Both hydroponic and soil-grown indoor gardening were once the specialty of professional horticulturalists with specialized knowledge and sophisticated equipment. Today, as interest in organic food production becomes more widespread and the technology of indoor horticulture becomes more accessible and affordable, indoor growing extends down to the home enthusiast who can set aside a few square feet of space.
One of the most important aspects to consider when setting up an indoor garden is the type of lighting to be used. Plants require lots of light for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the reaction that takes place in the cells of plant leaves which allows the plant to convert light energy into chemical energy. This is why the type of grow lights used for an indoor garden is so important. Regular incandescent or fluorescent bulbs used for indoor lighting are not suitable for indoor gardening as they simply do not produce light with the intensity or spectral qualities that plants need to properly thrive. Below are several types of grow lights to consider for the indoor garden.
Gas Discharge Grow Light Systems
There are several types of gas-discharge lamps that are suitable for indoor horticulture. These types of lamps are called gas-discharge devices as they all produce light by creating an electrical arc inside of a tube containing various proportions of gaseous vapours that create light at the intensities and spectral signatures necessary for plant growth. These include High Intensity Discharge (HID), High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH) lamps.
Gas discharge grow lights have been used for years by professional indoor horticulturalists to produce vegetables and flowers commercially. Although they are extremely energy inefficient and produce large amounts of waste heat that must be dealt with through the added expense of sophisticated ventilation and cooling systems, they are a reliable and proven lighting technology for indoor growing.
LED Grow Lights – the New Paradigm
Recent advances in the technology of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) promise to create a new paradigm of efficiency for indoor gardening, especially for the home enthusiast. LED grow lights use less than one-quarter of the electricity per unit of light produced than conventional gas discharge lamps, are extremely durable, create no waste heat, and are engineered to produce the full spectral range required for proper plant growth. LED grow lights have a higher initial cost, but over the life of the device the total cost-savings over conventional systems can amount to upwards of 80 percent.
LED Grow Lights, HID and Florescent – Which One is for You? – kimberly lighting
What are your gardens limitations or constraints?
The first thing to find out in any garden space is your limitations or constraints that may determine lighting, growing styles, plant types and many other factors. For example, if you live in a hot climate or a part of the world that has seasonally high temperatures you may be limited by temperatures in your grow space. Heat concerns would limit your lighting without air conditioning since HID lights get very hot and would need an A/C system to cool the space. Advanced LED grow lights can eliminate these issues and provide a cool growing solution that makes growing easy.
Common constraints for many gardeners:
Heat – HID lights are the hottest of all grow lights with florescent lights being a warm second. LED grow lights are much cooler and able to produce the intensity you need while offsetting the high temperatures your area may have.
pH – High or low pH is a major cause of problems in any garden and you must learn to measure and adjust your pH correctly.
Pests – Pests such as mites and other bugs love indoor gardens since they are the ideal environment and there are no predators to worry about. Keep a clean garden and a close eye on the underside of your leaves and kill pests early if they do arrive.
What are your goals?
Yield – If your main goal is yield and you need to have the biggest harvest possible then pay attention to watts per foot. If your lights are too weak or the total wattage of your garden is below 30w/ft2 you will find your yield is lacking and not in the optimal range. Also pay attention to your pH, nutrient levels and temperature.
Quality – Quality and yield often go hand in hand but not always. If yield is your main goal it may be easy to overlook quality. Quality is usually created with patience and paying attention to details. Make sure your wattage per foot is high enough but many times quality is determined by light height, light color (spectra) and nutrient uptake by the plants.
Play to your strength, choose wisely.
If your garden is small and needs low heat and efficient growth then you would be best served with the Diamond Series LED. Small gardens all growers focus on height and the fine details of growing to ensure a high yielding, premium quality garden. The Diamond Series LED produces quality harvests that rival any organic outdoor garden by limiting stress on plants.
HID vs LED vs Florescent
HID lights are great for growers who can afford the high electricity bills and the high level of maintenance involved in keeping them running over time. HID lights produce very intense output but also very high temperatures above 350F.
Diamond Series LED grow lights produce the same PAR output and growth as larger HID lights without the high temperatures and extreme cooling systems. The drawback to LED grow lights is their high initial cost and a careful calculation of long term cost is required to see the actual cost difference. All Advanced LED lights have been proven to produce better quality harvests than HID and florescent with at least 50% cost savings over 2 years.
Florescent grow lights are often used only for vegetative growth due to their lack of spectral intensity and flat spectral distribution. Florescent grow lights do produce more heat than the Diamond Series LED grow lights but struggle in flowering with quality lacking in many cases.
When does an LED grow light Payoff?
Your lighting should be able to pay for itself over a 2 year period or less. If you choose HID lights be sure to include power savings, cooling costs and bulb replacements every 6-12 months. The average Advanced LED grow light will compare to HID at a 60% ratio (60w LED = 100w HID) which provides a power savings of 40%. The cooling difference can be roughly estimated at 70% lower with the high temperature of the Diamond Series LED housing being 104F and the HID housing being 350F+. Advanced LED lights run for 3-7 years and the average HID bulb lasting 12 months.
Buy the Best or Grow Less
Regardless of which type of lighting you choose, make sure to buy the very best you can afford. The best LED grow lights are the Diamond Series LED grow systems. The best HID grow lights are Hortilux and Lumitek products. Many growers think that a cheap HID system will work but many times those “made for ebay” systems are poorly made and often fail prematurely. Buy the best or you will often times grow much less or have a frustrating experience.
If you have any questions about which LED grow light is best for you contact our team at 1-800-401-6307 or email us at email@example.com