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About Black Dog LED lights


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Why don't we have different vegetative / flowering lights?

There has been a popular belief that plants need more blue light for vegetative growth and more red light for flowering. People discovered this a long time ago when the available artificial light options lacked adequate spectral coverage; people were forced to choose from either red-deficient blue-heavy light (metal halide [MH] or most fluorescent lights), or a blue-deficient red-heavy light (high pressure sodium [HPS]).

Given a choice between these limited options, the blue-heavy light clearly works better for vegetative growth, and the red-heavy light works better for flowering. But this doesn't mean that the plants don't want more red light during vegetative growth, or more blue light during flower. Indeed, many people have noticed that running vegetative and flowering lifecycles with a combination of MH and HPS ends up working better than just one or the other.

People note they get a higher-quality product in flower when they include more blue (MH) in flower, but because MH is inherently less efficient than HPS in terms of lumens per watt, using 1000 watts of metal halide and 1000 watts of high pressure sodium together doesn’t yield as much weight as 2- 1000W HPS bulbs. Because total weight is typically more important to growers, most don’t use a combination and the "blue for veg, red for flower" mantra lives on.

Black Dog LED used to buy into this mantra as well, and sold two different LED lights- a "veg" and a "flower" version, where the veg light had more blue and the flower light had more red. But when we produced a full-spectrum light with the right balance of red and blue, we found in side-by-side grows that it worked better for both vegetative growth and flowering.

The advantages to using a single, full-spectrum light for both vegetative and flowering lifecycles include:

  • Plants don't experience shock when changing spectrums. When plants grow leaves, they optimize the leaves for the light they are currently receiving. Whenever light intensity or spectrum changes, the existing leaves aren't optimized for the new conditions, and the plant undergoes shock. Leaves grown under the new lighting conditions will be optimized for it, but until new leaves grow the plant isn't able to best use the new light it's getting. By using the same spectrum for vegetative and flowering cycles, we eliminate this shock, and have noticed a decrease in flower time (1-3 days) and an increased yield when the plant was grown for its entire life under one spectrum.
  • Better quality plants while flowering. Plants grown under a red-heavy spectra for flowering tend to get leggy with weak stems. In nature, the upper canopies of plants block most of the blue light, but the far-red light penetrates to lower leaves and other plants. Plants that want full sun have evolved to encourage rapid stem growth when exposed to a low blue-to-red light ratio-- this makes them increase internodal spacing to grow tall and try to "stretch through" whatever is shading them out. This is why plants grown under HPS lights get taller, with weak stalks. By including the right ratio of blue light throughout flowering, internodal spacing is shorter, stems stay stronger, are less prone to breaking, and the plant expends less energy growing stems, and more energy producing flowers or fruits.
  • Better quality, denser flowers. Shorter internodal spacing means flower inflorescences (buds) are denser.
  • More flexibility. Since the same light can be used for vegetative and/or flowering cycles, you can deploy your lights to best suit your needs.

Using LEDs, we can fine-tune, down to the nanometer, the light we are providing the plant. Our Phytogenesis Spectrum™ provides the correct ratios of blue to red, and far red light (even UV) to encourage the plant to stay compact while growing and flowering vigorously. The result is higher quality and quantity of plant growth at the same time, without sacrificing efficiency or falling into the old "blue for veg, red for flower" way of thinking.



Do different plant species or varieties require different spectrums? (Do our lights work with all plants?)

We have a lot of experience growing a diverse range of plants under different combinations of LED colors. In our (and others') experimentation, it is clear some plants such as green leaf lettuce are capable of growing with extremely limited spectrums (i.e. with only red light), although the plants do not grow "normally"-- they exhibit significant differences from the same variety of plants grown in natural sunlight. Many plants will not grow well with limited colors of light (even with red and blue included), and without key spectra, normal pigmentation and other secondary metabolites (such as vitamins, compounds related to flavor, THC and CBD, etc.) may not be produced by the plant in normal quantities, or at all. However, if all necessary spectra are included in a light, all plants will grow optimally and produce desired secondary metabolites.

Black Dog LED's Phyto-Genesis Spectrum™ has been painstakingly developed to grow plants of all different types. By going far beyond the "bare minimum" spectra required to just get plants to survive, we successfully grow plants of all species and strains. We have grown over 400 different species of plants under our lights, with representatives from most of the major divisions of the plant kingdom (Plantae), separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution -- and the results are always the same: plants thrive under Black Dog LED.

For the record, we have tested species from the following divisions of plants:

  • Chlorophyta (green algae)
  • Marchantiophyta (liverworts)
  • Bryophyta (mosses)
  • Lycopodiophyta (club mosses)
  • Pteridophyta (ferns, whisk ferns and horsetails)
  • Cycadophyta (cycads)
  • Ginkgophyta (Ginkgo)
  • Pinophyta (conifers)
  • Magnoliophyta (flowering plants [including Cannabis])

The 3 divisions we have yet to test are: Charophyta (stoneworts / desmids), Anthocerotophyta (hornworts) and Gnetophyta (gnetophytes).



What is the right Black Dog LED light for my needs?

Choosing the right size light(s) for your setup depends on a number of different things, all explained in our guide to determining the ideal LED grow light setup.



Why do we include green in our Phyto-Genesis Spectrum™?

While it is true that green light is mostly reflected by the chlorophyll in plant leaves (this is why they look green), this doesn't mean plants don't use any green light. Other pigments in leaves such as carotenes and xanthophylls harvest some green light and transfer it to the photosynthetic process. The small amount of green we include also serves as an aid for viewing the plants, allowing easier diagnosis of issues such as nutrient deficiencies, pest and disease problems.



How do we choose our diodes?

Here at Black Dog LED, we pride ourselves in providing indoor growers with the highest quality spectrum and most intense footprint available. While things like fans and heatsinks play a crucial role in the longevity of any indoor plant grow light, spectral quality and intensity are determined by the type of light emitting diodes (LEDs) used in a panel. Our proprietary Phyto-genesis Spectrum™ makes use of a very specific and diverse combination of LEDs, each proven through scientific study to stimulate photosynthesis as well as many other desirable metabolic processes in plants. Additionally, we use only 5 watt rated chips to ensure that our lights provide the most uniformly intense footprints possible. In order to include each of the essential spectrums at such high intensities in our lights, we use diodes from several different sources because no one manufacturer provides all of the LED colors required to create our full spectrum. Because they offer the largest selection of wavelengths at higher powers within the visible spectrum, Epistar makes up the bulk of our diodes, while we source specialized high-quality UV and IR chips from other proprietary manufacturers.

On occasion, we are asked to divulge the names of these manufacturers in order to "lend credibility to our sourcing." However, we do not share this information with the public for one solid reason: it is not in our best interest. The Black Dog LED brand has become synonymous with quality, intensity, reliability, and performance, and we know that other companies would love to be able to copy our spectrum. We've spent too much time and money researching and developing the best indoor LED plant grow lights in the industry to simply give this information away. We do, however, have an ironclad guarantee to out-grow any other LED or HID watt for watt. When you grow with Black Dog LED plant grow lights, you can grow with the confidence that you've chosen the best possible indoor LED plant grow light available.



Why don't we use dimmers?

Yes, many LED companies are offering dimmers and the ability to switch off sections of your light to change how it is supposed to work. We have tried many different spectrums and actively changing these spectrums throughout the growing cycle. We have proven what the research tells us; that any major change in spectrum will cause plants to stall while they adjust to the new light.

We know the best scenario possible is to provide the perfect spectrum based on research and provide as much power as possible without waste. Why would you want to buy a sports car but shut off half the engine? Dimmers mean you are using only part of what you paid for in terms of wavelengths and and power, which is why we don't use them in our products. You are better off keeping the same spectrum and using 2 smaller lights or backing off a bigger one to avoid any shock to your plants from veg to flower.



Why don't all of the diodes on my Black Dog LED grow light panel light up?

Your Black Dog LED grow light arrived in the mail; you unpack it, put on your no. 5 welding glasses (safety first!), plug it in and take a look to check out that beautiful spectrum... But you notice that some of the diodes aren't lit up. Don't worry, your panel is working perfectly! Those diodes emit light in the ultraviolet and infrared spectra, which are outside of the 400-700nm range of visible light. We've included these spectra of light because they encourage resin production and complete phytochrome response. When we say that our lights are full spectrum, we mean it, and now you can see (or not see) why.



How high above the plants do I need to hang the light?

Each model of our PhytoMAX and Universal Series lights have different recommended hanging distances to achieve the full flowering or vegetative footprint. These heights are given on the page describing each model light, just under the footprint diagram, so go the the page for PhytoMAX lights or Universal Series lights, and choose your model to see the recommended hanging height.

Please note that these are recommended heights and if you are using a light mover or adjusting the light intensity (for more or less light) the heights should be adjusted accordingly. Hanging the light higher will decrease intensity and give a larger footprint, and hanging the light lower will increase intensity but decrease the footprint. Please call us with any specific height questions for your own setup.



Will Black Dog LED lights work in my country?

Yes, our lights will run on any 50-60 Hz alternating current voltage between 100V-277V for PhytoMAX lights or 85V-264V for Universal Series lights. All that is needed is the right cord to plug our lights into the wall. Our lights use an IEC C14 (male) power connector-- the same kind commonly used by computers and HID ballasts-- so all you need is an IEC C13 (female) power cord of the right gauge that will work with your wall outlets. For 120V, we recommend a minimum of 16 gauge cords, and for 240V a minimum 18 gauge cord (smaller gauge numbers are thicker, heavier-duty wires, so 14 gauge will always be "heavy duty" for any voltage). These cords are usually very easy to find- they are sold at office supply companies, home improvement and hardware stores, and of course on the internet.

We include an 2.4 meter (8-foot), heavy-duty 230V Australian / New Zealand outlet (AS/NZS 3112:2000) cord with every light.



How many plants can I grow under a light?

The answer depends entirely on the size of the plants. The number of plants that can be grown under a light is the number that would fit in the appropriate flowering or vegetative footprint we specify for the light model. Most commonly-grown plants can be maintained at different sizes through pruning, and the size of determinate plants (those which die after flowering) is dictated by the size they were when flipped into flower, so there is no standard number of plants that will fit in any given area-- it is all about how big you want to grow them!



Why do we use primary lenses?

We use primary lenses because they allow the light produced from an LED to most efficiently reach your plants. To understand why, some background information about the refraction of light is important.

Refraction happens when light traveling through one medium (air, water, glass, etc.) enters a different material and is bent (refracted). This occurs because light travels through different materials at different speeds-- the speed of light in a vacuum is constant, but it varies in air, water, glass or any other matter. Refraction is responsible for how prisms "split" white light into its constituent colors. Objects appear to bend when you partially dip them in water due to the different degree of refraction between air and water. Refraction is also responsible for rainbows and liquid crystal (LCD) displays.

A material's index of refraction measures the degree to which light is bent when entering or exiting the material. The greater the difference between two different materials' index of refraction, the more likely the light is to be reflected back into the first material.

The light-emitting portion of an LED (called a die or chip) is primarily made of silicon, with miniscule amounts of various other elements added to affect the color of light produced. Bare, uncoated silicon has a refractive index of 3.4-3.9, while air has a refractive index of 1.0003. The large difference between the refractive index of silicon and air means that light leaving the LED chip exposed directly to air is often just reflected back into the silicon, as if it were a mirror. Light produced in the LEDs is useless if it never manages to hit your plants!

A lens placed directly on the silicon die actually helps to harvest more light from the LED. Glass, silicone and acrylic have a refractive index of about 1.5, intermediate between that of silicon and air. This intermediate step allows more photons out of the silicon and into the air, actually increasing the amount of light the LED emits. "COB" or "integrated" LEDs are often much less expensive because they don't use primary lenses, but are much less efficient in terms of photons-per-watt.

Glass and acrylic lenses cause some of the light to be lost, which is one reason we don't use secondary lenses with our lights, but as a primary lens it actually gets more light out of the silicon LED than any losses it incurs, so primary lenses produce a net gain in light and make LEDs more efficient.

Black Dog LED always uses primary lenses but never secondary lenses for our LEDs-- we maximize efficiency and evenly cover the entire footprint to keep all your plants happy, rather than just being bright in the center to look good on paper.



Why don't we use secondary lenses / optics?

LEDs typically have a plastic or glass lens over the actual LED die (the name of the chip that actually produces light); this lens helps the light produced by the LED chip escape from where it is produced. Photons produced by the silicon chip (LED die) tend to be refracted back into the chip if the surface of the die is exposed to air-- plastic and glass lenses pressed against the LED die actually help these photons to leave the LED rather than refracting back into the silicon. These "primary" lenses are present on most LEDs to make them more efficient, and can be designed to focus light to different angles.

Secondary lenses for LEDs are designed to refocus the light from the diode and primary lens into a new, usually narrower beam. Many LED grow light companies are using secondary lenses and claim to "amplify", "magnify", or "boost the output of" the light. The secondary lenses are magnifying the light in exactly the same way a magnifying glass does in the sun- but no additional light is being produced or "harvested" from the LED, it is just being focused to a narrower beam or even a point. In fact, about 10% of the light is reflected or refracted by the secondary lens and is lost- but the remaining 90% gets focused into a more-intense beam.

If you're trying to market your product based on a single measurement of intensity, using secondary lenses will make the light really bright immediately under the center of the light so that any lumen, PAR, YPF or other intensity measurements taken there are impressive.

But just like a spotlight or laser, just off to the side of the narrow beam of light, there is almost no light. Any plants trying to grow in this region are only getting light reflected off the plants immediately under the light fixture-- but the grow light certainly looks impressive in an ad with its extremely high PAR value or "569% more light" due to "powerful optics"!

Our PhytoMAX and Universal Series lights use a primary LED lens designed to spread the light from each LED diode 120 degrees wide, to maximize the even coverage of our lights over their entire intended footprint to maximize your yield. We don't want the brightest grow light as measured at a single point; our lights grow plants well over their entire footprint by spreading the light out.

Secondary lenses don't "amplify" light, they lose about 10% of it and refocus the rest to make a single measurement look better on paper, to the detriment of your plants, and that's why we don't use them.



What are the vegetative and flowering footprints based on?

Our vegetative and flowering footprints are based on the light intensity requirements for some of the most commonly-grown high-light plants such as tomatoes, peppers and Cannabis.

There are hundreds of thousands of species of plants, covering a huge range of light intensity and duration requirements. We simply cannot provide recommendations for every kind of plant, so we had to base our recommended footprint sizes on the plants most commonly grown under artificial light.

For plants requiring less light intensity, such as lettuce, the footprint coverage can be larger than what we recommend. Plants requiring more light intensity such as most Cacti would require a smaller lighting footprint to get enough light.

To make the footprint larger, you just need to hang the light higher over the plants, and to make it smaller, move it closer to the plants.



Why are vegetative footprints larger than flowering footprints?

Our flowering footprints are based on the light intensity needed to grow, flower and fruit high-light plants when the light is only on for 12 hours per day.

For plants sensitive to the length of the day (photoperiod sensitive), it isn't possible to provide them with more light by just running the lights more hours per day-- but for non-photoperiod-sensitive plants, running the light more hours per day will give them more light. For example, increasing from 12 hours to 18 or 20 hours per day will provide 50-67% more light to the plants, so it is possible to cover 50-67% more area with the same wattage light. Additionally, purely vegetative growth generally requires less energy than flowering or fruiting, so plants can get by with a little less light intensity.



Do LED lights cause magnesium deficiency?

No, LED lights do not cause any kind of nutrient deficiency.

A rumor was started that LED lights cause magnesium deficiency when people noticed that some plants develop purple petioles (leaf stalks) or streaks on the stems under LED lights, but not under HPS lights. While purple coloration on stems and petioles can be one of the signs of magnesium deficiency, it is also a sign that the plant is producing natural purple pigments (anthocyanin) in response to ultraviolet (UV) light. Many artificial lights (including HPS and most LEDs) don't give off UV light, so plants grown under these lights don't produce this natural pigmentation. Under these UV-lacking lights, purple coloration is often a sign of magnesium deficiency. However, when grown under UV-containing Black Dog LED lights or natural sunlight, plants will produce their full range of natural pigmentation-- it is not necessarily a sign of a nutrient deficiency.

The major symptom of magnesium deficiency is usually yellowing, blotchy-looking (chlorotic) leaves, accompanied by purple stems and petioles. When growing under Black Dog LED grow lights, unless the leaves are chlorotic, purple stems and petioles are not a sign of a magnesium deficiency-- they are a sign of a happy, healthy plant.



What is the Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) of Black Dog LED lights?

Black Dog LED lights don't have a color temperature, because the definition of color temperature doesn't apply to purple or green light. You can read more about this in our explanation of our LED grow lights and color temperature.



Where can I find information about the Black Dog LED Universal Series lights?

For almost 3 years, Black Dog LED's Universal Series of lights set the standard in the LED grow light industry. They have been superseded by the new PhytoMAX lights which combine the latest in LED technology with our more than 5 years' experience designing, fixing and growing with LED lights to create the best LED grow light available.

The Universal Series grow lights are still great and will continue to run strongly for the next several years, so for the thousands of customers that own a Universal Series light, we want to make sure the relevant information on specifications and usage is still available here:

Universal Series LED Grow Light Information



What payment options are available?

Credit Card:
Black Dog LED accepts all major credit cards. All credit card transactions are processed through Authorize.net, the leading payment gateway. We do require that you ship to your billing address for all credit card purchases. If you need to ship to a different shipping address than your credit card billing address, or if you need to pay with multiple credit cards, you can use your credit cards to pay through PayPal, or contact us via phone and we can help.
Cash / USPS Money Order:
If you are in the Boulder, Colorado area you can come in and pay cash for any order, although we do NOT recommend sending cash through the mail as it is not traceable. If you would prefer to pay with cash and are not local to the Boulder/Denver area we accept USPS Money Orders mailed to us. Please call to get an order ID and a total before sending money orders.
PayPal and PayPal Credit:
PayPal is a trusted standard in the e-commerce world. If you have an account with PayPal this can be a very convenient way to pay for your order. When checking out with PayPal you can also take advantage of their credit financing option. Depending on your qualifications you can finance your order for 6 months with no interest. To pay with a regular PayPal account or apply for PayPal Credit, select the PayPal option when checking out on our site.
Financing / Payment Plans:
For purchases under $2,000 we recommend working with PayPal since they offer quick approval and you can qualify for 6 months with zero interest. If you are looking to finance a larger project from $2,000 up into the millions, we have several options depending on the size of your project. Please contact us here and let us know the size of the project and as much detail as possible. We will work with you to generate a custom lighting plan and quote, and provide a list of lenders specializing not only in the size loan you would need but also the specific area you're located.


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