Grow Light Info

Introduction to Light

Light is the most important factor in any indoor growing environment. It is also the limiting factor in any indoor growing environment. Lighting technology has vastly improved over what it once was and it is continually evolving with new and better technologies. Without good and plentiful light, a plant will not be able to perform photosynthesis, chiefly the main principle by which a plant converts food into energy. Plants are able to use artificial light, so long as it is of the correct growing spectrum & there is plenty of it.

Photosynthesis

There are many light absorbing pigments in a plants leaf structure. The one which is most prominent is chlorophyll, and consequently is the one we know the most about. Most plants absorb light within two regions of the visual spectrum; the violet and blue wavelengths as well as the red wavelengths, presenting plants in that stunning green our eyes have come to know and love.

The absorbed radiant energy is used to convert ingested carbon dioxide coupled together with water and the nutrients within it, to make carbohydrates which will nourish the plants and promote new cell growth. This allows for strong vigorous growth and the release of oxygen as a byproduct.

There are two main processes involved in photosynthesis. The first is a series of energy fixing reactions (known as the Light Reactions) in which radiant energy from sunlight is absorbed and harnessed in the form of ATP. The second (known as the Dark Reaction) is a series of carbon fixing reaction in which the energy which was trapped from the first process is used to form carbohydrate molecules which nourish the plants, help them to grow and release oxygen as a byproduct.

Light is at the heart of all of this; so correct lighting will result in healthy, happy plants being resistant to infections or colonizing hordes of insectoid pests.

Spectrums

Plants are under the spell of the seasons, thus subject to seasonal changes in available light spectrum. The blue end of the spectrum is associated with spring and it’s lengthening days, promoting vegetative growth in most plants and also a carousing mood. The red end of the spectrum is reminiscent of autumn, with its shortening days and long harvest sunset. Autumn usually promotes a higher flower-to-leaf ratio in flowering plants. It may also give plants a sweet, poetic feeling, like one gets upon seeing a beautiful sunset. We are not making this spectrum stuff up. Ask any plant.

HID Grow Lights

High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights are the main source of light in any serious indoor garden. With the application of an HID light, gardeners are no longer limited by the number of lumens in the growing environment. HID lighting is also the most efficient source of indoor lighting available today. These lamps produce 4-6 times as many lumens/watt compared to any incandescent light of the same wattage and will last much longer. Bulbs range in sized from 100 to 1500 watts.

An HID lamp operates with a properly matched transformer, capacitator and lamp bulb which consists of an inner tube filled with a chemical mixture. Basically you have a metal ballast with a cord that goes to the wall outlet and a cord that goes to the socket powering the bulb. A reflective hood sits around the bulb and reflects light onto plants that would otherwise be lost. Reflectors are painted white inside or else will be plated with a highly reflective aluminum or brilliant chrome, which turns out to be highly stylish in a late 1970’s disco sort of way. Some reflectors are built to allow for air cooling which exhausts hot air out from the bulb and out of the room.

The main drawbacks to HID lighting systems is that they put out intense heat, which subsequently causes plants to dry out faster, and the fact that they are incapable of providing the entire natural spectrum. HID lights come as close to natural light as human technology can take us, but natural sunlight is still more full and vibrant. There are two types of HID lamps to be aware of, Metal Halides and High Pressure Sodiums.

It is important to understand that HID light system MUST CORRESPOND with the wattage and type of bulb. A 600 watt HPS system cannot run a 1000 watt HPS bulb. Nor can it run a MH bulb if it is a HPS system. This restriction is easing up with the introduction of conversion bulbs which allow more flexibility. HPS conversion bulbs produce sodium light and are designed for use in MH fixtures. MH conversion bulbs produce halide light and are designed for HPS fixtures.

Metal Halides (MH)

Of the two kind of HID lights, metal halides have the more balanced spectrum. They will bathe plants in light from the bluer end of the spectrum, which indicates to the plant that it’s spring and time for growth. Generally speaking, Metal Halide light is used for plants which are encouraged to grow many leaves and become bushy such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage and herbs. They are also excellent for the vegetative stages of growth. They promote tight internodal spacing between branches, and help the plants to develop thick stems and large leaves which will support later fruit and flower growth.

Recent strides in lighting technology have begun to produce metal halide lamps that will reproduce a more balanced spectrum providing more of the orange/red end. The AgroSun Gold in an exemplary example of this new innovation with an amazing 49% more red light provided.

High Pressure Sodium (HPS)

High Pressure Sodiums (HPS) lamps reproduce light from the red/orange end of the spectrum, mimicking the colors of the harvest sunset. Plants use this kind of light in reproductive processes, and thus HPS bulbs help your plants to produce more fruits and flowers. At 97-150 lumens per watts, HPS light produce more lumens than a MH, but. exposing flowering plants to only a red spectrum light during the vegetative stage tends to make them stretch, lose their color and start to look downright unnatural.

HPS lights, like their MH counterparts have new bulbs which increase their less intense blue end to their spectrum. With the SunAgro (HPS) or the Hortilux, you can get a 25-30% increase in the blue end of the light spectrum. These lamps will produce more natural compact growth


Fluorescents

Fluorescent lighting is mainly used to sprout seedlings and to initiate rooting in nascent cuttings (clones). Your average fluorescent bulb produces 2300 lumens, which is not enough to grow your typical tomato plant (requiring 41,000-46,000 lumens). There are specialized, full spectrum high output fluorescents which will vegetate plants at an acceptable growth rate, but the growth will still be slower and less full than an HID light.

There are some very important benefits to using fluorescent lighting. They are energy efficient, relatively inexpensive, and can emit a wide spectrum of light suitable for most plant growth. They also have a very low heat output. These lights excel at seed sprouting and growing very young plants.

Sidenote: Many films of the 1990’s used the madly flickering flourescent to create a lighting effect suggesting an uneasy, paranoid mood or an indepent feature. Don’t do this. Buy good, full spectrum flourescents made especially for growing plants. Plants don’t want to feel as if they are in a suspense flick. Plants don’t even like movies – play them music instead.


Working with Indoor Grow Lights

Different types of plants require different amounts of light. Lettuce and herbs will need far less light than peppers or tomatoes which must flower to produce their fruit. Some plants grow in the winter and flower in the summer. Most plants grow during the longer days of spring and early summer, and flower as the days shorten in late summer, fall and early winter. These schedules can be easily simulated in an indoor environment.


Light Cycles

One of the most important jobs of the indoor grower is reproducing the daily and seasonal flow of light. For vegetative growth, plants are exposed to long growing days such as they might experience in spring and early summer blue end of spectrum). Plants that are meant to produce veggies, fruits or flowers are encouraged to begin doing so by a change in the light cycle. Plants need the sense that Autumn is coming with it’s short days on long sunsets (redder end of the spectrum) In general 18 hours of light is best for vegetative growth and a switch to 12 hours of light is the best stimulus for flowering (some plants work on the exact opposite schedule.)

Just about all plants need a regular period of light and a regular period of dark. During the light stage they will absorb energy. In the dark period they will build organic molecules from the energy they have absorbed. As you reproduce the cycle of nature, consistency is very, very important. Plants love a dependable pattern and will get stressed if it becomes erratic.

A good timer should be used in order to create regular lighting intervals of Lights On / Lights Off. The periods can be scheduled conveniently, so long as plants receive their light and dark at the same time every day. The general range is 6-12 hours of darkness every day. It is important not to disturb the dark periods with light so be carful about visits during that time which may add unwanted light to the room.


Plant Spacing

Inexperienced growers will often make the mistake of cramming too many plants under insufficient light. Without enough light particles to go around, plants will not have enough energy to grow. Growth under these conditions is far from optimal. Plants are weak and ill looking. The best way to prevent this do is to learn how much light plants are receiving using a light meter. A light meter uses a photo-sensitive cell that creates an electrical current when light particles fall on it and displays it in foot candles. From there you can figure out if plants are getting the optimum amounts of light they need.


Maximizing Light Potential

Flat white walls are the easiest and cheapest way to reflect light back onto plants. A quick coat of paint can make a big difference to your crop.

If you’d like to protect the walls of your room and provide even better light reflection, you might want a roll of black and white plastic.

Flat black on one side, the opposite side is bright bright white. It’s easy to hang and is glossy and doesn’t crease easily. It’s also easy to wipe down in between crops.

A third and excellent option is Mylar, , which is shiny and provides an almost mirror like surface for light to bounce off of. It can be slightly difficult to owrk with and must be pulled tightly so as to provide a flat surface. Otherwise you will find it creates annoying crinkles which will diffuse and defflect light in angles away from plant surfaces.


HID Bulbs

Many bulbs on the market are not suitable for high yield rooms. Incandescent lighting (ordinary light bulbs, spot lights, “plants lights” etc.) shouldn’t really be considered. They are inefficient, not bright enough and have an incorrect color spectrum. If you want to grow plants using artificial light, HID grow lights are the best way to go.

There is one rule to follow when using HID bulbs. That is that HPS bulbs must be used with HPS lights and MH bulbs must be used with MH lights. there are numerous ways of getting around that rule and getting the kind of light you need from your fixture.

Conversion Bulbs are designed to allow Metal Halide systems to produce High Pressure Sodium light and High Pressure Sodium systems to produce Metal Halide light. This type of bulb allows you to tailor the light source to the growth stage of the plant (again, using halide blue light for growth and sodium red light for flowering/budding) merely by changing bulbs.

Enhanced Spectrum Bulbs are now available which reproduce a more balanced spectrum. This means there are MH bulbs which produce more red/orange light and HPS bulbs which included more blue light for better growth.

Our favorite enhanced spectrum bulb is the agro sun gold which boasts a production of 49% more red light than regular Metal Halides. If you only have on lamp in the garden, this is the bulb to pick. It’s more like real sunlight than any other single bulb.

Of the HPS enhanced spectrum bulbms, our personal favorite is the Hortilux™ which produce a higher lumen/watt output as well as a more enhance blue spectral output, without any violet and green reduction in the red spectrum.

Caring for HID Bulbs

HID bulbs can explode if it is not handled correctly. This will occur if the bulb is very cold when first turned on, or if it contains fingerprint oils or moisture. To prevent accidents, never pick the bulb up directly by the glass – you need to be careful about fingerprints getting on it.. Handle the bulb by the base and wrap the glass body in a paper towel. Handling the bulb through the paper towel, screw it carefully into the lamp body.

If you need to clean the bulb, use a towel lightly dampened with window glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol; wipe all fingerprints, dust and impurities from bulb’s glass surface. Let dry thoroughly before installing. After cleaning, always handle the glass through a paper towel. Also, make sure bulb is warmed up to room temperature before installing.

When MH bulbs are turned off they should be left to cool for 20 minutes before re-starting. Turning a Metal Halide bulb on when it is already hot severely shortens the life of the bulb and it can affect the intensity of the light. Metal Halides should be replaced after a year of heavy use.

High Pressure Sodium bulbs can be restarted after only 2 or 3 minutes after being turned off, and they should be replaced every two to three years.


A Note about Lumens

The brightness, or amount of light particles emitted from a bulb, is measured in lumens or foot candles . Lumens are the total number of light particles coming from the bulb itself, and foot candles refers to the amount of light falling on a given area. As you move farther away from a light, the lumens stay the same, but the foot candles decrease. Natural sunlight and artificial light falling on a plant are measured in foot-candles (f.c.) while the light emitted by sources such as the sun and electric bulbs are rated in lumens.

There is controversy over the use of lumens as a measure for plant lighting efficiency. This is because lumens take into account human light sensitivity as opposed to plant sensitivity. Many growers feel that other units such as micromoles or par value (photosynthetically active radiation) might be more accurate and helpful units of measurement when referring to greenhouse crops and the plant lights used to grow them.


Reflectors

Vertical reflectors fit the bulb vertically. This orientation causes the light to shine downward and outward in a circular pattern. They are available in either cone or parabolic shapes, both which offer a very even dispersion of light. Plants are able to get a bit closer to the light with this kind of reflector. Vertical reflectors hang from a single chain at their center point.

Horizontal reflectors fit the bulb horizontally. This orientation bounces light off the top of the reflector and shines in downwards in a rectangular or box like pattern. There are different shapes and sizes of horizontal reflectors available. They are hung from two pieces of chain, one at each end of the reflector. Most horizontal reflectors need to be higher up off the plants when compared to vertical reflectors.


Light Movers

There are many benefits to using a light mover. First off, it can provide the most optimal lighting possible by combining the spectrum of Metal Halides and High Pressure Sodiums. The only superior light spectrum comes from the sun itself. A movers spreads this light around so that fewer lights may be used, lowering electric costs. A third benefit to using light movers is that moving lights eliminate the problem of heat buildup and plants can get quite close to the light source without burning the leaves. Moving lights in a garden also eliminates the tendency of plants to grow to a specific light source and it allows for light to reach areas that might otherwise be shaded. A more democratic method for sure, equal light for all!

There are two main kinds of light movers. There are those that move lights in a circular pattern and those that move them back and forth in a straight line. The circular style is best when the width of your grow area is similar to the length. Light movers are capable of carrying a single lamp, but two or three is even better, as this option will supply the most light and plants can be placed closer together. The Sun Circle is designed to carry one, two or three lights in a 360 degree circle, ideally lighting a 10×10 area. The Light Rail 3.5 is a linear light mover capable of carrying one or two lamps in a back-and-forth pattern. It has a six foot track which may be extended to cover the entire length of your room.


Air Cooling

One of the biggest indoor gardening challenges is the heat from HID lighting. This heat may be quickly and efficiently removed by air cooling the lamp reflectors. Plants can handle temperature degrees upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit when in a CO2 enriched environment. (In fact heat is a very necessary part of the overall bio-chemical formula.) In such a situation, air cooling can often take the place of air conditioning.


Energy & Electricity

120V vs 240V:

Both 120 volt and 240 volt lights operate with the same 100% output and use the same amount of electricity. A 600 watt light uses the same amount of current in 120 volt as in a 240 volt light. The standard outlet you see in your house is 120 volt.

The maximum wattage on a 120 volt circuit is 1500 watts, per National Electric Code. With the proper breakers or fuses and wire, 240 volt circuits can carry up to 5760 watts. This means that you can plug several high powered lights into a single lighting timer that will turn them all on and off on the same circuit.

240 volt is also considered to be more ‘stable’ because it uses half the amounts of amps. The equation goes like this Amps x Volts = Watts. 240 volt requires a double pole breaker and requires a different kind of outlet than standard plugs. Many appliance outlets, such as those for washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners are already wired for 240.

 

Coverage/Energy Calculator

First, figure out what square footage you’ll be working with. But don’t just figure for the whole room. Figure out what the plant area is that you need to cover. Multiply length x width to get square footage. You’ll need at least 30 watts per square foot. For example: if you have a 4 x 4 area, which equals 16 square feet, multiplied by 30 watts you get 480 watts. (Plants need between 30 and 60 watts) That means you need at least a 430 watt light. Keep in mind, the actual amount of light you’ll need depends on the amount of light you’re the type of plants you are growing like. Some plants like more light, some like less.

We’ve created a Lighting Calculator to help you figure out the correct number of lights for your room. It will tell you the wattage per square foot of various lighting configurations of your choosing. Play with it to decide what sort of lighting arrangement you’ll need.

For optimum lumens, you’ll need between 20 (minimum) and 60 (maximum) watts per square foot. There may be several different arrangements that will give you the optimum light energy. For example if you needed 2400 watt, you could fill that wil (2) 1000 watt lights and a 400 or with (4) 600 watt lights, etc.


Calculating your Electric Costs

You need to first find out how much watts you will run. Next you must calculate your Kilowatt per hour (KWH), which is located on your last electric bill.
Note: 1 KW= 1000 Watts

Watts of light = Amount of Kilowatts you are running per hour

Example: 2000 Watts = two 1000 watt lights
2000 Watts X 1000 watts/1 kw = 2 kw per hour of use
So now say you are running your lights for 12 hours a day. You then multiply your kwatts per hour by 12 (hours running in the day)
So in our previous example: 2 kwatts/ hour X 12 hours = 24 kilowatts a day
Multiply by days in a month: 24 Kwatts per day X 30 days = 720 Kw per month
Now you take that and multiply it by the rate charged by the electric company.

Grow Light FAQ

Difference between 120V & 240V?

Both 120 volt and 240 volt lights operate with the same 100% output and use the same amount of electricity. A 600 watt light uses the same amount of current in 120 volt as in a 240 volt light. The standard outlet you see in your house is 120 volt.

You may want to get a 240 volt if you plan on running several lights off of one circuit breaker. The maximum wattage on a 120 volt circuit is 1500 watts, per National Electric Code. With the proper breakers or fuses and wire, 240 volt circuits can carry up to 5760 watts. This means that you can plug several high powered lights into a lighting timer that will turn them all on and off on the same circuit. 240 volt is also considered to be more ‘stable’ because it uses half the amounts of amps. The equation goes like this Amps x Volts = Watts.

Installing a 240 volt outlet is considered ‘basic’ electrical wiring and it can be done on your own with the correct tools and with a good home electric book. Warning! Electricity is very dangerous and wiring on your own should not be attempted unless it is done so seriously and carefully. If you don’t know what you are doing then contact a professional!

Difference between Lumens & Wattage

Lumens refer to the total number of light particles coming from the bulb. Wattage refers to the amount of electric power, expressed in watts or kilowatts which a bulb uses. In other words, lumens describe bulb brightness while wattage describes the power usage.

Difference between High Pressure Sodium (HPS) & Metal Halide (MH)

Although High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide are both types of HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights, they emit different color spectrums. High Pressure Sodium bulbs emit very bright light that is concentrated in the red to yellow side of the spectrum and weak in the blue-violet end. Metal Halide bulbs, by contrast, emit a very balanced light, which contains all the energy peaks of the visible spectrum. Both types of lighting have their place in an indoor growing environment.

Another difference is the lumens per watt of both bulbs. (Lumens is the measurement for the efficiency of the bulb or how much light you’re producing for the amount of electricity you’re using.) Sodium bulbs produce between 97 and 150 lumens per watt. Halide lights produce 65-115 lumens per watt. An easy way to tell difference between the two types is by appearance. Sodium bulbs appear very yellow-orange, Halide bulbs appear more blue-white.

Which type of light is better, HPS or MH?

There are several things to consider when picking the right light for your gardening needs.

First, what type of natural light are you working with? When supplementing natural sunlight, use a High Pressure Sodium bulb to extend daylight in the early spring and fall. You can also use them on low light cloudy days. When no natural light is available at all, a Metal Halide bulb is most frequently used, , which is a very wide spectrum bulb perfect for indoor growing. Halide lights are excellent for vegetative growth for leafy plants like lettuce and basil.

A second factor is bulb efficiency and life expectancy. Sodium bulbs are superior to Halide bulbs in terms of efficiency: they put out more light per watt and last approximately twice as long. Of course, Halide lights provide a much better spectral distribution, so ultimately, the decision about what’s best comes down to what’s most important to you.

Why do people use a Metal Halide for vegetative growth and a High Pressure Sodium light for flowering?

There are a couple of reasons growers switch between bulbs during different stages of plant growth. First, Sodium bulbs can make some plants grow “leggy” and stretched out due to the high yellow to red spectrum they give off. Halide bulbs tend to keep plants “tighter”, with less space between internodes. Consequently, some people use Metal Halide lights during vegetative growth to keep the structural growth of the plant nice and tight, but switch to Sodium bulbs during the flowering stage when plants need more light. Although Sodium bulbs don’t have balanced a spectrum as Halide bulbs, the intense light they put off does promote flower and fruit development. Bottom line: switching bulbs is a matter of personal preference.

Can I use different bulbs in my system?

No. Never interchange bulbs between systems unless they are specifically designed to do so. Lots of people ask if they can use a 1000 watt bulb in a 400 system and the answer is NEVER! It’s dangerous; the bulb could become unstable and explode. You should also never put Halide bulbs is a High Pressure Sodium system or High Pressure Sodium bulbs in a Metal Halide system. The ballasts are only meant to run the type of bulb they are rated fo. r If you want to interchange bulbs between systems get a conversion bulb; a High Pressure Sodium bulb designed to run off a Halide ballast and vice versa. But remember — only put the bulb in a system it is designed for.

What are conversion bulbs and how do they work?

Conversion bulbs are designed to allow Metal Halide systems to produce High Pressure Sodium light and High Pressure Sodium systems to produce Metal Halide light. This type of bulb allows you to tailor the light source to the growth stage of the plant (again, using halide blue light for growth and sodium red light for flowering/budding) merely by changing bulbs.

Are there ballasts that are capable of burning both MH bulbs and HPS bulbs?

Yes. You’ve got three great Sun System options from Sunlight Supply. The Sun System VI is a switchable ballast, so you can use either Metal Halide OR High Pressure Sodium bulbs. You simply insert the appropriate lamp and set the switch to the correct operational setting.

The other two options allow you to burn both types of bulbs at the same time. The Sun VII allows for the burning of both types of bulbs under the same reflector and Sun System VIII burns each kind of bulb under two separate reflectors. (It’s a great choice for use with a light mover.)

What size light should I purchase?

It depends on your space and electrical requirements. First, figure out what square footage you’ll be working with. But don’t just figure for the whole room. Figure out what the plant area is that you need to cover. Multiply length x width to get square footage. You’ll need at least 30 watts per square foot. For example: if you have a 4 x 4 area, which equals 16 square feet, multiplied by 30 watts you get 480 watts. That means you need at least a 430 watt light. Keep in mind, the actual amount of light you’ll need depends on the amount of light you’re the type of plants you are growing like. Some plants like more light, some like less.

How many lights will I need?

We’ve created a Lighting Calculator to help you figure out the correct number of lights for your room. It will tell you the wattage per square foot of various lighting configurations of your choosing. Play with it to decide what sort of lighting arrangement you’ll need.

For optimum lumens, you’ll need between 20 (minimum) and 60 (maximum) watts per square foot. There may be several different arrangements that will give you the optimum light energy. For example if you needed 2400 watt, you could fill that wil (2) 1000 watt lights and a 400 or with (4) 600 watt lights, etc.

What is the life cycle of MH and HPS lamps?

Metal Halide lamps should be changed at least every 6 to 12 months if you’re burning them 18 hours per day. High Pressure Sodium bulbs, burned at 12 hours per day, will last between 6 months and a year and a half depending on the bulb.

What precautions should I take with a HID lighting system?

A little care should be taken to ensure the safety of your HID lighting system. Remote ballasts should be placed safely out of the way where they can not be knocked over or splashed with water. Ideally they should be off the floor to allow for better cooling and to prevent problems in the case of flooding. Ballasts can get very warm and should not be placed near anything flammable.

Always be sure that the outlet the lamp is plugged into is rated for the amount of electricity you are using. Pulling too much electricity through too small of wiring can cause electrical fires. We suggest putting all lighting systems on GFCI outlets. You have probably seen these kinds of outlets – they have a small red ‘reset button on them. They can prevent electrical fires.

A GFCI is not dependent of a ground to function. It does not measure shorts to the ground, it measures the current difference between the hot and neutral wires. A sudden difference of 5 ma. or more, indicating that there is another path for the electricity to flow through will trip this device. It protects any appliance plugged into it, and can also be wired to protect other outlets that are connected to it.

Can HDI bulbs explode?

HID bulbs can explode if it is not handled correctly. This will occur if the bulb is very cold when first turned on, or if it contains fingerprint oils or moisture. To prevent accidents, never pick the bulb up directly by the glass – you need to be careful about fingerprints getting on it.. Handle the bulb by the base and wrap the glass body in a paper towel. Handling the bulb through the paper towel, screw it carefully into the lamp body.

If you need to clean the bulb, use a towel lightly dampened with window glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol; wipe all fingerprints, dust and impurities from bulb’s glass surface. Let dry thoroughly before installing. After cleaning, always handle the glass through a paper towel. Also, make sure bulb is warmed up to room temperature before installing.

My bulb flickers when I first turn it on, is this normal?

It usually takes about 30 seconds for a bulb to ignite, and it can take up to 5 minutes for it to reach full brightness. As the lamp brightens, it will probably flicker and change color for several minutes. This is totally normal and is nothing to worry about.

How long must I wait to turn my lighting system on again after being turned off?

When MH bulbs are turned off they should be left to cool for 20 minutes before re-starting. Turning a Metal Halide bulb on when it is already hot severely shortens the life of the bulb and it can affect the intensity of the light. Metal Halides should be replaced after a year of heavy use.

High Pressure Sodium bulbs can be restarted after only 2 or 3 minutes after being turned off, and they should be replaced every two to three years.

How do I hang my lighting system?

Installing the fixture and reflector is very easy. Locate a stud in the ceiling in the area from which you wish to hang the lamp. Screw in a metal hook capable of holding 40 to 50 pounds and test the strength. Attach a 6 foot chain to the hook(s) on the fixture and hang the fixture from the ceiling hook at the desired height. The chain allows for the easy raising and lowering of the light as needed.

As an alternative to hanging the light from your ceiling you can purchase a light stand.

What is the difference between Teklight and New Wave units?

Both units have the same lumens/watt. The difference is in the quality of workmanship and materials. The TekLight is sleek, black, and very nice looking. The New Wave is more of a shop light. Both lights come with a two year warranty. In the end it comes down to the esthetics.

Can I grow a tomato or pepper full term under one of the newer high intensity lamps like as the New Wave or Teklight?

The 48″ T5 bulbs are reported to be about 5,000 lumens per bulb. So an 8 light model is somewhere in the range of a 40,000 lumens. That is just barely enough to grow only one tomato per fixture. If you wnat to grow more then one plant, it is probably beter to go with an HID light. You may do a bit better with peppers, but they really vary in what they need. You might be able to grow a few plants under an 8 light model, depending on the variety. For a point of reference, in a sunny summer location, Mother Nature will flood every square foot of garden space with 75,000-100,000 lumens of perfectly balanced sunlight.
A 400 watt HPS bulb is somewhere around 45,000-55,000 lumens
A 600 watt HPS bulb is somewhere around 85,000- 95,000 lumens
A 1000 watt HPS bulb is about 100,00 lumens.
What the T5 fixtures are good for is vegetating plants. They are very similar to MH bulb in their ability. You can grow beautiful herbs and lettuces under them. Also some orchids do well under them. They are great for starting a batch of tomatoes under and having some really nice size plants to set under an HID light or outside for flowering or fruiting.

I tried to grow tomatoes under four 48″ fluorescent bulbs rated at 1900 lumes. My plants were pale and spindly. Is my light level too low? What kind of light do you suggest? I used FloraFro, FloraBloom, & FloraMicro fertilizers and followed directions. What am I doing wrong?

Your plant light levels are FAR too low to grow any kind of fruiting or flowering plants. Fluorescnets are great for early plant stages-you can vegetate a plant under them and do all right. But you will completely fail for blooming (as you unfortunately learned). If you think about it tomatoes grow in full sun in the summer time (see previous question for further information). These fluorescent lights aren’t putting out anywhere near that kind of energy. What you need is an HID light. We suggest a 400 watt HPS light.

How much area can a 400 watt HID lighting system cover? And how much improvement would putting it on a mover offer?

A 400w HID covers 3×3 in “Full sun” anything beyond that is “partial sun”. If you were to put it on a mover and cover a 6×3 area it would be as if it were a 200w light with “partial sun”. This is fine, not good or great for vegetation .You will not want to do this in bloom because it will result in stretchy, leggy plants with small fruits and flowers. We suggest you consider a 600w or 1000w if you are going to put it on a light mover and cover a 4×6 or 4×8 area. 600w covers a 3.5-4ft x 3.5-4ft area in “full sun”. A thousand watt covers a 4-4.5 ft area in “full sun.”

What type of light system that comes wired to plug in to a standard home outlet would be best for someone with a limited grow space for indoor plants?

Most of our lighting systems are wired to plug in to a standard 120V outlet. You can special order a system for a 240V outlet (the type of outlet you would plug a washing machine in to). There’s a ballast kit that you can screw a fluorescent light into which runs around $110. However we highly recommend that you spend a little more money and get an all in one HID light kit. The kit comes with the reflector, an HPS 400w light bulb, a socket, and ballast. This ballast and bulb kit will plug directly in to a standard wall outlet. We recommend you look at the Sun System V EconoGro Mini.

Can a T5 flourescent light fit in to a standard flourescent light fixture?

Unfortunately nothing that you would be able to pick up at a local hardware store would work with the T5. The T5 fits in to it’s own fixture.

Is there a light, for under $200, that you could recommend for growing fruits and vegetables in a basement year round?


We recommend either the Sunsystem V HPS 400w or the Sunsystem X HPS with econowing.

Can the HID bulbs you sell plug in to a regular socket?

HID (metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium) do not plug into regular sockets. They need to plug into a “mogul” base socket which will plug (and be charged by) a HID ballast (in the case of Grolux- an HPS ballas 600W). The ballast is equipped with the requisite transformer, capacitor, and ignitor- which are all you need to fire up the bulb.

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