Can a Regular Light Bulb Help Plants Grow?

Can people use regular light bulbs as grow lights? This question pops up all the time on forums, and the answer, unfortunately, isn’t quite straightforward.


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There are some plants that can grow with just a regular light bulb – namely, herbs and some houseplants that don’t require much light at all to thrive – but most other plants will be better off with an actual LED grow light.

If you’re trying to decide between the two options yourself, here are the main things to keep in mind when comparing regular lights vs led grow lights.

What is regular lighting?

When we talk about conventional lighting, we’re typically referring to halogen lamps, incandescent light bulbs, and fluorescent lights.

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We typically use these normal lamps to light spaces where light is scarce. Their spectrum is totally different from the full spectrum, which makes it hard for plants to grow.

What are LED Grow Lights?

LED grow lights are created according to the principle that plants use sunlight for photosynthesis. They are tailored to provide lighting in the stages of plant growth and promote the healthy growth of plants.

The Difference Between Regular Lights and LED Grow Lights

The main difference between led grow lights and regular lights is the color spectrum. Led grow lights replicate natural sunlight, providing the same conditions to encourage plant growth.

Red and blue light spectrums simulated the spectral wavelength of light that plants are most efficient at absorbing. Regular lights have a different spectrum that is not what the plants need.

Common household lights contain more blue and green wavelengths, while household light at 450nm has more of an effect on protein and organic acid synthesis in plants and is typically used for plant budding and photosynthesis.

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Given that the red light around 660nm affects the flowering stage, with conventional lights there isn't a big problem with raising seedlings in the early stage. However, plants will grow slower in the later stage, because red light is reduced.

Will Plants Grow Under White LED Lights?

Yes, plants can grow under white LED lights. White LEDs aren’t actually white. When we talk about white LED lights that actually contain a red, green, and blue wavelength. Mixing these three colors together will produce white light.

If a thinner phosphor layer is used and the blue LED's wavelength is altered, different color temperatures can be created. Making adjustments to these two variables will let manufacturers produce LEDs of different colors. 
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Warmer white light with color temperature of 3000K-3500K is better for flowering and cooler white light with color temperature of 5000K-6500K is great for vegging.
But if you are using your light for every stage of growth, you want a color temperature of 4000K.

Will 6000K LED Grow Plants?

6,000K LEDs are best for your grow setup in the vegetative stage of growth. These cool lights are perfect for vegging or cloning.

Can You Use Regular LED Strip Lights to Grow Plants?

As long as these kinds of LED strip lights have the correct spectrum for growth. You can use them to grow plants.

While LED lights can make excellent supplemental lighting and are great for vegetative tasks like cloning or seeding, they are too weak to be effective in fully grown indoor plants. 

For best results, grow using high-efficiency lighting designed for cultivating.

Will Any LED Grow Plants?

Most LEDs do not produce sufficient light to support plant growth and do not emit the right spectrum for plant growth. 

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The best light for your plants is to use a grow light which can give off the best light in wavelengths that your plants need.

Can You Use Regular Fluorescent Lights to Grow Plants?

They are useful for the seeding and early stages of the growth, but when the plants have grown enough to begin fruiting or flowering, they need more light than before and they prefer a long red light. 

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In that case, you can't use the regular fluorescent lights with less red wavelength to provide the correct spectrum for your crops.

Final Thoughts on Using Regular Lights for Your Indoor Growth

If money is an issue, you can use more budget-friendly, cheaper fluorescent lights for your seedlings and eventually switch to LED grow lights when plants begin to flower and produce fruit.