When growing plants indoors, you need to ensure they have access to sufficient light to promote their growth at various stages. They make growing plants inside your home easy. However, best grow lights come in varied types. With different types of lights for the plants on the market, it becomes necessary to choose the best for your specific crops.
Here’s a short guide to help you pick the right grow light for your veggies, fruits, flowers or any other type of indoor plant.
High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lights for Plants
HID lights are the brightest types of grow lights for plants. You can install them in your garage, home or greenhouse, making them versatile lighting supplement to your existing interior lighting for illumination and decoration. What’s more, they can act as your plants’ major source of light.
They feature a ceramic or glass tube with gas mixtures through which electricity flow to light the bulb. The color of the light your glow light lamp emits depends on the gas mixtures in the tube. In comparison to fluorescent lights, HID grow lights are twice as efficient. For instance, an 800 watts fluorescent light and a 400 watt HID lights emit the same light intensity.
HID lights can easily work from 120-volt current of households. However, they require unique fixtures with ballasts to run as expected.
Metal Halide (MH) Bulbs
These lights emit the strongest at the end of the spectrum that’s blue. The stark yet cool white light promotes compact, foliage growth in plants. It’s ideal for light display in your living room because it neither illuminates people nor distorts plant colors.
Unlike regular metal halides, agrosun gold halide bulbs can be color-corrected for a more red/orange lighting. It promotes flowering and supports compact leafy growth. MH bulbs are replaced every year.
High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) Bulbs
Unlike MH bulbs, HPS bulbs get replaced after 18 months, making them more durable. The lights emit the strongest at the red/orange end of the spectrum and boosts flowering in plants. However, they’re effective when used with metal halide grow lights or natural light. Otherwise, they result in leggy growth in plants.
Although HPS grow lights promote bloom, they tend to distort plants color and illuminate humans. That means you can use it in any other room where you have your indoor garden setup, except the living room.
You can use MH and HPS grow lights in the same location. However, neither can be used in the fixture of the other. Whereas HPS ballast come with an igniter, MH bulbs ballasts, don’t.
Consider using both grow lights if you’ve got several fixtures. But, if only a single fixture is available, use a conversion bulb with MH to boost growth of foliage during the growing cycle. When the plants reach the flowering stage, use HPS bulbs to foster bloom.
Plants: Vegetables and herbs
Duration Light Should be Turned On: 18 hours for vegetative growth
Specification: High temp 95.90; bluish spectrum for MH lights & yellow/red/orange spectrum for HPS lights
Stage of Growth: Vegetative growth for MH & flowering and fruiting for HPS lights
High Intensity Fluorescent Grow Lights
Available in warm, cool and full-spectrum tubes, fluorescent grow lights emit pink/white light from warm tubes, a blue cast from cool tubes and a color close to that of natural light from full-spectrum tubes. Full-spectrum LED fluorescent grow lights are popular among growers because they neither distort plant colors nor illuminate humans.
However, they’re more expensive than the other two tubes. Even so, they’re worth their price tags. The ends of fluorescent tubes emit less light than the center of the tubes. Therefore, if you’re growing plants with low light needs, they can be placed near the end of fluorescent grow light tubes. If used for at least 16 hours daily, they’re replaced after every 18 months.
Fluorescent tubes are ideal for small spaces, but require a ballast for current regulation. They also use stands instead of conventional sockets.
T5 grow lights use several high-output bulbs installed side by side with an arched reflector behind each. They support vegetative growth for strong and healthy plants until they reach 24 inches tall.
T5 lights have a narrower diameter than other tubular fluorescent grow lights. Lights with “HO” rating have a high output, meaning they come with adjusted ballasts for brighter lighting and thus efficient growth of any plants. They emit light at the blue end of the spectrum and promote stockier plants growth. But, they’re very expensive.
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are more cost-effective and used as alternatives for traditional incandescent lights. CFLs emit strong lights in blue and red ends of the spectrum. Unlike HPS grow lights, fluorescent lights are used closer to plants for more efficacy because they emit low-intensity light.
Plants: Salad vegetables, leafy houseplants & flowers
Duration Light Should be Turned On: 18 hours for vegetative phase; 12 hours for the flowering stage
Specification: Low temperature; Bluish spectrum
Stage of Growth: Propagation (cool light), vegetative growth, flowering (warm light) and over-wintering
LED Grow Lights
They’re the most efficient at over 60% efficiency of light. They focus light and produce no heat and thus can be installed far from plants while still achieving optimal results. Often used for plant therapy. However, they’re costly and can harm eyes, hence the need for eye protection. They emit strongest light at the red/orange ends of the spectrum.
Plants: Orchids and houseplants
Duration Light Should be Turned On: 12 – 16 hours for vegetative growth; 12-14 hours for flowering
Specification: Low temperature 70-750; full spectrum
Stage of Growth: Budding/vegetative for blue light, flowering & fruiting for red/orange light
Plasma Grow Lights
Plasma grow lights are new on the market and work at full spectrum, making them as close to natural light as possible. They use light emitting plasma (LEP) bulbs to mimic the sun’s spectral output.
Also known as induction lighting, plasma lights are energy efficient and produce both UVB and UVA rays just as the sun. Unlike other grow lights, they use about 50% less electricity, explaining their efficiency.
Plants: Houseplants that require low temperature
Duration Light Should be Turned On: 12 – 16 hours
Specification: Low temperature; full spectrum
Stage of Growth: Plant development and growth; usable in winter
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