What do you need to know about hydroponic lighting?
Hydroponics is the new age science of growing food in a small space without soil or even sunlight. It is a great boon for people who want to grow food in the city space. Sunlight is usually required for the growth of the plants anywhere but in hydroponics, it is supplemented with artificial lighting. Plants that remain outdoors get sunlight for almost six hours along with some hours of darkness during which the plants take rest. This time is also used for digestion and metabolism quite like animals and human beings. The plants also need some 10 hours of indirect sunlight
How to start?
If you are a beginner in hydroponics, remember that the task can be quite daunting. You will need to imitate this action and provide your hydroponic plants with the same amount of light with artificial lighting. The amount of time the plants need to stay in darkness will also have to be followed. For indoor farming at home, there are multiple options available to choose from. You will just need to pick one according to the size of the hydroponic system and the kind of plants that you are growing. Depending on the size of the hydroponic system some systems are better usable than the others. For perennial plants, the schedule of light and darkness has to be tighter. You can always use an automatic electric timer which is immensely helpful in maintaining the duration of the lights. With hydroponic systems, you cannot afford to forget the switch off the light as it will affect the plant’s growth adversely.
Different types of plants
In a hydroponic system, you can grow more than one type of plant. The lighting, undoubtedly, has to be according to the plant’s type and requirement. All plants do not require the same amount of daylight. Some thrive much better with shorter and longer periods of light. In a hydroponic garden where different plants are mixed together the presence of an electronic timer is essential. It helps in maintaining the garden properly in a hassle-free manner. You can provide as much light as is necessary by the plants without hampering them in any way.
Plants requiring more sunlight
Some plants like spinach, lettuce, wheat, potatoes, and turnips require as much as 18 hours of sunlight. Therefore, these plants are like the plants that bear flower in summer. In hydroponic farming, these plants need to give a huge amount of light.
Plants requiring less sunlight
Some plants that flower in the winter season need less amount of light to bear flowers. If these flowers are given more than 12 hours of light, they will not bear flowers. Some plants that need less daylight are strawberries, poinsettias, cauliflower, and chrysanthemums. This kind of cycle is for plants that bear flower in spring.
Neutral day plants
These plants are extremely flexible and always produce fruits and flowers irrespective of the amount of daylight it is exposed to. Examples of such plants are roses, rice, eggplants, and corn. For hydroponic gardens that contain a mix of all these plants, it is best to provide sufficient light for around 14 hours daily, so, that all the needs of the plants are met properly. All of the plants get an equal amount of light to grow and produce fruits and vegetables.
Parts of a hydroponic light system
If you are installing a hydroponic garden and a lighting system then understand that there are four parts, for instance, the bulb, remote ballast, reflector hood, and timer.
Among the bulbs found in hydroponic systems the most popular wattage is 400-600. High intensity discharge lights are used in most cases. These bulbs send an electric arc between the electrodes which are placed inside the case thus producing light. The gas produced helps in creating the arc and finally in the production of bright light. In fact, two types of bulbs are available like the metal halide and the high-pressure sodium. If you use a conversion lamp then you can use both types of bulbs
The metal halide bulbs are effective for all vegetables. They last for about two years or so but their efficiency reduces after 15 months. So, you might have to replace them.
If your hydroponic garden has a lot of plants in the fruition stage then try to use the high-pressure sodium bulbs. Even though these are expensive they can be used in combination with the metal halide bulbs. The sodium bulbs last really long like almost five years or so.
This is a casing that surrounds the bulb and helps in increasing its efficiency. It makes the rays fall directly on the plants thus increasing the heat. Therefore, you can use lights that save electricity and also cooling costs.
This is the power box that provides the lights with the required power to burn. The ballast is sold as a part of the lighting system. The remote ballasts are better for the home systems. But since these are expensive, they need to be taken care of. The remote ballast has to be protected from water, floods, leaks, etc because they are expensive. In a hydroponic system such as the ebb and flow, the drainage is likely to get flooded of the tube is clogged. Therefore, the system should be protected. Ideally, the bulb and ballast should be bought together so that wattage can match.
The timer is the least expensive but the most important because it controls the time duration of the lights. The timer can be electric or manual. But it must be heavy duty so that it lasts long. The manual ones have pins and plugs which can be attached to the lamps. They last longer than the electric ones.
The hydroponic system can be extremely fruitful when used properly. You can grow food for your little kitchen all through the year only if you have the growing system in place. A long-lasting lighting system is essential for a successful hydroponics system.