Indoor gardening has never been easier. Lighting allow you to cultivate a wide variety of plants at any climate during any time of year. These growing lights are specially designed to substitute natural sunlight, stimulating photosynthesis and providing the right color spectrum where the plant can grow and flourish. With the right fixture or bulb, you can have delicious tomatoes in the dead of winter or award-winning violets year-round.
There are a number of types of grow light types available, each with their own strengths and characteristics. Here’s a guide on how to choose the best growing lights for your situation, as well as how to properly set them up.
Choosing a Grow Light Type – Grow Bulbs vs. Lighting Fixtures
Should you swap out the bulbs in an existing light with special grow bulbs, or should you buy a brand new fixture with built-in lighting? It all depends on what you’re looking for – convenience and cost or specialized quality.
Grow light bulbs are the cheaper option. For most people, it’s easier to use as well. Just take an old lamp or ceiling light that needs bulb replacement, and pop in a specially-designed grow bulb.
Grow light fixtures are more expensive, but they offer a more holistic solution. A single fixture can provide the illumination for multiple plants, dispersing the lighting evenly throughout the space. Because these fixtures are specifically designed for grow light purposes, they tend to provide a fuller light spectrum range than cheaper light bulbs.
Incandescent , Fluorescent, LED, HID or MH?
Incandescent grow lights are the least expensive technology, but they are also the least energy-efficient and have a relatively high heat output, making them the weakest contender for grow light options.
Fluorescent lights have a low heat signature and produce a decent spectrum of light for growing. They generally come as tube lights or compact fluorescent (CFL) reflectors. Growing with fluorescent lights is a more energy-efficient option than growing with incandescent lights, but they tend to be a more expensive option.
LED grow lights offer the latest technology on the market today. Extremely energy-efficient, they have an ultra-low heat output and offer an ideal light spectrum range. Offering low energy usage, low heat, and color optimized for growth, LED lights are the most efficient, effective, and customer-friendly way to grow plants at home than growing with fluorescent lights or incandescent lights.
High-Intensity Discharge or HID bulbs produce light through an electric arc between tungsten electrodes inside a tube fused with alumina. These specialty bulbs have a very high light output level and are commonly used by commercial growers.
Metal Halide lights use mercury vapor mixed with metal salts to create a powerful light source. They use a special fixture and, like HIDs, are commonly used by commercial outfits.