A great indoor garden requires a good grow light. It could mean the difference between success and failure. Having the right hydroponic light is the single-most important and costly decision in setting up your garden.
Hydroponic grow lights come in three main types:
These are the usual lights found in homes. They are generally a poor choice for garden grown lights because of their limited light spectrum and inefficiency.
HID (High Intensity Discharge) grow lights
Producing more light (up to 10x more lumens/watt than an incandescent light),are more efficient. Drawbacks would be, they produce more heat, generally more expensive than incandescent lights and requires the additional expense and maintenance with ballast. It takes around 100 hours before hydroponic HID grow lights reach their optimum working conditions, or until they reach light intensity and color stability.
Expense for acquiring artificial lights can be skipped by using sunlight. This is done with the use of solar room, greenhouse or large windows which allows plenty of sunlight. Or you can do this outdoors; hydroponics does not necessarily mean the cultivation of plants indoors but it growing plants without the use of soil.
Basic setup for an indoor garden is 1000w of lighting for and area of 16-25 square feet of plant area. Reflectors and/or light movers should also be considered as they improve efficiency of the indoor hydroponic gardening system. Ballast may also be needed as numerous hydroponic grow lighting require igniting.
Some Basic Facts
Before plugging in your grow light
Different plants require different levels or types of lighting, this paragraph would deal on some simple know-how on how to make an effective lighting setup. In setting up your garden, it is essential that you determine your growing area in order to determine the best lighting setup for you. Light is an essential factor in the growth of plants, it is important that the lighting solution you chose for your garden is adequate for its size. A poor or ill advised decision would certainly reflect on the quality of plants you produced. Inappropriate budgeting like cost cutting specially on lighting would just prove to be uneconomical and inefficient in the long run.
A general rule for lighting that area coverage is determined by a light wattage output. Reflectors might be used to increase the light area and reach corners but effectiveness is still determined by this formula.
Day and Night Cycles
The type of plant and its stage of growth generally determine the amount of light needed. A common cycle is that with 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness which is recommended for its vegetative growth phase.
For seedlings, a continuous light source is needed until the first real leaves appear. When the leaves appear, the regular 18/6 light cycle is used. Fluorescent or incandescent lights are best for seedling because of the low heat and soft light they generate. Automated timers maybe used to ensure consistent light cycles. Inexpensive timers are also available; this can be found any hardware or Home Depot/ Lowe’s type store.
Light and Photosynthesis
The plants exposure to light intensity, duration and light color directly affects the amount of energy needed for photosynthesis. The color of the light, Blue simulates the summer sun, Orange for autumn seem to stimulate photosynthesis best. The light spectrum produced by metal halide bulbs (Blue lights) and high pressure sodium bulbs (red/ orange lights) produce this effects. HID grow lights produce these effects owing to their popularity to hobbyist and professionals. Combination of metal halide and high pressure sodium bulbs provides the complete spectrum of light produced by the sun.
Use Caution When Working with Lights
The combination of water, electricity and chemicals in such a closed-in space makes the grow room one of the most dangerous places in your house. Keep in mind to separate your ballast by elevating it from the water-containing areas of your hydroponic growing system.