Hydroponic lighting

Hydroponics are great for growing indoors all year long.  Because not as much sunlight can reach the plants indoors, and especially in the winter, extra lighting will be needed to keep your plants health.  There are many types of lighting available, but the most popular for growing plants are metal halide/high pressure sodium, LED and fluorescent.

Metal Halide/High Pressure Sodium

Metal halide (MH) and high pressure sodium (HPS) lights are popular for indoor growers because they offer a high light output for the amount of power consumed, and the spectrum of the lamps is a good fit for what the plants need.  Modern light fixtures and ballasts can use either type of lamp, reducing the cost and making switching a breeze.

The metal halide lamp, with its cooler, bluer output, is usually used for the first part of growth while the high pressure sodium lamp has a warmer light output, much like autumn, and is recommended for plants that are flowering or growing vegetables.

MH/HPS lighting does generate heat, and a ventilation system will be needed both to cool the lamps and to remove warm air from the growing area (if enclosed).

The most common setup has two major pieces – a ballast, which converts the normal electricity in your how into a high frequency output to power the lamp, and a lamp holder for the lamp to screw into.  The lamp holder is usually attached to a tube or sealed reflector which is used in combination with the ventilation fan to remove heat.

The iPower 600 watt kit comes with ballast, a sealed hood/reflector, MH and HPS lamps, height adjusting ratchets, a timer and cables and provides enough light to cover roughly a 4 foot by 4 foot area. It is also available in a 400 watt and 1,000 watt version for those who need more or less light.


Light emitting diodes have been catching on as a source of lighting for years.  LED lighting typically has a much longer life, runs cooler than MH/HPS lights and can come in a variety of light spectrum and some even feature an adjustable spectrum.


Fluorescent lighting is common for starting plants or clones and is good for supplementing sunlight.  Many people build their own fluorescent light setups from parts available at the local hardware store.  There are higher output lamps with better plant-growing color outputs available online and from hydroponic stores.

Fluorescent lights run quite cool, and can actually touch the plant’s leaves without burning them.  It’s recommended to keep the lights within a couple inches of the tops of the plants, adjusting the height as needed.

There are many fluorescent grow lights out there, but the two most common use either a compact fluorescent lamp, like the Hydrofarm 125 watt grow light with hood, and traditional tube-type lamps, which can cover a larger area, like the EnviroGro 4 foot 4 tube fixture.

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