How to properly use LEDs for growing
I'm going to start up this thread to help dispel the myth that LEDs are junk for growing. First, a few things need to be cleared up.
First things first - almost every panel you see on the market is using the 7:1:1 ratio - this is horrible for production. Yes, NASA figured it out, but then they recanted and said in their studies that it underproduced, if it produced at all. Yes, it worked awesomely for a vegetative phase, but it had some fairly dismal performance when it came to yield. why? Not enough blue. Find the insolation levels (in terms of wattage, not photon output) of the sun at sea level. Note how red and blue are much more balanced than that 7:1:1 ratio. You'll see the difference as this goes along.
Second - I am a registered medical marijuana patient. Cannabis is one of the most difficult plants to get a large yield from under artificial lighting, and as such, this is what I use for most of my tests. This plant, in many ways, is a "Holy Grail" for horticultural advancement. If it works on this, it will work for most anything else, and if it can yield with this plant, then it will yield for most any other crop.
Okay, that's pretty much everything, let's get started with a picture of my current setup. What you see are my original prototype lights (70:30 blue:red for vegetation only,) some DIY DWC, some manufactured DWC, and an SWC (PC case)
The manufactured buckets are just going to be mother plants - ignore those. What we're going to focus on are the two clones on the back right, in the white DIY multi-site bucket. They are going to go into the PC case. They have only been underneath the LED lights for 7 days. The large amount of blue actually keeps the plants nice and short until my final-design lights get here in a week. I'll give more details on those when they arrive.
One thing usually not taken into account is that a highly-reflective surface is required when you use LEDs - white paint just isn't going to cut it - you need something that reflects EVERY BIT of light. Also, LEDs work more effectively when an old Boy Scout adage is applied - a bunch of smaller fires spread out will heat an area better than one large fire - spread out the lights. Get them on a light mover. Do something to spread the love around.
I will be placing a single 50w panel into the computer case, even though I can fit three in there. having more than 50w of pure plant power in just over one square foot of space is getting close to overkill as-is.