It’s a bit difficult providing enough light your houseplants need, whether it’s from the poor weather or lack of window space and sun. That’s why it’s best to invest in good grow lights, which will give your plants the light it needs every day without fail!
Grow Bulbs vs. Lighting Fixtures
There are two types of grow lights: Grow bulbs and lighting fixtures. What you choose depends on two factors: Specialized quality or convenience and costs.
Grow light bulbs are the more affordable choice and are much easier to use. All you need is an old ceiling light or lamp that requires bulb replacement, and place the grow light bulb in.
Grow light fixtures, on the other hand, are pricier but a holistic solution. Just one fixture can illuminate multiple plans and disperse light evenly throughout your garden area. These fixtures are designed for grow light purposes, so they have the fuller light spectrum compared to grow light bulbs.
If you have a larger space with more plants to grow, I suggest you invest in fixtures. But if you only have a few plants and want to stick to a budget (or are a beginner), a grow light bulb works just fine.
Besides the type of grow light design, there are different lights you can choose from:
Incandescent grow lights are the cheapest option, but also the least energy-efficient and would have a higher heat output.
Fluorescent lights have a lower heat signature and can produce enough spectrum of light to grow your plants. They are usually designed as tube lights or reflectors in a range of sizes from T5 to T12. These lights are more energy-efficient compared to incandescent lights, but pricier.
When selecting fluorescent lights, use lightbulbs that are between 4,000-6,000 Kelvin, which mimic the light your plant needs outdoors. These are great for greens, starter plants, and culinary herbs!
LED grow lights are the latest technologies available today, known to be the most effective, efficient, and customer-friendly. It’s the most energy-efficient among the three with the ultra-low heat output and ideal light spectrum range.
While the priciest, these lights also offer low heat and energy usage, as well as it being color-optimized for growth.
There are many options to choose from under LED lights, ranging from screw-in replacement bulbs to high-intensity greenhouse lights! You can also have its lighting tailored to any particular bandwidth the plants need. You can find the vast selection of LED grow lights, all in different sizes, types, and the technology you require.
High-Intensity Discharge bulbs (HID) would product light from an electric arc I-between tungsten electrodes in a tube that’s fused with alumina. These are specialty bulbs with a high light output level, used for commercial growers and bigger areas.
Metal Halide lights utilize mercury vapor with metal salts for the powerful light source. It uses a special fixture and similar to HIDs, they are made for commercial growers.
They are generally used on larger plants and in larger areas, covering more light distance. With this type of light, you can make do with a smaller halide or T5 fluorescent system and get a wide range of light and spectrum.
If you grow plants as a hobby, you can go for LED or fluorescent light bulbs for good heat output. Though a bit pricier than incandescent, they are cheaper than those used for commercial outfits and still do a great job in providing light to plants.
What about the color, what is the best light color for plant growth? It depends on what you need!
- Violet-blue light with a nanometer range between 400-520 would encourage photosynthesis, chlorophyll absorption, and good growth.
- Red light with a spectrum range between 610-720 would promote flowering and budding.
Your chosen grow light should have the right spectrum of light for its photosynthesis, an absolute must for plant growth. Before you purchase your grow light, make sure to see its provided color spectrum. A grow light that offers full-spectrum is the best choice.
That’s why I highly recommend LED lights, which offer the two necessary types of color spectrum lights to receive all good benefits for growth and flowering.
How Big Should the Bulb Be?
When you now know the type of grow light you need, how much of it should you invest in? When deciding how big your bulb should be, determine the space you have.
A rule of thumb is to get 20-40 watts per square foot. Divide the wattage of the grow light bulb by 20 (like 1,600/20 is 80), then divide it again by 40 (1,600/40 is 40).
These answers will give you the extremes of the light intensity range. A 1,000-watt light system can have you light up 40-80 square feet of your area.
Besides this, you should also match the bulb wattage to the fixture it handles. A 1,600-watt bulb shouldn’t be installed in a 400-watt system!
You can adjust the setup when monitoring the way your plants grow, increasing or decreasing light intensity by shifting your plant or light placement.
Good luck hunting for your optimum grow lights!