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Even if you are brand new to the indoor gardening scene, it won't take you long to figure out that the biggest hurdle you will have to overcome is the lack of sunlight. Sunlight is essential to plants because it provides appropriate light conditions for carrying out the process of photosynthesis. What if sunlight is not available, as in indoor gardening situations? Plant lights are used as a substitute for sunlight to promote the process of photosynthesis. Grow lights are a range of specifically rated electrical lamps covering the various phases of sunlight responsible for the full growth cycle of plants. Plant lights radiate the light of appropriate intensity and wavelength from the electromagnetic spectrum that is necessary for the process of photosynthesis. When plants are kept under the illumination of growing lights all the processes of photosynthesis can be accomplished. We will examine the different types of grow light available and which is best suited for each particular stage of the plant growth process.
Growing Plant Hydroponic Fixture
Hydroponic lighting is used to perpetuate indoor plant growth. Growing plants indoors allows you a greater control over the elements and processes of the plant's life cycle. Reproducing the effects of the sun with an indoor grow light can be the most difficult aspect of indoor gardening. The color temperature of natural light from the sun is near about 6500 K and it seems blue in color. With the assistance of the color rendering index it can be easy to measure how much the natural color of light matches to your grow lights.
The color of light is measured in Kelvin, represented by a K. The Kelvin temperature of a bulb refers to the color of the light and is a comparison to natural outdoor light. A 2700 K lamp has a warmer tone than a 5000 K lamp. An incandescent lamp is 2700 K, or the warm soft light of candlelight. A warm fluorescent lamp is 3000 K, a cool white fluorescent lamp is 4100 K. (Noon, outdoor sunlight is about 6500 K.) A 5000 K lamp produces a much whiter light more closely associated with sunlight.
Many light spectra are required for the growth of plants. Different light spectra are used at different growth stages of a plant. Initially, when the plant is in vegetative stage, it needs blue colored light and, as it grows and advances into the stage when it is ready for flowering, it needs the red- orange portion of the spectrum.
Hydroponics light has a variety of uses, aside from just as a substitute for sunlight in indoor gardening such as plant propagation, food production, the growth of aquatic plants, in hydroponics and in the increase in plants' production, and yield. Most grow light usage is in the industrial area, but their presence in the domestic front is growing significantly.
Indoor Gardening Hydroponics Lighting
Hydroponic lighting has been very helpful in increasing the production and yield of the plants. It is well known that the three important components required by plants are oxygen, water and sunlight. Since water in the form of rain, or water vapor, and oxygen are always available in the atmosphere, but the sunlight is only available during the day, grow lights, which are also know as plant lights, can be used in sunlight's absence and the process of photosynthesis can be carried on all the time. When indoor plants can perform their functions in both the day and night with the presence of growing lights, they will grow faster, and produce fruits and flowers at a higher rate.
The walls of the room in which plants are kept under indoor grow lights are mostly covered with a reflective material in order so that they can reflect back the light falling onto the room. White paint or Silver is great grow light reflector (link), and is often preferred to other reflective materials. Another kind of covering used as a reflector of growing lights is PVC plastic sheeting which is painted black on one side and white on the other. The plastic covers the walls of the room with the white side facing the room so that it can reflect the plant light and the black side of the plastic sheeting is made to face the wall. The sheet also prohibits the growth of fungus and moss on the walls. You can also use a white paint mixed with a high quantity of titanium to enhance the plant lights' reflection.
Hydroponic lighting can also be used in ordinary, outdoor gardens to boost the growth of the plants and help them to grow faster than they would in their natural process. Hydroponic lighting does not hamper the natural process of plant growth. It helps them to carry out their basic processes throughout the day, and night. In normal circumstances plants stop growing during the night, but if you use a grow light system or an indoor grow light, the plants can grow in the night as well.
The market is flooded with various forms of indoor plant lights and grow light systems. You can choose the appropriate kind of grow light to match your specific needs. The different versions of plant lighting available in the market can be distinguished on the basis of their color rendering index and their efficiency.
There is a large variety of planting lights with high efficiency, but have a short life span. An indoor grow light emitting low intensity light can last for a longer period. So, your requirements depend upon your gardening needs. Some of the versions of indoor plant light available in the market are discussed below.
Grow lights are available in four types:
Tips for using grow lights efficiently:
How long should you operate your hydroponic grow lights?
A lot of it depends on the type of plants you are growing and whether you have natural sunlight shining on your indoor garden. A good general rule is when you are in a vegetative or growing stage of plant growth and their is no natural sunlight, operate your grow lights 14-18 hours a day. If you have some natural sun-light, it will take a little trial and error on your part to find the best length of time to operate your plant lights. If your plants are actively fruiting and flowering, the rule is to operate your growing lights 12 hours a day if you have no natural sun-light.
What height should you hang your grow light above the plants?
The higher the wattage of your hydroponic lighting, the further away you need to put the grow light because the heat could damage the plant's health. HID plant lighting produces more heat than fluorescent lights and will have to hang further away. When hanging your growing light you need to take into account the species of plant and how tall the it will grow. Keep the grow light as close as possible, but not so close to burn the plant's leafs. A good rule of thumb is "if the heat is comfortable for the back of your hand for at least 60 seconds, it should be a safe distance for your plants". It is important to do research on the types of plant you are growing to understand how much or little light that the plant prefers. You may need to check the hanging height and use a grow light hanger on a regular basis with fast growing species because the lamp will can severely burn your plant.
What size area will my grow light cover?
The area size of your indoor garden area will determine the wattage you need. If the plants get no sunlight, a 1000W HID plant light will be effective in a 7' x 7' growing area. A 600W HID System will be effective in a 6' x 6', 400W System will cover 4' x 4' and a 250W HID Hydroponic Light will cover 3' x 3' area. Fluorescent grow systems are usually put much closer to the plant and would cover an area a little over the unit size itself. LED growing systems can range for 1.5' sq feet to 50 sq feet. These sized growing areas would be considered the "Primary Growth" area. These hydroponic lights will illuminate a larger areas, but plants placed outside the primary growth area will stretch and lean toward the light source; this phenomenon called phototropism. When using multiple growing lights, try to cover these areas for the best results.
Don't use Incandescent grow lights
Not a long time ago, the top choice in plant grow lights was undoubtedly the incandescent grow light. Incandescent growing lights resemble mini flood lights and emit a light of a red yellowish tome at a very low color temperature of 2700 K. They are purposely used only to highlight indoor plant growth and not as in true hydroponic grow lights. The incandescent light is not very efficient in emitting light intensity. The incandescent growing lights exude an average life of 750 hours. The incandescent grow light changes most of the power or electricity supplied to it in heat in place of light. A horticultural association using incandescent sources of grow lights to produce illumination is able to attract a great number of pests and insects. Since the heat effect of light is produced by infrared rays they are very visible to animals and pests and attract them in large numbers. Grow Lights are the perfect solution to all your indoor gardening needs.