How to Shop for Grow Lights
Growing plants indoors is a hobby with many benefits. From fresh herbs to beautiful flowers, indoor plants are a perfect addition to any home. Growing indoors can also be a necessity for people living in climates that are not conducive to outdoor growing or for those looking to extend their growing season into colder seasons.
When setting up for an indoor growing station it is important to have access to proper watering a draining as well as light. Light can be natural from a window, from a light bulb or from a mixture of the two. It is important to remember, however, that darkness is important for plants to grow so lights should be turned off for 10-12 hours each day. Sometimes it easier to set the horticulture lights up on a timer to be on during the same time that the sun is shining.
There are a variety of lights available for indoor growing.
Incandescent Grow Lights: Incandescent grow lights feature a red-yellow tone and put off a considerable amount of heat so it is important they are not placed too close the plants. Incandescent lights alone cannot foster plant growth and must be combined with true sunlight. A disadvantage to incandescent lights is that they are considerable less energy efficient than other options.
Fluorescent Grow Lights: Fluorescent grow lights are usually considered a better option for indoor growing than incandescent. A fluorescent light’s temperature ranges from 2700 L to 6500 K which is a wide enough range that plants are able to grow more like they would if under true sunlight. Also, fluorescent bulbs are cooler in temperature which is safer for plants, put off twice as much lumen (light per energy) than incandescent and have a 20,000 hour life span, which is nearly 25 times more than that of an incandescent.
High Output fluorescents are typically long thin bulbs which are ideal for taller growing plants. HO fluorescents put off twice as much light as a fluorescent light bulb and are available in warm, full spectrum daylight and cool versions.
Compact fluorescent are slightly smaller but can be used for growing plants. The best compact fluorescent bulbs feature reflectors which create intense light directly on the plant.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights: HID bulbs produce light through an electric arc between tungsten electrodes inside a tube fused with alumina. These light bulbs have a very high light output level, are energy efficient and put off light which covers an ideal amount of light spectrum.
Metal Halide (MH) Grow Lights: MH grow lights produce a lot of light from their little bodies. Mercury vapor inside the bulb mixed with a bit of metal salts creates a compact, powerful and efficient light bulb. However, MH bulb require a special fixture.
High-pressure sodium lamps: High pressure sodium light bulbs are typically used in the second stage of growth because they do not have the correct color index for the total growth process. These light bulbs are typically used for parking lots and street lights or other outdoor lights which also aid in horticulture growing.
To determine which light bulb is best for the needs to the plants being grown indoors, start by determining the appropriate lighting for the plants in question. For example, vegetables require full sunlight so a fluorescent of MH-lamp is most appropriate while something like a fern which thrives in shade will be fine growing under an incandescent.
Other things to consider when shopping for a grow light are how large you will need it to be to provide enough lights for your whole indoor plant set up, if you need the light to hang or be on a stand or if you would prefer to just get a small arm grow light which holds just one plant.