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Hydroponics Lighting That Powers Plants for Bigger Yields Featured

Hydroponics lighting is fuel for your plants Hydroponics lighting is fuel for your plants

Hydroponics lighting comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s among the most important hydroponics gear you use as an indoor hydroponics grower. HID, HPS, MH, LED, T-5, plasma lighting- hydroponics lights choices can seem like rocket science. Let’s take a few moments to shed some light on hydroponics lighting…

Space and Place

LED hydroponics lighting manufacturers have not all been up front about the limitations of their units.

A commercial hydroponics garden needs plenty of space and thousands of watts of electricity for HID (high intensity discharge) lighting systems such as HPS (high pressure sodium) and MH (metal halide). If space is limited and you still demand commercial yields, look to vertical gardening methods. Or, if space is limited and you’re only intending to do a small hydroponics garden, you may not need HID lighting, which is an energy-hog that requires substantial venting and/or cooling, such as cooled reflector hoods that seal the heat from entering the grow room and use fans and ducting to extract the heat away from the lamps and send it outside, Water-cooled systems are quieter than air-cooled systems.

HID

There are two basic types of HID hydroponics lighting ballasts: digital/electronic, and magnetic/core and coil. Digital/electronic units are slightly more expensive but far superior to magnetic/core and coil ballasts. For example they can run either MH or HPS lamps, they have dimmer or wattage output capabilities, and they produce a higher quality of light with longer bulb life and better electricity to light conversion. The best digital electronic ballast is the LF, and the best reflector is the air-cooled Melonhead.

LED Lighting

LED (light emitting diode) lamps can operate for up to 50,000 hours without needing replacement. HID and T-5 fluorescent bulbs lose their intensity relatively quickly and need to be replaced every 6-12 months. Problem is, LED hydroponics lighting manufacturers have not all been up front about the limitations of their units. I know of only one LED unit that works well in both grow and veg, and one of my esteemed colleagues who also is a hydroponics expert recently published an article saying something like, “my apologies to LED manufacturers, but your units don’t have enough horsepower yet for high-value crops.”

Do not use LED systems in which the individual diodes are less than 1 watt each. Also, the older style blue and red-only diode arrangements will not perform nearly as well as units that incorporate orange and UV diodes into the arrangement. Avoid low-output models. Do your homework before you buy, because LED units are expensive and most are not proven to work well in your type of garden.

T-5 Fluorescent Lighting

Digital T-5 fluorescent lamps and fixtures are increasingly popular, especially for lighting clones, seedlings and mothers. While not as intense as HIDs, T-5 light spectrum is better than HID light spectrum. You can create custom light spectrums using different arrangements and ratios of T-5 lamp colorations. Don’t expect to yield as much as with HID lighting, although if you keep your plants less than 12 to 18 inches tall by harvest, yields can be of respectable weight per square foot and are usually of very high quality, although perhaps not as dense as with HID hydroponics lighting.

Plasma Lighting

Plasma lighting generates less heat and has a more efficient watt-to-ideal-light conversion than any other hydroponics lighting.

This is the newest and most exciting hydroponics lighting technology. It features a light emitting plasma that’s tuned specifically to generate light wavelengths ideal for your plants. Plasma lighting generates less heat and has a more efficient watt-to-ideal-light conversion than any other hydroponics lighting. It’s a new technology like LED, but Chameleon plasma lighting units are well engineered and tested for the high value plants you grow. Check out my article on plasma lighting, and keep an open mind about hydroponics lighting in general. Your hydroponics plants need the best light you can give them, and you need hydroponics lighting technology that works great for your plants without wasting electricity or producing too much heat.

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What’s up with hydroponics ballasts?
Last modified on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 08:06

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