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The new LEC fixtures have changed the indoor grow lights game, that starts to set the old HPS fixtures as obsolete, looking for new formulas, more efficient, that also bring a new spectrum of light, more complete. In this post we will discuss about these type of grow lights, what are the possible advantages and disadvantages from LEC lights, and applications for cannabis indoor growing.
What LEC fixtures are?
LEC stands for Light Emitting Ceramic. Also known as CMH (Ceramic Metal halide), these type of grow lights act similar to a current Metal Halide fixture, but within a quartz ceramic arc tube. In the field, one of its distinctive advantages is its light production (with a more natural color), that produces more ligth per watt, besides enlarging the life of the lamp. To describe this new technology there are different options, all of them referring to the same concept:
– Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH): Metal Halide light that uses a ceramic arc tube.
– Ceramic Discharge Metal Halide (CDM): Alternative term for the same technology used.
– Light Emiting Ceramic (LEC): LEC is a registered name by one brand for a concrete grow light
that uses Ceramic Halide technology. Even though, the LEC term, same it happens in many other fields, has started to be used as CMH, because both refer the same technology.
Up to date is still more common to use CMH for these type of fuxtures, but LEC has increased its popularity, probably for its relation with LED, that were published as the grow lights for the future, until today.
LEC fixtures and power options
We we talk about LEC fixtures (or CMH fixtures), the most common ones are the 315w, but the developing is being so fast so now we also can find 630w LEC equipments.
The differences between both models, more than the power is in the format they present, and characteristics each one offers:
LEC 315w: One 315w lamp SE (Single Ended).
LEC 630w: Two 315w lamps SE.
LEC 630w DE: One 630w lamp DE (Double Ended).
The most common LEC grow light is the LEC 315w: These grow lights offer a better performance with higher g/watt ratio (better crops for lower consumption). These equipments take advantage from the higher offer of 315w lamps in market, from which we highlight the Philips CDM ones for its properties and yields.
The next option we find are LEC 630w SE: These grow lights follow the pattern used by 315w models, but using two lamps (2x315w), what increases the yield per sqm setting two lamps working together in the same reflector. The best feature of these fixtures is the possibility to combine different kinds of spectrums on each light. This is an option for those who like providing plants with a blend of different spectrums (actually impossible to do if not working with more than one type of light). Also a good option for those who pretend increasing their crops, but don’t have ceilings high enough to use the Double Ended ones.
The third option available are LEC fixtures 630w DE: Unlike other LEC equipments, these ones use a DE technology (Double Ended lamp), within a 630w lamp. This technology brings a more efficient light distribution, besides offering an increased light penetration on plants, and higher lumen production per watt used, what derives in higher yields. These fixtures can compete against 1000w HPS fixtures, with a 30% lower consumption.
Advantages of LEC fixtures
No doubt the best advantage of LEC grow lights is its higher efficiency, what derives in an increased yields (or in a lower consumption for the same amount of dried buds, depending on the model chosen).
Said this, lets detail some of the advantage of LEC fixtures compared with HPS/MH grow lights:
– UV-B rays productions: UV-B rays are produced by sun light and, talking about LEC, contribute to increase trichome developement and flavours of cannabis plants. It is important to highlight that UV-B rays (stands for Ultraviolet type B rays) can be block by glass used in some reflectors, so it is important to not use cooled reflectors to be sure there is a clear path light-canopy.
– Light production: Unlike LED or HPS fixtures, the light created by LEC equipments won’t change the color we see plants. this characteristic makes life much easier for growers, that will be able to diagnose his plants easily. Something you will also notice is the light produce by a LEC is a much more common color, so if ever occurs a light-leak, it won’t be noticed by third-people as something rare).
– Built-in LEC fixtures: Unlike HPS lights, most of LEC grow lights are built-in units, so they are plug and play fixtures (much easier to install them).
– Long-life: LEC lamps maintain its brightness longer than Metal Halide ones (also longer than HPS), what allows growers to change them less often.
Disadvantages of Ceramic Metal Halide equipments
Talking about cons of LEC fixtures we should creat 3 different segments (one per type of fixture):
LEC 315w: It is true these fixture improve yields (if we compare them with the performance got from an HPS 400w), and reduce consumption of you light bill (important data). Even though, not all that glitters is gold, as we will need to adapt to the characteristics of these lights. As we don’t want to bore you with technical data about each fixture and lampm just tell you that 315w CMH lamps don’t bring the same light penetration of an 400w HPS lamp. This forces grower to switch his grow-style to a SOG (with short plants), or SCROG where all canopy is kept at the same distance from light so it receives the same amount of light.
LEC 630w: These grow lights are in the middle. It is true that if we double the power used, and spread that light production in two point, it will derive in higher yields in the same growing space. But, and it is an important but, the light intensity is what it is, so we will follow the same patterns used for the 315w lamps, slightly increasing the distance lamp-canopy (no due the increase of light as well as for the increase of heat).
LEC 630w DE: Double Ended 630w LEC lamps have many advantages, but no doubt one of their biggest inconvenient is the amount of heat produced (comparable to a 600w HPS when working at 660w position). This will force growers to use higher ceilings, and also more airflow, in order to keep temperatures under control. It is also important to tell these lamps will need at least 60-80 cm distance light-canopy.
Black, white and gray
As everything in life, nothing is white or black, there is always a grey, and this is how we tried to write this post. This is why we tried to tell which ones are the pros and which ones the cons about LEC fixtures, axplaining in the easiest way we could what are the real expectations we can expect from these Ceramic Metal Halide grow lamps. We will tell you how these units worked in our gardens, so every one can conclude which is the best fixture for their purpose. This way publishing information about real tests everyone will be able to decide.
CMH fixtures side by side
Sunburst 315w: This grow light is ideal for growers that had been using 400w HPS lamps, but who need to reduce their light consumption for any reason, but maintaining the yield per crop so they don’t need to buy on the black market. We made a test with the USnburst in a Homebox Q100, with 20 cuttings from Northern Lights (heavy yielder strains) in 5,5 L pots, giving them 1 week of vegetative stage. The result were 450g of dried buds, perfectly trimmed. Lets be clear: We do believe the result was so good, and probably thanks to the yielding capacity of the clone used, not easily reachable with a medium yielder strain.
Selecta II 630w Solux: This fixture includes 2x 315w lamps used in the same reflector. It is a compact fixtures that should be used to cover 1,20 x 1,20 meter spaces with a distance light-canopy of 50-60 cm. In our test we used a Homebox Q120 with 25 cuttings of Critical+. We gave them 1 week of vegetative stage before flipping them to flower. The result was astonishing: 850g of dried and perfectly trimmed buds. It’s true the result was good, but it’s also true the result was gotten using the superlumens option from start to finish (690w), what shortens a lot the life of the lamp.
Kit Solux LEC 630w DE: We were exited to proceed with this test, as our intuition told us results will be great, and we weren’t wrong. No doubt this is the fixture we recommend to every grower who has been using a 600w HPS, as its consumption is almost the same, but its performance is amazingly superior. It is true that you will need higher ceilings to use it, so to do this test we used a Homebox Ambient Q120+ (2,20 meter height). This time we used 25 clones of Amnesia in 5,5L pots, giving them 2 weeks of vegetative stage before setting them to flower. The result? 900g of dried buds, perfectly trimmed (using the 630w position from start to finish).
LEC vs LED
If you are looking to increase your yields probably your best choice (yield/price) is buy a LEC fixture. What may change this decision: Heat. LEC fixtures produce more heat than a HPS 600w, what equals the classic problems of growing in hot seasons, and make a must the use of an air conditioner is we want a quality crop without problems. Unlike LEC, LED grow lights produce much less heat when the same amount of power is used, so growers can save the cost of an air conditioner (plus the extra watts due its use). To these energy/heat savings we have to add the life o the compounds (LED can last 5 years while LEC lamps must be replaced every 4 cycles).
It is clear that those who own an HPS fixture do not need to change it for this new technology, but if you are planning to change your old one (or buy a new one) our advise is better you bet for the new LEC, its performance is superior, and results support it.
Did you like this post? Feel free to share it with your friends in social media If you are interested in more articles maybe you like these ones:
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