Save energy - Led panels and energy saving bulbs for growbox
The sun – our life-giving star – provides light and energy throughout the year, but that is mostly uneven because in the summer it warms up intensely, and during the winter it hardly provide vivid rays. That is the main rhythm of nature, atleast in Central European climate. Well, that was about the natural supply of light. But what if someone wants to grow plants at home – in special tents called growboxes? How do they provide green specimens with the correct dose of light? How can they save electricity at the same time?
The role of the sun in the natural environment
Sunlight is the biggest cause of survival and development of most of the creatures on the earth. If sunlight is in huge quantity, it results in lush vegetation. However, if it is not that strong, the vegetation cannot bloom quite well. During the summer days, the sunlight needs to be optimal because too strong intensity of solar rays, lasting for whole days and several months a year, can be devastating for the plantation. You can easily see an example of this devastation in steppes, deserts and other sunburnt places in which the heat pours in from the sun and takes life from the plants instead of giving it. Sometimes, it provides really small portion of plantation and even makes the animals used to such extreme conditions.
And when there is no sun?
In the natural environment, everything is regulated by itself – no matter what the climatic changes. However, the scenario is completely different at home because unlike the ultimate creator, we control our plot and provide it with perfect conditions for living. Moreover, as we do not have the power to access the sun, or optimize its dosage throughout the year, we must provide our home interior with these conditions. We must regulate the right amount of electricity in the home and make sure that it does not drastically affect our wallet. Fortunately, growing plants in a growbox does not cost us a lot, thanks to LED panels and energy-saving light bulbs.
Growbox lighting – what is your choice?
Growbox lighting can be divided into several types such as: CFL fluorescent lamps, fluorescent lamps, HPS sodium lamps, MH metal halide lamps and LED panels.
Energy-saving CFL bulbs
CFL lamps are the type of fluorescent lamps and are available in power from 85W to 300W. They usually have their own built-in system, which is why they do not need any additional power supply. It is pretty easy to use these energy-saving fluorescent lamps – just screw them in and make them shine! In CFL Lamps, there is no problem of too high temperature because they do not heat up. These are perfect for small surfaces. And, as they do not need much power to operate, you can easily use them during both flowering and growth phase of the plants.
Fluorescent lamps are the simplest lighting solution and they can be used just as energy-saving models screwed into tubular fluorescent lamps of different lengths or the classic E14 or E27 thread. They provide the least amount of advantages as compared to other lighting solutions because they do not help you save energy and also require special igniters, handles and ballasts.
However, there are no such problems in energy-saving fluorescent lamps because they simply screw up directly into the thread and do not require additional accessories. While deciding on the perfect kind of lighting for your growbox, you must pay attention to its efficiency, i.e. the number of lumens. But, bear in mind that fluorescent lights are in no way similar to more modern LED panels or sodium lamps. Their biggest advantage is that they do not emit as much heat as sodium lamps. Hence, you can keep them close to the tops of the plants without worrying after heating or burning them. Furthermore, you can use these lights straightaway, without requiring very efficient ventilation.
Metal Halide Bulbs (MH) and HPS Sodium Bulbs
Both MH and HPS bulbs belong to the category of so-called discharge lamps (High Intensity Discharge (HID)). They are the most traditional source of lighting in the growbox because they operate on the principle of conducting electricity through gas chambers inside the lamp. Although the MH and HPS bulbs belong to the same group of fluorescent lamps, yet you must remember that they are very different due to their use.
HPS (sodium) bulbs are intended for the flowering phase of plants. However, MH (metal halide) bulbs are for the growth phase (i.e. vegetative). Most of the people do not understand this difference and use one of these lamps in both phases, which is a clear mistake that they are making. If we talk about the theoretical explanation behind it, you can use single light for both purposes, but the plants will grow worse in that case. It is because the HPS lamp provides about 5-6% of the emission in the range of blue light, and MH provides more than 20%.
Out of all the lighting solutions available for indoor growing, LED panels are the latest solution, which is becoming more and more popular because of its low consumption of electricity resulting into large savings. At the same time, they provide appropriate luminous flux (by using different colors), which is good for the plants and is easily absorbed by them, resulting in good crops. Moreover, LEDs do not heat up much, which is why we can place them closer to the tops of plants, allowing them to receive more life-giving light.
Furthermore, another interesting benefit of using LEDs is that when we use them in the growbox, we do not need to water the crops often. This is because LED lights produce less heat and due to less heat, there is less evaporation of water. You might have remembered that while describing MH and HPS bulbs, we mentioned that HPS are used for the flowering phase, and MH are appropriate for growing phase. But, in case of LEDs, you need not buy lamps with different spectrum of light, because many models come with a button, using which you can conveniently change the color of light.
So, what to choose – older fluorescent lamps, newer generation (CFL), HID discharge lamps including HPS and MH bulbs, or most modern LED panels? Clearly, from the examples given above, it is worthless to invest in traditional fluorescent lamps because they do not provide energy efficiency, and also need additional devices to operate. Therefore, it is definitely better to choose CFL or HID bulbs, although the most tempting are the LED panels. The only obstacle in their purchase may be the price, because even though they are becoming cheaper and more available, some of the growers can still not attain them easily.