01/2018 | LED grow lights for medical cannabis
Part III - How to choose the most suitable product
If you've been working in order, you've already read the first part of this article which deals with background and properties of the market for agricultural LED grow lights in cannabis growing, the second part, which deals with the pros and cons of the technology and you've certainly read my full disclosure in part one.
Naturally, this brings you to part III of this article - what to buy?
Truthfully, this is a hard question. To determine if the LED grow light you are buying will live up to your expectations, here are a few points that can help you make the correct decision:
Choose a proven knowledgeable manufacturer
|Not every LED manufacturer is an expert in agricultural lighting and the true needs of plants. There are companies who specialize in this field. This means that they invest in extensive research and development in this field and they accumulate knowledge. This, naturally, reflects on the products they manufacture and increases the likelihood of achieving effective results. Another outcome of research oriented to LED agricultural grow lamps is the wealth of agronomic knowledge accumulated over a wide variety of crops. Choose a company that can offer you added value on the agronomic level, or at least understands the relevant technical terms. I would be wary of purchasing agricultural grow lamps for medical marijuana from someone who describes light output of the fixture in lumens, and gives the color temperature in Kelvins and the CRI of it. This is like going to buy a water tank and the guy characterizes the tank volume in kilos instead of liters. These are not the parameters we use when talking about agricultural LED grow lamps and shows lack of knowledge which reflects on the level of technical support and guidance we will receive. |
Check prices but not only
|Check the price you are given well and don't expect it to cheap. If in |
2017/2018 you paid a low price for an LED fixture for growing medical marijuana, the odds are that the fixture will not be effective in a
professional facility. On an amateur level there might be some produce, however, over time you will pay in the form of uneven growth, low yields and weight. (This is just my opinion). If money is a problem then I would even consider purchasing regular HPS or MH bulbs and not cheap LED fixtures on ebay.
Check the spectrum of the fixture you are buying
|This is especially vital to your success. If the SPD is not specifically calibrated for cannabis, the result will be poor. I can't give you the exact spectrum needed as this is too complicated and there are also intellectual property issues. However, things worth checking are whether there is an element of 730 nanometers (important in the flowering stage) and if the spectrum is wide and full. This doesn't mean that all the wavelengths should have the same intensity; but they should all be at least present in the fixture's spectrum. It's important that there is a dominant component of 660 and 450 nanometers and, I emphasize, the spectrum should include the wavelengths between them. Continuity in the spectrum is good. According to the studies I have seen up till now and information available in the business, a monochromatic spectrum is definitely not suitable and much less effective when growing medical marijuana. |
Check the efficacy of the lighting fixture
|This is the parameter which will decide how much you pay for electricity and how much energy you get for your money. This is measured by the ratio between PPF and WATT(W) or JOULE (J). The more PPF per watt or joule, the better the efficacy and, therefore, more light for less power and money. |
Select a fixture with dimming capabilities
|This point is still up for debate, but currently, in a commercial facility, I don't believe in changing the height of the fixtures along with growth of the plants. The first reason is that it requires a dynamic installation method which can cause maintenance problems in the long run. Secondly, by changing height we also change the lighting area in the original lighting plan which was planned at a fixed height for the fixtures. By changing the height we also change the lighting uniformity and the resulting crop. If you want a lower light at any stage then just dim the fixtures while not altering height. |
Choose a fixture with a variable spectrum
|This is more relevant to the professional grower, in a commercial facility as it demands a high level of professionalism from the grower. |
However, there are enormous advantages for variable spectrums in using precise lighting protocols to obtain superb results.
Check the warranty period you are getting on the lighting fixture
|One year is too short, three years is okay and five years shows that the manufacturer has faith in his product. |
Consult with someone you trust
|Choose to consult with a professional who is knowledgeable in this |
particular field and someone you can trust to have your best interests at heart. At the end of the day, your choice of lighting is a result of your consultant's recommendations and this will directly affect the success of your facility. I truly believe that, in this field, success will be achieved as a result of buyer and seller working together, combined with the relevant professionalism and the most suitable product .
The best tip that I can give in the choice of LED grow lighting fixtures is "try it"
|Before you purchase a commercial quantity, do a small test run. This |
costs less and answers most questions. With the support that you have from your supplier during the test you can get answers to the questions from the previous section.
These are the tips that I can give to make order out of chaos.
If you take just one of them, take the last one. In all the talk of lighting theory, the only true test is to try out the product.
I hope, after all this, you found some value in these articles and this can be a first step in taking informed decisions.
As always, you are welcome to get in touch with me with any question, comment or idea you may have.
There aren’t many types of agriculture where the reward is measured in grams and the success of the crop is measured in the chemical composition of the bud. When growing a medicine, uniformity is vital. I don't mean just uniformity in appearance, but in the cannabinoid composition in the plant. In order to obtain a uniform product throughout the year, year in and year out, we need precise technology wielded by professionals.
Be well and happy.