How Do LED Grow Lights Work?

Updated February 21, 2017

LED lights are energy efficient and produce very little heat. These qualities make them ideal for growing plants while consuming very little energy compared to other, more traditional lighting methods. The only drawback to LED lights is their initial expense.


LED lights were invented in 1962 by Nick Holonyak, who worked for Bell Laboratories at the time.

How They Work

LED grow lights use a combination of red and blue LEDs. They are often arranged on a panel and placed close to the plants.

Blue LED

Blue LED lights, which are comparable to metal halide lamps or daylight fluorescent lights, are used for vegetative growth.


Red LED lights are used for flowering and ripening. Red LEDs are comparable to warm florescent bulbs or high pressure sodium lights.


Plants require a combination of blue and red light to grow effectively. Altering this mixture will allow plants to focus on growth or flowering.

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