Fluorescent tubes offer a broader color spectrum and are available in a variety of kinds including bright white. cool white. warm white. plant bulbs. daylight and full spectrum. The combination of warm and cool white offer a broad light spectrum.
Fluorescent bulbs are relatively inexpensive, long-lasting and provide even, cool lighting.
The down-side to fluorescent lights is that they are low in intensity and need to be very close to the plants to be effective. Seedlings, cuttings and most house plants will benefit from fluorescent lighting. Listed below are some fluorescent lights to get you started with.
There are several options when it comes to lighting your indoor hydroponics system. One of them is fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is the least expensive of the lighting system for indoor hydroponics growing. It is also one of the more energy efficient and coolest running systems. Despite these pluses, there are also some significant drawbacks to fluorescent lighting.
The biggest drawback to fluorescent lights is that they do not provide the full spectrum of wavelengths in the optimum bands for photosynthesis. The newer T5 fluorescents are an improvement and are getting closer to covering the full spectrum needed for all phases of plant growth.
For the moment, fluorescent lighting is best suited for ornamental house plants and for starting seedlings, cuttings and clones. Full-spectrum fluorescent lights are also great for leafy produce like lettuce spinach and herbs. They fall short, however, when it comes to fruiting vegetables and flowering plants. Despite the improvements with the T5 bulbs, they are still lacking in the wavelengths most suited to fruiting and flowering, so they are not well suited to activities such as growing tomatoes.
If you are going to limit your growing, say, rafts of lettuce, you might well consider taking advantage of the low cost of fluorescent lighting. If you do choose this option, here are a few guidelines in utilizing them:
- Since fluorescent lighting does not produce much in the way of heat, lights can be hung very near to your plants. As a rule of thumb, 4-6 inches above the plants is sufficient.
- When planning your system, plan on using about 40 watts of fluorescent lighting for each square foot of growing area. With T5 fluorescents, use one 4 foot tube for each two square feet of growing bed.
- Fluorescent lights are not well suited for larger plants because the light they emit does not penetrate foliage as well as some other types of lighting (Notably, lighting of the High Intensity Discharge varieties), this can be overcome by placing lights to the sides as well as above larger plants.
- You can split your operation, utilizing fluorescent lighting for vegetative stages of plant growth and moving your plants under an HID lighting system for flowering and fruiting.
Properly used, and with an understanding of its limitations, fluorescent lighting can be a useful tool in indoor hydroponics, they are economical to purchase and cheap to operate. They also produce less heat than other lights and therefore reduce the amount of cooling your growing space will require. They can be a big money saver, if their spectrum meets your growing needs.