In a quest to find the best LED Grow lights, we have taken on the great debate about which lights come out on top. Many times, the question has been raised whether one watt, three watt, or five watt diodes are the superior choice for growing. Our research team has put in the legwork and come up with results that will put an end to the confusion.
To tackle the question at hand and get you the answers you need for better growing, we decided to take a look back at history. There’s no doubt that LED grow lights have come a long way since the thirteen watt panels consisting of 225 mini diodes. Those fifteen row column panels were unsuccessful to say the least, since they were not able to grow much of anything except simple grasses and sprouts. Even then, the performance would certainly not call for an encore. LED grow lights took the heat for these initial substandard panels by getting a bad name for years until stronger diodes became readily available. Surprisingly, 225 mini diode models are still being sold today but are clearly ranked subpar compared to its stronger successors.
The birth of one and two watt diodes in LED grow lights definitely changed the game. The larger wattage diodes were able to penetrate a plant’s canopy three to four feet. Although this amount of penetration sufficed for most growers, commercial growers still needed an extra hand. The commercial growing segment of the indoor growing market needed a plant grow light that could reach down an extra foot or two to the bottom of the plants.
Following their one-watt predecessor, three watt diodes made their entrance in 2009. Coming in with a bang, the three-watt diode provided the ideal balance of canopy penetration without being plagued with heat issues that come with larger diodes. With three-watt diodes, a grow light was able to penetrate up to five feet past the plant’s canopy and was the perfect design being demanded by the indoor growing market.
After the grand entrance of the three-watt diodes, clever marketers started manufacturing indoor grow lights with five watt, ten watt, and even larger diodes. Although presumably stronger, larger diodes fall short when compared to the success of their three-watt counterparts. On the surface this seems to be natural progression for grow light strength, but the LED grow lights with the larger diodes have some very critical drawbacks.
- Let’s talk about heat dissipation and density. As the diode size increases, so does the amount of heat that needs to be dissipated by the diode chip. Larger wattage diodes need larger heat sinks to dissipate the heat that they give off, resulting in heavier and bulkier lights.
- Speaking of chips, it may be mistakenly perceived that five-watt chips are more stable than three-watt chips, but this is certainly not the case. Five Watt chips have stability issues and a higher rate of failure.
- If you thought that larger diodes could be packed as densely as the three watt designed lights, guess again. Another critical design drawback of larger diodes is that they cannot be packed as densely as the three-watt design. When using five-watt or ten-watt diodes, you must space the diodes further apart because of the problem of heat dissipation, which results in a less densely packed grow light with strong spots and weak spots of light projection.
- The price of these larger diodes brings us to the final reason why three-watt diodes are unquestionably the better choice for indoor growing. Not only do the 5+ watt diodes cost more overall, but they are also more expensive on a price per watt and price per growing-area-covered basis. The added penetration is superfluous and unnecessary for indoor growers and it comes at a burdensome cost- increased price and less densely packed network of diodes.
When it comes to the great debate between three-watt and five-watt diodes for LED grow lights, the three-watt diode comes out on top by a landslide. The three-watt diode is without a doubt the smarter choice for any indoor growing project. Make sure to go with a high quality brand when deciding which LED grow lights to invest in for you indoor growing hobby or business. Do your research and go with a high performance light that will give you the yield you are looking for.
Reference: Ehud Muhlev, PhD. EE