Overview of grow lights
By Benjamin Thorton (T5fixtures.com)
If you are an avid gardener living in a place where there are distinct seasons, then you probably know the feeling of dread that sets in when summer ends, because that means that soon you will have to harvest what has grown and put gardening on hold until next spring. However, there is a way how you can continue gardening even when it is cold and snowy outside, and that is to use grow lights to create an indoors garden. So if you want to find out more about what are grow lights and how to use them, then keep on reading.
What are grow lights?
The term grow lights can be pretty self explanatory, however, if you have never used or seen a grow light, it can also seem confusing. So let me clear up the confusion. Grow lights basically are artificial light sources that provide plants the additional light they need to thrive. Although grow lights come in large variety of types, shapes and sizes, one thing all grow lights have in common is the fact, that they all emit light that is of a certain wavelength or color temperature, which corresponds with plants’ needs and therefore the light is able to promote plant growth or flowering.
Grow light use
Grow lights are most commonly used to give plants the light they need grow strong and healthy. Usually gardeners will use grow lights either in combination with natural lighting to provide additional light to the plants at times when the daylight cannot provide them with enough light or as the only light source for plants if the indoors garden is set up in a place where there is no natural light source like basement, garage or even kitchen cupboard. But the thing that all gardeners who use grow lights have to be diligent about is not only to make sure that they use the grow light type that is best suited for their setup, but to also make sure that they are using the right color of a grow light, as that will provide that your plant grows in length or produces flowers.
Grow light types
Similarly as there are many types of lights you can chose from as your living room lighting, there also are many types of grow light. Here is a list of the most popular grow light types:
HID – the high intensity discharge or HID grow lights are probably the most widely used grow lights right now, since they can provide intense light without consuming too much energy. These lights also come in good enough color selection, so that growers can tailor them to their plants and the stage that the plants are in, they are cheap in price and often can be used with regular laps, so you won’t need to purchase special light fixtures to run these bulbs. On top of that you can chose from two types of HID lamps: the metal halide or MH laps that are better at emitting more blue toned light and therefore will benefit growing plants, and the high pressure sodium or HPS lights that give our more red and orange toned light and therefore will be great for plants that are in their flowering stages of their growth.
Fluorescent – then there are the fluorescent lamps that are pretty popular grow lights too, since they are efficient, available in large variety of color temperatures, good at electricity consumption and doesn’t get as hot as HID lights, therefore can be placed closer to the plants. For grow light purposes I would recommend using the tubular shaped grow lights that are conveniently labeled with the letter T and a number, which represents the diameter of the lamp in eights of an inch. And since T12 lights have been discontinued and T8 lights are made with pretty old technology, right now your best fluorescent light bet would be the T5 grow lights, which are only 5 eights of an inch in diameter, lasts for minimum of20,000 hours of burning time and aren’t expensive compared to some other grow lights. Of coarse there are the compact fluorescent lights or CFL lamps, but they aren’t as long-lasting nor as efficient as T5 lights.
LED – lastly I also need to mention the newest member of the grow light circle, the light emitting diode lamps or LEDs. They are quickly gaining momentum in the indoors gardening community as very efficient grow light with superior characteristics, like that they run cool even after many hours of operation, that they have long lifespan and the fact that you can buy LED grow lights in virtually any color combination, therefore you can make them fit the type of plants you are growing perfectly. And although you will have to spend a little more money on them, because they are the most expensive grow light option right now, for some the investment might be truly worth it.
Grow light color
And lastly in order to better understand grow lights and comprehend the benefits of having these lights and using them on your indoors garden, I want to quickly touch on the subject of the grow light color variety. The light spectrum of the grow lights is the light that the lamp produce. Like I mentioned before, plants in different growth stages respond to different color spectrum light, this process is called photomorphogenesis. It can be explained as the plant development that is facilitated by specific light colors. Light that is on the more blue end of the color spectrum promote plant growth, so look for a grow light that is at least above 5,000 Kelvin color temperature for plants that are still growing. Opposite to that is the more red and orange light spectrum light, that in color temperature translates to anything below 3,000 Kelvins, and this light will help the plants start flowering and develop bigger yields. So really by knowing what light corresponds to which plant growth stage you can make sure that you plants get the light they need to excel and grow better than it ever could if it would be grown just by using daylight.
For more information on grow lights, visit T5fixtures.com - a website that provides all the latest information on indoors gardening and lighting, that you can use to facilitate plant growth. Have this information as a guide to growing healthy, big-yielding plants without having to leave your house.
See also: INDOOR LIGHTING FOR TROPICAL PLANTS