What do you think about LED grow lights?

by Rory
(Hillbilly Hell)

I'm kind of curious. I'd love to use a high dollar HID setup... BUT... if LED grow lights are just as effective and a lot more efficient (concerning heat and power usage), then I'd just as soon go with LED vs. HPS/HID. Cost does factor into it some, but mainly the power/temp savings are really the factor.

Can Florescent bulbs works as well as HPS/HID, provided you have adequate lights? Is there such thing as overkill with that?

Answer Rory- as of this post, the LED lights that are being manufactured specifically for indoor gardening are still more expensive when you consider how many you will have to buy to light an area successfully. The light from LED lights is similar to light from fluorescent lights....it is not that strong, so you have to keep your plants within 18 inches of the bulbs.

The weakness of the light also produces lower yields. Even using the most high tech fluorescent grow lights (T5 lights) you can still only expect half the yield (compared to a garden the same size lit with an HID light). If you are using 4 foot long fluorescent shop lights, you can expect to yield even less.

No matter what type of light you choose, you want about 20 watts of light in every sq.ft. of your garden to support vegetative growth. Most garden plants demand more light during the flowering period. I usually aim to provide 40 watts per every sq.ft. of garden space. This becomes very difficult to do with fluorescent lights (actually impossible)- you run out of room before you have added all the lights you need to add to achieve 40 watts/sq.ft..

When you finally get tired of grappling with a dozen different fluorescent lights, and when you finally get tired of the low yields (considering all the time involved)- I recommend getting a 400 watt HPS light. A 400 watt light is just big enough to produce some good results, but small enough to be easy on the electric bill. Get one with a digital ballast- they use up to 40% less electricity (and add less heat to the grow room).

You also want a reflector/hood that you are able to air-cool (4 inch or 6 inch vents on the side). The heat from a 400 watt light is much easier to deal with than the heat from a 1000 watt light. In the winter, simply cracking a window may be enough to keep the heat under control. If you stay with the hobby for a while, you will look back on your decision to get a 400 watt light as one of the best decisions you ever made!

So, tinker around with those fluorescent lights if you must until you save up your money for a proper light....but start saving your money! The difference is like night and day. With a little research, you can find some very affordable systems. With a bigger yield to show for your effort, you might actually stay with the hobby!

Hope this helps...remember- 20 watts/sq.ft for veg
and 40 watts/sq.ft. for flowering. Happy Growing!

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Jan 14, 2010
by: Jerry Morse`

Don't forget about mylar,or other similarly shiny material, to help out on the lighting. I got this approach from Jason Beam: Build a reasonably light frame and then staple or screw cardboard to the frame. Then apply mylar and use staples through the mylar & into the cardboard to help hold everything together. The cardboard adds a good amount of strength to the frame and gives me something to attach the mylar to.

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AffordableGarden Design&Setup

(10 week update below)

Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...

Epic Nutrient Change

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...

Homemade Cloner

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...

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The ultimate solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->


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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!

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