What Wattage System Do I Need

By: Susan Slobac

When you are considering appropriate grow lights for hydroponic gardening, there are several factors that will impact how much light you need. Grow lamps are used in lighting systems that come in different wattages, so how do you know how much wattage you need? There are a few guidelines you can follow to help you determine what size system will work best for you.

The area in which you garden will have an impact on your choice of hydroponic lights. If you garden in a room with no exposure to any other light besides the lighting system, you will need more light than if the room had any access to natural light. Conversely, if you practice hydroponic gardening in a greenhouse, your lighting needs will be lower due to the availability of sunlight.

The types of plants you grow hydroponically will also play a part in selecting an appropriate lighting system. Some plants require high intensity light and heat in order to grow well, while others thrive in a shadier growing condition, so it is best to determine this before purchasing a lighting system. The option of fluorescent grow lights are used only in certain applications where blue spectrum of light is required.

The type of grow light you select to use will factor into how much wattage you will require for your plants. A high intensity discharge light, for example, is a very efficient light. In other words, it offers up a lot of light coming out of a relatively small lighting unit. You need fewer watts of a high intensity light than you would from a lower intensity light to get a good effect with your plants. A rule that can help is to use twenty to forty watts of light for every square foot of plants that will require the light.

The placement of the light in relation to the plants will also impact plant growth. Young seedlings require light very close up, so if you place your lights closer to the plants they will not cover as broad an area as if you hung the lights farther away from the plants. However, the light would be weaker, so you would need more grow lights to have a similar effect on the plants.

You can increase the effectiveness of a grow lamp by using it in conjunction with some type of reflector. Using chrome dome grow lights will increase the light not only on top of the plant but also on the sides, depending on the reflector's placement in relation to the plant, so that the plants will be encouraged to reach for the light and will grow with a more sturdy infrastructure.

Proper hydroponic garden lighting is essential in order for your plants to both grow and produce flowers and fruit. Selecting the appropriate amount of light will ensure your plants' success.

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