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Light at the End of the Tunnel: Get Ready to Love Your New Indoor Lighting Technology

Hey, it sure is an exciting time to be a hydroponics grower, and nowhere is the excitement more justified than in the area of indoor hydroponics lighting technology.

From the days of growing outdoors in sunlight, to low-output fluorescents, and then on to High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs and beyond, hydroponics gardeners have driven innovation and effectiveness, because your plants want lots of light and you want the best lighting gear.

And now, just around the corner, you’ve got something even better to look forward to- something that’s guaranteed to increase the yields, safety and benefits of your gardening. Let’s take a look…

From Parking Lots to Bloom Phase

To see how far we’ve come, it’s useful to see where we’ve been. In the 1970’s when growers decided to head indoors instead of risking rip-offs and other problems relying on the sun, they used old-style fluorescent bulbs and fixtures.

These produced spindly plants that were leggy, weak and unproductive. And then somebody looked up at those big, blazing lights used for sporting events, street lighting and factory lighting,  and decided to bring that technology into gardens.

After trial and error, hydroponicists discovered HID bulbs that had color temperature and operating features that was pretty good for growing indoor plants.
For years, growers relied on a bluish-white color temperature Metal Halide (MH) bulb for veg phase, and an orangeish-colored High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulb for bloom phase.

The color temperature of MH was found to create fast growth and dense, sturdy plants (exactly what you want) in grow phase. The HPS’s color temperature simulates the autumn sun, creating plants that devote their energy, carbos and nutrients to upgraded floral production.

Ready to Eliminate HID Problems You’ve Noticed?

These traditional HID technologies were not designed for indoor gardening and they come with inherently persistent and often costly liabilities that made them less than ideal for your grow room.

One big liability is heat. Bulb operating surface temperatures can rise to a thousand degrees Fahrenheit, or more. This is a safety hazard, security risk and garden climate hazard. These bulbs get so hot they can severely burn you or cause fires.

And they add huge amounts of heat to your grow room- heat that has to be removed. Heat removal usually means spending money and time on air exchange, AC equipment, reflector cooling apparatus, etc. It’s been a costly hassle for you.

Yet, because HID bulbs deliver such intense light, the amount your plants very much need, growers have accommodated the heat and other HID problems using all kinds of tricks and hardware. It costs you money and time, but until now, there was nothing else you could do.

Heat isn’t the only problem HID bring to your garden. You see, HID bulbs produce light because an arc of controlled electricity through an enclosed chamber of special gasses. HID lights need a ballast to control the electricity, and most growers still use the old school magnetic core and coil ballast to do this.

Problem is, core and coil ballasts are notorious for being hot (oh no, more heat to air condition away), heavy, large, noisy, security risks, and somewhat unreliable. There just had to be something better, right?

Going Digital to Improve Lighting In Your Garden

That’s why you and other growers clamored for the hydroponics industry to create digital ballasts that use modern technology to create a more reliable, more precise, more versatile arc while reducing the ballast’s heat signature, radio frequency signature, size, operating costs and functional problems.

Not only that, but the early digital ballast manufacturers promised to give you ballasts that were far more versatile than magnetic core and coil, eliminating the need for you to have an army of ballasts for every different type and wattage of bulb you own.

But as with most new technology, the early and current crop of digital ballasts have their own problems.

Oh yeah, they’re definitely a big improvement over core and coil, but they’re far from perfect. Indeed, many enthusiastic early adopters who rushed out and got the first digital ballasts that showed up in the marketplace had so many problems with them that they returned to their old core/coil ballasts.

The good news is that electrical engineers, plant scientists and manufacturers have heard your lighting complaints and are racing to develop the first-ever digital ballast designed specifically for you and other serious growers.

Word is that these ultra-modern ballasts will be available in 600 watt and 1000 watt configurations, will be dimmable so you have huge flexibility, will virtually eliminate all noise, heat, radio frequency risks, bulb damage and operating snafus, and will come with the kind of bulletproof, confidence-building warranty that growers have never before seen from manufacturers of hydroponics ballasts.

In upcoming Rosebud articles I will give you more details about this amazing and welcome new development in hydroponics lighting, and don’t worry, we’ll also talk about a new generation of hydroponics-specific HID bulbs and LED panels that promise to be way easier, cheaper and fun for you to use to get faster growth and bigger yields.

And guess what, there’s new stuff coming for cooling your HID bulb/reflector assemblies that’s way easier than previous methods.

In hydroponics lighting, the future’s so bright, we have to wear shades!

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Last modified on Monday, 08 October 2012 19:50

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