Light Up Your Home Hydroponics
Anyone practicing or planning to practice indoor gardening will most likely require supplemental lighting. If you have a greenhouse or sun room you may be able to get by without artificial lighting, however to grow during the winter season additional lighting is often needed. If you plan to garden in an enclosed room or basement doing hydroponics at home then a grow light is absolutely required. Fortunately there are many options to choose from when considering which type of grow light to go with.
The Inexpensive Lighting Options
Some of the easiest and least expensive lighting solutions may be inexpensive initially but cost more over time. Traditional fluorescent tube lighting can work well for growing crops that do not require very bright light, such as salad greens and some herbs. The downside is that the tubes will need to be changed somewhat frequently as the light output can degrade over time. Compact Fluorescent Lights are also an option but they suffer from some of the same issues and environmentally conscious folks are often turned off by the mercury used in the bulbs.
More Light More Money
One of the most common lights used in indoor gardening are HID lights such as high pressure sodium lights or mercury halide lamps. These lights are very bright but they tend to produce a lot of excess heat that in many instances is energy wasted. The costs of using these HPS or MH lights is somewhere in the middle for starting out but you will notice a higher utility bill over time for these lights which often use all the way up to 1000 watts each.
LED Lights, Just What Plants Need
LED lighting is fairly new and they continue to make advances in the technology being used for plant growth. The nice thing about LED lighting is that plants only require a fairly narrow spectrum of light in order to grow and with LED lights, they can provide only the spectrum that the plants need without a lot of excess “wasted” light. Plants use mostly red and blue spectrum to grow and this is why most LED lights emit a purplish glow as it is a result of red and blue light emitting diodes in the LED light. Not all LED lights are created equal however. I purchased a higher end adjustable UFO LED light from hidhut.com that allows you to dial in how much red vs. blue light you get and it has proven to be a very effective and reliable light for several years now. I have also tried a generic UFO LED grow light from Amazon.com for a fraction of the price and so far it has proven to work however it is not adjustable and the reds are more prevalent which seems to cause plants grown under it to flower more quickly than under other lights which is not always desired. LED lights are one of my favorite options and I am sure that the future will provide home hydroponics with more exciting advances in the technology.
Magnetic Induction Lighting, Best of Both
My favorite lighting technology is a technology invented by Nikola Tesla over a century ago but that has only recently been discovered for plant use. It is a full spectrum technology that looks similar to a regular fluorescent light. The bulbs are cool to the touch, producing almost no waste heat and they have a bulb model suited for vegetative growth and one suited more for blooming depending on your needs. The best part is that the lights are also more energy efficient with a 400 watt model said to be able to replace a 1000 watt HPS light. The company, iGrow makes the induction light that I use and they are reporting that the bulbs will last for 10 years and use much less energy than traditional indoor gardening lighting such as high pressure sodium. The iGrow lights come in 200 watt and 400 watt units and in bloom or grow bulb configurations and can be viewed in the recommended products section of this site.
Final Thought on Best Lighting Choices
I have used all of the above mentioned technologies for growing plants and the order in which they are presented is essentially leading up to my favorite lighting technologies for home hydroponics. If the budget is super tight, I recommend fluorescent lighting. If you can afford to spend more upfront you will probably save money over time with a high quality LED or better yet, an induction light which produces a natural spectrum in a very efficient manner providing the best of both worlds and results you can see.
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