Which Version of LEP is right for me?
A few short years ago, Gavita launched a brand new light technology onto the indoor grow industry. The light emitting plasma (LEP) technology has been around for quite some time. In fact, it was invented by none other than Nikolai Tesla. The technology was left relatively unexploited until the 1990s when some commercial models entered the market.
More recently, plasma lighting has had a small resurgence and is sometimes used for (most usually) commercial lighting as they are liked for the fairly full spectrum white light that they can produce which appears very much like daylight. Gavita spotted the possibilities of this technology a few short years ago, and brought out two slightly different versions for the grow light market. Although the light from them both seem very similar to our human eyes, the two versions do put out slightly different light spectrums. The version that you choose to buy should be based on how it is going to be used.
The 2 Gavita LEP output spectrums:
As you can see, the 41.02 version spectrum is quite flat, and contains fairly even amounts of all the colours, with a bit of a drop off in the violet and deep red colours.
The 41.01 still contains all the colours too, but you can see that there is significantly less light being produced in the red region. Instead, the 41.01 uses the energy that’s put into it to produce more blue and green.
So which one do I need?
At first glance, you would be forgiven for thinking that because the 41.02 produces more red it would be the model that would be more appropriate to use during flowering. However, Gavita never intended their LEPs to be used on their own during flowering; they were intended to be used as a supplemental light alongside a HPS where the LEP would fill in the spectrum with the colours of light which a HPS does not produce. To put it simply, the amount of red light produced by a LEP cannot even begin to compete with the huge wealth of red light produced by a HPS grow light. The energy being used by the LEP is better used to produce the blues, greens, UVA and UVB that produce healthier, more robust, tastier and better structured plants and to make the end-result more desirable. This is why the spectrum output of the 41.01 (with less red) is the better one to use as a supplemental light with an HPS.
The fuller, flatter spectrum of the 41.02 better suits the light to be used for standalone use during the vegetative stage. During that time, the more even full spectrum light is better for producing healthy, well-structured plants ready to go into the flowering stage.
So to summarise:
41.01 – Designed to be used with a HPS light during the flowering stage.
41.02 – Designed to be used as a standalone light for vegging.
If you are hoping to use an LEP on it’s own for flowering, our advice would be – DON’T! LEPs are really excellent for creating a full spectrum light (including UVA and UVB) whether used with an HPS for flowering, or as a standalone unit for vegging. An LEP used on it’s own in flowering will almost certainly give disappointing results in terms of yield.
More about Light Emitting Plasma Lights
There are three commonly known states of matter – solid, liquid and gas. Plasma is actually classed as a fourth state of matter and it does not consist of atoms or molecules like the other 3 states of matter. Plasma is where the atoms have actually broken apart into a cloud of highly charged electrons and highly charged positive ions. This state of matter does not occur naturally here on planet earth. It only occurs when huge amounts of energy excite a substance so much that it literally rips the substance’s atoms apart into their parts (electrons and positive ions). Although it is not found naturally here on planet earth, it is the major constituent of stars like our sun. As such, it is probably the most abundant physical form of matter in the universe.
Plasma lights (not related to novelty plasma balls) consist of an electrodeless sealed capsule (usually quite small) made of fused quartz which contains a mixture of (very often) argon gas and sulphur. A device called a magnetron (most commonly found in microwave ovens) produces very high frequency, high power radio waves which are then directed into the capsule. This excites most of the atoms of the substances into a plasma,
The very high level of radio wave energy being directed at the capsule causes the electrons in the plasma inside it to jump up in energy level (and accelerate). These plasma electrons whizz around until they collide with the atoms which have not been turned into plasma. This can cause the electron in the atom to jump up in energy state. However, the electron cannot hold on to this energy and when the electron loses this energy, it emits a photon of light, the colour of which will depend on what sort of atom it is (sulphur, sodium etc.). The final combined colour spectrum of the light leaving the capsule can be adjusted somewhat by altering the types and proportions of the substances inside the capsule.
This method of producing light was never really utilised in commercially produced units until the 1990s. Unfortunately, early production models suffered problems and were a commercial flop. However, in recent years, those problems have been overcome.
The great thing about plasma lights as grow lights is that they produce very little heat, fill in the gaps in the light spectrum that many other lights leave out and can be made to produce UVA and UVB which improve produce quality. Use one as a standalone in veg or as a supplemental light in flowering and you will get strong, healthy plants with a great structure, and some of the most desirable crops around.