How to choose the correct lighting arrangement for hydroponic gardening

When we dissect the term hydroponics, the first fallout word is ‘hydro’ which means water; this is what the theory and the practicality of hydroponics is based on. Hydroponics is growing plants and vegetables in water where their growth is stimulated by the ions present in water. Plants can grow making water as its base and may not disrupt their normal growth pattern. However, when we take plant nourishment into consideration, we may say that adequate lighting becomes very important.

Another fact about hydroponic gardening is that the plants can be grown indoors. However, even when the plants are indoors, one may have to concentrate on the lighting that can be provided.

Lighting Basics

There are certain important basics of lighting that one must follow while setting up hydroponic plans. You would find them here in this section of the article.

Intensity of Light
Light intensity is always measured by the unit called candle foot. A candle foot is how bright a candle is when it is at a distance of 1 foot from the plant. The unit is the same, the only difference is the name of the unit. It is now called lumen instead of candle foot. Thus, it can be said that an indoor garden would require 2000 lumen approximately.

Cycles of Light
During the vegetative state of plants, the light that is required by plants is approximately 18 to 20 hours, however, the timing may be fluctuated to 12 hours during their growth stage. Make sure that the fluctuations are not drastic and inconsistent in nature, else the plants may suffer from impaired growth.

Spectrum of Light
There are a few colors that are required for adequate plant growth. Blue, orange and green lighting are imperative for growth of plants and are also helpful for deriving a fuller, better bloom.

Placement of Light
Hydroponic lights could always be placed close to the top or anterior part of the plant, however one must ensure that the top portion of the plant should not get adversely affected by the intensity or the closeness of light. Strategic placement of light is what you must look out for.

Shades of Light
Light or lamp shades can be placed or hung from the ceiling or the roof so that they may be adjusted accordingly, as the plants grow by maneuvering the height of the lamp shade while maintaining a safe distance from the plant.

Hydroponic Lighting Systems

Hydroponic lighting fixtures are in the form of different sources or types of lighting that can be used for the purpose of plant growth.

Fluorescent Light
Fluorescent light system could serve to be a good hydroponic lighting system as it has the potential to provide red and blue light essential for growth. It would always be preferred if the plants are grown with the white bulb that elicits blue light and to then replace the light with the bulb that elicits red light for a better bloom. Fluorescent lights requirement for a garden would be approximately 40 watts per sq/ft. Fluorescent lights is an inexpensive way to have a hydroponic system.

High Intensity Discharge
High Intensity Discharge or HID is a hydroponic source of lighting that uses gas at a high intensity to develop a source of light. The HID lights are considered one of the best systems as they provide light very similar in intensity to the sun. Two types of HID’s that can be used for the systems are:
High Pressure Sodium – This source of light produces red light and is important for blooming purposes.
Metal Halide – This is a source of light that produces blue lighting and is used during plant growth.

Blended Lighting
Blended lights are also sought after lights that blend red and blue lights together. There are no separate sources of light that were found in HID lighting systems.

Light Emitting Diodes Lighting(ie LED grow lamp)
This is comparatively a newer version of providing light to plants. They are preferred because they have more advantages that overpower the disadvantages. They do not get too hot when used for longer periods of time, and they also consume power that is not too high when compared to other light sources for hydroponics. They last longer as well; you do not need to change them frequently. You may count on years where their utility is considered. The only disadvantage, probably the hitch, is the expense that one incurs while buying the system. It is thus, marginally affordable.

What Are the Types of Aquarium Lighting?

Different aquariums need different types of light strength. On one end of the spectrum there is red light, which can only penetrate a short distance. At the other end is blue, which can go further into the water. Most fish are fine with yellow or green light; however, many aquarium plants need blue light to help them grow. There are several types of lighting available on the market for your aquarium.

Normal Florescent Bulbs
Normal Florescent or NO usually comes with a regular aquarium tank. This is enough for a fish-only setup. The NO bulbs tend to be cool and efficient; however, they are the least penetrating fluorescent bulbs. In aquariums with plants, they might be used as supplemental lighting.

High Output Bulbs
High output (HO) lights are available as T5 bulbs, which are smaller than the normal fluorescent. They emit more heat than the NO bulbs, but they usually come with a built in system to cut down on heat.

Very High Output Bulbs
Very High Output (VHO) comes in a variety of sizes; one of the most common is the T12. Although these bulbs emit heat, they don’t emit as much as a metal halide bulb. You get a more powerful light than the standard fluorescent. Unlike the metal halide, you get an even light source throughout your aquarium tank.

Power Compact Lights
These bulbs are designed slightly differently from the rest of the fluorescent bulbs. They have only one end cap attachment rather than the standard two, and the bulbs are available in different shapes from twin to square and triple. The bulbs are more efficient and powerful than other fluorescent bulbs. Power compact lights are smaller than normal fluorescent lights.

Metal Halide
This is a high intensity aquarium bulb that produces a focused light. The bulbs are used in freshwater and saltwater aquariums with plants and coral reefs. You will need to use a water chiller with these lights because they heat the water up and you might need a UV shield to cut down radiation. The bulbs are expensive and should be handled with care.

LED Lights
LED is not technically a light, but a light emitting diode. It is good for night time viewing of nocturnal fish.

LEDs are used increasingly commonly in aquarium lights. Particularly for reef aquariums, LED lights provide an efficient light source with less heat output to help maintain optimal aquarium temperatures. LED-based aquarium fixtures also have the advantage of being manually adjustable to emit a specific color-spectrum for ideal coloration of corals, fish, and invertebrates while optimizing photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) which raises growth and sustainability of photosynthetic life such as corals, anemones, clams, and macroalgae. These fixtures can be electronically programmed to simulate various lighting conditions throughout the day, reflecting phases of the sun and moon for a dynamic reef experience. LED fixtures typically cost up to five times as much as similarly rated fluorescent or high-intensity discharge lighting designed for reef aquariums and are not as high output to date.

LED aquarium lighting is most commonly used for nighttime lighting but has recently gained traction as being the main light source. Using an aquarium moon light has many benefits, especially for reef tanks. Moon lights complete the day/night cycle and can be synced with a timer to match the lunar cycle. Doing so can stimulate coral spawning and create great nighttime viewing. In addition to creating a cool shimmering moon light effect, LED lunar lights give you a window into what your nocturnal pets do at night. Using LED lighting as the main light source also has many benefits. LED bulbs are extremely energy efficient and last up to 5 years (50,000 hours). LED lights produce very little heat, are highly customizable and among the most handsome (and small) fixtures on the market today.

How to Use LED Aquarium Lights

LED lighting is an upgrade over the standard fluorescent lighting found in many reef setups. LED lights use tiny, electronic light emitting diodes (hence “LED”) to provide energy efficient illumination. Setting up an LED aquarium light on a reef tank is just as simple as setting up fluorescent light, but it will be much more expensive to buy. It requires the same measurements and considerations as a fluorescent light set up.

Measure the length of the reef tank from end to end. This is the length of the LED light fixture you need, though it is typically appropriate for it to be about 4 inches shorter.

Multiply the number of gallons in the tank by a number between three and five to determine the wattage. Most coral reef tanks require approximately three to five watts per gallon, so a 55-gallon aquarium will need between 165 and 275 watts. Soft corals need around three watts, while harder corals need five watts.

Place the light fixture atop the tank’s glass canopy.

Connect the LED power chord to a lamp dimmer. A lamp dimmer will gradually increase or decrease the amount of light in the tank to simulate the rising and setting of the sun.

Hydroponic LED Grow Lights

A line great products that can make a huge difference in your hydroponic garden are LED grow lights. While hydroponic gardening is a great step in and of itself towards self sufficiency, LED grow lights use only a small percentage of the energy required to power metal halide lights or high pressure sodium lights. LED grow lights are much easier on your electric bill too! They operate at a fraction of the voltage of typical grow lights (20V versus 120V). In addition, they do not contain the highly toxic mercury used in metallic vapor and fluorescent lights.

The efficiency of LED grow lights is not limited to power consumption. Florescent bulbs require a ballast to run which will eventually burn out and need replaced – not so with LED lights. A desirable feature of LED grow lights is specialization where a specific color (red or blue) is used for different stages of plant growth. Most light emitted by metal halide or high pressure sodium bulbs is out of the spectrum that is beneficial to plants and is wasted.

Have you ever tried to touch a metal halide or high pressure sodium bulb when it is on? They burn at such a high temperature that you could easily burn your skin – and your plants! This means that the heat has to be taken away from the plants with expensive duct work and fans. 300W LED grow lights are warm to the touch so no worry about burning plants or removing excess heat. No shades or reflectors needed either as the LED lights operate at a relatively dim level – great for your plants and easy on your eyes. This also translates into less watering needed due to evaporation.

The barrier for most people when choosing appropriate lighting for their indoor hydroponic garden is cost. 600w LED grow lights carry a higher investment to get started than traditional methods although they cost substantially less to run over time. The higher investment can easily be recouped within the first 2 growing seasons in most cases in terms of energy savings and upkeep. They are much more durable and sturdy than traditional grow lights and have an average lifespan of 100,000 hours – nearly 12 years of normal use.

Using 3w chip LED grow lights for your hydroponic garden will provide you healthier plants with higher yields. You plants will stay cooler because the LEDs throw off very little heat. Heat related root damage and rapid dehydration will no longer be an issue. Add all of this with the environmentally friendly aspect of LED grow lights and you have what is to be the next standard in hydroponic gardening.

Aquarium LEDs Info

Light emitting diodes, or LEDs, are becoming a popular alternative to fluorescent lights for aquarium use. LEDs use less energy, maintain a consistent light and can be targeted to precisely the wavelengths aquatic plants can use. LEDs have not taken over the aquarium market because of the significant initial expense of installing the proper type of LED lights, which can easily come to over a thousand dollars for very large aquariums.

Aquarium LEDs

While any LED lights can be used to help illuminate an aquarium, the typical LEDs are useless in promoting plant growth. The most common types of LEDs simply offer a supplemental form of lighting. Lights designed for aquariums provide both illumination and support the ecosystem, primarily by encouraging healthy aquatic plant growth. To perform the latter function, special LEDs that are much more powerful are necessary. Even so, an aquarium-grade LED only uses a fraction of the energy of a standard fluorescent light.

Aquarium LED Cost

The primary drawback to LED lighting in aquariums is the cost involved. To get lights that accomplish all the functions needed, the cost is routinely in the hundreds of dollars for small aquariums and over $1,000 for large ones as of 2011. While you may often see LED lights advertised for aquariums at under $100, these are simply supplemental light LEDs that will provide illumination but cannot replace the function of fluorescent lights in supporting the ecosystem. Costs are falling rapidly as more enthusiasts use LEDs, but they are not competitive with fluorescent lights as of 2011.

Heat Benefits

Aquarium-grade LED lighting avoids creating energy that is wasted as heat. It also eliminates the need for cooling fans to dissipate the heat fluorescent lights generate. This will allow you to use standard heaters to control the temperature of your tank without fear of damaging the tank through the failure of a lighting fan or any other light malfunction.

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