LED Grow Lights Make Sense for a Hydroponics Garden

Hydroponic gardening uses a nutrient solution to grow plants instead of soil. Plants are grown with their root systems immersed in either a nutrient-rich mineral solution or an inert growing medium such as sterilized gravel, clay pellets, prelate or rock wool. The advantages of hydroponic horticulture include:

- Stable and higher yields
- Lower water and nutrient costs
- Improved pest and disease control
- Better harvests
- The elimination of fertilizer and pesticide runoff

Why Choose Hydroponics?

Indoor gardeners increasingly choose hydroponics because the growing techniques are easy to master and conducive to the do-it-yourself ingenuity of home improvement enthusiasts. Hydroponic gardening also has the distinct advantage of producing very high yields in a very small space, making hydroponics an attractive solution for the indoor home gardener.

Lighting

When constructing a home hydroponics garden, choosing the correct grow light system improves the peak efficiencies a hydroponic garden can yield. Indoor horticulture requires a high-intensity light source that reproduces, as closely as possible, the spectral qualities of sunlight. Regular consumer indoor lighting lacks the intensity and spectrum width that plants need to grow and thrive. Plants evolve under the full spectrum of natural sunlight and use different parts of the full spectrum during various stages of their life cycles. Seedlings and younger plantings thrive best under the short-wavelength of the blue part of the full spectrum. As plants mature they require the longer wavelengths of the orange and red parts of the spectrum to induce flowering and fruiting.

To grow properly, traditional indoor horticulture relies upon energy-inefficient, high intensity discharge lamp systems to provide the necessary light intensity and spectral bandwidth. High pressure sodium and metal halide lamps create the proper light intensity and spectrum output by energizing vaporized toxic metals through the introduction of a high-voltage electrical current inside the sealed lamp. These lamps require heavy ballasts to regulate electrical flow and bulky reflectors to direct the light produced and usually require skilled tradesmen to mount and wire them correctly. Traditional HID systems also produce vast amounts of heat that must be drawn off using expensive and sophisticated ventilation systems.

New Technology

Recent advances in LED lighting technology provide the home hydroponics gardener with an attractive and green alternative to traditional HID grow light systems. Modern LED grow lights use a fraction of the electricity compared to traditional HID systems, and also produce light of the proper intensity and spectral bandwidth for optimal plant growth. They are lightweight and easy to mount and do not require any special wiring. High-end LED systems can even be adjusted for spectral output to coincide with plant life cycles. As an added bonus, LED grow lights do not produce massive amounts of waste heat, providing an added cost benefit by eliminating the need for fans and venting systems.

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