It is easy to grow plants indoors especially if you use grow lights. In fact, there are many grow light systems available to choose. The systems are helpful with each type of the grow light to offer advantages and disadvantages. Here are the tips on how to choose the best grow lights for your demands.
You can choose the brightest grow lights with the high-intensity discharge or called HID lights. You can install the lights in any spots that you want such as in your garage, home, and greenhouse to support the existing light. Eventually, you can use them as the main source of lights to grow your plants.
How do the bulbs work? Well, the bulbs will pass the electricity through the ceramic or the glass tube that contains a mixture of gases. Besides, the combination of the gases will determine the color of the light in each type of the lamp. In fact, HID lights can offer double efficiency from the fluorescent lamps. Using a single 400-watt of HID lamp means it offers much light as the 800-watt of the fluorescent. The HID lights will run on the regular 120-volt of household current. Nevertheless, they will need special fixtures together with the ballasts. So, before you decide to buy the lights, here are some tips to find the best one to meet your plant’s needs.
Types of HID Lights
HID lamp is divided into two categories which are the metal halide or MH and the high-pressure sodium or HPS. These two types offer much more intense light compared to the fluorescent bulbs.
When you choose MH bulbs, the light is the strongest at the blue spectrum. It offers a stark and cool white light to stimulate the compact and leafy growth. Since the light will not distort the colors of plants and people, this type of grow light is an ideal choice to offer a light display in your living room.
Next, Agrosun gold halide bulbs with the more red or orange light compared to the common metal halides. It works to stimulate flowering and to support the compact foliar growth. Nevertheless, you must replace the halide bulb once a year.
In fact, HPS bulbs have longer longevity. It is more durable that you only have to replace the bulbs for every 18 months. The bulbs can emit the light strongly at the orange end of the spectrum or red to promote flowering. Nevertheless, these bulbs may cause the leggy growth if you do not use it together with the daylight or the metal halide system.
So, if you want to get lots of bloom, it is good to use the high-pressure sodium lamps. Just keep in mind that the red and orange light cast will distort the colors of everything the lights illuminate. Besides, it is not flattering in your living room.
It is possible to use both of the high-pressure sodium and metal halide bulbs in the same location. Nevertheless, it is good to know that you cannot use the metal halide bulb in the high-pressure sodium fixture, and vice versa. Choosing HPS ballasts means it comes with the igniter and MH ballasts do not.
In case you have multiple fixtures, you should take the combination of HPS and MH systems. Nevertheless, if you only have a single fixture, it is ideal to use a conversion build with the use of metal halide to support the foliage growth. After that, switch to the conversion high-pressure sodium bulb to support flowering.
It is also ideal to choose the high-intensity fluorescent bulbs. They are less expensive, also warm and cool bulbs are available for the same ballast. You should choose based on the light that looks appealing. Meanwhile, the most economical option is the traditional fluorescent tubes if you are planning to use the grow lights. You can use them in your shop light fixtures or growing carts.
Nevertheless, the fluorescent tubes offer less intense light compared to other options. Therefore, you have more limits on what plants to grow. Fluorescent light is the ideal choice if you just want to supplement natural light but not to replace it.
Fluorescent tubes also come in warm, cool, or full-spectrum. The cool tubes offer a blue light cast. Meanwhile, the warm tubes offer white light or a pink cast. If you look for the tubes that look like the color of the natural daylight, you should go with the full-spectrum tubes. Nevertheless, the full-spectrum bulbs can be more expensive but the price is worth because the light color will not distort the color of the plants.
The fluorescent tubes emit less light from the end, rather than from the center. If you have plants with the lower light needs, you should place the plants at the end of the fixture. Otherwise, place them under the 3-inch of the tube. Besides, you must replace the fluorescent tubes for every 18 months especially if you use the lights for 16 hours per day.
Determining The Wattage
After considering the best plant grow light for your need, the next point to know is how big the bulb you need for the area.
To start, you have to determine the space you want to illuminate. The rule is that you need 20 to 40 watts per square foot. After that, divide the wattage of the bulb by 20. For example, 1,000 wattage ÷ 20 is 50. Then, divide the wattage of the bulb by 40, which is 1000÷40 is 25.
If you get the answer, it is the extremes of the light intensity range. It means that a single 1,000-watt system can light from 25 to 50 square feet of the interior landscape, depends on the plants and the light requirements.
After observing how well your plants can grow, you can adjust the setup, like increasing or decreasing the intensity of the light. The best thing to do is to shift the placement of the plants or the light fixture so they are closer together or apart. Do not change the bulb with more watts.
Always keep in mind that each lamp comes with the specific wattage. For example, you should not use a 400-watt bulb to complete a 250-watt system.