High Pressure Sodium - HPS
High pressure sodium bulbs emit an orange-red glow. This band of light
triggers hormones in plants to increase flowering/budding in plants. They are
the best lights available for secondary or supplemental lighting (used in
conjunction with natural sunlight). This is ideal for greenhouse growing
Not only is this a great flowering light, it has two features that make it a
more economical choice. Their average lifespan is twice that of metal halides,
but after 18,000 hours of use, they will start to draw more electricity than
their rated watts while gradually producing less light. HPS bulbs are very
efficient. They produce up to 140 lumens per watt. Their disadvantage is they
are deficient in the blue spectrum. If a gardener were to start a young plant
under a HPS bulb, she/he would see impressive vertical growth. In fact,
probably too impressive. Most plants would grow up thin and lanky and in no
time you will have to prune your plant back before it grows into the light
fixture. The exception to this is using a HPS light in a greenhouse. Sunlight
is high in the blue spectrum which would offset any stretching caused by HPS
HID Light Output
Primary Growing Area
2' x 2'
|3' x 3'
3' x 3'
|4' x 4'
4' x 4'
|6' x 6'
6' x 6'
|8' x 8'
||8' x 8'
||12' x 12'
HID Lighting Helpful Tips
height: Due to the heat that is emitted from these types of fixtures, you
should hang them according to size. Smaller wattage systems (100 and 250)
should be hung about 2 to 3 feet from the top of the plants. Medium wattage
systems (400 and 600) should be hung around 4 feet from the top of the plants.
High wattage systems (1000 and up) should be placed at least 4 to 6 feet from
the plant tops.
long should lights run? This depends on the type of plant. Most plants and
vegetables need about 10 to 12 hours of light to promote growth. Plants that
produce fruits or flowers will show improvement with up to 16 hours a day of
This type of light is perfect for starts and seedlings. They are also
popular for growing low-light plants like herbs and African violets.
Fluorescent lights are low intensity and need to be placed within 8" (up
to 15" for shade loving plants) of the plants to be effective. They are a
poor light source for flowering and budding primarily because of their low
These lights are also good for starts and seedlings and
provide an inexpensive alternative to HID lights, because they do not require
a ballast. These lights are only good for individual plants or small groups of
plants because of their low lumen output and limited range.
The Cost to Run a Lighting System
To get the operating cost per hour for a light, take the lights combined
wattage, and divide it by 1000 to get the kilowatts used. Then multiply that
number by the amount your electric company charges per kilowatt hour. HID
lights will use the number of watts it emits per hour, ie; 600w system will
use 600 watts per hour (regardless of spectrum).
(light wattage output
/ 1000) x
electricity cost per kilowatt hour
= Operating cost per hour
operating cost per hour x hours
used per month = Operating cost per month
the Sunlight Effects Plant Growth
200 - 280 nm
||UVC ultraviolet range which is extremely harmful to
plants because it is highly toxic.
280 - 315 nm
||Includes harmful UVB ultraviolet light which causes
plants colors to fade.
315 - 380 nm
||Range of UVA ultraviolet light which is neither harmful
nor beneficial to plant growth.
380 - 400 nm
||Start of visible light spectrum. Process of chlorophyll
absorption begins. UV protected plastics ideally block out any light
below this range.
400 - 520 nm
||This range includes violet, blue, and green bands. Peak
absorption by chlorophyll occurs, and a strong influence on
photosynthesis. (promotes vegetative growth)
520 - 610 nm
||This range includes the green, yellow, and orange bands
and has less absorption by pigments.
610 - 720 nm
||This is the red band. Large amount of absorption by
chlorophyll occurs, and most significant influence on photosynthesis.
(promotes flowering and budding)
720 - 1000 nm
||There is little absorption by chlorophyll here.
Flowering and germination is influenced. At the high end of the band
is infrared, which is heat.