So I recently bought a grow-lamp for my indoor plants. Nothing fancy, just a variety of LED lights that supposedly generate the range of light needed to encourage photosynthesis, growth and bloom. Me, I just didn’t want to have to remember to put them in the window.
But then it occurred to me. Could full-spectrum LED lights be a better alternative to sunlight? Especially here in Australia, where sunlight is synonymous with skin cancer. We need some in our lives - but what if we could have an indoor solution that only produces the UV we need for vitamin D and not all the extra radiation we don’t need?
I did some googling on it and found that apparently a study was done on ultraviolet LEDs for people with vitamin D deficiency - the LEDs produced more vit D in less time than sunlight would and - with a supposedly narrower band of radiation - with less damaging side effects that sunlight would have. However, the study apparently didn’t use live humans, only tissue samples and I couldn’t find much in the way of verification or repeat studies.
Putting aside vitamin D needs, there’s also the psychological to consider. For people who live in dreary-weather places or basement apartments or studio apartments with only one window and no direct light - could a bank of full-spectrum LEDs operating on a timer still trigger the positive psychological effects of sunlight without any UV or other radiation at all? Could this be a mood-and-health improver for people who choose or have to stay indoors for most of the day?
I’d be interested to hear people’s expertise and hopefully to see a CHOICE article on this some day.
On a slightly different note, I recently heard that persons growing marijuana hydroponically in residences no longer illegally tap the incoming mains electricity to power the grow lights but simply use LED lighting as they use so little power.
The link to a Brisbane supplier and their assessment or comparison to non LED (EG HPS + high pressure sodium) lighting suggests there is a power reduction, but not of the same order of magnitude as for general household LED lighting. They said they were growing tomatoes as evidenced by the pics. At up to $12/kg recently for tomatoes, it might even pay for the electricity needed for the 14-16 weeks needed to reach full crop production.
Comparing a 700W LED grow light with a 600W HPS: The results were good, but a little slower than with a 600W HPS lamp. For the power and ventilation saving it makes sense to use LEDs, but for faster production we would recommend HPS lamps, or using LED along with smaller HPS lamps.
Expect a rash of $2 LEDs in a crystal design lense. All offering an irnage of natural therapies based on the plastic toy like devices bring the benefits of secret sun properties into your lounge room. To be online in the market soon?
I do like the idea of using the real tech to improve dark sun poor inner urban corners, indoors or out.
There is also the issue of myopia. There has been much research in the past decades on why the population in Asia has a high incidence of myopia and it was thought that it was genetic. It was an Australian researcher in Sydney that looked at Asian heritage locals to see if they also exhibited the same level of myopia as those in Asia. What was found was that those with Asian heritage in Australia had myopia levels no different to other groups in Australia…meaning that increase in myopia levels were environmental and not genetic.
Studies have also shown that myopia is prevented by outdoor light exposure, something which can’t be achieved by any indoor lighting as the indoor lighting intensity is not high enough. While indoor LED lighting may solve one potential problem…that being allow Vitamin D production in the skin, it causes other unwanted complications.
It is also worth noting that like many things, sun exposure in itself is not dangerous. What is dangerous is overexposure or being too long in the sun. As they say, there can be too much of a good thing. I think I will stick to incidental exposure to sunlight to get my vitamin D, as I also enjoy being outside.
I’d be interested to know more about that. I personally would rather my long-distance vision degrades than get skin cancer which can spread to other parts of my body. If it’s merely a matter of light intensity - how much would you need? Possibly that could be achieved indoor with the right setup or by going to a clinic.
The Cancer Council’s website says the following:
“When UV levels are 3 or above, most Australians get enough vitamin D with just a few minutes of sun exposure while completing everyday tasks - like walking to the car or shops”
“In a high UV environment like Australia, we can be exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation during all sorts of daily activities, such as working outdoors, gardening, walking the dog or having a picnic”
I remember in summer, the sunsmart app was saying ‘UV levels are 14 between 8am and 4pm’ - so basically the whole day was an extreme radiation risk. I catch the bus to work every day so had anywhere between an hour to two hours a day of sun/uv exposure through the window of the bus.
Today, in winter, the UV was 3. I could apparently have gotten all the vitamin d I needed by going outside for just a few minutes. I guess posting here and discussing it and researching it has answered my own question in a way.
Never go outside, except in winter, for no more than a few minutes a day.
It also doesn’t recommend abstinence from the sun, instead says "Sun protection is recommended whenever UV levels reach 3 or higher. Below 3, sun protection isn’t recommended unless you are outdoors for extended periods or near reflective surfaces, like snow. "
It also recognises the potential of sunlight exposure to produce vitamin D by the skin…