GREENHOUSE GROW LIGHTS: Choosing the best grow Light

There are different Types of Greenhouse Grow lights and choosing the best grow light which suits your demands can be very hard if you have little or no information on the types and properties of these grow lights. In this article, we will give you detailed information about different types of grow lights and we will help you in your decision for choosing the best grow light based on your requirements.

GREENHOUSE GROW LIGHTS: Choosing the best grow Light for efficient growing
LED GROW LIGHTS FOR SEEDLINGS (Credit: Tom Gardiner @Thogar)

Sun is not available all the time!    

No doubt, sunlight is the best and cheapest source of light available to mankind for growing plants. Unfortunately, this amazing source of light is not available all the time. Plants and crops derive energy from the sunlight, as a result, this energy makes them grow. Like we all know, that the length of a day is not long enough to grow some certain crops all year round. The changes in the climate of an area also affect the hours of daylight. For example, during winter the intensity of light is low and crops cannot grow effectively. This imposes a limitation on the seasons in which we can grow plants (we cannot grow plants throughout the year because only a few hours of sunlight is available in the winter).

Why Artificial Grow Lights are needed & what are Grow lights?

This major problem encouraged farmers and scientists to think of a much better way to grow crops in the absence of sunlight. This increased the need for artificial grow light making it become a thing on every farmer’s mind.

Grow lights are an artificial source of light, majorly electrically powered and they are used to replace sunlight. This source of light is used when a supplement light is needed during the winter months when the duration of daylight is less for the expected plant growth, these artificial grow lights are used to prolong the duration of light for the optimal growth.  The way grow Light works is quite simple. This light mimics the light spectrum of the sun.

Choosing a grow light for your garden is difficult!

As a first time farmer, it is always difficult to decide which of the available grow Lights you need to use in your greenhouse house or indoor garden. Nevertheless, you can’t afford to make a mistake. But don’t panic, it is expected. Even farmers with years of experience still find it difficult and may be lost in their decision-making process. As simple as it may look, making sure your plants have access to the exact amount of light needed may become complicated.

There are so many types of grow lights in the market, although they can be grouped into different categories. If these various categories are studied patiently, an inexperienced person can easily associate himself with these various grow Lights, knowing the pros and cons of each of them. This will enable the farmer to make the right choice and will allow him to prolong his growing season to have a steady supply of fresh vegetables all year round.

Which aspects of the grow lights should we analyze?

When analyzing the classes of grow light, an in-depth awareness of the qualities is important. During the selection of the grow Lights, its efficiency in the consumption of energy and the production of energy for photosynthesis plays a major role. The farmers decision making process can be made easy when he or she differentiate accurately the differences, the distinctive features and the limitations of each grow light. This will put the greenhouse or indoor garden in a good condition for the plants.

 

OBJECTIVE OF THIS ARTICLE!

This analysis article gives a detailed analysis of the frequently used methods of lighting a greenhouse. This will assist farmers to make the best choice for the grow lights for their greenhouse plants.

 

Choosing an Efficient Grow Light For Your Greenhouse

Growing plants in greenhouses can be so profitable, if certain things are done well and perfectly. The stage of initial confusion is a mind war for every farmer planning to go into greenhouse farming and he must win this war. Once you become victorious, you will be happy to find out that all your pain was worthwhile. Choose an effective grow light for your greenhouse is very much important and must not be neglected for any reason. The right Grow light will help your plants produce quality vegetables and fruits. However, before the right choice can be made, farmers should understand and have adequate knowledge of all the available grow Lights

MAJOR CLASSES OF GROW LIGHTS

  1. Incandescent Light Bulbs.
  2. Fluorescent Grow Lights.
    • The Compact Fluorescent Lights
    • T5 grow lights
  3. High-Intensity Discharge (HID ) Grow lights
    •  High-Pressure Sodium Grow Lights
    • Metal Halide Grow Lights
    • Ceramic Metal Halide Grow Lights
  4. Light Emitting Diode (LED) Grow Lights

These are the major classes and the subclasses of grow lights mostly used in the greenhouses. Each class will be discussed and analyzed below for better understanding towards the right choice.

 

INCANDESCENT LAMPS

This was the first grow light introduced into the agriculture. It has a low light intensity and produces too much heat. These particular group of lamps are good for plants which require low light intensity and loves warm temperatures. Their relatively cheap price makes some farmers prefer to use them in their greenhouses. A 150 watts bulb can be bought from a store for as low as $6. The light generated can only serve a small square room and it is not efficient for a large area. Incandescent bulbs can burn the foliage of your plants when brought close enough to the plants. Therefore, their use is limited to only those farmers with little or no adequate cash. Beside the very little light efficiency, these grow lights consume allot of power increasing the electrical expenses. The low efficiency and high running cost make incandescent light bulbs inappropriate for growing plants.

THE FLUORESCENT GROW LIGHTS

In their early days, fluorescent lights were not commonly used because of its bulkiness and low output of quality light. Fluorescent Lights were used as grow lights for seedlings or Germinating seeds during that time. Therefore Fluorescent Grow Lights are not new to farmers. Thanks to technology, Fluorescent grow lights have taken a new turn. Today, these grow lights are much more efficient for different varieties of plants. Its general availability makes it easy to purchase and use.

Fluorescent Grow Lights has evolved

These new fluorescent grow lights have improved over the years to replace the incandescent lamps. They are efficient enough to emit similar light spectrum to that of the sun. Fluorescent Grow Lights produce different light spectrums, such as the cool light. This cool light is blue in color and best suited to grow lights for cuttings and young seedlings. Whereas, the warm light is reddish in color and is efficient for flowering and fruiting. Lastly, there is also a fluorescent grow light with full spectrum. This full spectrum Grow Light is more expensive than the rest, but it is still preferred by farmers because its spectrum is similar to that of the sun (These full spectrum fluorescent light bulbs produce both cool and warm light, therefore its beneficial for young seedlings as well as the flowering of plants).

Just as the name implies, Fluorescent grow lights provides plants with visible light. The working process is quite simple, Fluorescents bulb works simply by transferring electric current to the ends of the bulb. This current makes the mercury inside the fluorescent take some energy and produce wavelengths of light in the process. Fluorescent light bulbs do not produce light as bright as those of HIDs (High-Intensity Discharge Lamps)

 

Types of fluorescent grow lights

Following are the two types of the fluorescent grow lights discussed in detail.

The Compact Fluorescent Grow Lights

Compact Fluorescent Grow Lights are small grow lights that can be used where there is little or no space. These unique type of grow lights are in short twisted forms. They are commonly used in homes for lighting. These small bulbs were invented years back to replace the old incandescent bulbs. They have a long lifespan and are also very efficient when compared with incandescent light bulbs. Compact Fluorescent Grow lights are the smallest available type of fluorescent grow lights. They have a unique ability to fit into small space and to stay close to plants without any burning them. These Grow Light does not produce any heat so you don’t need to worry about ventilation.

Advantages of Compact Fluorescent over other grow lights

Compact Fluorescent Grow Lights have moderate light intensity. Therefore farmers with little or no knowledge on “how to measure the amount of light intensity that a plant needs?” can easily choose these Grow lights. These Grow lights can be placed very close to the plants to maximize the use of energy. They have no heating effects and will not dehydrate the plants when compared to the incandescent grow lights. The low price of CFL’S makes them affordable. Farmers can purchase this type of Grow lights for just a few dollars instead of spending hundreds of dollars on the exotic ones. This particular grow lights can be used in small cabinets due to its relatively small size. 

Disadvantages that you need to know

 Although a lot has been said above, about the efficiency of the Compact grow lights. There is a pressing need for you to also know the disadvantages associated with its use. These grow lights cannot be used efficiently in a large greenhouse. The amount of light energy produced won’t be sufficient enough for the entire plants in the greenhouse. These grow lights can’t work effectively for plants with a high demand for light intensity. Therefore if your greenhouse is big or your plants are light lovers, then don’t use Compact Fluorescent Grow Lights in your greenhouse.

 

T5 Grow lights

When it comes to more efficient Grow Lights, T5 Grow Lights are more favoured. This is certainly going to be a good news for you if your plants are light lovers. T5 grow lights are more efficient, compact, and less fancy than other exotic lights. These benefits allow them to be used for a large number of plants rather than just seedlings alone. these T5 grow lights are also readily available and are much bigger and wider than the Compact grow lights. They are in form of panels and can be hanged few inches from the plants without any severe damages.  These Grow lights do not consume too much of electrical energy and will not produce excessive heat. Excessive heat can be produced only if the number or T5 grow lights in an area is beyond the recommended level.

Advantages of T5 Grow lights over other grow lights

T5 grow lights are one of the most suitable grow lights for different varieties of plants. This particular method of lighting your greenhouse is efficient and quite easy to use. This grows lights are commonly used by indoor growers. T5 Grow lights emit light throughout the entire body length of the plants. T5 grow lights has an amazing provision of light that enables your plants to grow evenly, which is one of the major advantages of T5 grow light.

Disadvantages of T5 Grow Lights that you need to know 

 T5 grow lights are no doubt one of the best Grow lights that you can install in your greenhouses. However, it also has some cons. The light emitted from T5 grow lights lack the adequate strength to penetrate into the canopies of plants. Therefore T5 grow lights are not effective for plants with broad leaves and extensively complex branching system. This grow lights also have a lower light intensity when compared to the HID lamps. Reflectors might be used to focus the light on the plants.

 

The best Fluorescent Grow Light to adopt.

The type of fluorescent Grow lights method you choose to adopt depends on the type of your crops. The crops or vegetables that you grow can react to your Grow lights either in a positive way or a negative way. The stress of constant monitoring is reduced when you get your grow lights right.

Collectively, Fluorescent grow lights are poor and tend to fail when used for flowering and budding plants due to their low intensity of light. Hence they shouldn’t be used for such plants. But they are an excellent source of light for plants that don’t require high light intensity.  This particular characteristic makes them the best source of light for propagation, clones and young seedlings. Thus your choice of any fluorescent light should be based on your type of crops.

A quick summary of Fluorescents pros

  • They are affordable.
  • Being able to stay near plants without causing burns.

A quick summary of fluorescents cons

  • Very poor when used for flowering due to the low intensity of light.
  • Fluorescent have a relatively short lifespan.
  • Reflector and other components are required.

 Tips on fluorescent grow lights

  • If you are a beginner or you are new to grow lights, then Fluorescents are the best grow lights method for you to start with.
  • Nevertheless, Farmers with years of experience can also adopt this grow lights as a supplement.

 

HIGH INTENSITY DISCHARGE GROW LIGHTS

Fluorescent lights used to rule the world of grow lights before the High Intensity Discharge Grow lights came into being. These Discharge lights have high light intensity. They are very efficient, but you should be ready to pay for the unique qualities they provide. These HID grow lights are used by almost all, due to their ability to produce intense light. Just like fluorescent Grow Lights, High intensity discharge lamps come in different types each with is unique use and quality of light that it provides. These amazing source of light are usually powered by big bulbs. These bulbs are attached to reflectors to help concentrate more light, straight to the plants beneath it. These Grow Lights are hot and emit energy along with the light. To cool the environment, High Intensity Discharge Grow Lights are hooked up to the exhaust to expel the heat from the greenhouses.

As said earlier, High intensity discharge lamps come in different forms and varieties. These varieties have its own unique qualities. They give a farmer multiple choices to work with. Farmers have now become flexible, therefore can switch to better grow lights if a particular one is not favourable. The most used High Intensity Discharge Grow lights are the Metal Halide, High pressure sodium and the Ceramic Metal Halide. These varieties will be analyzed as we proceed.

high Intensity Discharge Grow lights are one of the best light methods you can use for your greenhouse.  No doubt about that! These High Intensity Discharge Grow lights are also the favorite of majority farmer, due to their outstanding light output. But before you run to a nearby store to buy yours. Adequate knowledge of them must not be neglected. The different type of high intensity discharge Grow lights are given below.

 

Types of the High Intensity Discharge Grow lights

Metal Halide Grow lights

These grow lights are commonly used during the growth phase of a plant’s lifecycle. They are known to improve the growth rate of the stems and leaves of the plants better than any other grow lights. This is mainly due to the fact that they emit more blue light than any other grow lights. On the other hand, Plants in their vegetative state require more red light than the blue. Thus a supplement Grow light is used with the metal halide when fruiting the vegetables.

Advantages of Metal Halide over other grow lights

Metal halides are high intensity Grow Lights. This makes them a good choice for broadleaf plants.  These Grow lights have a high intensity which is strong enough to penetrate the nukes and crannies of Compacted plants. Therefore the base and the roots get more source of light when compared with T5 grow lights. The heat of metal halide lights will not burn your plants if placed at an appropriate distance from the plants. These grow lights also satisfy the urge of good light quality. These grow light has a close spectrum range to sunlight.

Disadvantages that you need to know about Metal Halide Grow Lights 

Using Metal Halide Grow Lights is a good method of lighting a greenhouse house,  but it is not perfect as well. This good source of lighting a greenhouse can be hazardous if it is not properly managed. This type of grow light is not for beginners. Even a farmer with years of experience takes time to manage the light efficiently. This Grow light can dehydrate or burn any plants placed too close under it. A metal halide will not function without the presence of a reflector or ballast. They also have a large running cost and consumes allot of energy.

High Pressure Sodium Grow Lights

High Pressure Sodium Grow lights are supplement lights (They are used along with the metal Halides). These grow lights are used majorly for flowering and vegetation of plants because they produce light in the red spectrum. High Pressure Sodium Grow lights are expensive compared to Metal Halides. It has a long lifespan which doubles that of metal halide. These grow lights produce a red colour light similar to that of an autumn sunset. The presence of red and yellow light favours flower growth in plants. High Pressure Sodium Grow Lights are used to prolong the normal daylight. It is used to supplement low light conditions and in a case where there is darkness. Peradventure, if you are growing your plants indoors, a combination of metal halide and high Pressure Sodium will supplement each other.

Advantages of high Pressure Sodium over other grow lights 

 Plants can readily flower and fruit in high Pressure Sodium Grow Lights. That is one main advantage that high Pressure Sodium grow lights have over other grow lights.  These grow lights can be used to supplement the amount of light need for flowering. This is made possible with the red yellow light emitted by them.

Disadvantages of high Pressure Sodium Grow Light that you need to know

High Pressure Sodium Grow Lights are a good source of illuminating a greenhouse. However, it has some limitations as well.  High Pressure Sodium emits a large amount of heat along with the light energy. Therefore it is not advisable to place the bulb close to plants. If it is too close, it creates a burning effect on the plant. High Pressure Sodium Grow Lights are also very flammable and should be kept away from fuel and other combustible materials. HPS emits only red lights, This will not give the plants the opportunities to another source of lights. This makes the plants thin and unhealthy.

 Ceramic Metal Halide

Ceramic Metal Halides are also known as light emitting Ceramics. These are a special type of grow lights. This type of grow lights are similar to the general Metal Halide discussed above. Though they are not in general use like the metallic halide. This special type of metal halide makes use of Ceramics as part of the lamp which is similar to high Pressure Sodium.  Therefore their lamps are more efficient.

 

 General Pros of  high intensity discharge Grow Lights

  1. High Intensity Discharge is the best and most efficient grow light.
  2. Among all the types of HID mentioned above, High pressure sodium is the grow light for flowering and vegetation.
  3. All the HIDs are easy to use, they can be hung on a rod at any distant of your choice.

  General cons of high intensity discharge Grow Lights

  1. They generate too much heat
  2. They require additional setups such as the reflector and ballasts
  3. These grow lights consumes all of power

 

LIGHT EMITTING DIODES (LED) GROW LIGHTS

Light Emitting Diode Grow Lights are the most trending grow lights for experts and professionals in the greenhouse farming. These grow lights are known to emit a very high light intensity.  Farmers from all around the world like this grow lights because of is efficiency and long life. Light emitting diodes do not need any added material before it can function well. Reflectors and other materials are of no need in this grow lights. These Grow lights produce light directly on to the plants and not haphazardly like the other classes of grow lights. A group of professionals conducted a research work on how effective LED Grow Lights are compared to other sources of light. This results proved that the use of LED lights in commercial bedding is more efficient than the previously used HPS (High Pressure Sodium ) lights. This shows that Light Emitting Diodes are the future of grow lights in greenhouses. The fact that it can be employed in commercial farming, makes it more fantastic.

LED grow lights are popular among farmers already. They are good alternatives for the hot high Pressure Sodium. These grow lights are cooler than any other type with the aid of an inbuilt cooling system. These grow lights are simple to use and can be used by anyone. You don’t need to be experienced before using this grow lights. It can simply be put as, GROW LIGHTS MADE EASY. Light emitting diodes also have the ability to penetrate any canopy of plants without producing too much heat. They don’t need frequent moving from one place to another to achieve an effective illuminance. Thus you can just hang your Light Emitting diodes and get your desired results.

LED grow lights are environmentally friendly and are also plants friendly, This makes them gain general acceptance. Different from other lighting methods, Light Emitting Diodes are devices with a good solid state and are also highly durable. They consist of panels of several Led and a circuit board. One of the most amazing edge the LEDs have above other grow is the ability to change the light spectrum to suit the requirements of the plants. How amazing is that! Get yours today.

Disadvantages that you probably don’t know about LED Grow Lights

As cool as it may sounds, LEDs also has some setbacks that you need to know. It is very efficient, no doubt about that. But is it cost-effective? Is it cheap enough to purchase? This particular problem has a major setback for this amazing grow lights. The fact that it is quite expensive, makes it less desirable for average farmers.

A major problem with Light Emitting diode Grow Lights Is that it illuminates in only single direction. The area illuminated by LED is low when compared to the High Intensity Discharge Grow lights that spread wider. This particular problem can only be addressed with the use of a special lens to scatter the light.

 

Grow Lighting Tips That You Need To Know

 When placing your grow lights in a greenhouse, please don’t neglect the effect of the inverse-square rule. This states that the quantity of light lost develop more quickly and higher than the lights received by the plants when you increase the distance of the bulb from the plant. Each time you lift up the bulb to a greater hight from your plants, the quality of light that the plant receives is one- fourth of the amount of light suspended at the Initial position. This factor or law is of great importance when determining the distance of your plants to your light. This also determines your choice of grow lights.

You also need to know that exposing your plants to 24 hours grow lights Is a bad idea. So giving plants some dark hours would be very effecting in growing under the Grow Lights.

Choosing The Best Grow Lights for Your Greenhouse

Growing plants in a greenhouse is so much fun. It is a growing industry so you will definitely excel if you want to explore its benefits. The major problem faced by beginners and amateur is the initial stage of confusion. This stage actually means allot though. But if you can get past this stage, then you are good to go. There are so many models, types and varieties of grow lights in the market. The factors that help your decision-making process are your budget, type of plant you plan to grow or already grown, and scope of business.

With a simple and easy analysis, you can decide which of the grow Lights will be of best use to you.  Operating a small budget and a small greenhouse means that you can’t afford an expensive or answer exotic grow light. Then you should go for the Compact Fluorescent Lights. They are not too expensive, can be easily installed and replaced.  With this, you can still get your desired results.

You can also go with the HPS if your plants desire more intensity of light. They can also be used in combination with other grow lights such as the MH, CMH and also CFL. These Grow lights are relatively cheap and give good results. Since you are aware that HPS produce high heat energy, prepared yourself for the cooling process.

If what you want a high intensity efficient and long lasting grow light, then the LED should be your choice. They may be expensive, but they are worth it.

 Greenhouse grow light, Choosing the best growligh

 

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