Let’s face it! Plants require light. The question is how much light do they need? The answer depends on what type of plant you are growing. Generally speaking, plants require light to produce energy through photosynthesis. This energy is used by plants to carry out various functions, including growth and flowering.
Many factors influence how much light a plant needs, but one of the most important factors is whether or not your plant is an indoor or outdoor plant. In general, indoor plants require less light than outdoor plants because they are protected from harsh elements such as wind and intense sunlight. However, some indoor plants still need more light than others, especially if you want them to proliferate and flourish during their lifetime. With that in mind, this article seeks to shed light on how to choose the best grow lights for your indoor plants.
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Types of Grow Lights
The following are different types of grow lights you can consider. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Make sure to choose a lighting system that best fits your needs.
These are the cheapest type of grow lights you can buy. They do fantastic in a selected number of plants and produce a lot of heat. This means you’ll have a two-foot distance or more between your plant and light.
Advantages of Incandescent bulbs
- Cheap for the consumer
- Safe to handle
- No flicker
- Awesome for lighting small areas
- No toxic materials
Disadvantages of Incandescent bulbs
- Not energy Efficient
- Low lifespan
These are popular types of grow lights that produce low levels of heat. The bulbs come in various shapes and sizes, and the best part is some offer a broader light spectrum that your plants need. However, the traditional options aren’t as efficient as their LED counterparts. And since fluorescent lights produce less heat, you can place them closer to your plants. This means you’ll have more control over the temperature in your grow room. They’re also safe to handle because they don’t contain toxic materials. Some people even choose these types of grow lights because they’re affordable (compared to other lighting systems).
Advantages of Fluorescent lights
Energy Efficiency: This means you’ll spend less on electricity. Fluorescent light is roughly 10 times more efficient than an incandescent bulb. And since they’re cheaper, you can also invest in other energy-efficient grow room equipment.
Cost Savings: With time, you’ll be able to recoup your initial investment in fluorescent lights. They last long, and they’re cheaper than other types of grow lights. Some even say you can save up to 50% on electricity costs when using these lights.
Less Heat Output: Because fluorescent bulbs don’t produce much heat, you can place them closer to your plants. This means you’ll have more control over the temperature inside your grow room. However, there are also downsides to using fluorescent lights… some plants don’t do well under them (so choose wisely).
Long Light Life: A fluorescent bulb can last anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 hours. This means you won’t have to replace it as often as you’d have to with other types of grow lights.
Disadvantages of Fluorescent lights
Contains Mercury: Undeniably, mercury is one of the most toxic substances on Earth. It’s in fluorescent bulbs, making it a dangerous item to have around kids and pets. So if you choose these types of grow lights, ensure you dispose of them properly once they stop working.
Higher Initial Cost: Fluorescent light is more expensive than an incandescent bulb. You’ll also need other grow room equipment that may cost more, such as a timer. But you can recoup your initial investment once you start growing healthy plants at home.
These new kid-on-the-block grow lights are quickly becoming a favorite among indoor gardeners. They’re more efficient than other grow lights and don’t generate as much heat, which is excellent news if you live in a small apartment or have limited space. LEDs are also extremely durable and last longer than fluorescent or HID lights.
Advantages of LED lighting
Greater Efficiency: Usually, LED lights to use up less energy than other types of grow lights. That means you’ll spend less money on your electric bill and have a smaller carbon footprint. LEDs also last longer than fluorescent or HID lights, so you won’t have to replace them often.
Longer Lifespan: As mentioned above, LEDs last longer than other types of grow lights. You’ll get at least 50,000 hours out of a good LED grow light before it needs replacing, and some LEDs can even keep running well past 60,000 hours.
Cooler Temperature: LEDs also generate much less heat than other types of grow lights. If you’re running your lights in a small home or apartment, that’s great news because it means you won’t have to worry about excessive heat damaging your house. However, be careful if you live in a hot climate because your LED grow lights may not be able to stay cool enough on their own. Investing in an LED fan and other cooling tools may be a good idea.
The Full Spectrum: LEDs can produce a wide range of wavelengths that allow your plants to get all of their nutritional needs. That’s why LEDs are becoming so popular among indoor gardeners: they make it easy to maintain an ideal growing environment, which leads to bigger and better harvests.
Disadvantages of LED lighting
Less Powerful: LEDs are not as powerful as other types of grow lights. If you’re planning on growing many plants in a small space, or if you have an extremely bright light source such as natural sunlight, you may need a more powerful LED grow light. For most indoor gardeners, however, LED lights will be plenty powerful and efficient.
Light Bleaching Risk: LEDs have a very bright light, which can actually make them more harmful than other types of grow lights. If you keep your plants under LEDs for too long, they’ll start getting bleached because they’re getting overexposed to light. So even though LEDs are more efficient than other types of grow lights, you may still want to move your plants around from time to time.
Blue Light is bad for you but great for plants: There is a belief but not proven that the blue light produced by LEDs is harmful to the human eyes, but it’s great for plants. So if you keep your plants under LEDs for too long, they may get bleached because they’re getting overexposed to light. That’s why it’s important to move your plants around from time to time so that they don’t get bleached and don’t start growing sideways.
Despite High-Intensity Discharge lighting being expensive to buy and operate, it’s still a popular choice among indoor gardeners. HID lights are very powerful and can produce a lot of light in a small space. If you have a large grow room or if you’re growing many plants at once, then an HID light may be right for you. However, if you have limited space or just want to grow one plant at a time, then it may be best to choose another type of grow light.
Advantages of High-Intensity Discharge lights
- Less costly than LED
- Fast plant growth
- Deliver large yields
- Ideal for all scales of plant growth
Disadvantages of High-Intensity Discharge lights
- Needs own space
- Excess heat production
- Produces a lot of light
How to choose the Best Grow Lights for Your Indoor Plants
There are many aspects you need to consider when choosing the grow lights. Here are a few you should be aware of:
Light intensity: You need to understand how much light your plants will require. This is usually measured in lumens, and it’s a good idea to make sure you know how many lumens your plants need. If you don’t know what they are, ask an expert at your local gardening store. They should be able to give you a rough estimate based on which types of plants you want to grow.
Full-spectrum or colored lights? Many people use full spectrum grow lights, which mimic natural sunlight. However, you can also buy colored lights if you want to change your plants’ color. These are sometimes used in plant photography and design. Some plants react well to specific colors of light, so it’s worth experimenting with different options if you want a unique look.
Type of the grow light: We’ve already discussed different types of grow light. Therefore, you should have a rough idea about which type is best for your plants. For example, LED lights are very efficient and last longer, but they can be expensive and aren’t always as powerful as other options.
Type of indoor plants: Undoubtedly, different plants require different levels of light. It’s a good idea to choose a grow light that suits your specific plant type. For example, you can use fluorescent lights with cacti and succulents because they don’t need very much light.
The price range of grow lights: Finding a balance between quality and price when choosing indoor lighting for your plants is crucial. If you want high-quality lights, expect to pay more. But if you want something affordable, it might not be as powerful or long-lasting as more expensive options.
In a nutshell, grow lights for indoor plants are an easy way to add life and color to your home or office. Just choose the right one to ensure you’re providing your plant with enough light to thrive. With many different options available, it’s hard to go wrong!