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Lighting Pros for Better Grows - Someone Buy This Man a Beer, Please! Featured

  • Written by  Erik Biksa
  • Video
Not all crop lighting is created equal. Do you know if you’re getting the best for your indoor grow room? Not all crop lighting is created equal. Do you know if you’re getting the best for your indoor grow room?

 

Crop lighting is one often one of the most misunderstood and misapplied technologies in the indoor gardening community. It is one of those topics where the saying “a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing” couldn't ring more true. In an industry awash with “arm chair experts,” it's good for growers to have a trusted source of information, especially if it's from well qualified lighting scientists who actually have the technological capabilities to measure and test lighting products. These experts are in the driver's seat for delivering us the future of crop lighting.

But before we look at all that, let's have a quick re-cap of the basics.

Being Cheap Costs You Money with Crop Lighting

The golden rule is to replace your HID (high intensity discharge) grow lamps every crop or two, or roughly every six to eight months of regular use. Lamp intensity begins to diminish while you are still paying for the same amount of electricity and generating the same amount of extra heat to be vented in your grow room or greenhouse.

Along with diminished intensity, lamp spectral quality may also be on the decline. The color or spectrum of your lamps is created by various metals that become gases when electricity is introduced in the arc tube. The chemistry within the lamp changes with regular use as some gases may escape the glass envelop over time.

The problem is that these high-frequency ballasts are actually overdriving your horticulture lamp way past what it was engineered to do.

For this reason, even a bargain brand lamp that is brand new is better than a horticultural lamp that is past its peak. However, savvy growers know that having the right lamp can make a serious difference to your cropping success. Whenever possible, replace your bulbs with engineered horticultural lamps like the Blue Diamond or Red Diamond HID lamp series. Quality lamps like these are always backed by the best guarantee.

But, There is More to the Equation

Everyone knows that to operate an HID lamp you will need the ballast to match; that's the box that converts the line voltage from your power grid to the right operating characteristics for the lamp you are using, with reference to wattage and in some instances, lamp type.

When it comes to digital/electronic ballasts, the technology, while proven, is still in its relative infancy compared to core and coil lighting systems. Most digital ballasts on the market are high-frequency ballasts that produce a tremendous hertz level. The problem is that these high-frequency ballasts are actually overdriving your horticulture lamp way past what it was engineered to do (and we mean waaaaay past). The result is poor operating characteristics in the lamps that can lead to premature failure. Fortunately, there are now premium lighting companies that offer low-frequency digital HID lighting. This next generation of ballast works in conjunction with your top of the line lamps to offer a more stable output, reducing lamp degradation and offering a more consistent "clean" light than older high-frequency digital ballast.

Let There Be Light! Now What?

OK, so now you have a bad ass crop lighting system that puts out a constant stream of intense photons that you need for fast, sturdy and high-yielding indoor plant growth. For the best results, experienced growers are careful with how they distribute and direct all the valuable crop light that is generated. For this, we want an engineered light reflector that can direct the light straight down in a uniform pattern to give you the most production out of the least amount of space.

What I found early on in examining grow light analysis is that most of the methods that were being used simply didn't apply.

Not all lampshades are created equal. Some are eyed-up in a metal shop and are sold on their looks. Others have been developed by qualified lighting engineers under exacting conditions and manufactured to very high standards. These are the ones you want, and they actually work better slightly further away from the tops of your plants, providing a cool canopy as well as very even light distribution and growth throughout the plant canopy.

Sounds Great, Now Prove It

Of course, you may ask yourself why more companies aren't trying to produce lighting equipment better suited for hydroponic indoor growing. Please allow us to introduce you to Eli Weinkle, the founder of Spectrum Lighting Services. Eli is a lighting wizard whose company specializes in "manufacturing, consulting, and engineering for next generation lighting technologies."

In chatting with Eli from his engineers compliance lab in Southern California, he begins by explaining that most of the testing equipment being used by lighting manufacturers and engineers is intended for “street light” and typically isn't looking for the types of characteristics needed to improve the horticultural field of lighting.

“What I found early on in examining grow light analysis is that most of the methods that were being used simply didn't apply," Eli said. "Upon looking further, the type of equipment actually needed to measure certain horticultural characteristics of lamps wasn't even available.

"I realized I was going to need to build it myself if I was going to make any real improvements in grow lighting. After all, testing and measuring is only the first step, one a lot of guys seemed to be skipping all together."

And believe it or not, what we found was just the tip of the iceberg. Eli had some surprising things to say about the so-called “superior” technology most growers have used at one time or another. Are you ready to learn a whole lot more?

Watch video of lighting expert Eli Weinkle testing digital ballasts at:
www.rosebudmag.com/realcroplighttesting

 

© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2012

You may also enjoy reading:

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Get Ready to Love Your New Indoor Lighting Technology



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Last modified on Friday, 02 November 2012 06:36

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