LED Grow Lights: Lighting the Future

Light-emitting diode (LED) grow lights have been taking the horticultural lighting industry by storm for years now, and it's easy to understand why. Compared with traditional, outdated styles of grow lights, LED lights offer the grower many potential advantages, including decreased operating costs and increased efficiency.

For years, growers and gardeners working in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) have struggled with many of the same problems: indoor horticultural lighting is huge and bulky, requires tremendous amounts of electricity to operate, and simultaneously requires cooling as well. All of this adds up to massive electric costs, diminished room in the grow space, and more and more equipment, such as air conditioners and ducting.

While LED grow lights didn't immediately solve all of these problems, their introduction to the horticultural lighting industry did begin to shake things up. Growers implementing the earliest LED grow lights noticed reduced electrical costs and cooler grow room temperatures, sure signs that LED grow lights could offer a decent alternative to traditional grow lights. But there was still a long way to go.

Here at TSRGrow, we've taken LED lighting to another level. We recognized the potential for LED grow lights long ago and have been working tirelessly ever since to design and build the most innovative commercial LED lighting solutions possible. Of course, we didn't get here by forgetting our roots, so let's examine LED grow lights, their advantages, and what sets TSRGrow''s LED lights apart from the rest.

LED Grow Lights: A Brief History

First patented in 1961, light-emitting diodes were extremely expensive, limiting their use to highly specified lab equipment. Due in part to their cost and in part to the fact that the earliest LEDs emitted light only in the infrared spectrum, LEDs were not initially recognized for their true potential. In the 1970s, the production of semiconductor chips for LEDs became more commonplace, drastically reducing their cost and increasing the regularity with which LEDs were being implemented.

By the early 2000s, developers had designed LEDs capable of producing broader light spectrums through the down conversion of blue LED light through phosphor blends, which produced visible spectrums LEDs. With the introduction of visible-spectrum LEDs, their application became widespread, no longer limited to laboratory and machine use. LEDs began to make their way into electronics, such as television and computer displays, and by late 2000, began to replace incandescent and fluorescent bulbs for home and commercial lighting. It was during this time that indoor growers and gardeners began to take notice.

led-grow-lights---lighting-the-futureThe use of LEDs for plant growth was not a new idea; in fact, NASA had been conducting experiments with LED lights for growing vegetables in deep space since the '80s. These initial experiments demonstrated that LED lighting was a viable option for growing indoor plants and vegetables away from sunlight but also proved the limitations of LED technology at that time. Because only red and blue LEDs were initially tested, specimens grown under them became either stunted or stretched (leading to "leggy" seedlings), demonstrating the need for a broader spectrum of light. Initially, fluorescent lighting was used to supplement the visible spectrum, particularly the green light lacking from these early LED prototypes, but LED technology eventually caught up.

As LED lighting became more commonplace, the natural next step was to investigate the viability of using LEDs for horticultural purposes. As NASA had already demonstrated, LEDs were capable of supporting plant life but lacked much of the necessary spectrum in the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) region, the portion of the visible light spectrum necessary for plants to carry out complete photosynthesis.

These issues were addressed with the further development of broader spectrum phosphors and multi-colored LEDs, which enabled the incorporation of greater ranges of the light spectrum into LED grow lights.

The LED grow light revolution had begun. LED grow lights became increasingly popular, though their availability was still rather limited as relatively few major brands were in the business of producing LEDs capable of horticultural applications. While many were quick to jump on the LED bandwagon, the first generations of grow lights proved disappointing and flawed in many of the same ways as the lights they had set out to replace.

Parting With Tradition

Indoor horticulture has traditionally been conducted under high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps until this point, including ceramic metal halide (CMH), high-pressure sodium (HPS) and compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs. With enough wattage and money to cover electrical costs, and given they were the only ones that worked, growers used these types of lights successfully for many years.
However, the costs add up quickly, the bulbs need to be replaced up to twice a year, and grow room temperatures can soar, piling on further expenses for cooling. Operating and cooling costs have become a significant factor in any indoor cultivator's budget, whether growing in a large commercial warehouse or in a small grow tent.

Today's LED grow lights changed many aspects of the indoor horticulture lighting market. They operated more efficiently than their HID counterparts, their lifetime is vastly superior to HID bulbs, and the grow lights themselves produced significantly less heat.
Unfortunately, incorporating a large number of individual LED lights into a single unit still required the use of individual ballasts and, with them, additional heat in the grow room, the need for contactors and relays to properly turn them off, dimming wires strung from fixture to fixture and in some cases, on fixture fans for cooling (major point of failure). While some issues regarding horticultural lighting have been addressed, a total solution still had not been developed.

At TSRGrow, we have spent years dedicated to developing just that solution. Our advanced LED grow lights have been designed from the ground up specifically for commercial horticultural purposes, addressing concerns that have long plagued the LED grow light industry, while meeting all of its performance targets. Our advanced LED lights are not just lights; they are also part of a TOTALgrow Solution that will change the way you interact with your grow operation.

Where Others Try, TSRGrow Shines

TSRGrow has worked tirelessly to develop the most functional, high performance, integrated lighting solutions ever conceived. Our dedicated approach focuses on solving the most significant challenges encountered by LED growers everywhere. As a result, our lights are designed to offer growers the most intuitive, fully integrated experience possible.

Full Spectrum LEDs

We begin with the LEDs themselves. One of the most common complaints about LED grow lights is the spectrum which they emit. While many LED grow lights do a decent job of providing white light, and many supplement red light and blue light with red and blue diodes, the fact remains that red, white and blue do not make a full spectrum of light.

All too often, what is claimed as "full-spectrum" light is in fact not.  It has been well documented that plants benefit from UV and far red spectrum for certain stages of growth.  Many spectrums promoted today identify full spectrum but do not include UV or far-red LEDs to generate the spectrums necessary for a "full-spectrum" light.  They also do not consider the ratio of wavelengths to each other which is critical to delivering a balanced full spectrum of light designed for the plants, rather than for human eyes.

TSRGrow carefully considers the spectrum ratio of red to blue to far red to green in its advanced horticulture LED lighting and makes full-spectrum lights that emit a true full-designed for plant spectrum, incorporating far-red and UV diodes as required to provide plants with light beyond simple PAR. We take the extra steps to ensure that your plants receive the entire spectrum of usable light, tuned for any phase, whether clone, veg or flower, enabling maximum yields and unparalleled quality.

Ballasts and Heat

Another major complaint with LED light fixtures is ballasts waste heat and the hassles of replacing failing ballasts and lights. As long as LED grow lights have existed, there has been a comparison with HID lights, and by contrast, the heat generated by LEDs is significantly less. However, what many fail to consider is that a significant portion of the heat associated with HID lights are generated by the ballasts used to control them. Most LED grow lights still contain ballasts, the very same type used to control HID lights, and those ballasts still produce a great deal of heat. 

At TSRGrow, we decoupled the lights from the ballasts, and developed an integrated centralized remote power server system to power our grow lights. With all power supplies centrally located and remote from the grow rooms, our grow lights impart less heat into the grow room, reducing the cooling load required to dehumidify and cool a grow space.

Ballasts and Maintenance

In addition to generating heat, ballasts fail.  A lot.  fixture-mounted ballasts can prove extremely difficult to replace in the event of failure. Replacing a downed ballast usually requires removal of the entire grow light, which often means placing ladders in and amongst plants for access, endangering not only the grower but introducing opportunities for contamination to the canopy as well. 

With TSRGrow's advanced LED grow lights, growers never have to worry about dangling from a ladder to replace a burned-out ballast again. Our Plug'n Play technology allows for the easy replacement and maintenance of power supplies without ever having to endanger your canopy.

Decoupling lights from ballasts and relocating power to a centralized location outside of the grow room also allows for easy-access local maintenance. This also eliminates the need for any dimming wires to fixtures - as power and dimming are on the same line and no contactors or relays are required to control and turn off, making installation and maintenance a breeze.  Additionally, TSRGrow's remote power servers act as a centralized control hub for monitoring and managing all lights and sensors.


TSRGrow's Lighting as a Platform

TSRGrow has combined its advanced LED lighting and remote power server technology into an integrated lighting platform with built in controls. Our Lighting as a Platform™ (LaaP) system reshapes the way growers think about indoor commercial horticulture. Combining our best-in-class TSRGrow LED grow lights, Remote Power Server Technology with its GrowHub control and system software applications , TSRgrow's Lighting as a Platform creates the most comprehensive, data-driven experience imaginable for our clients, offering full zone control and power monitoring of every fixture and room in the facility.   

Through its remote power servers and utilization of remote monitoring tools, Lighting as a Platform integrates full monitoring and control of our LED grow lighting, allowing growers to easily monitor, control and make necessary adjustments on the fly and in real-time through their smartphone, tablet or computer.

In addition to real-time monitoring and lighting control, growers can also receive real-time analytics and feedback via our GROWHub Software platform. Our software informs growers of any anomalies or irregularities that may occur in their absence and also tracks side-by-side comparisons between grows for detailed analytics.  GrowHub also has an available environmental monitoring module.  Combined together, TSRgrow Lighting as a Platform™ with GROWHub Software, and sensor feedback technologies create what we call TSRgrow TOTALgrow Solution, a fully integrated, remotely monitored system that puts all of the power back in the hands of the grower.

TOTALgrow™ Solution™ keeps growers up to date on everything happening in their grow room, from lighting conditions to irrigation issues, nutrient mixtures, to air circulation. All of this equates to more efficient, sustainable grow solutions, reduced operating costs and long term sustainable commercial growing.

TSRGrow's Lighting as a Platform™, advanced LED lighting, GrowHub and TOTALgrow Solution sets the groundwork for the future of LED grow light systems. Fully integrated and completely customizable, TSRgrow is the perfect fit for any Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) application, giving the grower complete control over all parameters of their garden. If you've been looking for an advanced LED lighting solution, look no further than TSRgrow. Contact us today to see how we can help you develop solutions with the best LED grow lights to make your crops thrive. Our growing specialists are available to answer any of your growing questions.


Subscribe to our blog