LEC Lighting for Indoor Grows
For years now, new types of lighting have been popping up on the market, and a lot of them are perfect for indoor medicinal marijuana growing. Most of these new lighting systems are somewhat of a gimmick, although every now and then a new system will pop up that is definitely worth it, such as LEC lighting.
What is LEC lighting?
LEC lighting comes from years and years of investigation done into spectrometry. In order to grow properly and process light through photosynthesis, your plants need light. Not all types of light work, however, as plants need a specific type of light called PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) light. The total amount of PAR light emitted by any light is called PPF (Photosynthetic Photon Flow) and LEC lighting produces the most PPF. This is what allows you to get the same results from a 600w HPS light as you can from 315w.
Thanks to recent advancements in luminic nutrition for plants, LEC systems were developed that produce an enormous amount of PPF. They also generate infrared and ultraviolet light which aren’t visible to the naked eye but have multiple benefits for cannabis plants, such as improving photosynthesis, increasing resin yield and generating more compact flowers.
LEC lighting kits
LEC lighting kits are incredibly similar to HPS or HM kits, as they essentially come with ballasts, a bulb, reflectors and sockets. The difference between LEC kits is the quality of the light spectrum, which is incredibly similar to the light that the sun produces, especially considering the low heat they generate. These aren’t the only differences and improvements, of course, when it comes to other lighting kits.
LEC kits generally have a ballast or some form of electronic starter which optimizes energy consumption and generates less heat, although you can get magnetic ballasts too but they do not perform as well. There are models of ballast that allow you to adjust the wattage depending on the needs of your plants which also increases the service life of your bulbs. These types of ballasts, as long as they’re by reputable brands, have safety systems built in so that your equipment isn’t damaged if the lights go out suddenly or if the temperature gets too high.
LEC bulbs look quite different than normal bulbs; they’re smaller than classic HPS bulbs and they work both horizontally and vertically. LEC lights are also known as CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide) lamps. They’re made out of ceramic instead of the usual quartz that HPS or HM lights are made out of. This increases your light bulbs performance and helps it to generate less heat, allowing you to easily control the temperature in your grow room. They should stay useful for around 3-6 full grows – the life span of your bulbs will depend on the quality and brand of the bulb.
Reflector and Socket
When it comes to reflectors, you can pretty much use whichever one you prefer – you can easily use the E-40 adaptor. LEC bulb sockets are called PGz18, and they do not screw in; they’re more like a plug with two prongs, and they’re attached with a simple half turn.
LEC lighting VS other types
The most used lighting kits for growing cannabis are generally HPS, LED and LEC kits. There are quite a lot of differences when it comes to growing with LEC lights versus HPS and LED lights, so we’re going to take a look at what those differences are and which ones are the most beneficial.
LEC lighting kits generate about 3-6ºC less than HPS lights, and around 3-6º more than LED lights – this makes for the perfect temperature for your plants under lights, keeping resin yield up and terpenes nice and cool. LEC lights are only better than HPS in this aspect; LED lights generate the least heat of all, although LED lights also consume much more energy as you need to use heaters or air conditioners in your grow to raise the temperature during the winter. LEC or CMH lights are best for growing all year round without needing any extra machinery to give heat.
When considering a bulb for growing cannabis, the main thing to keep in mind is that it needs to be as close as possible to imitating the same spectrum that sun light emits. LEC Lighting is the closest thing possible to that spectrum, which is why professional growers tend to go for that option. If the quality of light is similar to that of the sun, you’ll get much better and more quality results. Thanks to the quality of light produced by LEC lighting, you’ll be able to get incredible gram per watt yields, as well as better terpene-conservation, which makes for more intense aromas and flavors; you’ll be able to get the most out of your strains.
As you can see in the above image, the white line is the total spectrum produced by the sun, and the colored area is the PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation), which is the spectrum that your plants can absorb.
If you work with HPS lights, when the temperatures outdoors get warmer in the summer you absolutely need an air conditioning or cooling unit to keep your grow room cool, as well as free of any excess humidity. If you’re using a LED system, during the summer you won’t have any issues; during the winter you will need a heating system so that your plants don’t whither in the cold. Both of these methods mean that you’ll be spending a bit extra money to have optimal parameters. If you use a LEC system, the temperature inside your grow room will be much more stable and easier to control without needing heaters or coolers – if you live somewhere extremely hot, you might need a small cooling system to deal with that, depending on how hot it is.
Benefits of growing with LEC lights
If you’ve read this far you can probably work out for your own why growing with LEC lights is a smart choice. Here’s a simple list of the multiple benefits that LEC lighting can provide when growing cannabis:
- You can grow 6 rounds of plants without needing to change out your bulb.
- You’ll get the same results as with a 600w HPS light, using half the power.
- You can harvest up to 1.8g per watt consumes.
- Improves photosynthesis in your plants.
- It generates more resin and creates more compact flowers.
- These bulbs generate 3-6 degrees less than HPS and 3-6 more than a LED light.
- It induces your plants to create shorter internodes.
- It produces bushy, branchy plants.
- Light gets to each nook and cranny of the plants.
- There are all kinds of LEC lights that go from 3000k to 10000k on the light spectrum.
- You can get amazing yields while also generating minimal heat.
- These kinds of lights produce the most PAR of all of them.
- These lights imitate the sunlight as best as they possibly can.
- Drastic reduction in energy bills.