Indoor Grow Lights Explained
What’s the difference? There are many different types of indoor grow lights on the market and many new emerging technologies. We continuously stay ahead of the game and current on all new light technologies. They all vary in price, intensity, & coverage. In the end, they all produce LIGHT. Light is measure in Lumens with a Light Meter and PAR with a PAR Meter. Below is a lumen out comparison of different lighting scenarios:
We will start with the most basic and end with the most complex lighting technologies. Below we break down the most popular andrecommended grow lights on the market.
Fluorescent grow lights are typically the least expensive and operate at a cooler temperature than other lights. Fluorescents also save energy when compared to HID lights. The only things they lack are intensity and coverage. There are 2 main types of fluorescent grow lights, CFL [compact fluorescent] and T5 fluorescent tubes. They are recommended for use in vegetative growth mostly.
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High Intensity Discharge (HID)
High Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights are the most common in indoor and greenhouse gardening. They are by far the most intense and cover the most area of your garden. This technology consists of a lighting ballast, lamp reflector, and HID Bulb. They are extremely powerful and generate the best yields. The disadvantage to HID lights are the amount of heat they generate and the amount of power they consume. As of now, HID lighting is still the standard indoor gardening light.
There are a few different types of HID bulbs the two most common are High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH)
HPS: High pressure sodium bulbs are efficient electrical light sources that produce a wide spectrum of bright yellow light that is good for street lights and greenhouse use.
MH: Metal halide bulbs are a type of high-intensity discharge gas (HID) electric lamps that are capable of producing light by use of an electric arc that has a mixture of gases (metal halides such as bromine or iodine and mercury). They produce intense white light that is suitable for use in greenhouses, high ceilinged places and outdoor locations such as streets and stadiums.
What is the difference between high pressure sodium and metal halide bulbs? The difference involves the type of spectrum of light they produce, their use in indoor gardening, their lifespan, and the number of lumens they produce per watt.
High pressure sodium bulbs and metal halide bulbs emit different color spectrums of light. A high pressure sodium bulb produces light that is reddish-yellow, while metal halide bulbs produce a much more balanced white light that has more of the visual spectrum. A metal halide bulb produces about 65-110 lumens of light per watt while a high pressure sodium bulb produces about 96-150 lumens of light per watt.
Both bulbs have a relatively long lifespan, though a high pressure sodium bulb will last slightly longer, up to 6 to 18 months at a usage rate of 12 hours per day (2 to 6.5 thousand hours total), while a metal halide bulb will last for 6 to 12 months at a usage rate of 18 hours per day (3 to 6.5 thousand hours total).
When used by growers, a metal halide bulb is preferred for the earlier stages of a plant’s growth when its vegetation is developing, as this bulb’s light makes it grow with shorter spaces between branches. Later, a high pressure sodium bulb is used since its light is good for flowering and fruiting.
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Light Emitting Diode (LED) grow lights have advanced very much in the last few years. They are gaining popularity among hobbyist and commercial greenhouse growers. They are the most expensive of the types of grow lights, but have many advantages. LED grow lights produce very little heat compared to HID grow lights. LEDs also save a tremendous amount of energy and the diodes typically last 5-7 years. There is a great savings of energy, heat, and bulb replacement costs. The only disadvantages of LED lights at this time is the lack intensity and lack of coverage area. LED lights do not spread like HID lights, instead the light is focused straight and precise. LED lights also lack the intensity that HID grow lights produce, but the gap has narrowed in the latest high end LED models. The LED grow light market is a rapidly changing technology that keeps advancing. It is highly recommended for use in vegetative growth and supplemental flowering & fruiting. They may be used as sole light sources for flowering, but it’s important to use a reputable LED company with documented technology writings about their lights.
Double Ended Bulbs-DE
Double Ended or DE grow lamps are more efficient, can offer an improved light spectrum and have quicker warm up & re-strike times as well as improved lumen maintenance over the lifetime of the lamp. These bulbs are more efficient and the arc tube is a little bit longer. The electricity flows from one end of the arc tube and out the other. This makes them inherently more efficient than bulbs that require electricity to travel farther less efficiently. The new bulbs produce about 15% more light than single-ended bulbs. Since the bulb is attached at both ends, the arc tube is always mounted parallel to the reflector for maximum efficiency and reflection.
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