If you’re a fan of gardening, then you know this hobby can be quite tricky. There are a ton of factors to take into consideration, from water to humidity and from temperature to light. The latter is a real deal breaker when it comes to growing plants because some of them really need to be exposed to light for longer periods of time in order for them to grow. Depending on where you live and what time of the year it is, plants may not get sufficient light, especially if they’re being cultivated indoors. That’s where grow lights come in.
What exactly is a Grow Light?
A grow light is an artificial source of lighting that acts as a supplement or an addition to the natural light that your indoor plants have to receive to grow properly. These lights stimulate photosynthesis, which becomes a harder process when natural light is not sufficient, especially during the winter (when days are shorter, and light is scarce). Grow lights will often imitate the light spectrum of the sun or, depending on the model that you choose, can also be more customized to match the needs of specific cultivated plants.
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Plants need a balanced light spectrum to grow and your current home lights won’t do the trick. In general, the normal light bulbs that we use around the house will emit one or more of the spectrum’s colors in excess (for instance, regular incandescent bulbs spread powerful nuances of yellow, red and orange). At this point, you may think “OK, I have a sunlamp, I’ll just use that!” Sunlamps are damaging to plants, as they produce a large amount of ultraviolet or infrared rays. Even more, they will consume a considerable amount of electricity, which is why you need something more power-saving if it’s going to run 14 hours per day.
What to Consider When Choosing a Growth Light
There are 3 key factors that stand behind the decision of purchasing one grow light or another: intensity, color, and duration.
As far as light intensity is concerned, you should know that fluorescent of LED lights is your best option. In order to control the intensity of the light that your plant receives, you can either place the light closer or farther away from the plant or you can control the brightness of the bulb. If your plants are still in the seed starting phase, LED grow lights are the way to go, as they don’t disperse a tremendous amount of heat. They will also save you money on electricity and consumables since LED lights will last 5 times longer than fluorescent bulbs.
For better adjusting, the light’s intensity, use an adjustable fixture, that will allow you to raise the distance between the plant and the bulb as the seedlings grow. Compared to LED lights, fluorescent ones are not that intense, and they are generally recommended if you’re only growing a small number of indoor plants. LEDs are preferred if you’re working with a larger quantity of plants.
As we mentioned earlier, specific plants may need specific grow light colors. However, full-spectrum lights are still great options, as they imitate natural light and are great for growing indoor plants.
As far as light duration is concerned, a grow light with an automatic timer can save you the hassle of turning the bulb on and off as needed. A lot of vegetables require between 14 and 18 hours of sunlight, as well as about 6 hours of darkness. But if you’d like to learn more about grow lights and purchasing them, you can find that info here on this article.
How to Install Grow Lights
There are 3 main things to consider here:
- You need to figure out how many light bulbs you need. This number will vary depending on the amount and type of plants you’re growing. Some plants will absorb about 30 watts/square foot, while fruits will need about 40 to 50.
- The intensity of the light will be adjusted as the seedlings grow. That means that a light rack needs to be positioned at a specific height. Lighting fixtures are also an option.
- Timers and ventilation systems are also important in order to fully benefit from grow lights. If you opt for LED lights, ventilation systems are not required, since LEDs don’t produce tremendous amounts of heat.
Growing plants indoors can be a real hassle if you’re not really passionate about gardening or cooking (and you want to use the freshest ingredients there are). The money that you spend on grow lights can vary significantly, depending on how much natural light your plants receive, on how many different types of plants you’re looking to grow or what growth stage they’re in. But if you’re up for the challenge, there’s nothing like adding fresh basil to your next dish of pasta Bolognese!