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LED Lights: A comparison to Incandescent, Fluorescent and HID


It seems like LED lights for growth cabinets have been around for a long time, but they are a relatively recent development.

Prior to this, LED lights simply weren’t a suitable option for indoor plant-growing operations, as the first LEDs in 1962 were only red in colour. Once scientists learned how to create LED lights in colours other than red, it became much more practical to use them for indoor grow lights.


These days, LED lights are becoming more and more common in indoor grow operations, and they do have quite a few advantages. In general, they operate quite coolly, and they’re energy-efficient, which makes them ideal for growing purposes. The question is, how do they compare against other indoor light alternatives? On the whole, they compare quite favourably, and we take a closer look at that below.


LED Lights Versus Incandescent Lights

Incandescent bulbs are an older technology that has been around for many decades now. At one time, you would’ve found them in every single home in Australia, as well as right across the globe, because they were easy to make and could be produced quite cheaply. The problem was they were also highly inefficient and cost you a lot more on energy bills in the long run. You could use this type of bulb in an indoor growing operation, but you would produce a lot of waste in the process, and the amount of heat generated would be quite excessive. It’s generally agreed that these really aren’t your best choice for growing plants, although they were used in Thermoline’s Premium Climatron cabinets to provide additional spectrum in the past. LED lights beat this type of light hands down when it comes to energy efficiency and the amount of heat produced.


LED Lights Versus Fluorescent Lights

In the past, fluorescent lights weren’t of much use for growing plants indoors due to their limited brightness – they simply didn’t put out enough lumens to be beneficial in growing plants. Recent advances in fluorescent light technology have produced bulbs called T5s, which are much more efficient than their florescent forefathers, and they can be quite useful as an alternative for growing plants indoors. They’re certainly comparable to HIDs in the useful light they produce, and they also produce less heat than these HID systems, but they still produce quite a bit more heat than LED lights. LED lights will likely be a little bit more expensive than T5 fluorescents, but LEDs also last a lot longer. Thermoline LEDs have actually gotten to the point where they match the cost of the previously used T5 fluorescent lights.


LED Lights Versus High-Intensity Discharge Lights (HIDs)

Perhaps the most popular type of lighting for indoor grow operations has been the high-intensity discharge light or HID light for short. There are different types of lights that are classed in this category, including high-pressure sodium and metal halide. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re much more efficient than traditional indoor grow lights – they just aren’t more efficient than LED lights. They still give off a fair bit more heat than LED lights, and they require expensive cooling systems to be put in place. They also have a much shorter shelf life at about 10,000 hours; in comparison, LED lights with the shortest lifespan are built to last about 50,000 hours. Granted, LED lights may be a little bit more expensive, but when you consider how energy-efficient they are and how long they last, you have to think they’re probably worth the cost difference. Recent models of Climatron Premium cabinets have been fitted with LED lights. Because of the lessening of heat, we have been able to delete the separate light loft and increase the growing height. The LED lighting option actually produced more light than the high-pressure sodium HID lights used previously.


What’s the Verdict?

The bottom line is that LED lights have advantages over any other type of indoor lighting system you can think of. They’re extremely energy efficient, and they produce the desired amount of light while giving off a lot less heat than other lighting sources. They will cost you a little more upfront, but you’ll save a lot of money on your energy bills, and you won’t have to install expensive cooling systems as these lights never get very hot. In the long term, I think we’re likely to see LED lights adopted by almost all indoor grow operations, which is good news for our bank balances and the environment. All new Thermoline growth cabinets are only supplied with LED lights.


Our Thermoline sales and technical team will be more than happy to answer any questions that you have regards LED lights so please don’t hesitate to contact them.