Low Watt LEDs vs T5 Grow Lights: Seed Starting/ Lettuce Test



Seed starting in a small scale urban garden does not require to be made complex. You do not need fancy lighting. However the LED grow light market has actually ended up being glutted with a large array of low end, low wattage lights. Sadly, not all LED lighting alternatives have measured up to their claims. A few of them don’t even deliver the quantity of wattage you would appropriately expect.

I decided to try checking a couple of entry level LED grow lights in the hopes that I might discover something that would stay up to date with my T5 fluorescent light. T5 bulbs are efficient. But simply as notably, they are reliably efficient. The upfront cost is quite reasonable. And the cost to run it is not bad (although I believe LEDs are able to surpass this aspect).

However which LEDs should you buy? I wished to check LEDs that can run within a confined vertical space. I was wanting to find a grow light that would work in a rack system, simply as fluorescent lights do. For this application, LED panel lights are extremely enticing. They evenly distribute light throughout the plant canopy. They are economical, do not cost much to operate and create very little heat. But how well do low watt LED panels work for seed beginning?

*** ITEM EXAMPLE ***
This T5 rack system is an example of what I’m opting for here:
http://amzn.to/2n9pAnB (Amazon) I wish to see a system like this that uses LEDs instead and works simply as well. So before you give me a thumbs down, keep in mind that I love LEDs & I’m truthfully looking for a product that fits the costs.

TEST BED:

Leading Rack – T5 Fluorescent/ 2ft x 4 bulbs (6500k) – 96w (86w actual – measured after making video).
Coverage location: 22.5″ x 13.5″ = 304 sq in.
Upfront Expense (Q1 2016) – $89.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2npsKFE.

Bottom Rack Side 1 – LED Blue – 13.8 w (15w actual).
Protection area: 12″ x 12″ = 144 sq in.
Upfront Expense (Q1 2016) – $35.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2mSp1wI.

Bottom Rack Side 2 – LED Red + Blue – 45w (29w real).
Protection area: 12″ x 12″ = 144 sq in.
Upfront Expense (Q1 2016) – $36.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2mSMJsq.

*** Do NOT Buy This: ***.
At first, I intended to use a 14w Red/ Blue LED. (Link: http://bit.ly/1SMKuSS) Nevertheless, the seller misrepresented the wattage for the light. Upon screening, I found the wattage intake to be a simple 9w! This was clearly unacceptable.

Range: Lights were placed 6″ from soil surface.

Initial Test: Multiple seed types grown in potting mix in flats & trays.

Final Test: Tom Thumb lettuce grown from seed in Kratky’s hydroponic trays.
– Seeds from Botanical Interests: http://shrsl.com/?~bzt8.

OUTCOMES:.

Utilizing 48w per plant, the T5 light produced the a lot of plant growth.

The “45w” Red/Blue LED light performed acceptably, but not as well. I wish to test it simply a little bit more.

The 15w Blue LED system was just unable to carry out. Plant growth was slow, weak and spindly. This was observed in the lettuce plant. However it was likewise plainly observed in a range of other seedlings during my preliminary test.

RECOMMENDATIONS:.

I do not recommend purchasing these 15w LED systems for anything besides an extra light. You need a very bright, warm window. The LED would have to be high enough up that it does not shade the plant from the natural light. Utilized in this way, the light would provide a little increase to your plants.

For $35-$ 40 though, such systems are hardly worth the money. They aren’t even worth the 12″ x 12″ physical area that they use up. To keep up with a T5, I would search for a Red/Blue panel LED that takes in over 30w per square foot. It’s possible that some designs might be more effective than other comparable LED panels. But they would need actual screening to verify.

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