Lighting is one of the most essential aspects of indoor growing. With that being said, it can be a bit of a challenge trying to get the proper lighting in your hydroponic system considering the fact that it’s available in a wide range of variants. Not to mention that each set of plants can have an entirely different reaction to lighting if the growing conditions aren’t sustained.
In hydroponics, it’s important for the means of lighting installed to be able to replicate the natural sunlight changes come to pass throughout each season in order to allow for the different stages of growth to occur. In this brief article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the lighting factor in hydroponic gardening, so you may want to stick around.
Components of Hydroponic Lighting Systems
Hydroponic lighting systems come in various shapes and sizes, but there are a few constituents that are pretty much staples in every lighting system. Let’s briefly discuss each of them briefly.
When it comes to indoor growing, High Intensity Discharge Lights are the most popular types of lights. As far as the wattage value required, you want hydroponic bulbs that can produce 400 to 600 watts worth of light. High Intensity Discharge Lights are available in two types of bulbs: MH and HPS. The former stands for Metal Halide and the latter stands for High-Pressure Sodium.
Metal Halide light bulbs emit wavelengths that are heavily geared towards the white/blue end of the light spectrum. These wavelengths do a perfect job of replicating the effects of the sun on a hot summer day. The thing about MH light bulbs is that they’re only to be used when your plants are in their initial phases of growth. After germination, warmer lighting is required.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t plants that can grow into maturity with the aid of MH lighting, not at all. Herbs and leafy vegetables can grow to their full potential under MH lighting. On top of that, most plants tend to flower when growing in MH lighting, it’s just that using mere MH lighting alone won’t give you as much yield as you’d like, which is where HPS bulbs come into play.
Using MH light bulbs with conjunction with HPS light bulbs allows for ideal growth because HPS bulbs offer the warmer colors of the spectrum that plants need to flower like orange and red. As soon as you notice your plants starting to flower, it’s time to switch from MH lighting to HPS light as soon as possible. This will be around the time your fruits or vegetables begin to grow.
The lighting hood or lighting reflector is simply a casing that surrounds the bulb in order to boost its efficiency. It serves as a means of reflecting the light emitted the bulb onto the plants at more than one angle, which helps spread the light effectively across the whole system. As a result, it’s not necessary to use light bulbs that consume a lot of energy, which helps you save electricity.
Ballasts are the components needed to control the consistency of the electricity running through the light bulbs. Ballasts are often sold as built-in components of lighting assemblies but we don’t recommend using them as they tend to be pretty heavy and way too hot. We highly recommend using remote ballasts instead as they’re much better suited for home hydroponic systems.
Timers are of utmost importance in a lighting system. Timers can be electric or manual, but they need to be rugged and grounded. In hydroponic gardening, manual timers seem to be the most popular because they’re usually built sturdier than their electric counterparts. They tend to have two plugs on either side, meaning that you can attach a manual timer to two lamps.
Lighting System Wattage Value
When picking light bulbs for your hydroponic system, you first need to consider the room size in which your system is placed. The larger the room, the greater the wattage will need to be. As an example, if your hydroponics system is in a 4x4 foot room, you’ll require about 600 watts placed around 24-31 inches away from the plants. You’ll need around 1000 watts for a 5x5 foot room.
Other Types of Lighting Systems
The world of hydroponic gardening is vast and requires a lot of experience. Hopefully, the things we shared today have given you enough insight as far as the lighting aspect is concerned. Feel free to let us know if you have questions with regard to this topic.