Lighting can seem very overwhelming and confusing when starting out using hydroponics, but these posts have been published to demystify and clarify the different lighting models used in hydroponics. The idea of hydroponics (growing flowers, herbs or vegetables without the use of soil) is not a new occurrence. It is thought that one of several wonders of the world "The Hanging Gardens of Babylon" were constructed by applying hydroponic techniques. On the other hand the benefits gained from fabricated light has only been around a fairly short time and is now readily available in an affordable format by the improvement of systems and knowledge in this area.
To use manufactured light in hydroponics requires a few bits of kit
• Ballast - needed to regulate the current to the lamp fixture.
• A shade / reflector - this aims the light to exactly where you want it to go.
• Lamp holder / socket - usually is included with the shade or reflector you buy.
• A timer - this turns the lamp off and on and regulates the degree of light the crops get.
• A bulb or lamp
These pieces of equipment are required Independent of what type of bulb you are using. There are different ones out available on the market from budget to deluxe versions. The one you buy is determined by what you want to grow and what space you are employing as your hydroponic garden. Light intensity decreases with distance and as a result if you have a large area for cultivation then you will probably need an increased wattage of lamp to enable light to get to the plant or use more lamps. However with a higher powered light you have more heat produced which can be difficult to regulate. That is why many people choose to use a lower powered lamp which will generate less heat and can be managed much easier but used in a smaller area. It all depends on preference and what you are familiar with. There are lots of posts and resources that review the benefits and drawbacks of higher and lower powered lamps. But still again, it all boils down to user preference, open area and the kind of fruit/vegetable you are endeavouring to grow.
Varieties of Lamp
There are three principal types of bulbs used in hydroponics. They are as follows:
• Metal Halide
• High Pressure Sodium
These publications will lead you through each one and explain how they work and why they are employed, in simple, easy language.
LED (Light Emitting Diode)
You could be wondering why LED lights have not been mentioned as they are likewise on the market to purchase and to employ in hydroponic gardens. LED lights allege to be more energy efficient and give out less heat compared to other hydroponic lamps. But, they remain a relatively new technology and as a result have some issues that need ironing out. Many people have had problems getting the same penetration of light with LEDs that other lamps can supply and consequently I have made a decision not to include this equipment in these publications.
Please see Part 2 to continue reading about the different light options.
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