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FAQ's- Lighting

Q. Which is a better lamp to grow with MH or HPS; I'm on a limited budget and can only afford one?
A. If you need a lamp for only vegetative growth, go with a metal halide. If you need a lamp for both vegetative growth and blooming, and can only afford one lamp, go with a high pressure sodium.
 
Q. How long does the average 1000 watt HPS lamp last?
A. On average they burn for 12000 hours but most gardeners replace once a year more maximum efficiency from the lamp.
 
Q. Which type of lighting is used in the vegetative stage and the bloom stage.
A. For the vegetative stage look for lighting with a blue spectrum, usually a kelvin temperature of 6500K. For the bloom stage look for lighting with a red spectrum, usually a kelvin temperature of 2000K.
 
Q. Can I run a 1000 watt MH bulb wired up to a socket and just plug it in my wall plug?
A. No, you have to use a 1000 watt MH ballast to power this lamp. The power coming out of your wall must be transformed to usable voltage by the lamp. This is the job of the ballast.
 
Q. What should my light cycle be for growing indoors?
A. Since plants all have a different requirement of light that will depend on what type of plants you intend to grow. The best thing to do would be research the plant you wish to grow and find out its light requirements. Most gardeners use an 18 hours of light, 6 hours in the dark cycle for the vegetative stage and a 12 hours of light, 12 hours of the dark cycle for the blooming stage.
 
Q. What is a Lumen?
A. A lumen is a measurement of light. In simpler terms one lumen is equal to the amount of light that 1 candle will emit on 1 square foot, 1 foot away from the flame. 1 lumen = 1 foot candle
 
Q. What is Lux mean?
A. Lux is the metric unit equal to the amount of light falling on one square meter 1 lumen = 10 lux A lux is only 1 / 10 th of a lumen.
 
Q. What is the average lumen per watt ratio of an HPS and MH?
A. HPS - 140,000 lumens per watt MH - 100,000 lumens per watt Fluorescent - 83,000 lumens per watt Mercury Vapor - 63,000 lumens per watt Incandescent - 17,500 lumens per watt.
 
Q. When the lights are off what's going on with my plants? Obviously they don't just sleep so what do they do?
A. In the dark cycle the plant shifts its focus from leaf production to root production. The leaves transfer extra stored energy down to the branches and roots. The plants dark cycle is very important. 24 hour light cycles are not the way to go despite radical theories and tests.
 
Q. How high should my lights be from the tops of my plants?
A. The lamp should be 18 - 24 inches away from the tops. Use an oscillating fan to circulate air on the tops of your plants. This will help with the removal of heat produced by your lamp and also deliver fresh air across the undersides of your leaves which are where the plant breathes in through tiny microscopic pores called Stomata.
 
Q. What is the Kelvin rating on a bulb mean?
A. Kelvin is the unit of measurement expressing color temperature. Each lamp has an aggregate Kelvin temperature that indicates the bulbs spectral output. For indoor gardening a bulb with a Kelvin rating between 3000-6000 will be sufficient.
 
Q. Can I use a green light in my grow room in the dark cycle? I've heard that green light won't wake up my plants?
A. Yes, you can use a green light in your grow room. Plants do not respond to the green range of the spectrum.
 
Q. What is a more efficient reflector to use if my lamp is universal, horizontal or vertical?
A. Definitely horizontal. Horizontal reflectors can reflect up to 40 % more light back down to the growing area. The light form a bulb is emitted form the arc tube located in the center of the lamp. If it is burning in the horizontal position, half of this light is being directed at the plants while the other half is being reflected back down form the reflector giving a complete distribution of the light. If the lamp is burning in the vertical position all of the light goes out the sides and had to be reflected back down minimizing the intensity being directed at the growing area.
 
Q. What is a light mover? Are they beneficial to a grow room?
A. A light mover is a mechanized device used to slowly move the grow lamps around to achieve maximum efficiency from your lamps. They come in the form of a 6 foot track which moves the lamp back and forth slowly, approximately every 10 minutes each way. Sun circles are designed to rotate the lamps in a slow circular motion above the growing area. These are both very beneficial to an indoor garden because you can bring the lamps closer to the plants without burning and the light can get at all angles of the plant saving the grower from constantly rotating the plants. Light mover are usually very efficient to operate and can really help with an increase in yield without the increase in lamps.
 
Q. My ballast seems to operating at a high temperature, but how can I know if it's too hot?
A. The best way to tell if your ballast is running too hot is to take a wooden kitchen match and touch it to the ballast box. If it ignites the match then it is operating too hot.
 
Q. Does the heat coming off of my ballasts make a big difference in my grow room?
A. Yes, if heat is already a problem in your garden then I would suggest moving your ballasts outside the grow room. Especially if there is more than 1. They can really increase the overall room temperature.
 
Q. What is the most efficient lamp to operate?
A. The 600 watt HPS is the most efficient High Intensity Discharge lamp to operate to date. It has the highest lumen per watt ratio of any of the HID lamps on the market.
 
Q. What is the best position to have my ballasts in?
A. If the ballast is mounted in a protective housing (ballast box) then it should be kept up off the ground. Milk crates or cement blocks are excellent for this. Place a piece of heat resistant rubber under the box to reduce any vibrations the box may give off. They can sometimes really hum and that can get irritating. I suggest having all ballasts mounted in proper casings. Un- protected ballasts are usually trouble waiting to happen.
 
Q. I have tomato seedlings under a fluorescent light and was wondering what my light cycle should be?
A. The light cycle should be at 18 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. This will be best for optimal growth and will help keep the seedlings stocky and short rather than elongated and weak. The plant needs to sleep. This is where it goes from leaf production in the day to root production at night.
 
Q. How important is it to have the lights at the right height from the plants?
A. Having your lights too far can decrease your yield significantly. Light intensity virtually doubles every 6 inches closer the light is to the plant
 
Q. How important are reflectors?
A. Reflectors increase available light by more than 30%. The proper hood over the lamp and reflective materials on the wall can double the growing area. Growers who use the most efficient reflectors can harvest up to twice as much as those who hang the lamp with no reflector.
 
Q. What is an air-cooled reflector?
A. There are several air cooled reflectors on the market today. Some use a reflective hood with protective glass face and fans to move the heat the bulb produces through the hood and out the ducting system. Most people vent the heat through a carbon filter before discharging the air out of the house.