What Lighting To Consider For Your Hydroponic Setup
All hydroponic setups need sufficient lighting to compensate for a lack of direct access to natural sunlight. Choosing the best lighting options for your hydroponic setup can be daunting, because of the sheer volume of options available. Your final choice will also need to take into consideration the size of your hydroponic system and type of plants (short day plants, long day plants and day-neutral plants) being cultivated. Here’s why hydroponic lighting is so important and how to choose the best one for your setup.
The need for artificial lighting in hydroponics
Like in traditional agriculture, hydroponic plants require adequate light throughout their stages of growth. As hydroponic systems are indoor systems, light sources are artificial, and their goal is to simulate the positive effects that direct and indirect sunlight has on plants.
3 common types of lighting used in hydroponics
1. High-Intensity Discharge lamps
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps are high output light sources that are used by the majority of hydroponic growers. There are generally two types of HID lamps:
- Metal Halide (MH): this lighting is a good all-rounder that works well for numerous vegetable plants. MH offers a colour temperature output of between 4000K and 6000K. Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) lighting is a variation that produces higher arc tube temperatures resulting in improved output and enhanced Colour Rendering.
- High-Pressure Sodium (HPS): this type of lamp utilises sodium and gas to produce light and is recommended for plants in either the flowering or fruiting stage. HPS lamps are incredibly efficient lamps thanks to the significant PPF (red growth light) output and can be used in conjunction with MH lamps.
Fluorescent bulbs are better than incandescent bulbs as they convert electrical energy more efficiently. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) are an energy-saving option suitable for all stages of a plant’s growth – from seedling to flowering.
3. Light Emitting Diode (LEDs)
LEDs produce light in wavelengths, offering a unique light spectrum that enhances photosynthesis. The energy efficiency of this bulb makes it a lighting choice of note for growers. It’s great at encouraging vegetative growth but versatile enough for all growth stages.