How to Select Hydroponic Grow Lights

It is truly amazing what can be found on the internet these days. Do some of your research and read some more about hydroponics before diving in. This book also showed one particular way to DIY each system. There are other methods out there as well as plenty of ready-made systems to purchase. It is easy to look up information on any particular plant you would like to grow to find tips, pH levels, and more.

Make friends with someone at your favourite garden centre. Ask around and find someone in your community who knows all about hydroponic gardening. Sometimes, a person who is available to answer questions and show things face-to-face can be really helpful. Once someone gets hooked on hydroponic gardening, they will be happy to share their knowledge with anyone ready to listen.

Here is a little bit more information about lighting in a hydroponic system. Of course, as stated, the best lighting source is the sun. Plants generally need 4 to 6 hours of direct light, plus 8 to 10 more of bright light. Make sure to place your hydroponic system accordingly. Outdoors is great, in a window is pretty good, and if these options are not available to you, then there are plenty of good lights on the market. Here are a few to look into.

T5 Fluorescent Lamps

How to Select Hydroponic Grow Lights - T5 Fluorescent Lamps

These are the cheapest light you can buy for hydroponics, and they also run nice and cool. Just keep in mind that these lights work great for ornamental houseplants, herbs, and leafy produce such as spinach and lettuce. They can also be used for starting seedlings, cuttings, or clones. This could be a good light to purchase for starting seeds inside and then transplanting them to your outdoor hydroponic system. These do not work well for flowering plants or fruiting vegetables; they just do not have the needed spectrum.

Here are a few other tips for using these lights. Keep them only four to six inches above the plants. Since they run cool, there is no worry that they will burn the plants. Make sure to have 40 watts per square foot of planting bed, and a good rule of thumb is one four feet strips per every two square feet of growing bed.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lighting Systems

How to Select Hydroponic Grow Lights-High - Intensity Discharge - HID

These lights are very intense and have been used in commercial greenhouses for decades. Now they are easy to acquire and provide very good results in a home hydroponics garden. HID lighting systems provide the needed spectrum for fruiting and flowering crops. It is very close to what the sun provides outside. The only downsides are that these lights are expensive and run hot.

There are two types of HID bulbs available, metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium (HPS). An MH light is adequate for most vegetables in all stages, but an HPS light is preferred during the flowering/fruiting stage of plants. It is preferred, but not necessary. If you can only afford one light, definitely get a metal halide. Even though these bulbs are expensive, the good news is that they last for years.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) Grow Lights

How to Select Hydroponic Grow Lights - Light Emitting Diode - LED

Until recently, this new lighting technology has not been suitable for grow lights. These are a good choice now because even though they cost more upfront, use way less electricity than traditional lighting, run cool, and last a very long time. Just be careful about what you buy. There are some cheap LED setups out there that are claimed to work for growing, but often they do not have the needed spectrums for hydroponic gardens.

At the very least, buy a mid-range LED panel that is specified as a 5-band or 7-band. However, a high-end LED grows light will yield the best results. One to look into is the California Lightworks SolarSystem 550.

In addition to lighting choices, there are also a variety of options for adding nutrients to your hydroponic garden.

16 elements hydroponically grown vegetables need.

  1. Carbon
  2. hydrogen
  3. and oxygen is taken from the air or aerated into the solution 

but the other 13 need to come from a nutrient solution.

These 13 are:

  1. molybdenum
  2. copper
  3. boron
  4. zinc
  5. manganese
  6. iron
  7. chlorine
  8. magnesium
  9. calcium
  10. sulfur
  11. potassium
  12. phosphorus
  13. nitrogen.

There are many pre-mixed solutions on the market. But some serious gardeners even mix up their own.


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