments in LED technology have made it varied and flexible, suitable for everything from flashlights to floods. Breakthroughs in materials science have brought it to the point of widespread feasibility sooner than anticipated, a development that will make both the environment and consumer wallets happy.

LED house outside mages

Basics

LED is short for ‘light-emitting diodes’, a diode that exhibits electroluminescence and emits photons from the p-n junction between the semiconductor surfaces. The first LEDs (or LDs) discovered in the 1950s emitted infrared waves, but as scientists varied the semiconductor doping, different wavelengths were produced, including many in the visible range. The devices were swiftly patented and used for niche purposes – fiber optics communication, digital readouts, and indicator lamps, for example.

LED house inside images

For years, cost and technical issues restricted LD illumination from general use. But as concern grew about energy consumption and the environment, researchers saw the potential in widespread use of durable and efficient LDs for general illumination. They used federal environmental research money to develop a host of improvements in light-emitting diodes, making them commercially viable: varied colors (warm and cool) suitable for differing indoor and outdoor needs, dimmanble lamps for variable illumination, shaped packaging for everything from point to diffuse spread. With acceptance issues plaguing CFLs, LD may swiftly take the lead in household use, despite a higher initial purchase price for lamps.

LD Advantages

Modern LDs are highly suitable for the varied needs of household illumination. Their advantages can outweigh the increased price, particularly over time.

1. Longevity

Individual diodes are packaged inside solid plastic casings. When massed together in a case for use in standard sockets, they are packaged with metal heat sinks and plastic lenses, reflectors and caps to form the body of the bulb. There is no glass globe to shatter and no filament to burn out, making them safer and more durable than CFLs.

bird index

LDs are naturally more long-lasting than CFLs, and tend to dim as they age instead of dying completely. Incandescent bulb life was between 1,000 and 2,000 hours. Fluorescent lamps easily top them with 10,000 to 15,000 hours. LD bulb life is expected to be 35,000 to 100,000 hours at full strength, with gradual dimming extending their life beyond that for applications that are not lumen-critical.

2. Safety

One major complaint about fluorescence is flicker. Known to trigger migraines and epilepsy in sensitive people (and to annoy most others), flicker creates resistance to CFL implementation and has caused people to delay the transition from the steady incandescent glow as long as possible. LD radiance is continuous and flicker-free. It comes on almost instantly, without the ramp-up time of CFLs. Solid devices, LDs do not leak hazardous materials if damaged and do not require special disposal. There is no mercury to pollute the environment as there is from CFLs.

Another issue with CFLs is the potential emission of ultraviolet radiation, the same cancer-causing wavelengths that sunscreen blocks. Unfortunately, most people do not wear sunscreen indoors, and CFLs, if not perfectly coated with a UV-absorbing lining, are very likely to leak hazardous UV waves. LDs emit very specific wavelengths and LDs used for lamps do not emit in the UV range at all.

3. Efficiency

Heat is a byproduct of the conversion of electricity to light. The more efficient a the conversion, the less electricity is wasted as heat. LDs used for illumination produce no hot infrared wavelengths, so there is much less electricity waste than from other technologies.

kitchen images

A simple measure of efficiency is total watts used for similar brightness, measured in lumens. For 400-500 lumens, incandescent lamps use 40 watts, CFL’s use 8-12, and LDs require 6-9. This edge over CFLs is slight, but adds up over time to significant electricity savings. Considering that lighting accounts for around 6% of US electricity use, switching to LDs will have a significant impact.

4. Flexibility

With varied color and brightness, LD fixtures are flexible and fun. LDs tend to be more directional in emission than other technologies, but can be massed in a way that disperses radiance in a more even manner. With clever use of packaging, LDs can be used for anything from pinpoint illumination to floods. They are also easily dimmanble, and the latest bulbs work with current household dimmer technology. For early adopters, LD lighting can be controlled via computer or smartphone programming to change color and intensity as needed for different moods or purposes. This has given the new technology an unparalleled breadth and flexibility of use.

LDs are proving to be for everything from outdoor floods to standard household illumination to specialized uses like automobile and traffic signals. Improvements in materials have increased brightness and color levels and driven prices down. With every reason to believe that trend will continue, it looks as though household fluorescent lamps may have a very short reign.

SUMMARY: New LD fixtures are efficient, environmentally friendly, long-lasting, healthier, safer and more flexible than CFL lamps, and prices are dropping rapidly as technology advances.

Solar Lights and Energy from the Sun

Plants have long known the secret of getting energy from the sun via photosynthesis. Modern man just barely catches up with nature in its applications of solar energy. Before air conditioning, some architecture had made use of the sun’s ability to heat rooms by facing them south. One should not ignore more active principles, too, like: lighting and power from the sun.

Passive Applications

Passive designs make use of the sun by storing the heat from the sun’s rays or to help illuminate the home. They generally contain no photovoltaic cells or moving parts. They don’t generate electricity, but they work well to light and heat a home. Here are a few such techniques to try out in your home:

Thermal Walls and Floors – A home that is built with brick will collect energy from the sun, if it is also facing south. The sun’s ray will hit the brick and the heat will be stored in it to be released at night, when the temperatures drop outside. In the same manner, tile and stone floors and walls will collect the sun’s radiation during the day and release it at night, and can be designed for maximum heat gain.

solarpassivehouseimages solarpassivedrawingimages solarpassiveimages

Tube Solar Lighting – If you want to bring more light into the home, without increasing your electric bill, you can use a tube solar lighting. These openings, that have no moving parts, act like round miniature skylights that reflect the light through a channel embedded in the roof back into the home in different rooms. They illuminate the interior of the home from the outside. You will need to get an expert to figure where to place the solar tube by checking your roof’s insolation values in different spots.

tubesolarindex

Landscaping the Home – Not only do trees use photosynthesis from the sun, but they make ideal shade covers for south-facing windows. They will have leaves on them during the height of the summer, but drop those leaves in the winter when you want the sun to stream in more. A garden that takes into account how to cool the home via strategic plantings can also help reduce your power needs.

Active Applications

When trying to make as much use of the sun as possible, one can look a variety of ways to include energy from the sun in your home design. Once you know your home’s insolation parameters, you can start to figure out whether a particular application works best for you. Here are a few different ways to make use of the sun’s rays:

Lighting – Your outdoor garden may need a little illumination at night and solar-powered walkway lights are inexpensive and easy to install. They have no wires and can be staked anywhere in the outdoor garden.  They make your home safer by keeping it bright even after dark, without costing you another penny after the initial purchase.

solarpoolimages

Water Heating – Homeowners are discovering a way to reduce the power needs of one of the biggest energy wasters in the home: heating hot water. Making use of the sun’s ray to pre-heat the water and keep it warm eliminates the need to burn electricity just to store water in a hot water storage tank. You can use a vacuum tube setup to soak up the sun’s radiation for most hot water heating that makes use of the sun’s rays.

Power – To produce electricity from the sun, you will need solar cells. These marvels of modern technology powered the International space station, should it should be good enough for your home. Cell arrays and designs are changing every year. Some are even available that look like roof tiles.

rooftileindexsolartilesindex

Technology Advances from the Sun

Every year the price of technology decreases, while the applications increase. Designs that make use of the sun’s energy are ideal for third world countries that are not on a national grid. Ovens that are heated by the sun can save forests by reducing the need to collect firewood. Solar stills can help people purify water. The sun will always be out some place to be useful for a variety of purposes.

For modern people in first world countries, there have also been numerous advances to help them modify existing homes. Now, you can make use of passive design by including trombe walls in strategic areas. Laptops and phones can be powered with energy devices that are portable. Some designers believe windows of the future will all be modified into transparent photovoltaic cells that produce energy even as they continue to let you see outside. Electricity-generating designs have gotten more stylish, reducing the ugliness factor that plagued the industry at the beginning. As more homeowners take the plunge, the fear factor of a new technology has also subsided. You can even get rebates for including active designs in your home. There is much more good news coming in for the residential homeowner in energy designs. It’s not a question of if it will happen anymore, but when.

Summary

It used to be that your home’s architecture had to be built from the ground up to use natural designs that used the sun’s energy. However, both passive and active designs have advanced over the years to make it easy for homeowners to include this valuable technology into their existing homes now.

solaroutside2mages

LED Strip and Track Lighting

LED tracking lighting is an economical and simple method of illuminating your home. You have many choices for placement of these lighting fixtures, and using a strip or rope installation will change the appearance and comfort of any room. Consider all the rooms you can change in your home simply with new trac lighting.

The First Room: Your Kitchen

LEDkitchenimages

Your kitchen is probably to most used room in your home. The amount of work that is done in the kitchen every day is enough to warrant a new way to light the room. Kitchens that are very large require lights that point in all directions. A track that runs along the ceiling can point a bulb at every single part of the room. Plus, you can ensure that the fixtures are pointed at the places you use the most. There is no sense is aiming part of the strip at areas of the room that do not need light. You can make it much easier to see all throughout the cooking and eating space simply by using the lights on the trac to your advantage.

The Next Room: Your Living Room

LEDlivingroomimages

Your living room is the place where you and your family watch television, read and relax. Plus, the living room is a great place to entertain and host guests in the house. However, your living room must have a rope, downlight or trac fixture that illuminates every part of the room.

If you prefer reading as a leisure activity, there must be a fixture in the room capable of pointing a beam to the chair where you prefer to read. Also, the other seats in your living room must be lit well for others who prefer to read.

Arranging your living room becomes more complex when you add an entertainment center, television or stereo. The fixtures in the room must be dimmable for watching movies and television, but you must make certain that the rail ceiling fixture you use can point bulbs at the right places.

Your Bedrooms

LEDbedroomimages

Your bedrooms are perfect for LED fixtures. Many master bedrooms are so large that you cannot put one downlight in the middle of the room. With a few rail ceiling units, you can keep the most used parts of the room lit while not illuminating the whole room. Also, dimmable fixtures work well because they produce a nice atmosphere and mood in the room.

Your Workshop

Your workshop is the place where you get your hobbies and work from home done. Under cabinet aluminum fixtures help to keep work benches and counters lit for detail work while an overhead aluminum fixture will keep the room lit with just one bulb. Arranging your workshop with the proper fixtures helps to keep the room easy to navigate, and you can be assured that you’ll find any small items you drop on the floor with such varied and strong fixtures.

LEDworkareaimages

Extra Places In Your House

An under cabinet fixture works quite well in a small bathroom that has little to no counter space. Similarly, a rail ceiling fixture will help to keep the shower and toilet lit with ease.

The dining room can benefit from a downlight that hangs directly over the dining table. You may be concerned that the room will not be lit well with only one fixture, but this style of fixture reflects off the walls of the room and gives your dining room an effervescent feeling.

Long hallways and foyers can hold artwork that is illuminated with the right type of fixture. The bulbs can be pointed at artwork that is on display, but the fixtures can point down the hallway and keep the hallway well-lit as you walk.

LEDtankimages

The Conclusion

Your home must be well-lit for you and your family. You may enjoy reading in the living room, eating in a bright dining room or showering in a well-lit bathroom, and you can install track fixtures that come with individual lighting fixtures you can point wherever you like.

Once you make the decision to use trac fixtures, you will have LED quality illumination in every part of your home. Reading becomes easier, but you also have a much better looking house that impresses your guests.