In the last article we briefly discussed some issues over different philosophies concerning the manufacturing of LED panels. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss how different LEDs can be used in different ways, and we’ll take a look at four interesting models that are currently available in the market.
The mistake most growers do regarding LED lights is assuming that by just changing their lights, everything else should remain the same. This is definitely not so. Most people try to accommodate new lights into their already existing grows neglecting the fact that the change they are undertaking into their grow space is the most major one.
The problem is being exacerbated as a lot of people are really confused over the subject of LED Super Skunk Autoflowering panels. Hobbyists but also industry professionals, are ready to confer opinions without having even tried to grow with LEDs, just by having red somewhere or because someone sometime told them that they are inefficient. We could go along with that argument, then again we’d have to say that the MacBook Pro where I’m currently writing this article is a piece of crap just because back in ‘99 I bought a pentium II at 300 GHz for 1,200 quid! Well guess what, technology does move forward, just take a look at your mobile phone!
Passive and active cooling.
Passive cooling will suit the micro-grower, the one who’s using an area of about one square meter or less. Passive cooling means that there is no need for sufficient headroom where the fans will be directing the heat, instead will be easily dissipated into the environment and will be absorbed by the typical ventilation that’s required anyway. The suggested setup for this type of grower would be numerous panels of low wattage spread around in the growtent/area to cover the plants at a close distance. For such a grow, the preferred design would be a nice heatsink with a simple circuit board on top of it, nicely bolted obviously in order to have good contact between the circuit board and the heatsink, over which board are positioned the LED lights, single or maximum 3 watt diodes either without lenses or with wide angle lenses in order to avoid concentration of light and have a much better diffusion on the spectrum.
Growers that utilise more space have more options in hand. Obviously they can also use passive cooling panels however that might prove be quite a drag for them. Covering a large space with the type of panels I’ve mentioned above will be quite a lot of work and things might go out of hand. However by utilizing larger space and having larger headroom they can go for larger wattage on their panels, with 3 or even 5 watt diodes and active cooling provided they have also sufficient headroom and some increased air circulation in their grow area. In fact it’s still the same approach as the micro-grower however on a larger scale that allows for more watts per panel and active cooling on the panels.
From my research I have noted the following products to be quite promising; they all show some interesting features and they carry the most trustworthy promises.
The Culturelux M30 model comes from the Austrian company SANlight. At 30W power they follow the philosophy I have described earlier; spread out light that covers the entire grow-area instead of a focused light source. The graphs that they provide on their site are perfectly describing this approach. Numerous panels spread over an area covering the plants from a close distance. Talking to them, I found out that it’s young company founded by two lads while at university studying applied science. No surprise there, new companies will be the ones pushing the barriers into further innovation while challenging our perceptions about growing. Another plus on their product is that it’s manufactured in Austria; keeping production local is always positive.
Hand in hand with SANlight are also the Greek DIY-ers of Astir Grows. I say hand-in-hand as without any of the two knowing that, they’ve been running parallel lives. Astir Grows offers hand-made panels with no lenses and the largest heatsink I’ve ever seen being used, specially for the small wattage of their panels. Special kudos to their team for promoting people towards manufacturing their own panels and they share their research online. As a member of their team writes “we’re just a bunch of growers from Greece that came together to make a better light for us; we went commercial just because we shared our grows online and other people showed interest so we thought
Another European light that worths keeping an eye on comes from right here in the Netherlands by Royal Dutch seeds, and despite it being against my growing philosophy the results of their tests that are published in their site seem quite promising. As they confer to us, “We spent 2 years looking at LED before we got involved, many of our customers convinced us that LED is technically viable. LED’s get brighter each year and costs continue to fall. LED will become increasingly popular with the home grower, there’s no doubt about it.” Definitely something that is worth checking out.
Last, from across the ocean I’ve singled out the lights produced by Area 51. A very viable spectrum, especially in their 2014 model where they ditch the red lights and they use just white spectrum. Also noteworthy is the fact that they use a clever combination of heatsinks and fans regarding the cooling of their panels. I would definitely consider them the top US manufacture at the moment regarding LED growlights.
However nothing is absolute, there is no “Bible” we have to follow. What is wrong today might be right tomorrow and visa-versa. Even as those lines are written by the time they go to print there’s the possibility that something new might be out. LEDs are tied to technology unlike the traditional HID lamps, and the only certain thing is that we’ll be definitely be surprised in the future.