James Prietzel, Product Manager at Intelligent LED Solutions (ILS)
James is the ILS Product Manager for everything related to LEDs and has been with ILS since 2012. James is dedicated to understanding the latest technologies and innovations from leading suppliers in the OptoElectronics world, from optics, to LEDs and to Intelligent LED Drivers.
Horticultural LED lighting is used to support and boost the growth of plants by illuminating them with artificial light. Plants successfully absorb this light and convert it into chemical energy through the process of photosynthesis. The most commonly seen LED wavelengths used in horticulture are blue and red.
So, why use white LEDs?
White LEDs offer a full spectrum of wavelengths and can be used to mimic natural daylight. White light can supply plants with a combination of blue, red and green. Although it tends to work best when paired with other key wavelengths, in order to produce an output that the plants will thrive under.
A white LED has a high peak in blue (455nm) and covers other key wavelengths such as hyper red 660nm and far red 730nm, as well as some green and yellows. This can be seen in the spectral radiation graph below which is based on a 4000K white LED.
Which applications benefit from white light?
White LED light is well suited for applications where there isn’t any existing natural daylight. For example, a vertical farm or any indoor farming application where sunlight is limited. White LEDs produce a range of wavelengths that can replace the natural daylight by emitting a spectrum that covers almost all outputs from the sun.
White LED lighting is also useful in application where natural sunlight is available. It is perfect for extending the daylight hours for plants, for example during the winter season when days are shorter and plants receive less sunlight. Additional white light and key wavelengths emitted from LEDs can be provided to plants to prolong their growth periods. This can increase yields for growers.
When is white light not required?
White light is not as necessary in applications where there is existing sunlight as the plants will already be benefitting from the wavelengths received from natural light. The sun produces wavelengths across the entire visible colour spectrum, as well as infra-red and ultra-violet. Therefore, plants that have access to daylight may only require specific wavelength colours from LEDs to supplement the light they are already receiving (e.g., blue or red). The type of plant being grown also defines which specific wavelengths may need to be supplemented.
These additional boosts of key wavelengths help enhance processes within the plants such as photosynthesis and thereby improve the growth rates and quality. Supplemental lighting products, with no artificial white light, are ideal for use in greenhouses and other similar applications.
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