What a confusing array of hydroponic lights on the market today. Our clear and simple guide helps you pick the one that's best for your garden.
Talk about confusing! Just open any hydroponics catalogue and you'll quickly get lost in all the different hoods, bulbs, ballasts and timers offered. In keeping with our "mission" we'll make this whole lighting thing simple for you, too.
Now then, ready for
Just kidding… Here's
GOOD: T5 High Output Fluorescents
BETTER: HID (High Intensity Discharge)
BEST: The sun :-)
NEW ALTERNATIVE: LED panels
Okay, maybe that lesson was a wee bit simplistic... Here's the good stuff...
First we'll explain how the different hydroponic lights work and when to use them. Then at the end we offer our pick for a simple, inexpensive all-purpose lighting system! How simple is that?
Out of doors, a vegetable garden needs at least 4-6 hours of direct sun; plus 8-10 more hours of bright light. So for your inside hydroponics garden, you will need to duplicate this. Plan on 14-16 hours of bright artificial light, followed by 8-10 hours of darkness.
Plants need dark down time, just like you, in order to metabolize and rest.
Put your hydroponic lights on a timer for the proper routine. Then set it and forget it!
T5s are a vast improvement over the "grow sticks" you'll find for $12 at Walmart. Fluorescent lighting is fine for lettuces, leafy greens and most herbs. We have had much success with lettuce rafts using nothing but T5s. Read more about these "cool" lamps here.
HID Lamps: Although these put out a lot of heat, they are the best lamps available today for the indoor hydroponics farmer. You can grow any leafy, flowering or fruiting crops under HIDs.
They can be expensive, but we offer an excellent reasonably-priced all-purpose system below. More about HID lighting and tips on wattage and electric consumption here.
Optional Upgrade: Make the most of your lighting bucks with an HID Light Mover.
For years we have recommended you not buy LED lights for your grow room. Why? The technology just wasn't there yet and we believed they were a waste of your hard-earned dollars (lots of 'em).
Guess what? LEDs have finally grown up! Latest technology advances have made LED grow lights a viable alternative for the hydroponics gardener. Read our synopsis on these lights with a caution before you buy.
We have tested and often use these kits and they work just great!
Disadvantage: The hood is a little flimsy and tedious to put together. If you've got the bucks, then upgrade to a more expensive hood.
But for the price, we're very happy with this light kit. The ballast and cords are heavy duty.
So there you have it… Hydroponics lighting simplified! Unless you are growing in a bright greenhouse or on a sunny patio, you will have to buy supplemental lighting… Or you just won't get the spectacular growth and crop yields hydroponics is famous for.
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