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ARCHIE ADAMSEditor-in-Chief of the Home Maker Guide
What is a grow light? You may wonder. Over the years, grow lights have become a very handy utility for commercial growers and even hobbyists. This is because of the aide they provide for the growth process of plants. Grow are electric light bulbs that act as a synthetic form of sunlight to promote the growth of plants. You must be wondering why we need them when we have sunlight. Well, that’s probably true but there are times when the sun isn’t there to provide light for plants like in the night or when the sunlight isn’t enough to support the plant growth during cloud days. That’s when the grow light becomes very useful. They can be used by the hobbyist or commercial gardener for producing plants for fruits, herbs, or flowers.
What Kind of Light do Plants Need?
The kind of light needed by plants you wish to grow depends on some factors like the stage in which the plant is growing, your purpose for the plant and the type of plants.
For plants that are growing and maturing, they need a warmer and shorter wavelength of light. For plants needed for flowering and production, cooler and longer wavelengths of light are best for them to grow well and fast. Ultraviolet light is also used just before you harvest the plant to reduce or prevent the growth of bacteria.
Does the Color of Light Affect Plant Growth?
When you begin to grow plants with grow light you start to ask yourself whether the color of light will affect the growth of your plant. The short answer is yes. The effects of the color of the light on the plants is most noticed when the intensity of the light is low. The minimal effect is noticed with green and yellow while blue and red light gives the best result for the plant growth. Ultraviolet lights apart from preventing bacteria growth can cause damage and burns to the leaves of your plants if they are exposed for a prolonged period.
How do Grow Lights Work?
You may probably wonder how they grow light work to cause the plants to grow. The grow light provides light just like regular bulb except that they produce light at concentrate level at a very specific wavelength of light e.g. red blue and ultraviolet (UV) unlike regular which produces light in the full range of white spectrum which isn’t specific and particularly useful for the plants.
The wavelengths that support the growth of plants are known as photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) which is the 400-700 nanometer within the spectrum of light. 400-490 nanometer is blue light for the vegetative stage of growth in plant and 580 -700 nanometer for orange-red light used for plants in their flowering stage.
The PAR help to aid the process of photosynthesis. Well, you might have forgotten what that scientific word you heard in high school means, photosynthesis is the process by which light energy is converted to energy in the plant to grow and thrive. The grow light effect on the plants depends on the wavelength, intensity, and duration of the light on the plant.
Are Grow Lights Safe?
Grow light is generally safe but they become unsafe when they are used in a wrong way just like your regular bulb.
For you to be able to determine the harmful effect of grow light you need to take into account the following aspect of lighting; wavelength, intensity and duration
For wavelengths, the chances of causing damage to the body increase as the wavelength become shorter. Ultraviolet and blue light which have shorter wavelengths can cause harm to the skin and eye due to factors like photochemical action and high intensity. Red light which has a longer wavelength does not usually cause any harm to the eye or skin if the intensity is not high.
For intensity, this will increase as the quantity of the wattage and luminaries increases. The plant needs a very good amount of intensity of light for it to grow which is enough to damage your eye regardless of taking into account duration and wavelength.
For the duration, the longer you exposed to the light the more you increase your chances of getting sunburned. The same applies if you stare at the light emitting from the bulb for too long it can damage your eye.
So, to avoid harm to your eyes and skin it is advisable to use good protective eyeglass and reduce the amount of time spent under the grow lights.
Types of Grow Lights
At this point, it is important to note that there are different types of grow lights for indoor plants. It is important not to get confused. We hope to shed some light on the different types of grow lights so you can make a more informed decision
What are Incandescent Bulbs for Plants?
Incandescent bulbs for plants were among the most popular bulbs. However, they got replaced by more efficient, longer-lasting choices. Incandescent light bulbs are known to have multiple issues such as inefficiency and the fact that it may produce incorrect wavelengths needed for plant growth.
What are Fluorescent Grow Lights?
Can plants grow under fluorescent lights? Fluorescent grow lights are very popular especially for the early stages of the life cycle of a plant. Commercial farmers and even hobbyists often use them for root cuttings and evolving of seeds. Fluorescent grow lights are very useful during the early – mid-phase of the vegetative growth process. Another reason this type of grow light is very popular is that it is energy efficient, it doesn’t generate too much heat and comes in portable sizes for indoor use.
What is LED (light-emitting diodes) Grow Light?
You may be wondering are led lights good for plants? Do led grow lights work? Can you use regular led lights for grow lights? LED is also very popular among several growers because of their unique benefits which other types of grow light can’t compete with. Do LED lights help plants grow? The answer to that will be in the affirmative. LED grow lights use an extremely low amount of energy and generate very little heat. This is very important especially for growers who can’t afford to spend so much money lighting up their gardens. It is also ideal for those without so much space. Additionally, LED lights are made up of several diodes. This means that each diode can be specifically customized to produce the light wavelength of your choice. It is important to note that most advanced LED lights are custom-built by growers using chip onboard LEDs for maximum customizability and light output. There are different kinds of LED lights. Thus, it is important to choose the best LED grow lights depending on your needs. For instance, a small low wattage LED bulb can be too much for your small garden, but if you have a huge garden, you can opt for something more powerful.
However, LED lights can be very expensive compared to fluorescent lights. It can also be harmful to the eyes.
What is High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Light?
HID lights are very popular because of its amazing light output and the fact that it is cost-effective. They can generate high-intensity UV rays and improve natural light to help plants grow more efficiently indoors. These are considerably cheaper than LED lights. However, because HID generates more heat, it must not be too close to the plants.
What is Metal Halide (MH) Grow Light?
This kind is also quite popular especially during the vegetative period of the life cycle of a plant. This is as a result of the fact that they produce more light within the blue range of the light spectrum.
What is High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) Grow Light?
High-pressure sodium grows lights are used throughout the life cycle of a plant. However, they are more effective during the fruiting or flowering phase. During the final days of a plant’s life, they produce more red and orange light which are used heavily during that period. HPS, just like HID generates a lot of heat so a great distance from plants must be maintained. Investments may also be required to set up systems to manage ventilation and heat. The bottom line is that HPS is not for beginners but experienced growers.
The fact remains that the replacement of bulbs from time to time is necessary no matter how well you keep your bulbs. However, as a rule of thumb, LED bulbs last longer than other bulbs, which is about 15-20 years. On the other hand, incandescent bulbs degrade between 6-9 months. What kind of lights to grow plants? It should be noted that there two different lights for different purposes. The one this guide is centered upon is grow lights which are specifically designed to promote plant growth. On the other hand, regular lights are designed for everyday use. However, a regular light bulb may emit the wavelengths needed for plant growth. This does not make it ideal as it won’t be concentrated enough for efficient use. Also, for growers that are unable to grow cannabis, Marijuana, or other weeds under free abundant sunshine, you may be wondering what light to use for growing weed. The good news is you may also use any of the grow light mentioned above as it is also applicable even for weeds. And if you want to opt for a humidifier, it’s best you take into account some factors like cost, size of your room, location, and so on. This way, you can purchase the best humidifier for plants depending on your needs
Therefore, what is the best light for growing plants indoors? So far LED lights have proved to be the most efficient because of its unique benefits as mentioned in our homemakerguide. However, the LED lights are not readily available compared to other types of grow lights. They are also not as cheap. Have you used any of the grow lights? How long did they last? Were they very effective? We would like to know your thoughts in the comment section below.
- 1 What Kind of Light do Plants Need?
- 2 How do Grow Lights Work?
- 3 Are Grow Lights Safe?
- 4 Types of Grow Lights
- 5 Conclusion