Columbus Ohio

Grow Supplies

 

Types of Grow Lights

There are four main types of indoor grow lights people use to grow plants inside. They are; HPS, HID, LED, and Sulfur Plasma. All four of these lights are able to support plant life inside, however they all offer a little something different than each other with the main difference being the light spectrum each can offer. However each light has it’s pros and cons compared to the others and generally it is left up the consumer to determine which light is best for their growing needs. Let’s compare the four lights so that you may better determine which light is best for your growing needs.

HPS Lights

HPS lights have been the most commonly used light among indoor growers for some time now. This technology has been around for decades and thus as resulted in many growers being taught their craft using them and thus has resulted in an almost cult like following and dedication to them. They emit a light spectrum that is mostly yellow to red and range somewhere between 565 to 700 nanometers. (For reference Yellow light occurs at wavelengths between 560 and 590 and orange at 590 to 625, then red at 625 to 700). Their life span tends to last upwards of 10,000 hours. However it is recommended that users change their light bulbs in these at least every 18 months regardless of use as their quality of light diminishes over time. If users don’t change their bulbs regularly they can see a drastic loss in efficiency upwards of a third. One reason for this is the fact that HPS’s give off a lot of heat and have even been shown to have their bulbs temperature reach 842 degrees Fahrenheit. This also means a grower needs to keep their light at a safe distance from their plants as to not burn them with too much heat. The best way to remedy this would be to push could air through or onto the bulbs to reduce their overall heat. However some growers love this heat aspect as they feel it really gives the plants a good push at the end of their cycle and really gets them to full maturity with the extra power compared to an LED light. On the flip side, these lights aren’t able to provide a full spectrum of light as they lack the ability to produce anything for the plants on the blue light spectrum. Thus one would recommend not only using these lights for your plants but adding another light source to get the much needed blue spectrum. HPS has been the standard indoor grow light for many growers and even seem to be the go to light added to greenhouse. HPS lights have been around for decades and although some other types have lights have some better features, it doesn’t look like HPS lights will be going anywhere anytime soon.

HID Lights

HID lights, also known as gas or discharged lights are manufactured as metal halide which tends to be what people call them in growing circles. These lights function by passing electricity through a gas filled tube, thus creating the brightest light of any of the lights discussed on this page. This allows for the plants to be easily inspected without the user of protective eye wear like you might use with an LED light. (Although we would recommend always using eye protection when dealing with grow lights as they are very powerful and your eyes can be very sensitive to the types of light spectrum they give off). HID lights tend to be more efficient than traditional incandescent lights as they don’t burn as hot and can offer more in terms of a blue light spectrum. They do still run hot like HPS lights, and in terms of energy consumption run about the same has HPS, but they do tend to be more efficient in their photosynthetic value. HID lights are a fairly old technology, which results in them tending to be a bit expensive as you normally will need added equipment to run them like a ballast. This added equipment is a bit bulky and can be very heavy adding another headache to your setup. Thus the HID lights of today are taking a back seat to HPS and LED’s as most of the research and development are being put into LED’s leaving HID behind. However if you were to combine HID and HPS lights together and were growing a blooming or fruiting crop opposed to foliage crops then these could be very beneficial to any grower when done right. HID lights had a good run, but based on where money is being spent on the development of new grow lights their rain has most likely come to an end.

 

LED Lights

LED lights are quickly becoming the go to light source around the world. Since 2000 the innovation surrounding LED lights and bulbs has lead to them not only becoming much cheaper than they have ever been but also out performing their lesser counter parts. The main reason for this raise is how much more energy efficient they are compared to any other light. In many comparisons LED’s can be 6 to 7 times more efficient than their counter parts. Most LED’s life span is between 40,000 to 50,000 hour lifespan when they are kept of room temperature. So if you were to run your light 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you would be able to keep it on for over 6 years. This is night and day better than halogen lights or HPS’s. This efficiency is based on using the energy it pulls smarter than the other light sources. An LED light will use 90% of what it takes in to convert into visible light, so no energy is wasted. This also results in LED’s being able to be at full spectrum right when they are turned on vs. having to be warmed up. That being said one might think that this lights would create a lot of heat from them like most lights do when they have been in use for a long time; however LED are able to stay just as cool as they would be if they were turned off. This is because the heat is generated by the LED diodes but the light is designed to dissipate this heat very quickly to protect the electronics. These lights also tend to be a bit more compact compared to their HPS counterparts, this results in them being able to be move around more and hold up to the elements a little better. LED lights however are still a very new technology compared to others and because of that some question their overall production in their ability to perform. What they cannot question is that LED’s are far more energy efficient, better at managing heat, and able to recreate the full light spectrum, thus at some point they will be the dominant like in the future, it’s just a matter of when.

Sulfur Plasma Grow Lights

Sulfur Plasma lights are a relatively new light on the market and thus there is not much data on the light as of right now. One of the main issues with them is the cost. Most of the lights on the market are going for well over a few thousand dollars each, so most small time growers won’t be able to afford them at this time, but just like LED’s that is sure to change over time. What we do know about them and what sets them apart from every other light on this page is that they emit lights via microwaves. This results in them being able to emit wavelengths that closely resemble that of the sun even more than that of LEDs. Europe as of now is leading the way in research and development on these lights and in some studies have shown great results in the efficiency category but other than that, that is all we know as of now.  

 

Types of LED Grow Lights

When looking to buy an LED light one must first think about what time of growing you’ll be doing and what you’ll be growing. LED lights tend to come in three different types, Full Cycle, Vegging, and Bloom. These types are based on what cycle of growth they can be utilize used for your plants. Let’s take a closer look at each type.

Veg LED lights

Veg LED lights tend to be in the lower end of wattage and normally run between 40 watts to 500 watts. These lights are used to start the growth of your plants and thus don’t need to be as powerful as the lights needed in the later stages of plant growth. Veg lights tend to be much cheaper than Bloom or full cycle and for the most part and are much more compact than the other two. However because of their low wattage they tend to be much smaller and because of this they aren’t able to cover the square footage like the other two are. This means depending on the size of your growing area, you may need to have more lights to get the same effect as you would if you just had a bloom or full cycle light.

Bloom LED Lights

Bloom LED lights normally start at 600 watts and go up from there. These lights sole job is to get the plant through its bloom stage and to harvest. Thus these lights have to be much more powerful than those lights in the veg stage as at this point in your plants growth it needs all the light it can get to make sure that it gets to the harvest point with as much nutrients as possible for the best results. These lights should be able to cover a lot more square footage than the veg lights would as they are larger. They also tend to be more expensive vs. veg lights, because of this when shopping for a bloom light you should keep in mind the energy efficiency that each brand offers. This will save you money through the life of the light and make it worth your wild to buy maybe a more expensive model vs. another if it is energy efficient.

Full Cycle LED Lights

Full Cycle LED lights are just LED lights that are able to be programmed so that they can function as a veg and bloom light all in one set up. These lights will most certainly be the most expensive of the three but offer a better option to those home growers that have limited space and don’t want to have two different lights. Most Full cycle lights will have programmable functions on them that offer the user the ability to set up light schedules that can function on their own without the user having to be there to change the settings. The downside to these lights outside of the cost, is that some claim that because the light is required to function as a veg and bloom light it doesn’t provide that final push of power in the later stages of bloom that some growers feel the plant needs to reach its full potential. However for a beginner these lights are perfect for them to get started and make the process and set up for growing a lot easier than some of the other set ups someone might use.  

 

Grow Systems

When creating your grow system, whether it will be inside or outside you need to be aware of a few things before you start creating your system. The first is being mindful of what types of plants you intend to start growing with your system. Everything grows differently and for the best results you should do some research on what type of environment works best for whatever it is that you’ll be growing. For the purpose of this section we’ll focus on creating a system that is being used to grow in soil and inside. When creating your system for growing inside the two biggest aspects to your success will be your climate controls and your light source. These two things are of the most important as your light will be your plants food source and the climate control will be there to provide protection from bugs as well as being there to provide that your plants are in the best environment. When growing inside the best way to achieve the perfect climate is to get yourself a grow tent. This will make it much easier for you to control the climate and provide the best possible growing space for your plants. The light on the other hand you have a lot more options to pick from, and if you check out our other section after different lighting types you should be able to determine what the best type of light would be for your growing needs. The next thing to put into your grow system is to have a filter and some sort of fan in your tent. These two things working together will make sure that the air in your tent is clean and fresh for your plants to take in. This setup with the filter, will also make it so any smells that might be from your plants will be taking care of and result in your grow system not upsetting anyone else. Next, this is a personal preference but has always helped, is to try and put your plants in pots that have handles. This will be helpful in many ways, the first being the ability to move your plants around with ease. When using tents some, normally the cheaper models don’t have access to all sides of the tent. So being able to move the pots around to trim/water and general inspection will help. These types should help getting any beginner started on how to set up an Indoor Grow system.

Some additional things to think about adding into your grow system would be to add CO2 bags and a Ph testing system. CO2 bags are something you can buy from any garden center and can greatly help improve your plants with very little work on your part. These bags are more or less a bag filled with different organic materials that breakdown and releases pure oxygen into the air helping to strengthening your plants. All you have to do is buy a bag of this and open it and the work is done for you. The next additional thing to add would be a PH testing kit. Certain plants will feed or take in more nutrients if they are given them with a certain Ph level. It all depends on your source of water, but in some cases if you are struggling to keep your plants alive then this would be a good starting point to check out. Again, this is not a must have, just a general idea to help get the best out of your plants.

 

Automated Grow systems

Automated grow systems are a relatively new thing in the consumer space. These grow systems have really started to take off in the last five years. The big issue for them is although they have gotten cheaper, they still are very expensive for the average person to afford. Right now they range anywhere from $10,000 dollars to $2,000 for the consumer models. However with this price, the product you are getting comes with all the bells and whistles. So what exactly do these things look like? The automated grow systems look kind of like a refrigerator that acts like a grow tent. On the inside they have a grow light, sensor monitors, feeding system, and in most cases a camera. The only major work you would have to do with these systems is make sure the water reserve is full. These systems will do just about everything for you outside of setting it up and physically planting the seeds. Most are programmable so that you can set them up on any type of feeding schedule for any type of plant. Some will even automatically order you new nutrients when they see that your supply is getting low. They truly have created an automated system, most now a days have cameras built into the system so that you can literally never open the system until the plants are fully mature and ready. Outside of the price the only big negative about them is it doesn’t allow for a lot of experimenting. This makes the automated grow systems perfect for beginners, or lazy people. Whatever your reason is for getting an Automated grow system, one thing is for sure, this technology isn’t going away.

 

Types of Hydro Systems.

Though there are lots of variations of hydroponic systems. There are six basic types that these systems derive from. Wick, Water Culture, Ebb &Flow (flood and drain),Drip (recovery and non recovery)N.F.T.(nutrient film technique) and Aeroponics. All methods are either variations of these or a combination. There are many variables when choosing a system. Such as space (size of room) or simple your financial budget. But all are amazingly effective with generous results to your crop when done right.

Wicking system is your most basic. It doesn’t require any air pumps or water pumps. It's known as passive hydroponics. This system works better with plants that need less water or nutrients, such a small plants. Larger plants are not ideal, because of their consumption the nutrients often do not get through the wick properly. If set up correctly it is truly a hands-off system. Ideal for a beginner.

Deep water cultural system. With this system you have to use a reservoir to hold a nutrient solution. Allowing your plants to suspending the solution so then they get a constant supply of water oxygen and nutrients. Always use an air pump to oxygenate the water. Often use a net pot and some sort of medium in the net pot for the beginning of your root system to have a home. The medium is often clay pebbles or perlite. This system is better for small plants and plants with a short life cycle. The benefits of deep water culture are it's very inexpensive, very low maintenance and it's recirculation so less wasted inputs.

Nutrient film technique. This technique is commercially popular and most often used. The plants are grown in rows or channels and nutrient and water is constantly pumping through those channels and drops back into the main reservoir and starting through the system again it's called a recirculating system. Plants are in the channels or Rose using pods for some sort of growing medium such as growblox which come in all sizes. The benefits of this or minimal growing medium needed and it's a recycling system so there's a lot left waist that's involved. Downside is if your pump fails and you don't notice it the roots will clogged and overgrow into all the channels.

Ebb and flow/flood and drain systems. Ebb and flow system does not expose the roots of your plants to nutrients loosen on a constant basis instead your grow tray that is filled with your growing medium will be flooded filled with a nutrient solution a few times a day. how many times a day depends on the size of your plants and the water requirements that are needed also your air temperature in the room. The flooding is done with the water pump and set up how many times a day with the timer some of the benefits are an official use of water and energy and he can get very specific with nutrients. Downsize is it takes a lot of grow medium and if the pump fails or the timer fails the root’s can dry out quickly.

Aeroponic system, is similar to nft and that the routes are suspended in air the difference is that the aeroponic system achieves this by misting the root zone. This system has a tendency of plants growing quicker than some of the simpler ones but you do need specialized spray nozzles.the benefits are the retard supposed to more oxygen because they’re not submerged in water. Downsize is the nozzles can fail and it's not the cheapest method but when it works it’s incredible results.

 

General hydroponics

As a first-time grower the word general hydroponics can be confusing. It means one of two things either the brand name and company General Hydroponics which includes thousands of products that they make and are used when growing within this medium. It also just means an easy understanding of growing in a soilless medium. First thing is not to be intimidated by growing something without dirt we’ve all grown up with dirt,but there is another way that is more productive. now many number of fruit of vegetables will thrive in the sort of system. Green's search as lettuce spinach cabbage and any other leafy dream you can think of prosper very well. As well as any vining plants root crops fruits or herbs anything you can take out for the garden. Hydro plants generally grow a lot faster then wants garden soilthe nutrients go directly to the root increasing the speed of growth dramatically. Hydroponics is also 90% more efficient with water use. So among all the benefits is complete control over nutrient balance, no yard needed, water-saving, affordable, higher yields, better results, year-round growing, and it's a relaxing hobby for you and your family. So there are two main kinds of systems active and passive passive types deliver nutrients via the growing medium, but active systems use a pump. An active system will cost more and take more to maintain but may get better results.

Deep water culture system is the simplest out of all the hydroponic systems.plants are in a basket of girl rocks suspended over a container of nutrient solution. An air pump supplies oxygen to the air stone that bubbles a nutrient solution and supplies more oxygen to roots of the plants.fast-growing water-loving plants are perfect for this type of system like lettuce or anything of that type.

Now the drip system is probably the most widely used hydroponic system. It’s real simple and has a timer that controls a submersed pump, the timer turn sump pump on and the nutrient solution is dripped onto the main base of each plant by a small drip line. This is what's called a recirculating drip system and the runoff is collected back into the reservoir so you can keep using it. When getting started in Hydroponics I would always suggest to keep it simple from the beginning and these are the two best and simplest methods in my opinion to get started.

So even though I drip onyx can be done outdoors most gardens are indoors or in greenhouses. So because hydroponic gardening is so efficient there’s little space needed making it easier to produce a lot with in small spaces. The science of what hydroponics is proves that water, nutrients,any method of delivering the plants food to the root system is all you need.the soil itself is simply just a sort of backbone for the roots so they have a stable place to grow.