When gardening indoors without the use of any natural light, for the majority of applications, using LEDs in a hybrid system will achieve the best results. Most indoor gardeners utilizing an area without a window have already developed a routine under HID lighting. But the problem with HID lighting is the high electricity costs and heat management issues. The LED/HPS hybrid system is a solution to these problems as well as one of the easiest ways to see the benefits of LED grow lights without changing your overall routine.
For example if you are using a 1000 watt HPS system. For each of these lights to run 16 hours a day the cost of electricity for the bulb alone (the ballast uses additional electricity) at .10 cents per kWh is almost $600.00 a year, for just one lamp. Utilizing the hybrid system can reduce electrical costs, reduce cooling costs, decrease bulb/ballast replacement costs and still provide a good growing environment. An example of a hybrid system would be that instead of running your 1000 watts of HPS for 16 hours a day, try operating it only one fourth of the time. Turn the HPS on for one half hour every 2 hours and run six 9 watt LED light bars for the full 16 hour photoperiod.
The HPS is basically providing the radiant heat and the LEDs provide quality light. The beauty of this system is you use your HPS as your climate control, while the HPS is stimulating faster growth rates making just enough heat for your plants to thrive.
If we use the same variables to do our math again, factoring electricity costs using the LED/HPS hybrid system, it works like this: Running your LEDs for 16 hours and running the HPS only 4, your electrical costs are reduced to only $178.00 per year. This gives the hybrid gardener an extra $422.00 in their pocket per garden plot. The energy savings here quickly pay off the initial investment. This hybrid system allows the grower to increase the efficiency the efficiency of their system while maintaining growth rates they have come to expect.
Angela Lundmark is an indoor gardener and freelance writer.