One of the highest costs of having an indoor garden is supplying your plants with enough light to thrive. Most plants need between 10 and 12 hours of daylight every day, which is almost impossible in most indoor settings. When you have plants inside, the only light they receive is through windows or skylights, but it is still limited to the number of hours that the light is shining directly on that part of your home. Instead of running your expensive metal halide or high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights for the entire time, you can use LED grow lights to cut your electric bill by as much as 30 percent.
How to achieve natural lighting using LED Grow Lights as supplemental lights
Here is the basic formula for using your LED grow lights instead of your more expensive lights for the entire daylight cycle of your plants.
- LED lights come on at 7AM, around the time of a normal sunrise.
- Plants respond to this light and prepare to perform photosynthesis
- Your high powered lights come on at 9AM so simulate the sun clearing the horizon
- Your high powered lights go off at 5PM and your LED lights turn back on
- The LED lights stay on until 7PM, simulating sunset
This method removes up to 4 hours per day of running your more expensive lights. Your plants may actually be healthier because they are operating on a natural cycle, with sunrise and sunset giving them time to “wake up” before they start using the light to create food. By using this schedule (adjusted for your latitude and the type of plants you are growing), you can hundreds of dollars in electric usage over the course of a few years. This is because the LED lights are some of the lowest wattage lights available and use less electricity to run for 4 hours than most lights use to run for 15 minutes.
You can also use this method when you want plants to start a winter cycle so they will produce flowers and fruit in the spring. Just leave the LED lights on a little longer every day and your plants will start to function on their winter cycle. They will think the sun is rising later and that it is giving off less light, which is the natural cycle during the winter months. The only thing you may have to do is lower the temperature, but that can be accomplished by the same method. Most heat is produced by your stronger lights, so turning them on later and off sooner will lower the temperature of the air surrounding your indoor garden.
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