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Can I Use Normal LED Lights to Grow Plants Indoors?

LED grow lights for plants
LED lights are a popular choice for indoor gardening, as they provide the benefits of both fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. However, there is some confusion about what type of LED light is best for plants. 

Some people believe that regular LED lights can be used to grow plants indoors, while others believe that only special LED lights designed for plant growth should be used. 

So, which is it? Can regular LED lights be used to grow plants indoors, or do they need to be special LED lights?

Let’s find out.

Can I use normal LED lights to grow plants indoors?

In short, no. If by normal LED lights you mean the popular LED strip lighting used for interior decoration, then no, these should not be used to grow plants indoors.

The reason for this is that plants need exposure to certain light wavelengths in order to grow strong and healthy, and regular LED lights do not provide these wavelengths.

There are other factors to consider, too. While LED lighting is often praised for it’s energy efficiency, this needs to be balanced with the light being intense enough to provide adequate energy for the plants to photosynthesise.

As well, normal LED lights often only come in three color temperatures - cool white, natural white, and warm white. The problem here however is that, as we will discuss later, white is one of the least important color wavelengths for plant growth.

What’s the difference between normal LED lights and LED grow lights?

The main difference between normal LED lights and LED grow lights are the amount of each light color they emit. In other words, what color wavelengths they are capable of emitting.

Regular LED lights should not be used to grow plants indoors, as they do not emit the correct types of light wavelengths needed for plant growth. However, special LED lights designed for plant growth (often referred to as LED grow lights) do emit these wavelengths specifically in the quantities plants require, and so can be used to successfully grow plants indoors.

So, if you are looking to grow plants indoors using LED lights, be sure not to buy a standard LED light, even if this is the cheaper option.

Do LED grow lights work?

Yes, LED grow lights work extremely well for growing plants indoors. 

LED grow lights work so well because they can be programmed to emit exact amounts of each color light, so they can be purposefully crafted to certain plant varieties.

The ability to emit certain light wavelengths is key. According to gardeningknowhow.com, phytochromes (a type of photoreceptor in plants) drive leafy growth and are responsive to red light, while cryptochromes (another type of photoreceptor in plants), control plant light response and are sensitive to blue light.

So, if you ever find yourself asking if LED grow lights work, the answer is a resounding yes.

In fact, many growers prefer LED lights because, as well as the ease at which they can control the lighting colour, they are also more energy-efficient and emit less heat than other types of grow lights, such as fluorescent and incandescent options.

What colour LED grow lights should I use?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the different colour options when it come to LED plant lights:

Blue LED Lights

Blue LED lights are designed to promote vegetative growth in plants. They emit blue wavelengths of light, which are necessary for chlorophyll absorption. Chlorophyll is responsible for photosynthesis, which is how plants convert light into energy. 

In short, without blue wavelengths of light, plants will not be able to perform photosynthesis and therefore will not grow.

Red LED Lights

Red LED lights are designed to promote flowering and fruiting in plants, as well as general leafy growth. They emit red wavelengths of light, which are necessary for flower and fruit development. 

So, if you are looking to grow plants that produce flowers or fruit, you will need to use red LED lights.

Yellow and/or White LED Lights

Both yellow and white LED lights are the least important when it comes to indoor plant growth. Of course, providing only yellow and/or white light to a plant will still cause it to grow, but when compared to the more important red and blue color wavelengths, the plant’s growth will appear stunted and underdeveloped.

This is why normal LED lights (which usually come in warmer yellow or cooler white light color options) are not suitable for indoor plant growth.

Final Thoughts

The short answer to the question, “Can I use normal LED lights to grow plants indoors?” is no. LED plant lights need to emit specific colors in the color spectrum for optimal plant growth, and normal LED lighting do not provide these colors. 

Red and blue light is what you’re after, and normal LED lighting only covers the white and yellow wavelengths.

So, you should choose the color based on the type of plants you are growing, the stage of growth they are in, and what color would be best given those circumstances.

Lastly, it’s also important to note that not all LED lights are created equal. Some LED lights are more efficient than others, and some produce a more intense light. When choosing an LED grow light, be sure to choose one that is will best meet your plant growth goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do LED grow lights emit UV (ultraviolet) light?

While some LED grow lights do emit UV light, not all of them do. In fact, many manufacturers design their LED grow lights to specifically avoid emitting UV light, as it can be harmful to both people and plants.

Bear in mind though, even in the LED lights that do emit UV light, the amount of UV light given off is very small, bordering on insignificant.

If you’re in doubt as to whether your LED grow lights are emitting UV light, check the manufacturers notes for your specific model.

Are LED grow lights bad for your eyes?

Some people may find that looking directly at LED grow lights for extended periods of time is uncomfortable, while others may not have any issues at all. 

In general, staring at an LED grow light will not usually cause eye damage, even if you were to do so all day long. While grow lights can be intense, the light they give off is not so intense that it will cause you any harm.

Having said this, if you do experience discomfort, it is recommended that you wear sunglasses or other eye protection when using LED grow lights.

Can you use LED strip lights to grow plants?

LED strip lights should not be used to grow plants, because they are not as effective as LED grow lights that are specifically designed to promote plant growth. 

This is because LED strip lights do not emit as much light as other grow lights, nor do they provide the full spectrum of light that plants need to thrive.

So, as great as our LED Strip Lights are, they are not suitable for use as grow lights. As previously mentioned, they do not emit enough of the required colour spectrum that plants need for optimal growth.