When it comes to hydroponic lighting, there are many different types of grow lights to choose from which one you choose will ultimately depend on the crop size and space you will be working with. Choosing a grow light for your hydroponic setup is probably the most important decision you will have to make when setting up your grow space. This guide should give you a basic starting point when deciding on which kind of lighting to consider for your hydroponic system.
First, the most critical thing to consider is the amount of light coverage your plants will need as insufficient lighting will lead to small, underdeveloped plants which will have a hard time producing fruit when the time comes. When choosing your lighting, make sure you have enough (or more than enough) lighting. Cutting corners when purchasing your lighting system will only end up wasting your time, energy and hard-earned money.
When picking out your hydroponic lighting, you need to keep in mind that each light covers a certain area in relation to the wattage output of the light this is known as square-footage. This rule of thumb should be the key when planning your garden and the lighting you will need.
Here is a simple list of the most common wattage output of most grow lights and their expected areas of coverage:
– 100Watts = 2 x 2
– 250Watts = 3 x 3
– 400Watts = 4 x 4
– 600Watts = 5 x 5
– 1000Watts = 6 x 6
There are many types or growing lights out there, but the main three are HPS (high pressure sodium), metal halide and fluorescent. Each type for different growing needs size of crop and space.
HPS (High Pressure Sodium)
HPS bulbs have the longest life span of any other grow light and are, by far, the most efficient, producing brighter light than any other indoor light. The reason why this type of light is so effective is that plants only use specific colors in the suns light spectrum: red/orange and blue. This particular kind of grow light produces a high amount of red and yellow spectrum which also mimics the Autumn sun making this kind of grow light ideal for larger hydroponic gardens and for plants in their flowering stage.
A metal halide light is somewhat similar to HPS lighting as it puts out a very bright light, but it also has a distinct advantage over HPS bulbs as it produces light in the full spectrum, simulating summer sun. Most hydroponic growers use this kind of light in the vegetative stage for prolific leaf growth, but for flowering it tends to be a little inadequate. You could use this kind of light for flowering (and it would do an adequate enough job), but most growers switch to an HPS light during the flowering stage for maximum growth and effectiveness.
Fluorescent & Compact Fluorescent
Fluorescent bulbs are not very efficient and definitely will not produce as much light as the HPS or metal halide grow lights mentioned previously. However, this kind of hydroponic lighting is ideal for small grows such as in grow boxes, grow cabinets or any other kind of grow in a small space. They produce very low to no heat and are very cost effective using very little electricity to operate. This type of hydroponic light is only recommended for small grows in small spaces keeping the light(s) very close to the plants.