We all understand that light is a very essential element that plants and animals need in order to survive and grow healthy. If you are growing your plants in an outdoor setup, they will benefit from the natural sunlight. However, in instances where there is no enough sunlight or if you are practicing indoor gardening, then you will be required to mimic the sun by purchasing the best grow lights that will serve as the source of light.
There are many types of hydroponics/aquaponics lighting systems available in the market and many individuals often get confused when it comes to selecting the right grow lights for their system. The type of grow light chosen depends on a number of underlying factors such as;
a) The type of plants that you are growing in your indoor system
If your system is growing plants that will not flower or bear fruits, the right grow lights are the ones with less intense lights. On the other hand, if your system grows plants that are going to fruit or flower, they require more intense grow lighting system.
b) The grow light spectrum
Different grow lights produce different colors of light each with specific target of plants. Therefore, understanding the idea behind the different colors of grow light is very essential. For instance a grow light spectrum contains;
White light– which mimics the sun full spectrum solar light that is about 500-600nm.
Red light- It is used specifically when plants are at fruiting stage
Blue light– this is essential to your plants when they are at green foliage stage
Visible light– This is popularly known as PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation) and it is very essential to different varieties of plants
c) Grow light strength and proficiency
Different light spectrum have different grow light intensity and proficiency. Grow light intensity is measured in terms of lumens. Go for grow light with PAR spectrum that has several lumens that shine throughout the system and down to your plants.
A grow light that is energy proficient utilizes energy to the fullest thus, minimizing both power loss and cost.
d) Cost of grow lights
Cost is a primary consideration when it comes to selecting the best grow lights. There are various elements of costs that come into place that you should be aware of to guide you in making the right decision. They include;
- The initial cost (market value) of the chosen grow light
- The replacement expenses
- Recurrent expenditure that you will have to cater for in order to run the lighting structure
There are hundreds of different grow lights in the market to choose from. So as to help you select the best grow lights that match your grow system requirements, this article has highlighted the most common grow lights in the market detailing their specifications.
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Carefully read the below analysis to discover the best grow lights for your indoor garden system.
#1. High Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights
There are 3 varieties of HID grow lights in the market each with specific target plants.
a) Metal Halide (MH)
Metal halide bulbs are designed to produce blue grow light. Therefore, metal halide bulbs are suitable for systems with plants during their vegetative growth phases.
They are perfect choice to farmers who grow plants for vegetation purposes.
b) High Pressure Sodium (HPS)
HPS bulbs are very popular and their distinctive feature is high red/orange spectrum light output. The red/orange spectrum is necessary when growing plants at flowering and fruiting stages.
c) Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH)
Ceramic metal Halide bulbs are improved versions of HID grow lights which were designed and developed to offer a more improved efficiency and blended spectral output.
#2. Light Emitting Diode (LED)
LED grow light bulbs have gained a lot of popularity among many gardeners due to their high energy proficiency with less light intensity loss. The improved versions of high-quality full spectrum LED grow lights performs better compared to other types of grow lights.
However, LED grow light bulbs are quite expensive when purchasing them (but cost-effective in the long-run) and you have to review your budget before making your final decision.
Some of the proven pros of LED grow lights are;
- They use less energy
- Highly durable thus reducing the replacement costs
- They are smaller and they occupy less space
- Less light intensity loss
#3. Plasma Grow Lights
Plasma indoor grow lights are designed to last longer thus, reducing the need for regular maintenance. In addition, plasma grow light bulbs have a more balanced spectrum of light, therefore, making them a perfect choice by a gardener who grows plants both for flowering and vegetation.
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The only hallmark of plasma grow light is cost. For you to enjoy this integrated lighting functionality, you will be required to dig deep into your pocket.
#4. Fluorescent Grow Lights
Fluorescent grow bulbs are popularly used by many gardeners due to their ability of low energy output, and durability compared to other grow bulbs such as HID bulbs.
Fluorescent indoor grow lights are perfect for indoor gardening systems that require low light intensity especially for plants at vegetation stage. They are easily available in the market in different varieties at fair prices.
In conclusion, knowing your indoor garden system light requirements is the primary guide that will help you purchase the best grow lights that are efficient, reliable, and durable thus, giving you value for your money.