When building an ideal indoor growth environment, the goal is to replicate sunlight utilizing grow lighting equipment. Surprisingly, technology has come quite far in allowing us to mimic the photosynthesis process typically provided by the sun. However, not all artificial grow lighting designs are created equal.
Incandescent bulbs are the cheapest and most readily available option for many who are new to indoor growing. Although this type of standard hardware bulb may work for a single plant or when combined with regular sunlight, they have many drawbacks and safety concerns. This is true for both the plant as well as the user. Incandescent bulbs produce a great deal of heat and are almost always not the best investment for ease of use or plant growth.
Technological advances in fluorescent lighting have come quite far in recent years. So much so, that certain fluorescent light options now rival the High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights that have long dominated this industry. It is necessary to note that fluorescent lights do vary widely. For starters, the most common variety is known as the “shop light” – a four-foot by two-foot simple fluorescent two-lamp setup, which typically costs less than US$40 at most hardware stores. Herbs and plants that require little lighting can thrive with this type of fluorescent. However, if you intend to grow seedlings or other plants which require more light, a simple shop light will likely not suffice.
Depending upon the investment you are willing to make, some of the newest High-Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs can actually meet the sensitive temperature and varied light spectrum needs of many varieties of plants. This advantage will allow you to maintain a year-round supply of fresh veggies and herbs. In addition to helping your spring seedlings get a head start before outside transplantation.
Types of Grow Lights
Regardless of which type of grow light you choose, none are truly comparable to a sunny day. Indoor lighting is, however, a fantastic way to extend your growing season. After considering your budget and specific plants’ needs, select the type of light which suits you best. Remember to use care when placing lights as some require a minimum clearance of 360 degrees around the light due to the heat generated. Always check your specific plants’ needs and never leave indoor lights on longer than 16 hours a day. This would be more than typical maximum sunlight conditions and could harm the plants.