Useful Tips for Buying Grow Lights
With more people becoming interested in gardening and the rise of the urban gardener, more people are buying grow lights to produce their own plants or vegetables. Nowadays, you are not excluded from this if you do not have the once stereotypical outside space, behind your house. As long as your plants have access to water and light, particularly, to enable them to photosynthesize, they will grow. If you live in an area where natural light is restricted, perhaps because of long winters, grow lights may provide an ideal alternative.
If you’re looking at purchasing some grow lights, here are some tips you may find useful.
LED or Fluorescent?
Fluorescent lights are great for seeding, cloning, and vegging, but LED lights are said to do these things better. However, LED lights are a saturated market and because of this, you need to be sure you obtain quality lights for your plants to properly grow. What’s more, they are said to use half the energy, meaning they’re more cost-effective for you, despite the initial costs for them. Other differences between LED and fluorescent lights include the former being nontoxic, more efficient, and having a longer lifespan than the latter. LED lights have a longer lifespan because they are in a solid-state and do not contain a vacuum or gas component that gradually deteriorates. However, they have a chip that is prone to overheating, especially in poorly constructed ones. This makes purchasing LED light fixtures that have heat sinks and fans built in important, along with considering whether your ceiling can manage the extra weight these additions will inevitably have.
What Plants are You Growing?
Before knowing what lights you need or how many, you need to know what plants you are growing. The primary reason for using grow lights is to encourage the photosynthesis process in the plants you want to grow. Researching the types of plants, whilst considering the available space, temperature, and time you can dedicate to them for your plants to thrive are all important factors. Your lights are a serious investment, which can have an expensive initial outlay, therefore you need to be committed for the long term.
What is the Size of Your Grow Space?
This is something you will also need to consider fairly early on as it will dictate the amount and size of the light units you need to purchase. Large flowering plants will typically require 32 watts of actual wattage per square foot of growing space. Therefore, if you have eight square feet of grow space, you would roughly require between two hundred and fifty to three hundred watts grow lights. This is based on the assumption that your plants are growing in one place, and they require a lot of light. Plants that require low light, like herbs, will require much lower wattage, approximately between eleven and eighteen watts per square foot of growing space.
Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)
PAR is the type of light plants need for photosynthesis. LED lights have different PAR values, depending upon their manufacturer. A high PAR value does not mean it is a better bulb as this is dependent upon your needs. Your plants will need to equally be in receipt of PAR, which is why you need to know the surface area of where all your plants are to be grown. For instance, if you’re growing plants inside your home, you may not need as many lights as you would if you were growing your plants in a greenhouse. An even distribution of PAR will ensure all your plants are equally growing. In contrast, an uneven distribution of PAR will mean the plants directly under the light will grow better than the ones at the edges, where the PAR isn’t the same.
There is a lot to consider when embarking on a new hobby like growing plants when grow lights are required. You may already have an idea about what you want to grow so researching into what is the best set up for your plants, especially if space is at a premium, is a really important stage. Once you have done this, you will know what equipment you need to buy, with grow lights being an integral aspect of this because, without them, plants cannot photosynthesize. This will mean that they won’t grow. Therefore, with careful consideration about what you’re growing and where in your home, you will make the right choices in terms of grow lights and will reap the benefits of your plants as they grow.
JR Dominguez is the technology, finance and music editor for MiLLENNiAL. When he's not writing, you can find him day-trading stocks, playing video games, or composing commercial scores.