LED Vs Fluorescent Lighting For Microgreens: Detailed Comparison

Today, we are going to discuss an experiment that we have done to test how lights can affect the growth of microgreens. Like you were also very curious to see how different types of lighting could affect microgreens growth and which type of lighting for microgreens perform excellently and turn to be inexpensive.

The Actual Experiment

In this experiment, we have put three different types of lights onto a microgreens shelf and compared the growth of three different trays of radish microgreens to see how different lights can affect their growth.

And about their germination, all these microgreens went through the same adapted germination process. These trays were stacked on top of each other for a period of four days with a 15-pound brick on top and then went through one additional day where it was just stacked with no weight on top.

Selection of Lights

Let’s now quickly move to lights, in our 1st batch we had some lights, which were sun blasters T5 high output lights and they draw 107 watts combined light. However, we had only two of these lamps because they put out quite a bit of light on the shelf.

And in our 2nd batch, the other lights that we had were the 18 watts LED, the T5 replacement. These pulled a total of 54 points 2 watts light as combined.

And in our 3rd batch, we had full-spectrum 300 watts LED lights which had almost yellow color light. These lights were more like daylight because both of these were daylight full spectrum LEDs.

However, all these lights have different prices which also makes them preferable by the grower accordingly:

  • T5 lights were about 35 dollars apiece.
  • 18-watt LEDs were about nine dollars apiece.
  • 300-watt LEDs were the most expensive lights about seventy dollars apiece.

Light Measuring Device

While performing the experiment we have used a little light measuring device “digital lux meter” to see what power these lights put out. Therefore, to measure the intensity of light we have placed that at the top of the trays.

After placing the lights and measuring devices, we were able to know which light performed well and calculate the intensity of light that each tray was getting during the germination.

In previous germinations, we have observed that the LEDs lights perform well and tall growth that we like and makes harvesting easy. The other reason that we love about LEDs is that they do not provide too much light to where the plant stays short and they allow them to stretch a little bit.

Effects on Radish Microgreens

Radish microgreens were kept in the light for one full day, bottom shelf yellow tray, middle shelf blue tray, and the top shelf had a green tray. And later we have seen a lot of the color came into these microgreens.

Moreover, we have observed a significant growing speed in all the trays, and the one which was ahead initially had shown a bit fast growth. However, everyone else had also shown a good speed and was catching up quickly. At the first glance, we have noticed quite a bit deeper purples in the side trays and appeared slightly more vibrant.

  • 1st Batch: Yellow-colored tray was on the bottom shelf.
  • 2nd Batch: Light blue was on the middle shelf.
  • 3rd Batch: Green was on the top shelf.

Later, on day 4 we again pulled off the trays from the shelf so that we can get an accurate visual representation of their growth and colors. And we observed that everything seems to be very comparable with the colors with the cotyledon’s sizes.

So, to the effect of lights, we have planned another way as well. We have planned to add some water as last night we have observed that the middle tray was drying out, therefore we have added two cups of water to it. We put back the trays onto the shelf continued to keep the check.

Later, on day 5 we have noticed a huge difference here as the middle one was kind of winning in height however, they did have a very slight advantage at the beginning. Though so far, we have not seen anything that says the lights were making a huge difference.

Then, we have changed our practices and added some water to all the trays so that all can be watered equally and observed keenly.

On day 7 everything was looking good and we do feel that one the 3rd tray was furthest behind and the middle one was winnings and 2nd tray have performed balanced instead of being behind in the start.

However, plants started falling off and that was usually about the point when we might start harvesting.

Read More: Macro Profits Can Be Made From Microgreens

Difference Oriented Among the Trays

We have seen quite a big difference between all the trays and will discuss our observations here.

On the bottom shelf, we had the most powerful LEDs, and looked like they had the most uniform growth as compared to other trays. By comparing this one we have some lot taller and some shorter plants resulting in a good mix of height.

Honestly, we were going to choose for overall appearance and must say that the 300-watt LED did the best for the appearance even the coloration was very beautiful in that tray.

We loved that green around the rim of those purple’s, however, purple’s were very deep. The green with the purple was also looking very beautiful and striking and feel like it was much richer on the other LEDs. The tray was looking very beautiful however, it was just a little too scattered and height and same for coloration.

We had noticed a lot of green on this tray though compared to the other trays which were kind of surprising. So, we feel like the light also affects the actual coloration of the plants.

After all these observations, we were also very surprised and excited about all the results. It is because this was what we were hoping to do by having several different types of lights and get several different types of growths.

Read More: One Tray At A Time: Building A Microgreens Business

Taste Comparison of the Microgreens

After the harvest, we went ahead tasted the microgreens and by being kind of non-biased here the LED of the 3rd batch has worked well. It was very nice, very mildly spicy, and very clean tasting produce for that 300-watt equivalent LEDs.

Later we have tried this next batch which was over other LEDs, one just much weaker than the previous one. However, honestly, it also exhibits the same thing a great taste and there would nothing that feels like it tastes much different than the earlier tray which we have tasted.

However, while tasting the other tray with T5 high output lights and surprisingly they turned out to be a little bit more spicey. Though we don’t know if it was just the individual radish or the whole tray tastes like that.

Moreover, we have also observed that the cotyledons were small on that tray and it may be because they were in a quote-unquote at the earlier stage of growth.  Therefore, they may become a lot spicier compared to the cotyledons.

Harvesting and Weight Comparison    

We were super happy with the taste of all the trays and it was pretty cool to see that there was a slight variation as well. Later we have harvested the microgreens and weighed them accordingly to compare the difference.

As usual in microgreens harvesting, we have used a sharp knife and took a lot of care so that the plants would break or damage. Later, we have turned on the scale weighed the harvest in grams carefully.

The average weight of all the three trays which we got was three hundred and fifty-eight grams, honestly, that was a very healthy harvest for radish.

Now let’s quickly discuss all the weights which we got according to the batches:

  • Top-shelf had a total harvest that weighed about 358 grams.
  • Our 18-watt LEDs batch had a total harvest weight of 359 grams. This shows that both the middle shelf and the top shelf had very comparable weights and very comparable appearance as well.
  • The bottom shelf with 300-watt LEDs had a total harvest weight of 424 grams. So, here it beats pretty substantially all the other trays and indicated that how powerful lights trigger microgreens development.

Role of Healthy and Low Roots

How healthy roots look like whenever you pull them out indicates that how well we grew our crop. Good stuff healthy roots mean happy plants. Therefore, it is recommended not to cut off far below or near the roots. Radish cotyledons are usually so big that they love to get grabbed onto each other which makes it a little interesting while you pull it out.

Importance of Lighting for Microgreens Production

A typical microgreens farming setup is vertically stacked and enclosed and it requires a lot of light. Therefore, microgreens must receive enough light; otherwise, they will turn pale and weak.

There are usually two ways to light your microgreen farm: using natural light and artificial lighting for microgreens. However, using a grow light on your microgreens farm will give you several options for planting different types of plants.

As a result of providing efficient light, each plant will have a better chance of exhibiting photosynthesis, blooming, and growing more efficiently. Furthermore, seedlings can be easily grown indoors under grow lights without losing the germination rate.

Microgreens enrich your meals with valuable nutrients and flavor and are now becoming lucrative businesses with increased investment. Therefore, light can improve the harvest and nutrients of your plant along with speedy growth and can increase overall output.

Note: In case of prolonged exposure to light, microgreens may become damaged by the heat therefore a direct exposure is prohibited.

Read More: Using Old Milk Packets To Grow Microgreens: 17 Year Old Shares 5 Steps

Comparison Between LEDs and Fluorescent Light

Growing microgreens on fluorescent lights are the preferred method for some growers. It provides adequate lighting for microgreens at a great mid-range price. However, you should also keep in mind some other lights like LEDs which now come with more innovative technology and perform well. Every light has some unique properties which we have listed below to help you compare them easily and make a choice accordingly.

LEDs

  • Simple plug-and-play installation makes them easy to use.
  • Unlike most conventional lights, they don’t produce excessive heat.
  • Their energy consumption is lower.
  • It is made of plastic and does not break.
  • More expensive, but prices are steadily declining.
  • The average life expectancy is between 40,000 and 50,000 hours.

Fluorescent Light

  • It is more efficient
  • Cost-effective
  • Produces less heat
  • Improved light intensity
  • An average life expectancy of 9,000-20,000 hours.
  • It also exhibits low infrared and ultraviolet emissions.

Conclusion

Lights have played a significant role in the growth of microgreens which can be observed clearly through the appearance of plants and taste. Therefore, we can assume that using an appropriate light can improve their germination as well as their ability to develop nutrients and build a unique taste. However, the price difference for most people is somehow much considerable, yet, if you are looking for pretty good growth then using these eighteen-watt LEDs may sound more affordable. As in our experiment, we loved our 18-watt LEDs results they did a great job and were able to provide great growth. However, 300-watt equivalent LEDs have performed very well but are considerably more expensive for a standard-sized grower.

Read More: How To Grow Microgreens From Start To Finish (Complete Guide)
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