Lighting can seem very strange and confusing when lighting out hydroponics growing. The idea of hydroponics in homegrown cannabis without the use of soil is not a new event. It is believed that one of the numerous wonders of the world “The Hanging Gardens of Babylon” was created by applying hydroponic systems.
On the other hand, the benefits obtained from fabricated light has only been throughout a sensibly short time and is now easily possible in an affordable setup by the advancement of systems and knowledge in this area.
To use a produced light in hydroponics requires several samples of kit
- Ballast – needed to control the current to the light fixture.
- A shade/reflector – this points the light to precisely where you want it to go.
- Lamp holder/socket – is typically included with the shade or glass you buy.
- A timer – this sets the light off and on and regulates the degree of light the cannabis gets.
- A bulb or lamp
These items of apparatus and tools are required free of what type of bulb you are using. There are various ones out ready on the market from budget to expensive versions. The one you buy is defined by what marijuana strain and what space you are applying as your hydroponic garden.
What is Light Intensity?
Light intensity fades with distance and as a result, if you have a wide area for homegrown cannabis, then you will plausibly need an augmented wattage of the lamp to allow light to get to the plant. Hence you can use more lamps.
However, with a higher-powered lamp, you have more extra heat generated, which can be disputing to control. That is why many autoflowering seeds cultivators choose to use a lower-powered light.
This type of lamp which will create less heat and can be managed much more lenient but used in a smaller area. It all depends on preference and what you are natural with. Some many posts and resources review the benefits and drawbacks of higher and lower-powered light. But still, again, it all cooks fluff to user choice, open area and the class of cannabis you are aiming to grow.
Artificial light is man-made, and mixed-light models provide off different colors. The scale runs from 0-100 with 100 being the best light at showing the actual color of the object being lit.
For example, the lights used in our homes are usually tungsten incandescent lights, and these give off a warm glow. These typically have a CRI of about 95, whereas metal halide lights have a CRI of around 80 which is in the bluish spectrum.
Therefore they are usually used in the flowering of the cannabis cycle as the red light stimulates the reproductive phase in the plant cycle often producing better harvests of fruit and vegetables. Due to the poor CRI, the light can make the plants under them appear pale and unhealthy, but this is purely down to the colors in the light.
Kinds of Lamp
There are three critical types of bulbs used in hydroponics. They are as follows:
The LED (Light Emitting Diode)
You could be querying why LED lights have not been considered as they are likewise on the market to buy and to employ in hydroponic cannabis gardens. LED lights affirm to be more energy-efficient and transfer out less heat as opposed to other hydroponic lamps. But, they remain a comparably new technology and as a result, have some concerns that need to smooth out. Many growers have had queries getting the same penetration of light with LEDs that other lamps can provide.
A metal halide bulb produces light by passing electricity through a gaseous mixture of mercury and metal halides. It is a type of high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp and was developed in the 1960s.
The metal halides in the bulb improve the color rendition of the light given out, which is particularly useful in growing cannabis indoors. You may often see reference to the CRI (color rendition index) this is a measure of the colors given off by artificial light compared to those found in daylight. Daylight displays a variety of colors throughout the day. It, therefore, gives the different types of light needed for plants to grow.
It is essential to know that metal halide lights emit blue light when using hydroponics as blue light is what is needed when your plants are starting to grow. The seedlings thrive in this spectrum of light as they mimic the type of light emitted during summer when outdoor plants are beginning to grow.
Many refer to metal halide lights as being the ones to use during the vegetative stage or growing cannabis. This is where the plants start to produce thick stems and large leaves which produce little dense plants that utilize the light more efficiently. When the plants have grown sufficiently and reached the stage for flowering, you need to change to a high-pressure sodium bulb.
A high-pressure sodium lamp is again a type of high-intensity discharge light. Similar to the metal halide light high-pressure sodium lights consist of a gas discharge lamp. However, they contain sodium as opposed to metal halides and give off a dark pink color when first switched on.
This changes when the light has warmed up to a pink/orange color which is part of the red spectrum of light. These types of lamps have a CRI of 25 and subsequently if used alone in hydroponics produce tall thin plants often described as “leggy”.
Both HID lights are used in combination with one another with the metal halide used to start plant growth and the high-pressure sodium to produce the end result. The only problem with using these two lights is the cost of equipment.
Each of these lights requires a different ballast to regulate and control the current to the light. This can be costly, depending on how big your garden is is and how many views you need. However, there are dual spectrum lights on the market that emit both types of light and therefore only require the one ballast for your growing needs.
This is probably the best one to go for when starting out using hydroponics as the initial outlay is small. More advanced gardeners prefer the two separate bulbs as they want to maximize the growth potential and not compromise with the dual spectrum lamp.
About the author:
Natalie Gray is a Biochemical Engineer. She works in the Research and Development team that focuses on the design and construction of unit processes. She is a recreational marijuana supporter and her love for organic chemistry brought her to medical cannabis. She grows her own flowers, working on different projects and study everything above and under cannabis roots.
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