All About Hydroponics and Lighting

Hydroponics and lighting go hand in hand. Your plants need good lighting in order to grow healthy and strong. Choosing which lighting to use with your hydroponics system is likely the single most important decision you will make when setting up your hydroponics system. It is also likely to be the most expensive decision you make, so you want to have all the facts before you make a purchase so you can be sure your decision is the right one.

It is possible to use hydroponic kits indoors and use natural sunlight. You can do this with a solar room, a greenhouse, or even a very large window that gets a lot of sunlight. You can also take your hydroponics system outdoors and grow your plants there using natural sunlight. Hydroponics systems do not have to be an indoor setup, because growing plants this way only means you are growing them without soil!

Otherwise, if you plan to make a closet grow room, then you will need a great indoor artificial lighting system. Artificial lights come in three different types for you to consider: fluorescent, incandescent, and high intensity discharge (HID). As a general rule of thumb to follow, regardless of whatever lighting system you choose, is that about a thousand watts will adequately cover sixteen to twenty five square feet of gardening area. You can make your indoor hydroponic gardening system more efficient and effective with the use of light movers or reflectors.

Fluorescent light bulbs are possible to use for indoor gardening, but they are not as efficient as high intensity discharge light bulbs and do not produce as much light as those HID bulbs do. Even so, fluorescent bulbs are the most popular choice for many small home gardeners because they are readily available, low in price, compact in size and have low heat emission. Because of that low heat emission and low light intensity, these bulbs are great for low growing plants like lettuces and spinach, or plants that need indirect light, like African Violets. You can get fluorescent lights close to your plants without worrying about burning them, because the heat emission is so low with these types of bulbs.

Incandescent lights have a very limited light spectrum and are not very efficient, so these are not recommended to use for indoor gardening and hydroponics systems. High intensity discharge grow lights are the most expensive of the lot, but they are the most efficient and discharge the most light of the group, too. When using high intensity discharge lights, you need to be aware that you will need ballast for them, and that they do emit a lot more heat. Because of their higher heat emissions, you will need to be careful they are not too close to your plants, or you run the risk of the plants burning. High intensity discharge grow lights also take a while to rev up to full performance after turning them on for the first time. Many of them need up to one hundred hours of burning before they reach peak light intensity and color and then stabilize from there.

The high heat issue with high intensity discharge grow lights can be remedied with good garden design that allows for a lot of ventilation. A specific type of high intensity discharge light for you to consider are the high pressure sodium lights. These lights give off a reddish light that leads to better fruiting during the plant’s fruiting phase. Whatever hydroponic lights you decide to go with, make your choice carefully based on your budget and the types of plants you wish to grow in order to make the best decision.