LED Grow Lights With Solar Panels More Effective Than The Sun?

cnc85February 11, 2010

Ok I'm a complete newbie to growing with grow lights, and growing in general, but I have been doing quite a bit of research over the past few days on the merits of using LED lights to grow plants and the prospects of using solar panels to generate the electricity to use those grow lights which has highlighted some interesting results.

Firstly solar panels, from what I have gathered, a fairly standard solar panel setup produces around 1kwh/day/m2.

Secondly, from what I have gathered (or at least what LED light producers are claiming) these new LED grow lights are capable of providing sufficient light to facilitate good plant growth with as little as 10 watts per m2, which would imply that with 16 hours of grow light operation a day someone would be able to grow at least 6 m2 of plants for each m2 of solar panel!

Am I missing something or is it looking like in the future that we will be utilising sunlight via solar panels prior to delivering it more efficiently to plants via LEDs to facilitate multiple layers of growing on each square meter?

Obviously at the present time it's still not cost effective to do this given the massive capital costs for both solar panels and LED lights, nonetheless it is looking like both solar panels and LED lighting technology are both improving in quality and falling in price with each passing month.

So will this be the future? are people doing this now? thoughts?

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wordwiz

A very efficient LED light will provide a square FOOT with enough light running at 10 watts.

Yes LEDs are improving, but they ain't there yet.

YMMV,

Mike

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 8:06PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

T5s are what everyone is going to that don't like HIDs. My grow area consists of 6 4' 2bulb T12 fixtures that are 2x overdriven. I am making the transition to T5s slowly. I have 4 T5s over each terrarium and am slowly changing over the T12s to T5s. The plants do just as good under T5s and they use less power. I may overdrive the T5s as well so I have miniature suns over the plants lol.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 2:51AM
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struwwelpeter(5)

Only if your crop is illegal.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:24PM
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wordwiz

struw,

Wrong, still not as effective, but perhaps safer!

Mike

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:46PM
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struwwelpeter(5)

No "safer" is more effective because it includes safer for the plants. Even if the authorities don't catch the grower, they will burn the crop.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 10:14AM
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wordwiz

I don't know about where you live but around here, the cops don't seem to care unless the bust is large enough to make the 6:00 news. I've talked with too many people who know someone growing a few plants. Geez, last year was the first summer in three years I didn't have volunteer plants growing (never find them until I get ready to pull up the veggie plants - talk about far-red light effect of being shaded.

Short version of a long story - about four years ago, after hearing shots fired up the street, we found a guy walking around our backyard. Faced with the threat of being shot from really close range with a 30.06, he ate dirt for a few moments until we marched him out front where there was lighting, where he got to smell concrete until the cops arrived. The cops let him go and he showed back up in the yard at 3 am, claiming he lost his cell phone. I think he lost a bag of very valuable seeds.

The first couple of years, there were dozens of plants that looked like pot, but I figured they weren't and tilled them up, except one or two always managed to germinate after the garden was planted. Yep they were pot.

I don't try to grow it for two reasons: one, I quit smoking 25 years ago and two, I run lights, including Red/Blue LEDs upstairs where the cops can see them through the windows. Besides, my house is paid off and I don't want to lose it.

Mike

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 5:51PM
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struwwelpeter(5)

Then some neighbors will steal it. Heck, my neighbors steal my tomatoes. In general, plants under full sun (outdoors) attract more pests. (period)

I have heard that police have made raids based on infrared detection from helicopters and high electric bills but I don't know how common it is. But, I do know that, in these days of news sensationalism, many things that shouldn't be news worthy make the 6:00 news. The police typically exaggerate the street value of seized drugs and the reporters go along with it because they are payed to sensationalize the news.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 11:00AM
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wordwiz

No one messed with my plant last year:

Mike

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 1:53PM
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struwwelpeter(5)

What's the word for the extreme opposite of paranoid?

Here's an entertaining story:

http://www.mpp.org/states/mississippi/news/ruling-upheld-in-case-of.html

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 5:18PM
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urbangardenfarmer

You can't make this stuff up! This post is cracking me up! Nice stories. Hey Mike, do you have any pics of your LED plants?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 6:49PM
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wordwiz

Unfortunately, lots of Sheriff Deputies have little knowledge. I dug up that plant and exhibited it at the county fair (Cincinnati). I showed a couple of people, who are law enforcement officials a leaf and they were aghast that I was growing "pot." It was the Tainug 2 variety - the Everglades 41 looks nothing at all like pot.

I was surprised that during the fair, no one questioned the plant and, acting innocently, one evening said something to a deputy that it appeared someone had a pot plant on display. He said he wouldn't know a pot plant if he saw one.

The next night, as the fair was closing, three deputies were headed to the area. I am the official photographer for the fair so I asked them what they were checking out - they said a pot plant. Two of them thought it was but one guy knew it wasn't - wrong cluster of the leaves. He was a cool guy - he also likes super hot peppers and I took him some.

UGF,

I don't have any plants except for a couple of bananas under LEDs, at least not until a few moments ago. I took the tomato that was under the CFL and put it under a 54 watt LED that, alas, has half the lights not working. My experiences with them so far, and it is limited to 14-watt red, blue and red/blue panels and the one 54-watt panel that use to work fine, is that they are great for seedlings and even mid-size plants but not powerful enough to set and develop fruit. That's why I am anxious to find out more - and hopefully get a good deal so I can afford to experiment with the 120-watt panel.

Mike

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 8:23PM
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cnc85

Back on the topic of LEDs and solar panels, do people think there is any prospect for use of solar panel and led setups to grow plants and vegetables - or will the open sun always prove to be the best option?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 11:16PM
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wordwiz

Huh? Use the sun to provide power to lights that cannot duplicate the sunlight but pay for the system to convert the power as well as the lights?

Unless you are talking about a space mission, which is where I first heard about LEDs. Then, yes, solar panels are being considered to replace sunlight.

My son (not sun!) keeps telling me I ought to look into photovoltaic cells as apparently they capture some solar radiation so "sunshine" is not as imperative. I might buy into the idea if one can only live in a cave and venture outside in protective suits to install or adjust the panels, but the cost is not worth it, unless one wants to talk in terms of more than a decade.

Mike

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 4:11PM
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cnc85

Oh I agree the cost is definitely not worth it, but my understanding is that plants themselves aren't that efficient at capturing the energy of sunlight (they only capture a couple of percent) where as solar panels capture many time more, but lose a lot of that energy converting it into electricity...

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 7:23PM
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matthewrogers121

Yes, its effective but not compared to sun yes ,its safe and consume less energy sources than other energy consumable products. I didn�t use LED in my solar panel but now reading about your efficiency I will give it a try.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:08AM
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suryanamaskaram

Nice Review

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 6:38AM
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