Lighting is of crucial importance to plant growth and plays an integral role in determining plant yields. Hydroponics growing equipment manufacturers have, therefore incorporated a broad assortment of lighting system designs to meet certain requirements of different plants which are grown in indoor grow rooms.
They vary, depending mainly on the plant type, the region where the plants are grown and the proximity of the plant into the light source. The main consideration is the light level that a specific plant needs for healthy development. Some plants such as houseplants and ferns do not need as much light as salads and culinary herbs while berries, orchids and flowering plants require the most quantity of lighting. It’s been observed that indoor growers typically often under-illuminate their indoor grow rooms as they attempt to cover too large an area with the available light. They need to comprehend the importance of adequate lighting bearing in mind that a smaller area that is adequately lighted will produce much better results than a larger one with insufficient lighting.
Fluorescent lamps are ideally suited to small scale salad and herb gardens and for the production of seedlings and cuttings. T-5 Fluorescent lights are acceptable for slightly larger plants since the T-5 fluorescent bulbs are roughly equal in PAR value to a 400 watt Metal Halide light. These lights will need to be kept near the plants on all sides, but will grow fantastic plants with short internode distances as long as the plant aren’t too large. T-5’s are best suited to vegetative growth.
High Intensity Discharge Lighting
Vegetables, flowers and several other plant varieties do best with all the light they can
Get and the contemporary HID lights provide exactly what they need. HID lighting has developed improvements in lamp and reflector design from a piece of equipment for specific requirements to a almost”plug and play” use for the lay person. HID lights come in two designs – with remote ballasts and as incorporated ballasts. The remote ballast design has the benefit of its lightweight reflector unit needing to be suspended from the ceiling; the integrated layout demands the complete unit including the heavy ballast to be suspended.
HID lighting comes in two basic types- Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium. Metal Halide HID lighting generates a blue white light, and has been recognized as especially well suited to general plant growth, while the High Pressure Sodium which generates a red/orange light is much better suited to the flowering and fruiting period through which crops can more readily use it. Both kinds of HID lighting are in use with growers either alternating both according to the plant growth cycle or mixing both throughout the crop. However, the most recent design of Sodium lamps that are currently available in the”Agro” or”PLANTA” range can offer the light energy needed during the whole cycle of plant growth and are being increasingly used by professional growers.
HID lights can be found in wattage from 250 upto 1000 watts and outside. The lamp which provides the maximum light output, watts used to lumens given is the 600 watt sodium lamp, making 92,000 lumens.
While it’s important to use the ideal lamps to generate the perfect amount and type of lighting, it’s equally important to make certain that the lighting is directed in a way that ensures minimal wastage. Reflector design plays and important role in maximizing light usage; a nicely designed reflector can be as much as 30 percent more effective than a badly designed reflector concerning its capability to minimize light wastage. The most effective reflectors today in the market feature layouts generated using computer aided modeling methods. These layouts maximize light reflection on the plants and improve lamp life.
Along with efficient lighting reflectors, rail systems which enable movement of lamp to make sure light exposure to the most remote plant go a long way in improving light utilization. A rail system known as the Light Rail 3.5 has been shown to be especially helpful in improving light usage and needs to be considered by those that have a rectangular climbing area. This is a very simple device that uses a six foot railing with a precision engineered carrier which moves the light back and forth within the growing region. The Light Rail 3.5 system provides numerous advantages- it covers a larger area and ensures that all plants get the same amount of light; it eliminates having the plants transferred around for mild exposure and it removes shadows thereby ensuring uniform plant growth. Additionally, it affords closer exposure of plants to light without burning the foliage. There are other systems that move the light along a circular route, these are more suited to square grow chambers. Some systems also allow combination lighting using a Metal Halide Lamp on one arm and a High Pressure Sodium on another, or 4 distinct ceramic bulbs on 4 individual arms, each providing a different colour temperature. These 4 unique bulbs combine to create one quite full spectrum when blended by means of a circular or rotating light mover.
Reflective surfaces around the growing area can make a difference in the quantity of light that plants will get. Poor reflectivity of the surfaces around a plant will reduce the quantity of light as the surfaces will absorb the majority of the incident light. It’s not tricky to ensure highly reflecting surfaces around the plants at a grow room. Walls can be easily painted with flat white paint, which is an exceptional reflector. If this isn’t possible the walls can be covered with black/white plastic film which may also be used for the flooring. Polystyrene foam sheeting is also utilised as it’s a good reflecting surface. The most reflective floor covering is brilliant white vinyl. It’s hard and tough and makes a perfect reflecting surface. Finally, there’s MYLAR, the most reflective material that could reflect 92% of the light it receives.
Automatic turning on and from the lighting system requires using an efficient timer. Incorporating a timer at the lighting system makes sure that the plants in the grow area are exposed to light for the”on” setup and the lights are switched off to the”away” set time. The constant uninterrupted repetition of the on/off cycle is essential; a reliable, fantastic excellent timer is so important. It’s ideal to prevent ordinary non-grounded plug-in timers as these are more prone to failures causing disruption of flowering cycles in certain plants and increased electricity bills.
Power consumption is one of the elements that will need to be considered while working the economics of this project. However, this shouldn’t ordinarily dissuade the beginner as the
Costs involved are surprisingly modest. The newcomer should work out the energy requirement and its economics at the beginning to prevent problems later.
Grow-rooms can be damp and humid. All electrical equipment, fittings and accessories should be carefully positioned to prevent any contact with water splashes. It’s advisable to seek the support of a certified electrician when installing the electric system.