Hydroponic Lighting System Basics Applied
The main principle here is that you will have to recreate every element a plant needs to thrive in an indoor environment. On this blog, we’ll be discussing lighting. Your indoor garden will require a hydroponic lighting system. Still, if you are just getting started and don’t know what you’ll need, we will show you how to apply the essentials to get your system up and running.
How do you know which one is best from various hydroponic lights and hydroponic lighting system components? What do you need and don’t need? It all boils down to understand your hydroponic garden needs. These are specifically:
Size of Garden:
You don’t want to place a single lamp that only illuminates a portion of your garden or too many lights in a small area. You require fewer or more lamps depending on the size of your garden.
Type of Plant:
Plants aren’t exposed to sunlight all the time, and neither should your indoor garden. In general terms, plants need 14 to 16 of light and the rest in darkness. Still, some species prefer more or less light, so it is good to do some digging about how much light the plants in your garden require before choosing a setup.
The type of plant will also determine other factors like the light’s color. The color should answer to a specific temperature required measured in kelvins. Last but not least, the amount of power (watts) you need depends if your plants are high light or low light. The first one requires 40 watts per square foot and the second 25 watts per square foot.
Some choices come down to your budget. Compact fluorescent lights, for instance, have a lower cost than hydroponic LED grow lights. If you have a tighter budget, you can still manage to have an adequate hydroponic lighting system. If you want to invest more in improvements later, that will be fine as well.
We don’t see a standard method for mounting your hydroponic lighting system simply because it depends on your setup. Whatever suits it best will be the right one for you. We’ll touch on different methods ahead.
Assembling Your Hydroponic Lighting System Basics
With the previous considerations in mind, you can apply them when choosing your hydroponic lighting system elements. Again, this will be different for everyone, but we show you the essential components every hydroponic lighting system should have:
- The Lamp & Bulbs:
This aspect is where most confusion arises. There are many types of hydroponic lights, and many people wonder which style is more appropriate. Here is a quick rundown of each to make it easier:
- HID (High-Intensity Discharge Lights): These are by far the most popular ones because they’re the closest to sunlight in temperature. It would be best if you hung them at the right height to avoid burning the plants. They come in two types:
- Metal Halide (MH): It produces blue light and lasts 1 to 2 years.
- High-Pressure Sodium(HPS): It makes orange light and lasts five years.
- Fluorescent Lights: As we discussed before, there are many fluorescent lights and many colors. Each color (or amount of Kelvins) is best suited for a different growth stage. You can also keep fluorescent lights closer to the plants.
There are also different fluorescent lights within the category, such as T5 Fluorescent, which doesn’t produce too much heat; compact fluorescent, which has more power; and is more efficient due to its fluorescent induction.
- Hydroponic LED grow lights: LED lights emit lower heat but have PAR light efficiency. They have to be placed 24 to 36 inches above the plants.
When choosing your bulb, remember to select the right amount of power (watts) based on the size and type of plant.
If you opt for an HID or fluorescent light, you will need a ballast, as it is its power source and regulator. They should match in wattage; otherwise, your lights won’t work. We recommend buying them in sets to ensure they match. Remote ballasts are available for increased safety. Also, make sure to know if your lights require an electronic or magnetic ballast.
On the other hand, if you choose an LED bulb, a ballast won’t be necessary. Again, all you have to do is make sure the plants have the proper placement, which leads us to the next element.
- Hanging Method:
We will share different ideas for hanging your hydroponic lighting system, which you can evaluate to meet your requirements, but what is important to remember is to place the hydroponic lights at the proper distance, based on your bulb and plant types.
As far as the actual method, more advanced solutions can be a custom PVC pipe stand, a light frame, or grow tent, if you have one. Suppose you are looking for something beginner-friendly. In that case, you can use wire racks. However, if you have beams, they are perfect for hanging your hydroponic lights.
A reflector’s primary function is to bounce the otherwise waste light to your plants, making it reusable and spreading it effectively. They can either be open for a lower wattage hydroponic lighting system or high-ceiling areas or sealed, which exhausts heat away from the bulb.
Timers are a vital element in a hydroponic lighting system to maintain your lighting schedule. Once you’ve designed it based on your plant’s species, you can set the timer so that slight mistakes don’t throw your plant’s growth off balance.
Time To Apply The Basics
Now that you know the basics of a hydroponic system, you can go the route that suits you best and customize it to your preference. There is more to learn about hydroponics. We will be sharing it in our upcoming blogs.