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Plant Grow Lighting Questions

Plant Grow Lighting

Incandescent 575 10,000 1200
Metal Halide 400 32,000 20,000
HPS 400 42,000 24,000

What is HID Lighting?
Are grow lights safe to run in my home?
Should I use Metal Halide or HPS Grow Lights?
What are T5 High Output Fluorescent Tek Lights?
When should I use Fluorescent Lighting?
What is Metal Halide (MH) lighting used for?
What is High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lighting used for?
What components do I need to setup a complete grow light system?
Can I run a Metal Halide Bulb on an HPS ballast?
Can I run a HPS bulb on a Metal Halide ballast?
Is there a ballast that runs both Metal Halide & HPS bulbs?
How often should replace my HPS or MH bulb?
What are Conversion Lamps?
What are the benefits of Hortilux bulbs?
What are the benefits Super Metal Halide lamps?
What are the benefits of Sunmaster Warm Deluxe & Cool Deluxe bulbs?
At what height should I hang my grow light reflector?
How much light should I use for my growing area?
What is the Electricity Cost to run Metal Halide & HPS lights?

What is HID Lighting?
HID lighting stands for High Intensity Discharge, which is a special type of lighting that is much more intense than any other lamp available. HID grow lights have revolutionized indoor gardening over the last two decades. There are two types of HID lights used for plant growth: Metal Halide or HPS (High Pressure Sodium). HID grow lights provide exceptional benefits by encouraging stronger, healthier seed starts that mature faster and produce much higher yields. HID is the best type of light available for indoor growing with or without the aid of natural sunlight. It's perfect for growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs year around.

HID lights are more efficient and have a longer life than most other bulb types. The life of HID bulbs ranges from 6,000 to 20,000 hours. To compare the life hours and lumens of incandescent bulbs and HID bulbs see the chart to the left

Are grow lights safe to run in my home?
HID grow light systems are perfectly safe to run in your home. All our grow light systems manufactured by Sunlight Supply are UL listed. The UL listing indicates the grow light has been properly tested for safety.

Can I mix my ballast type & wattage?
HID lighting requires a special ballast or transformer to ignite the bulb or lamp. It is important to always match your ballast and lamp wattage. For example, do not use a 400W HPS lamp with a 1000W HPS ballast. This may fire up the lamp but could cause the lamp to explode or will reduce its life. Also you cannot run a metal halide bulb on a HPS ballast or vice versa. The only exception is with the use of a conversion bulb.

How often should replace my HPS or MH bulb?
HID bulbs should be replaced after 12 to 18 months of use. Although HID lamps will continue to light beyond 18 months of use, they will have lost up to 30 percent or more of their lumen output while consuming the same amount of electricity.

What components do I need to setup a complete grow light system?
A complete grow light system would consist of a ballast, reflector and light bulb. The ballast is needed to ignite the bulb. The reflector or hood is what is used to direct the light and usually has a reflective insert to provide greater light intensity. You can purchase either complete HID grow light systems that include everything you need to get started or select your ballast, reflector and bulb separately. We carry a wide range of MH and HPS grow lights and accessories from National Garden Wholesale (formerly Sunlight Supply).

Should I use Metal Halide or HPS Grow Lights?
Metal Halide Lamps
Metal Halide lamps produce a strong output of the blue spectrum, which will promote strong vegetative growth. This blue spectrum is most needed by plants for rapid growth. It's the best type of light to be used as a primary light source (if little or no natural sunlight is available). If you are growing leafy plants such as lettuce or herbs then a Metal Halide bulb is sufficient. Metal Halide lamps can be used as the primary light source to grow plants from start to finish.

High Pressure Sodium Lamps
HPS lamps produce a red/orange spectrum that promotes fruiting, flowering and budding. HPS bulbs will speed up and increase plant growth during the fruiting and flowering stage. HPS lamps should be used as secondary or supplemental lighting (used in conjunction with natural sunlight). Special enhanced HPS light bulbs such as the Son Agro 430W HPS increases the blue spectrum by 30% making this lamp a great option. HPS lamps are also ideal for Greenhouse/Commercial growing applications.

Optimal Grow Lighting
The best lighting option is to use a Metal Halide and a High Pressure Sodium light at the same time. To accomplish this you could:
     Use two systems - one HPS and one Metal Halide
     Use a Dual Lamp system which includes both a HPS and Metal Halide Bulb
     Use a Switchable system which always you to switch between Metal Halide & HPS during different stages of the growing cycle
     Use a conversion lamp which allows you to switch between bulbs during different stages of plant growth (most economical choice)

Is there a ballast that runs both a Metal Halide & HPS bulb?
We carry a switchable light ballast that allows using either a metal halide or a high pressure sodium lamp. To change from one type of lamp to the other, insert the appropriate lamp and set the switch. This enables growers to use the proper spectrums for vegetable growth (MH) and flowering (HPS) with a simple to use switch. You can purchase a complete switchable ballast system here.

We also carry dual spectrum grow lights which run both an HPS & Metal Halide lamp simultaneously. These Dual Spectrum grow lights combine Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium lamps in one fixture for true full spectrum lighting. To truly get full spectrum light, the blue spectrum of metal halide must be blended with the red spectrum of high pressure sodium. When this is done, the spectrum of the fixture is unparalleled by any single lamp source. You can purchase complete dual spectrum grow lights & ballasts here.

Conversion Lamps
Conversion Lamps allow using existing lighting systems (MH or HPS) to minimize conversion costs. HPS conversion lamps run on a Metal Halide system and converts it to HPS allowing the Metal Halide ballast to produce the red HPS spectrum that promotes flowering. Metal Halide conversion lamps use existing HPS lighting systems and converts HPS to Metal Halide allowing the HPS ballast to produce the blue spectrum that promotes plant growth. This type of lamp allows you to tailor the light source to the growth stage of the plant (again, using halide blue light for growth and sodium red light for flowering/budding) merely by changing lamps.
   High Pressure Sodium Conversion Lamps (run on halide ballasts)
   Metal Halide Conversion Lamps (run on HPS ballasts)

Enhanced Hortilux Grow Light Bulbs
Standard HPS bulbs only include the Red/Orange spectrum (for budding & flowering) but not the blue spectrum needed for plant growth. The EYE Hortilux enhanced performance HPS lamps provide high energy spectral output for plant growth with increased Violet, Blue and Green spectrum. The Eye Hortilux bulb is available in 400, 430, 600 & 1000 Watts.

Super Metal Halide Bulbs
Metal Halide Super Horizontal lamps provide 12% more light output than Universal, but must be burned in a horizontal position. Metal Halide lamps provide a light that is blue-orientated in the spectrum. Super metal halides are available in 250, 400 & 1000 Watts.

Sunmaster Bulbs
Sunmaster Warm Deluxe Grow Lamps emit balanced light similar to a 3000° Kelvin source, making them ideal for all phases of plant growth while ensuring more natural growth patterns occur. Its enhanced orange-red component promotes flowering, stem elongation and germination while a rich blue content assures healthy vegetative growth.

Sunmaster cool deluxe Grow Lamps imitates the natural look of daylight. Sunmaster 400W Blue Burning light bulbs are an ideal light source for the seedling and vegetative stages of plant growth, while still emitting a wide spectral distribution. Sunmaster blue burning bulbs surpass many other HID sources in PAR watts - the most objective measurement of total light energy available for photosynthesis.

When Should I use Fluorescent Lighting?
Fluorescent lighting is fine for seeds and cuttings, but unless you're using the new T5 technology (Tek-Lights), they are not usually powerful enough to light an area more than 8"-10" here the lamp. Fluorescents are a poor light source for growth and budding primarily because of low lumen output. However, full spectrum fluorescent light bulbs provide greater color rendition and generate a brighter, whiter light like natural sunlight. Compact fluorescent grow lights are energy efficient, using less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs. Click Here for Full Spectrum Compact Fluorescent Grow Lights Systems.

What are Tek Light T5 High Output Fluorescent Grow Lights?
T5 lighting is a relatively new light source in the United States which seems to quickly be gaining in popularity although is has had considerable success in Europe. Originally developed as a light source in combination with specialized reflectors for aquarium lighting research has shown the technology to be equally as successful in horticultural applications.

The T stands for 'Tube' and the 5 stands for the diameter of the lamp in 1/8ths of an inch making them 5/8" diameter rather than the standard 1½" diameter. This slim profile makes T5 fluorescent bulbs more efficient than standard fluorescent tubes. T-5 lamps have some very distinct advantages over their predecessor fluorescent lighting sources such as compact fluorescents, T-12, T12 VHO and T8. These benefits include lamp life, power efficiency, output per watt and small size (which lends itself for easy redirection). From propagation to maturity, the complete line of Tek Lights offers all the advantages of high output fluorescent lighting. Sunlight Supply's line T5 Tek Lights have a sleek profile at just 2½" high. Choose from 2, 4, 6, & 8 lamp configurations. The tek light system is easy to hang with optional cable hanging system. See our selection of T5 HO Tek Lights.

How much light should I use for my growing area?
Most gardeners use at least 25 watts per square foot of garden space. You may need less if you are using your Sun System or Garden light as a supplement to natural sunlight. However, many gardeners prefer to double or even triple the recommended wattage to achieve faster growth rates. There is really no such thing as too much light, but using a big grow light in a small space may result in high temperatures that are difficult to control. Keep in mind that plants need periods of darkness too. Most plants and vegetables need about 10 - 12 hours of light to promote growth. Plants that produce fruits or flowers will show improvement with up to 16 hours a day of supplemental light.   Use this guide as a general rule of thumb:

150 2' x 2' 3' x 3'
250 3' x 3' 4' x 4'
400, 430 4' x 4' 6' x 6'
600 6' x 6' 8' x 8'
1000 8' x 8' 10' x 10'

At what height should I hang my plant grow lights?
Due to the heat that is emitted from Plant Grow Lights you should hang them according to size. Smaller wattage systems (100, 150, 250) should be hung about 2 to 3 feet from the top of the plants. Medium wattage (400,430,600) should be hung 4 feet from the plants. High Wattage systems (750, 1000, 1100, 1500) should be placed at least 4 to 6 feet from the plant tops. Air-cooling is an option with some reflectors and work well for reducing the heat that is emitted. This will allow you to get closer to the plants without burning them.

Calculating your cost of electricity

To calculate how much it will cost to run different HID lamp wattages you will need to determine how much you pay for electricity per kilowatt hour. Refer to your electric bill to find this number and then refer to that number in column one. The costs here assume the lamp is running for 12 hours a day.

$0.04 $0.19 $5.76 $0.48 $14.40
$0.05 $0.24 $7.20 $0.60 $18.00
$0.06 $0.29 $8.64 $0.72 $21.60
$0.07 $0.34 $10.08 $0.84 $25.20
$0.08 $0.38 $11.52 $0.96 $28.80
$0.09 $0.43 $12.96 $1.02 $32.40
$0.10 $0.48 $14.40 $1.20 $36.00

If you would like to calculate the formula for other variables: 1,000 watts = 1KW and a 1,000 watt lamp running for one hour = 1 KW. A 400 watt lamp running for one hour = 0.4 KW.

 1000W - Cost per KWH X 1 X Hours per day = Cost per day
 400W - Cost per KWH X .4 X Hours per Day = Cost per day

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