The 10 Best Grow Lamps
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in July of 2015. If you want to grow any kind of vegetables, flowers, or herbs indoors, you have to provide them with the right lighting to promote healthy photosynthesis. Our selection of lamps includes something for every horticultural need, including options for people in states that allow for legal marijuana cultivation. Whether you want a traditional HID unit or an LED model, you'll find it here. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best grow lamp on Amazon.
April 18, 2019:
Plants require different light spectrums depending on what stage of growth they are in. For vegetative growth, white and blue spectrums are best, while red and orange spectrums are best during the flowering stage, so it is important to buy the right grow lamp for your needs.
These days, there are many LED models on the market that are switchable between the different spectrums, making them suitable for use all the way from seed to bloom. They are also considerably cooler than traditional high-intensity discharge models, so heat buildup will be less of a problem. The California Light Works SolarStorm 1100, G8LED Mega, and Kind LED K3 L450 are examples of such models. They are also extremely powerful options that can be used in large grow rooms. If you have a smaller grow area, you can go with a more affordable full-spectrum LED model, like the Vivosun 600W LED, Viparspectra Reflector-Series 900W, and Growstar Double Chips. Though some of these options may seem as powerful as the more expensive model, wattage isn't the sole determining factor. PAR value and concentration of the light throw are also important in determining how effective a particular lamp is at promoting plant growth.
If you prefer using traditional HID lamps, we have a few nice options for you as well. If you only have a small growing area and already have a lamp for your veg cycle, you can save some money by buying the affordable Sun System HPS 150W, which will help your plants fruit nicely. On the other hand, if you have a large grow area, you'll need something quite a bit more powerful. In this case, the iPower GLSetX 1000 and Hydroplanet MH/HPS System are smart choices. They can both be purchased in 1,000-watt models and include metal halide bulbs for vegetative growth and high-pressure sodium bulbs for blooming. Whichever style and wattage of light you choose, it is important to avoid looking directly at the bulbs. All of these models are very bright and can potentially damage your vision if you don't take proper precautions.
The Different Types Of Grow Lamps
In addition to all of the other benefits, plasma lights produce notably less heat that standard HIDs, making them a good choice for those dealing with heat issues.
Grow lamps come in four different types: high-intensity discharge, fluorescent, plasma, and LED. High-intensity discharge lights are the most commonly used type of grow light, as they are efficient and capable of providing intense light that most closely resembles the sun. HID bulbs are available in two types: metal halide and high pressure sodium. MH grow bulbs are designed to produce light in the cool blue and white spectrum, which is ideal for vegetative growth. HPS bulbs give off light in the warmer red and orange spectrum, which is ideal for blooming as it mimics the late summer sunlight and signals to the plants that winter is coming soon. For the best results, most indoor growers combine these two bulbs.
Fluorescent grow lamps are good for propagation and early vegetative growth. Unlike high powered MH bulbs, there is practically no chance of fluorescent bulbs burning sensitive seedlings or cuttings. Because they aren't very intense they must be placed relatively close to the leaves, otherwise it may result in spindly plants that are overly tall with very weak stems. The most popular fluorescent grow lamp is a T5 bulb, but some growers do try and use compact fluorescent bulbs. As with HID bulbs, fluorescent grow lamps are available in warm and cool spectrum.
Plasma and LED are the two newest types of grow lamps. Plasma bulbs, while still prohibitively expensive for the amateur grower, are more efficient that standard HID lights and can offer up to 50 percent savings on electricity costs. They also last longer with less lumen loss, and offer a full spectrum of light. This means it isn't necessary to switch bulbs when plants transition from vegetative growth to blooming. In addition to all of the other benefits, plasma lights produce notably less heat that standard HIDs, making them a good choice for those dealing with heat issues.
LED grow lights, are less expensive than plasma lights, but offer many of the same benefits. They can last through five or six growing cycles without any loss of intensity, unlike HIDs which need to be replaced after every two growing cycles. LEDs are also available with a full light spectrum, and many have the addition of UV and infrared light. The first few generations of LED grow lights didn't quite live up to the claims of manufacturers, but the more recent versions are proving to be extremely popular and capable of producing large yields.
Understanding A Plant's Lighting Needs
Understanding what kind of light should be used in each growing cycle is vital to maintaining healthy plants and producing large harvests indoors. The goal is to reproduce natural light as closely as possible. To do this, we must understand what the light is like during each growing season.
This stimulates the plant to propagate by blooming and producing fruit or seeds to ensure survival.
In the spring and summer time, when the sun is high up overhead, plants receive more of the bright blue and white light spectrum in the 400 to 500nm range. In the late summer and fall, the sun hangs lower in the sky and more light in the red and orange spectrum hits the earth, usually in the 600 to 700nm range.
Plants have evolved over time to use the available light to be most productive. When a plant is receiving a lot of blue and white spectrum, it knows that there is still a lot of time left in the growing season and therefore puts all of its energy into growing bigger, healthy leaves and bushing out as much as possible.
When a plant begins to receive more red and orange light, it knows that the growing season is coming to an end and winter will be arriving. This stimulates the plant to propagate by blooming and producing fruit or seeds to ensure survival. This is why grow lamps in the warmer light spectrum are used to promote flowering and fruiting.
The Importance Of Grow Room Ventilation
The importance of proper ventilation in a grow room cannot be overstated. Lack of ventilation can cause a number or problems ranging from stunted growth to the onset of plant diseases and more. If an indoor growing area is too humid, mold may start to grow on plants. It can also cause fruits to rot while still on the plant. With proper ventilation and humidity sensors, one can ensure their grow room is at the perfect humidity levels for their particular crop.
This leaves concentrated nutrient levels in a plant, which can cause nutrient burn.
If humidity levels are too low, plants perspire too much water and not enough nutrients. This leaves concentrated nutrient levels in a plant, which can cause nutrient burn. To attain the right humidity levels, one must also understand the difference between humidity and relative humidity.
Heat is also very damaging to plants. A plant's biochemical functions are dependent on temperature. If a grow room's temperature falls outside of the optimal range for the particular type of plant being grown, photosynthesis can slow down or even stop completely. Overly hot temperatures can also burn plants causing their leaves to shrivel and turn brown.
Plants are also dependent on CO2 for healthy growth. As most people know, plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen during photosynthesis. If a grow room does not have ventilation, there will be a lack of available CO2 for plants. Proper ventilation allows a grower to control humidity, heat, and CO2 levels.
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