Hydroponic lights, or grow lights, are used for indoor gardening, plant propagation and food production. Although mostly known to be used on a large scale level in industries, hydroponics lights have now been used for gardening in the home.
The plants growing in a hydroponics system need good lighting in order to thrive. A hydroponic light system is capable of replacing sun light in any enclosed area. With sufficient light, you can convert any room in your home into a garden for your plants. It is one of the most economical ways of providing light for indoor gardens.
Optimum lighting is determined according to how many or how big the plants are going to be in your system. This means the light intensity required by the particular type of plant you would want to grow. It should also imitate the lighting present in the plant’s natural environment. For example, vegetables grow best in full sunlight. Foliage plants like Philodendron grow in full shade and can, therefore, grow with little artificial light. The appropriate lighting also depends on the size of the growing area and the amount of any additional light the plant may receive, like sunlight from a nearby window or a vent.
One of the most important things to consider in indoor gardening is light density, the amount of light on a surface which is measured in “lux”. One lux equals one lumen, the unit of light falling on an area of one square meter. Choosing which hydroponic lights to use is a very important decision you will make when setting up your hydroponics system.
A home grower has three basic types of hydroponic lighting he or she can choose to install. These are systems that use incandescent, fluorescent, or high intensity discharge lights. The set-up using fluorescent bulbs is most common choice of many small home gardeners because they are readily available and inexpensive. Fluorescent lights are compact in size and have low heat emissions. These bulbs great for plants like lettuces or spinach, those which can grow in low artificial lighting. They are also great for plants that need indirect light, like African Violets. Because they emit lesser heat, you can install these lights get closer to your plants without worrying about damage.
Incandescent lights have a very limited light spectrum and are not very efficient, therefore, are not recommended to use for indoor gardening and hydroponics systems On the other hand, high intensity discharge lights are considered the best for hydroponic lighting. Although these can be expensive, they are efficient and emit the most heat compared to the other two types. You will need ballast in using them, though, because of higher light and heat emissions. Appropriate setting is also needed to ensure the proper distance from your plants in order not to burn them with too much heat. This is a high quality and high maintenance system that should require your attention and monitoring. Most HID lights need to function up to a hundred hours before they make it to their peak intensity and color. Its performance then, stabilizes after, and maximum level is achieved. You can also try high pressure sodium lights. High pressure sodium lights give off a reddish light that leads to better fruiting. Lastly, remember also that plants also both dark and light periods. Therefore, lights need to be timed to switch them on and off at set intervals. The photo period depends specifically on the species and variety of plant with some preferring long days and short nights and others the opposite. Some plants may require something in between.