How do you grow plants indoors all day without the lights? Or your outdoor space doesn’t get enough sunlight.
When it comes to lightning, the sunlight is still the best. But technology makes the artificial light much more viable and bring almost the similar results as natural light.
Why Do Plants Need Lights?
For survival, plants need foods. However, they don’t actively seek the foods like the human. Instead, they use sunlight to make food (sugars) through a process called photosynthesis.
Plants store the sunlight’s energy in a green pigment of their leaves, called chlorophyll.
This can be explained by the reaction:
Carbon dioxide + water + (light energy) –> glucose + oxygen
CO2 in the environment react with water from plants roots under the sunlight. The sugar (food), glucose is created in the process of photosynthesis. Then it is used for respiration or converted into starch and stored.
Types of Grow Lights
When it comes to grow lights, there are a large variety of types and sizes. But in the end, they all come down three main categories – High-Intensity Discharge (HID), Fluorescent, and LED
This perhaps the most popular choice for home gardeners, largely because of its cost, its acceptable efficiency. There are two types of Fluorescent lights – CFL and Tube-style lights.
CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights)
CFL lights are the inexpensive twisty bulbs that can be found anywhere near your living. Since they are short and don’t produce lots of heat, they can be placed near plants and are great bulbs for small set-ups.
Tube-style Fluorescent lights
There are several kinds, including the T5, T8, T12. Among them, T5 lights are the most used and the most efficient.
They are much wider than CFLs and usually comes with many bulbs arranged paralleled one another in a panel.
HID (High-Intensity Discharge)
HID lights are more efficient than fluorescent ones. They deliver more lights per watt as well more heats. So they tend to get hot fast and need much ventilation.
HPS (High-Pressure Sodium)
High-Pressure sodium bulbs give off more light in the yellow and red range of the spectrum.
So even though they can be used in all growing phase of plants, they are more favored towards the fruiting and flowering plants.
MH (Metal Halide)
MH emits light at the blue range of the spectrum. Hence, it’s better suited for the vegetative phase of plants.
CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide )
Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) lights seem like MH, but it works quite differently and more effectively.
CMH has a much wider light spectrum than MH and HPS. And it has better a life-span than the two.
LED (Light Emitting Diode)
LED lights come later in the indoor gardening world. But it is such an efficient method compared to other lights. They produce much light with little electricity. LEDs are incredibly lightweight. They run cool and usually have built-in cooling out of the box. LEDs are made up of many diode and growers can customize which light wavelength/light colors they need for plants.
However, LEDs are expensive, and they tend to take lots of space.
Grow Light Buyer Tips:
If you are total beginners on a budget and your setups are small, CFLs are a great choice. They are relatively inexpensive and give enough lights for smaller, stealthy grow areas. CFLs work great for small plants that require not much light.
Want a better solution for your plants at each grow phase? You can stick with the HPs/MH lights. MH/CMH lights will be used for the vegetative and other phases while HPs are used for the flowering phase.
If your budget is not a problem, and you want something that is modern, durable, energy-efficient, go with long-spectrum LED lights.
Besides the weather that brings great heat to your growing system, grow lights are also the main cause that increases your system’s temperature. In that case, you’ll need to have some ventilation methods.
If your budget is large, consider getting a water chiller to assure your plants’ best-growing condition.