Types of Grow Lights: Amazing Results With the Power of the Sun
The many types of grow lights available to ensure strong, healthy, and vigorous vegetative growth and production can often be hard to sift through. Even if you are looking for specific growth cycle support, you might become slightly overwhelmed by the different choices and their actual capabilities. Nothing is worse than trying to compare the labels of your choices and not being able to find them all in one spot, so I’ve compiled a list of all the most current grow lights used for various plant growth stages all in one spot.
Whether you are curious about how different types of grow lights may influence indoor plant health, are a hobbyist seasonal grower, or even a more serious crop producer- all you need to know can be found below to help you get started in making choices that will best support your plant needs.
- High Intensity Discharge (HID)
- Metal Halide (MH)
- High Pressure Sodium (HPS)
- Light Emitting Ceramics (LEC) and Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH)
- Double-Ended Lighting (DE)
- Light Emitting Diode (LED)
- Light Emitting Plasma (LEP)
Light is one of the major components plants need to survive. Whether you are looking for the best indoor light, best seed starter light, best light for flowering orchids, or for weed, your light choices should influence your plant growth and production. Plants utilize light to support the chemical process of photosynthesis, the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy your plants can use to grow and produce.
Photosynthesis is one of the single most important processes on the planet as it supports all life in one way or another. In fact, we can attribute much of our own energy resources to the millions of years worth of photosynthetic processes that
Even though sunlight is made up of a very wide spectrum of light wavelengths, our eyes are only able to see the white spectrum, which consists of the colors you and I are familiar with from a very young age. Plants, however, only utilize a few colors found within this spectrum: mainly those found within the blue and red/orange range. In fact, the reason most plants look green to us is is because they often reflect the green wavelengths rather than absorb them.
Blue wavelengths are shorter, and warmer than their red/orange counterparts. The blue spectrum supports plant growth, thick stems, and healthy branches, and an abundance of leafy vegetation to partake in photosynthesis. Red wavelengths are longer, and cooler, and are desired by plants for blooming and plant crop production. Plants also may use parts of the UV.
Metal Halide (MH) lights are an HID choice that produces more light in the blue range of the spectrum and is considered an excellent choice for seedlings and early plant growth and development. It is also very helpful in finishing producing plants prior to bloom. They are also popular for non-blooming plants that need more than what a window may provide through the winter months
They emit a bluish- white looking light. When used correctly you should get thick, full, and healthy plants prior to maturity and production. Typically they have a 6,000-15,000 hour light life.
Light emitting ceramics (LEC), also often known as ceramic metal halides (CMH), are a combination bulb that emits both blue and red spectral wavelengths to better support all stages of plant growth in a single light. Because of the ceramic element, these do burn warmer and are not always the best option for smaller grow areas unless it is well vented. But on the flip
Double Ended Lighting (DE) is a fairly new process and uses a double-ended tube like bulb much like a fluorescent tube. They do, in fact, use a gas to produce light and create a more intense light that is more available to plants to utilize. The light produced is more towards the blue, and ultra-violet ends of the spectrum, and care should be taken when using them to ensure proper exposure.
They also are much more efficient and can still be producing up to 90% of available light after 10,000 hours of use. They are pretty high intensity, and can produce 750-1000 watts of power or more. Plus their long, tubed shape allows for them to be used in long rows when ballasts are daisy chained together.
Fluorescent lighting are long, tube bulbs that involves a chemical process between gases and mercury vapor interacting with each other. When electricity is added they glow, and create a resulting white light that produces a range of orange to blue spectral wavelengths popular with early plant, and healthy stem and leaf growth.
These tubes are used within ballasts much like HID bulbs, but all fluorescent bulbs are double ended to create the electrical current needed to create light. Fluorescents come in high output (HO) or very high output (VHO) choices and need to be matched to their ballast types when replacement is necessary; although they are extremely long lasting, and can provide good lighting for 50,000 hours or more with very little loss in intensity. Plus they run extremely cool, making them excellent choices for small growing areas.
The T in the name of these bulbs refer to the fact that they are tube shape, and the number indicates their overall size. T5 fluorescent bulbs measure ⅝ inch in diameter, making them smaller than their relative counterparts. This size also happens to be more convenient, more lightweight, and also more efficient as they put out light output overall.
T8 are approximately an inch in diameter, and T12 are approximately one and half inches in diameter, making them the largest of the T series. The larger the size, the less light intensity, and life each bulb produces. These bulbs mostly still exist in order to fill any lingering demands of older ballasts systems since they are long lasting and are popular with more than plant enthusiasts due to their efficiency.
These are a single ended, tubed bulb that uses argon and mercury vapor to create an efficient white light that can last 6,000 to 10,000 hours when used correctly. Because of the chemical process occurring, like all fluorescent
Light Emitting Diodes or LED lighting, is a fast growing, and popular lighting solution that provides long lasting, efficient, and incredibly cool results in many different areas of lighting manufacturing. One place they have grown in leaps and bounds is their uses for both small, and large scale plant growth and production. Because they are small bulbs, and can be customized to provide a specific wavelength, they can be used with one another to create a light panel that covers all of the spectrums your plants need in just one unit.
Although there is often a higher initial cost, these more than pay for themselves since they are so versatile and efficient in their overall use. 50,000 hours or more of use have been recorded with LED light use, making them one of the longest lasting bulb available. Small units can be used for counter top herb grows with ease, while larger panels and be joined together to cover larger, enclosed grow spaces without worry of overheating or plant burn.
Some of the newest technology in the grow light market, Light Emitting Plasma (LEP) is also known by a variety of other names such as Induction Grow Lights, Sulphur Plasma Light, or similar variations of these names. Basically what these comes down to is the burning of gas at very high temperatures which creates a light that mimics the sun. This provides a more full coverage of the sun spectral wavelengths. Even though plants do not utilize the entire spectrum, mimicking those they do are obviously beneficial to their overall growth and health.
Because they are so hot, they cannot be placed close to your crops, and are supposed to be a good solution to high ceilinged rooms as they provide a wide footprint of coverage. They also are supposed to be extremely long-lived, although they are so new that many specifications of their use have not yet been determined.
With the many available grow lights for purchase you need to sift through what you exactly need for your plant’s various growth stages. Vegetative growing stages benefit most from the bluer end of the spectrum, whereas mature plants that are close to boom and production will take advantage of the red/orange range. Providing specific wavelengths, or a wider spectrum of wavelengths, can be achieved to provide light to different plants in differing stages of growth no matter whether you are a simple gardener, or a large scale crop producer.
This quick guide to grow lights available for your plants hopefully can get you started in the right direction to find out exactly what you need. If you have any further questions, or comments, about any of the lights I’ve listed above, please comment below and I’ll get back with you! And if you’ve found this helpful, please share!