Growers are buying LED grow lights at a higher rate than ever before. As a leading LED grow light manufacturer, this trend has not escaped our notice. But the recent “State of the Cannabis Lighting Market” report released by Cannabis Business Times explains our accelerating business in clear-cut statistics.
Last November, CBT published their 2019 study of lighting choices among growers. They surveyed both indoor and greenhouse cultivators to learn about popular preferences, strategies, and challenges. This study illuminated one clear, consistent development:
LED grow lights are exploding in popularity.
How Many Growers are Buying LED Grow Lights?
Third-party researcher Readex Research led the CBT study. They gathered data from a large sample of growers and compared their preferred lighting systems for each phase of the grow cycle. When compared with the numbers from the 2016 report, an increasing preference for LED technology emerged
For propagation, 47% of cultivators used LED grow lights, compared to 21% in 2016.
In vegetation, 46% chose LEDs over any other lighting option, versus only 17% in 2016. (That 46% also makes LED grow lights the number one choice for vegetation.)
In flowering, 45% of growers used LED grow lights—a whopping 30-point increase from 15% in 2016. And if you’re ready for one more number, 39% of growers plan to implement LED lighting in the flowering stage this year.
LEDs are not the only grow lights that enjoyed an uptick in sales over the past four years. However, they are picking up steam at a faster rate than HID lights, their only real competitor.
So, why is that? What’s changed? Why are growers buying LED grow lights at an increasingly high rate?
Energy Efficiency is the New Top Priority
CBT’s report reveals that 72% of cultivators consider energy efficiency the most important factor when making lighting purchases. That means efficiency is tied for the number one consideration. In 2018, energy savings didn’t even crack the top three.
Of course, it’s no wonder efficiency is top of mind for growers. Of the study participants, 26% reported that lighting was responsible for 55% or more of their overall electricity costs. Those who spent 35%—54% of their energy expenses on lighting accounted for another 26% of those surveyed.
Any grower hoping to slash costs can make the biggest dent in their long-term budget simply by switching to LEDs. Debates may rage on about which grow light cultivates the best crop. But even HID devotees do not deny that high quality LED grow lights are head and shoulders above the competition in efficiency.
Cultivators are Buying LED Grow Lights for Light Intensity
The other first-place priority for growers is light intensity. This is not a new development. Light intensity was number one in 2018, as well.
In fact, it’s always been a top priority in cultivation. You don’t get high yields and quality crops without intensity. This is why MH and HPS lights have enjoyed such a long streak of popularity. Above all else, HID bulbs are famous for a powerful blast of photons.
But now, modern LED grow lights provide the same light intensity. Better yet, LEDs deliver the quality PAR through a far more efficient process. For example, California LightWorks’ flagship lamp, the SolarSystem 1100, replaces a 1000-watt HPS system with 40% less energy.
And that doesn’t even factor in the added energy costs of supplemental cooling. LEDs have a much lower heat output than any other luminaire.
In other words, growers may be buying LED grow lights in record numbers because they’ve found a way to decrease expenses without compromising on light quality.
Light Spectrum is Always Top of Mind
According to CBT’s special report, light spectrum came in third on the list of lighting considerations. More specifically, spectrum quality holds great importance for 68% of growers.
Once again, this priority undoubtedly guides many growers toward LED grow lights.
In the past, cultivation techniques depended on the limited blue light spectrum of MH bulbs and the red light spectrum of HPS. With rapid advancements in LED technology, growers now benefit from a more comprehensive and versatile spectrum.
LED light fixtures offer a wide variety of spectrum options. The most effective possibilities for cultivation include fixed full-spectrum LED grow lights and variable spectrum LEDs.
In either case, the grower is not bound to strictly red or blue. This matters because even though red and blue each take priority depending on the growth phase, plants use the entire range of PAR from propagation to flowering.
Top-tier LED grow lights are engineered to provide crops with the exact light spectrum they need to thrive. Variable spectrum LED grow lights take this concept one step further, allowing growers to design light recipes and manipulate plant growth.
And currently, LEDs are the only grow lights that present such options to growers.
New Technology Makes Buying LED Grow Lights a No-Brainer
Michelle Simakis of Cannabis Business Times writes about the lighting strategies of Harvest Health & Recreation, a rapidly growing company that expects to have a total of thirteen cultivation sites in operation by the end of 2020.
In her article, Egan O’Keefe, the eastern regional cultivation manager, explains the importance of lighting technology. Efficiency is crucial. Lighting quality is crucial. And as a greenhouse operation, O’Keefe and his team depend on an optimal system for replicating sunlight indoors.
When explaining why Harvest is buying LED grow lights, he says, “LEDs are winning the race for the most optimal and efficient lighting method.”
This succinct statement cuts to the heart of the matter. Reviewing the statistics and articles shared in CBT’s report, we see one all-encompassing explanation for LED’s rising popularity.
The technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. It’s also not letting up anytime soon.
And that’s simply not true for any other type of lighting on the market.
At California LightWorks, we know exactly how much research and innovation goes into the advancement of LED tech. For us, it is an everyday reality. It’s also the passion that drives us. We get to be a part of something that’s constantly growing, constantly improving, and always enriching the work of our growers.
If you think it might be time to make the switch to LED grow lights, we recommend checking out our collection. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We enjoy nothing more than to talk lighting with ambitious cultivators.