LED Grow Lights for Vertical Farming
Vertical Farming is rapidly becoming a choice for thousands of urban farmers and hobby growers across the world. DIY enthusiasts, sustainable living practitioners and home entrepreneurs are increasingly considering vertical farming for their passion and for income generation. An integral part of setting up vertical farms, is the selection of the appropriate grow lights; which play a critical role in overall crop yield.
We’ve put together an article that will help you understand Vertical Farming and the benefits of LED Grow Lights for your indoor vertical farms.
What is Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is the practice of producing crops for food or medicine in vertically stacked growing units, vertically inclined surfaces or integrated into other structures like walls, buildings, shipping containers etc. Traditionally, Vertical Farming was considered only for large scale commercial production. However, with newer products and reducing equipment prices, vertical farming, especially indoor verticals farms have become available to individuals and small businesses.
Vertical Farming vs Vertical Gardening
While both terms are used interchangeably, vertical farming generally deals with producing food, herbs and medicinal crops for consumption or sale. Compared to this vertical gardening includes growing ornamental and decorative plants for aesthetic benefits. Since vertical farming is usually output oriented, the need for grow lights to increase yields becomes a very critical aspect in a vertical farm.
Outdoor vs. Indoor vertical farms
Outdoor vertical farms have more access to natural sunlight and atmospheric conditions than their indoor cousins. Outdoor vertical farms are usually set up on exterior walls, green buildings, patios, and backyards; especially during summer or favorable seasons. Indoor farms, on the other hand, use interior spaces with controlled environment agriculture (CEA) principles for growing. All farming inputs like light, temperature, humidity are closely monitored and controlled in Indoor vertical farms. This often leads to better, uniform and more predictable output. In general, grow lights are more popular with indoor vertical farms.
Do you need lighting for vertical farming?
The answer has been the same for ages. You cannot grow crops without light. Therefore, light is critical for vertical farming, especially for indoor vertical farming. Since access to sunlight is limited or often absent in indoor vertical farms, they are dependant on grow lights for good crop yields. Without grow lights to substitute natural sunlight, your indoor crops will fail.
Why choose LED Grow Lights for vertical farming or vertical gardening?
There are a variety of grow lights to choose from, however, we recommend LED Grow Lights over traditional HPS, CFL and MH lights. Here are a few reasons why we commend LED grow lights over other types of grow lights -
- LED Lights consume less power and are cheaper to run
- They produce less heat than other types of lights
- Due to their construction, they have almost five times less failure and virtually no accidental breakage
- They do not contain any mercury and are therefore more environment-friendly
- There are multiple LED grow light brands across various price points offering great after sales support
These reasons have made LED grow lights the most attractive choice for indoor farmers.
How to choose LED Grow Lights for Vertical Farming
We put together some basic points to help you decide which LED lights are useful for your vertical farm project.
Grow light Colour
Natural sunlight is better for your plants than artificial light because it offers the entire spectrum of light. Full spectrum LED grow light bulbs offer a light that is closest to natural light as possible. Full-spectrum LED grow lights produce a balance of cool and warm light that is useful for plants. For hobby growers and semi-professional growers, Full Spectrum grow lights offer the best growing solution. Once you move into commercial growing, you need high-end lights that are tailored to each growing phase of crops. At that stage, you can also evaluate Chip on Board Lights (COB) and automated grow lights.
Crops in vertical farms need between 12 to 18 hours light, based on the type of crop. Since LED lights are more energy efficient than other types of light, the cost of operating these lights reduces considerably. Further ... budget growers often opt for basic lights with manual control which serve their needs adequately. However, as the scale and output of the vertical farm increases, growers tend to choose automatic timer based lights.
The light intensity needed by a plant changes across its life cycle. For example, seedlings need bright light, without which they tend to become weak. Also if the light source is too weak they plants may become taller and less dense. Similar changes in light requirement impact the development of the plant during the growth stage and flowering stage. Therefore, from an early stage, having light of the right intensity and at the right distance from the plant is important.
Which LED Grow Light is right for your vertical farm?
Flexible LED Grow Lights
For smaller scale vertical farms or table-top growing, there are various options available for growers. You can choose from LED light bundles, Flexible LED grow lights and bulbs. These are extremely affordable lights that allow growers to experiment with various farm designs and plant configurations. Most of these units come with replaceable LED Grow Bulbs, therefore, can be upgraded easily as well.
LED Grow Light Bars
LED light bars are an upgrade from flexible lights in utility and coverage. Grow Light Bars resemble tube lights / CFLs in that they are long and slender. They are lighter and less bulky than grow light panels. This makes them ideal for fitting into smaller spaces available in indoor vertical farms. Their slim shape also makes it easier to pair with vertical growing tubes and columns. They are also easy to change and maintain.
LED Grow Light Panels
These are top of the line lights that are used by indoor farmers. They offer the best options in terms of light coverage, variation in lighting, automation and configuration. LED Grow Light Panels are made for hobby growers as well as commercial growers, based on the light, intensity, duration and automation needs. These lights are usually available as rectangular panels with the option to vertically attach to ceilings on racking units. These grow lights can start as low as 40W and go high as 2000W (even higher for customized requirements).
Best LED Grow Light Brands in the market
The following brands are best suited for various indoor vertical growing needs.
- Mars Hydro Grow Lights - Budget LED Grow Lights
- Best VA - Award-winning budget LED Grow Light
- Black Dog LED - Award Winning High-End Grow Light Panel
- California LightWorks - Commercial Growers Choice
- Kind LED - Highest selling LED Grow Lights
Final thoughts on vertical farm lighting
Growing your own plants in a vertical farm may not immediately reduce the grocery bill, however, it will fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. If you are considering getting into indoor farming or vertical farming, without a large investment in lights, there are many choices available to you when it comes to LED grow lights. You could start with LED Grow Bulbs, or an entry level Mars Hydro grow light. These will serve your growing needs just fine.
Once you decide to scale this up beyond a hobby, we have various high performance LED grow lights that will meet your needs. BlackDogLED, California LightWorks and Kind LED offer many such options.
While we have done this research, we would also want to encourage you to as further look into what light is most suitable for your needs. You can reach out to our team and ask them specific queries since each type of light has its own pros and cons. Your choice of LED grow lights is crucial to the success of your vertical farm. We want you to make the most informed and appropriate decision.
Happy growing !!