We analyzed lighting systems that are critical to ensuring a healthy, abundant high-quality indoor harvest. Here are more options to consider:
Readily available at any hardware store, fluorescent lighting is more beneficial and efficient than the use of incandescent lighting and one of the easiest methods of lightning.
- Advantages: Create comparatively less heat; Good choice for cloning, germination, vegetative and fruiting stages, if the crop isn’t a tall one or one with a thick canopy; Good choice for inter row supplemental lighting if positioned vertically.
- Disadvantages: Lack penetrating power for large or dense canopied crops.
High Pressure Sodium (HPS)
HPS bulbs emit light from the entire PAR spectrum, with a focus on the red end of the light spectrum, which makes it an exceptional choice for the fruiting or flowering stage of plant development.
- Advantages: Excellent penetrating power, making it an ideal choice for tall, large, or densely canopied crops; Bulbs produce the most lumens but can consume a relatively large amount of electricity.
- Disadvantages: Some fruits and vegetables may have their node length stretched; If light is placed too close to the canopy, it may burn or singe the leaves or fruit; Not as efficient as some of new technology.
Metal Halide (MH)
MH bulbs emit light from all parts of the PAR spectrum, with an emphasis on the blue end of the light spectrum, which makes it an ideal choice for the vegetative growth stage of plant development.
- Advantages: They have good penetrating power, so they are a workable choice for tall, large, or densely canopied crops. MH bulbs are almost as powerful as HPS bulbs from a lumen output perspective.
- Disadvantages: Consumes a relatively large amount of electricity; Some fruit or vegetable plants may be too dense, and some may have their node length shortened, resulting in less than optimal fruiting; Can burn the canopy of plants placed too close to the bulb; Not efficient as some of the new technology on the market.
Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH)
Although CMH lighting is relatively new, it is increasing in popularity as the technology advances. Consider it a hybrid of an HPS and a MH light.
- Advantages include the emission of arguably the most complete spectrum available from any type of single bulb (allowing one lamp to handle start to finish), a longer bulb life, and great efficiency.
- Disadvantages include very high initial costs, a comparatively high heat output, and unproven penetrating power when compared to other HID lighting options.
Induction lighting (also known as plasma lighting) utilizes a light emitting plasma bulb to produce a spectrum that is very similar to our sun.
- Advantages include the emission of a full daylight spectrum (allowing one lamp to handle start to finish), the longest life of any type of bulb on the market, and awesome efficiency.
- Disadvantages include having the highest initial cost of all lighting options, extreme heat, and unproven penetrating power compared with other HID lighting options.
Light Emitting Diode (LED)
LED lighting utilizes a grid of small lights to produce a customized spectrum. Advantages include the potential to provide your crops with several spectrums of light throughout the growth cycle, or even in a day.
- Advantages: They also use less energy, have longer bulb life than HPS or MH systems, create little heat, are very efficient and more durable than other lighting options. Some are designed specifically for inter row supplemental vertical lighting.
- They are more expensive than HPS and MH lighting systems, but cheaper than their CMH or Induction counterparts
- Disadvantages: They lack penetrating power large crops require and reviews of results have been mixed.
It should also be noted that this technology is expanding at an exponential rate, like the rate at which computer technology advances. In other words, what is cutting edge today may be obsolete a year from now. This may be the choice of the future, but is in what I would consider the early adopter phase.
Read more: Hydroponics 101: Lighting Systems