All gardeners know that the sun is best when it comes to growing plants, but today we can use electric lighting to garden all year long. Hydroponic gardening with artificial light to imitate the sun’s rays is becoming more and more popular, and there are a lot of choices out there for the type of light hydro growers use. By using electric lighting, you can customize your growing season and encourage plants to fruit and flower when you want them to, without having to depend on good weather.
There are three main types of grow lights that hydroponic gardeners use to grow their plants. These are Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL), High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights. Each category has its own advantages and disadvantages, with a huge variety of sizes, prices, and quality levels for each. In this article we will first go over some pros and cons for each type of light, then list the best 10 lights out there for hydro growers.
Pros: Low heat, relatively energy efficient, inexpensive, good for green leaf plants like lettuce, spinach and herbs.
Cons: Not good for flowering or fruit-producing plants, not full spectrum nor very powerful.
Pros: Full spectrum, can be used for both flowering and vegetative growth, very powerful lights.
Cons: Bulbs wear out quickly, uses a lot of electricity, high heat output requires fans.
Pros: Very low heat, red and blue LEDs can be combined to create full spectrum or partial spectrum lighting, bulbs last a very long time, customizable for small or large gardens, very energy efficient
Cons: Expensive to purchase up front although they save money on energy costs.
Apollo Horticulture Digital Dimmable HPS MH System
This HPS system from Apollo comes in 400 Watts for $115, 600 Watts for $148, or 1,000 Watts for $199. It is the #1 best selling HPS light on amazon.com, and comes fully stocked with a gull wing hood, 2 bulbs, ballast with 2 rope hangers, and timer. The ballast has a dimmer as well as an electronic cooling fan included. The bulbs included are one 140,000 lumen HPS bulb and one 110,000 lumen MH bulb.
iPower Digital Dimmable HPS MH Grow Light System
This HPS kit from iPower comes with everything you need to get started in your hydro garden. It comes in 3 sizes – 400W for $114, 600W for $153 or 1,000W for $193. The kit comes with a dimmable ballast, which accepts 110-240v input. It also includes 2 bulbs (Super HPS and MH), a set of two iPower Flexi Ratchet Hangers, and a gull wing reflector.