Are LED Grow Lights Dangerous and How To Protect Yourself?


LED grow lights are an excellent way to create fake sunlight indoors. Although they’re beneficial for plants, you may wonder if LED grow lights are safe for you and your household. And if they’re not safe, you’ll want to know how to protect yourself.

LED grow lights can be dangerous if you expose yourself to them for long periods. Like the sun, LED grow lights emit UV rays and too much exposure can cause adverse health effects. Protect yourself from LED lights by limiting exposure and ensuring your skin is covered. You should also protect your eyes with sunglasses.

Understanding the dangers of LED grow lights is essential if you want to use them safely and avoid skin cancer or eye damage. This article will discuss the risks associated with LED grow lights and the safety equipment you should use when exposing yourself to the harmful rays.

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LED grow light hanging about a Carolina Reaper plant
Working around my grow lights, shown above, I make sure to take precautions like wearing long-sleeved shirts, protective glasses, and I have a fire extinguisher nearby. Photo by Spicy Trio

Are LED Lights Bad for Your Eyes?

LED lights are bad for your eyes because they emit blue light which can damage your retina over a long period of time. To avoid the adverse effects of LED lights, you should limit exposure and avoid looking directly into the light. You can also consider wearing protective glasses.

According to Cleveland Health Clinic, LED radiation can cause retina damage and other eye problems, like macular degeneration.

Of course, this will only be an issue if you’re not careful. Protecting your eyes and limiting your time staring at LED grow lights should prevent severe eye damage. Looking directly into the light can also cause issues, so like with natural sunlight, you should avoid doing that.

Although the blue light in many LED lights is bad for your eyes and skin, it is good for chlorophyll production and healthy foliage in indoor plants.

When working around my LED grow lights, I use Vivosun LED Grow Room glasses to protect my eyes which can be purchased at Amazon.

Are LED Grow Lights Bad for Your Skin?

LED grow lights are bad for your skin if they emit high levels of UV rays and you spend a lot of time under them. However, you shouldn’t experience any skin damage if you cover your skin and only expose yourself to the light for short periods of time.

There are different types of UV rays, but the ones you find in LED grow lights are:

  • UVB
  • UVA

Both are harmful in large doses. However, UVB rays are essential for human health in the proper quantities because they give us vitamin D. So technically, the UVB rays found in LED grow lights are good for your skin in the right amounts.

But it’s still important to realize that UVA and UVB rays can harm your skin. Frequent, unprotected exposure to these rays can cause skin cancer, which you want to avoid at all costs. They can also cause excessive wrinkles in the skin, making you look older than you are.

Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)
Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)

As long as you’re responsible and take the proper precautions, you shouldn’t experience skin damage when using LED grow lights indoors.

Can LED Grow Lights Cause Headaches?

LED grow lights can cause headaches, but not everyone gets them when exposed. Some people may experience headaches because LED grow lights may flicker. The brightness can also cause headaches in people who are sensitive to bright lights.

LED Flickering

Although LED lighting doesn’t always flicker, it can do so occasionally. Different things can cause the lights to flicker, including:

  • Defective power supply
  • Bad dimmer
  • Power grid changes

Blue Light Exposure

If you remain under blue lights for long periods, you may experience headaches or migraines. The blue lights in LED grow lights can also cause:

  • Eye problems (including eye strain)
  • Sleep problems
  • Headaches

While blue light is present in LED grow lights, it’s also found in many other things. Our phones contain blue lights, but they’re not as strong as the ones found in LEDs. Since exposure to blue lights can cause sleep problems, you should avoid working around grow lights before bed.

You should wear protective glasses to prevent headaches from exposure to blue light emitted by your LED grow lights.

Bright Lights

LED grow lights can be bright, like many other lights. In some cases, this may trigger a headache or severe migraine. However, this isn’t necessarily an LED problem pers se – people who get headaches from bright lights would generally get them from any light, not just from an LED grow light.

If you suffer from migraines, you’re more likely to get headaches from bright lights. The best way to prevent such headaches is to limit your time around LED grow lights and any other bright lights, and use protective eyewear.

Are LED Grow Lights a Fire Hazard?

LED grow lights are not a significant fire hazard because they don’t get hot enough to produce a fire. Therefore, it’s improbable that a fire will start because of LED grow lights. The only thing that might make LED grow lights cause a fire is the electrical systems connected to the lights.

So, if the lights are installed safely and correctly, there should be almost no chance of fire. However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to have a professional install your LED grow lights, especially if you are setting up a grow room. A professional will make sure you aren’t overloading your electrical outlets.

While LED grow lights are generally not a fire hazard, other grow lights can be. For example, CFL and incandescent bulbs get much hotter than LEDs, so they are more likely to cause a fire because most of their energy creates a lot of heat.

So if you’re looking for grow lights that are the safest and least likly to be fire hazards, LEDs are certainly the best choice.

Photo of two LED grow lights hanging above pepper plants with two black oscillating fans hanging off to the left
Here is my grow tent set up, two LED grow lights with two oscillating fans. Photo by Spicy Trio

Do LED Grow Lights Give Off Radiation?

LED grow lights give off radiation, mostly UVA and UVB rays. While the radiation from these rays is beneficial in tiny amounts (for vitamin D), it isn’t good for you when exposed to large quantities. So if your LED grow lights emit UV rays, you should limit your exposure as much as possible.

Some indoor LED grow lights produce little to no UV rays. In such instances, the lights don’t give off radiation, so it’s safer to expose yourself to them for more extended periods. However, since UV rays are essential for all plants, most LED grow lights will have them.

When using LED grow lights, you should always be cautious and take the same precautions as you would when exposing yourself to direct sunlight. That doesn’t mean you need to apply sunblock when exposed to LED lights, but you should cover as much of your skin as possible when working around them and limit your time being exposed to them.

Do LED Grow Lights Cause Cancer?

LED grow lights could potentially cause cancer, much like too much time spent under the sun. However, you shouldn’t worry about cancer if you limit your exposure and protect your skin. The UV rays in LED grow lights are what can cause cancer. These UV rays are also found in direct sunlight and tanning beds.

That’s not to say you’ll get cancer if you install LED grow lights in your home. Most people remain perfectly healthy and never experience health issues like cancer from using grow lights. Still, it’s important to be responsible and understand the proper safety precautions.

If other people are exposed to your LED grow lights, they should also be aware of the necessary safety precautions when around them. In the next section, we’ll discuss the best ways to remain safe when using LED grow lights.

Safety Equipment for LED Grow Lights

Although not entirely necessary, it’s good to have safety equipment when exposing yourself to LED grow lights. Even if you will only be under the lights for a few minutes, it’s best to ensure you’re protected.

The use of special glasses and protective clothing will ensure maximum protection and safety.

Protective Clothing

You don’t need to buy any unique clothing, but ensure the clothing you wear covers most of your body. For example, wear long-sleeve shirts and full-length trousers. You should also avoid wearing t-shirts or any other garment that would expose a large portion of your skin to the lights.

Vivosun Indoor Hydroponics LED Grow Room Glasses
I wear Vivosun Indoor LED Grow Room Glasses when working around my LED Grow lights. Photo by Spicy Trio.

Protective Glasses

Another thing you should consider buying is a pair of protective glasses. These will block harmful UVA and UVB rays, ensuring you don’t damage your eyes. Although they may not look stylish, they could prevent eyesight issues in the future, so they’re certainly worth it.

If you’re interested in buying a pair of LED grow light protection glasses, you should check out these which I mentioned above VIVOSUN Indoor Hydroponics Grow Room Glasses, available on Amazon. These glasses protect against harmful UV rays in many LED grow lights. They also reduce eye strain when working under the lights.

Fire Extinguisher

Even though the chance of a fire is low with LED grow lights, it’s best practice to have a fire extinguisher nearby at the ready. I put mine right next to my grow tent just in case I need to grab it quickly in an emergency. If you need a Fire Extinguisher, this is the type I bought from Amazon.com.

Important Safety Precautions When Using LED Grow Lights

In the previous section, we discussed the importance of wearing proper clothing and protective glasses when using LED grow lights. But there are other safety precautions to consider, too. Here are the main ones:

  • Limit the time you spend under LED grow lights
  • Don’t look directly at the lights
  • Ensure the lights are correctly installed
  • Don’t leave the lights on 24/7
  • Ensure you use high-quality, reliable lights

I’ll discuss each of these safety precautions in more detail below.

Limit the Time You Spend Under LED Grow Lights

I’ve mentioned this point earlier in the article, but it’s vital to remember the importance of limiting your exposure to the grow lights. There’s no need to be under the lights for long periods, so you should avoid doing so.

Plan what you need to do before exposing yourself to the lights to make this easier and reduce the time needed under the lights. Once you’re finished with the task, leave the area.

Don’t Look Directly at the Lights

It’s not a good idea to look directly at the sun due to the dangerous brightness, so you shouldn’t look directly at LED grow lights, either. Doing so can cause retinal issues, as discussed at the beginning of this article. Plus, there is no good reason you would need to look directly at the lights.

If you need to inspect the LED side of the grow light, ensure it’s turned off before looking at it and attempting to look or touch it. This will protect your eyes and skin from the brightness and heat.

Ensure the Lights Are Correctly Installed

You should only install LED grow lights if you know exactly what you’re doing and how to do it safely. If you have any doubts, get a professional electrician to install them.

Installing LED grow lights incorrectly can be dangerous and even life-threatening because it makes a fire more likely due to hazardous wiring. Faulty wiring causes many fires in the U.S. annually.

Don’t Leave the Lights on 24/7

Although LED lights don’t get hot enough to catch fire, it’s still not the best thing to leave them on 24/7. The good news is that there’s no need to have them for this long. No matter what plants you’re growing, none of them will need 24 hours of light, and in fact, it is beneficial to give your plants some dark hours.

Second, leaving the lights on 24/7 increases the risk of fire if there’s faulty wiring. Nonetheless, this won’t be an issue once you install the lights correctly.

Ensure You Use High-Quality, Reliable Lights

When buying LED grow lights, you want to ensure they meet all the required safety standards. You may be tempted to buy cheap LED lights online, but the low price could indicate safety issues.

Even if the lights meet safety standards in another country, you should ensure they meet the minimum requirements in your country.

Closing Thoughts

LED grow lights can be dangerous if you’re not careful during usage or spend too much time exposed to them. They generally emit UVA and UVB rays, which are harmful to humans in large amounts.

Luckily, you will be safe from harm once you follow the correct safety precautions, including:

  • Spending as little time as possible under LED grow lights
  • Covering your skin
  • Wearing protective glasses
  • Installing the lights correctly (get a professional to do it if you don’t know how)
  • Buying lights that are compliant with your country’s safety standards

Supriya

Hi! I'm Supriya. I'm a home cook, bulldog mom, spicy food lover, and founder of The Spicy Trio. I have been a home cook for about 15 years and have been growing plants for the past six years.

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