There are so many different lighting options available in this day and age so I wanted to do a quick rundown on the different styles and how you could use them in your indoor gardens. If you are like me and like to get your spring seeds started and ready before planting time, I like to get mine started under a T5 fixture. These come in a wide range of sizes ranging from 2ft, 3ft, and even 4ft long fixtures. They also come in single bulbs, dual bulbs, quad bulbs, and some even with an eight bulb fixture. So what exactly is a T5 fixture? They are a great fluorescent light source for indoor gardening. The single bulb fixtures are great for starting seeds for planting outside or for growing a few leafy greens year round. They are also a great supplemental light for any house plants that like more full sun such as snake plants, aloe, jade, and most cacti. From my experience using these indoors, I could grow multiple trays of lettuce, kale, spinach, or any other type of leafy greens with great success. The only problem I ran into was when I would try growing fruiting plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc. I could never get the fruits as large as they should be and the reason is the T5s just aren’t as powerful as some of the other lighting available on the market. Click here for Fifth Season T5 lighting options.
Now as I just mentioned about the T5s not producing the size fruits that I was looking for, there are a few other options such as HPS ( high pressure sodium) and LEDs. I’ve had great success growing tomatoes and peppers under a 400w HPS light and could yield the same size fruits that I could grow in my garden outside. The only issue I had was HPS lights are extremely hot. I had to have an additional inline fan to help cool down the light in order for my tomatoes not to get too stressed out over the high heat levels. These lights were used in the past until the newer technology of LEDs caught up to the output levels of the HPS bulbs.
My favorite type of growing light hands down are the newer LEDs. There are several different companies that make these now but I feel HLG and Photontek are some of the better brands. Most LED companies use the same Samsung diodes and Meanwell drivers, but what sets HLG and Photontek apart is the quality of the metal being used to support the light. I’ve used some of the other brands and didn’t get the performance I was looking for vs these two companies. How do I choose the correct size LED? Photontek and HLG have many different sizes to choose from and each size can be used for vegetative and flower growth without having to change any setting on the unit. The HLG 100 is perfect for a small compact area and can cover a 2×2 space. The Photontek 200w will also cover the same 2×2 space, but is a bit more intense than the HLG 100 and can help increase your yields by 50%. HLG and Photontek also offer some larger units including a 300w, 465w, 600w and even a 1000w option. A good rule of thumb when choosing the correct size for you is to first determine what size growing space you would like to cover. A 300w can cover a 2×4 and a 3x3ft space. The 465w is designed for a 4x4ft space, while the 600w is designed for a 5x5ft space. For the grower looking to go all out the 1000w is perfect for a 6×6 to a 7x7ft area. Click here for Fifth Season LED lighting options.
In conclusion if you are just trying to grow your leafy greens indoors, the T5s are a perfect fit. They are light and more energy efficient. If you are looking to grow any type of fruiting or flowering plant, I would highly recommend a LED. Remember to first determine the growing area and then pick the correct wattage to cover your space. Happy Growing!