Selecting lights for growing indoors can prove to be quite a tough decision - especially if you're a beginner to the whole concept of hydroponics... and living in Australia, no less!
Often, it isn't exactly clear what the best options are for your purposes. Nor is it obvious where you should purchase them from. Lights come in so many different shapes, sizes and forms: the choices can be overwhelming, even for an advanced grower!
We know it isn't always easy - which is why we've put together a brief guide for quickly selecting lights that you can be happy with.
There's more to the world of lighting than this, of course... but if you're looking for an easy, no-fuss solution to your problems, you have come to the right place.
The Best Lighting Tech on the Market
For our money? The most impressive lighting technologies with the least amount of fuss tend to sit in two categories - HIDs and LEDs.
HID Lighting is the classic choice among hydroponic growers and plant connoisseurs. As an established technology, they are purported to feature a range of benefits for plant growth HIDs are like the vinyl record of the hydroponic lighting world - which isn't to say they are just for the hipsters, out there! These lights are typically fantastic for larger setups.
There are problems with HIDs, though. For one, they create a fair bit of heat - so you'll need to supplement them with systems designed to cool down your space. They're also not the most energy efficient option, out there; all that heat has to be produced from somewhere, which means it isn't going towards generating the light your plants need!
These drawbacks may seem relatively minor, but they can prove to be big problems for Australian growers already dealing with warm climates and high electricity prices.
Finally, HIDs typically come in two bulb types - with both being important for different stages of plant growth. MH (Metal Halide) lamps offer a light spectrum that typically lends itself to the vegetative stage, whereas HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lamps are excellent for the flowering stage of your plants. This means you need to find a fixture that is compatible for both types of bulbs... otherwise, you'll have no choice but to buy two separate light fixtures.
The PowerPlant DE 1000W Digital Ballast is a great option for growers who want to get the most out of a HID setup. Compatible with double-end 600W / 750W / 1000W MH and HPS lamps, this ballast allows you to dim your lights, and features a passive cooling design. It also reaches maximum brightness quite quickly for a HID ballast.
In comparison to HID lighting solutions, LED Lighting is the new kid on the block. Flexible, efficient, easy to use and constantly improving, LEDs continue to take advantage of the latest advances in lighting technology. Additionally, the heat and energy efficiency of LEDs is often much more suited to the Australian growing context!
This isn't to say that all LED Lights are created equal - they're not. It pays dividends to avoid certain LEDs, because they just don't work as well as others.
If you're serious about guaranteeing your produce yield and quality, the HLG 650R Full-Spectrum 630W Quantum Board LED is the right fit for you.
Highly efficient and designed to replace a 1000 watt HID lamp, this is a Full-Spectrum LED which offers fine-tune adjustment of light output. This means it can operate throughout the full cycle of your plant's development. It's a one-size fits all solution. No need for alternative light fixtures and bulbs!
Keep in mind that the amount of wattage you require will scale with the amount of space you wish to illuminate - but the precise amount will depend on which lighting technology you decide to go with.
For HID lights, 500 watts will generally cover about 1 x 1 metres of space; 1000 watts will cover about 1.5 x 1.5 metres. Larger growing rooms of multiple square metres will need a number of grow lights to maximise light coverage.
High quality LEDs (like the one we mentioned here) can reach a similar level of coverage with less wattage output due to their efficiency. Since LEDs range wildly in light output and efficiency, it's important to do your research on just how effective your light source will be in illuminating your desired amount of space. Luckily, manufacturers will often include this information in their product descriptions.
If you're in need of more information before selecting your lights, be sure to check out our Beginner's Guide to Hydroponic Lighting in Australia, which covers the variations of lighting technology out there while weighing up the benefits and drawbacks of each. This guide covers more of the fundamentals than we have, here - so if you still have questions, give it a read!