HPS, or high pressure sodium, is a technology used in garden grow lights. It helps both outdoor and indoor gardeners to gain consistent harvests from their crops, and it's popular with farmers.
But how do you pick a good HPS bulb to cover your garden?
We've taken a look at the top options on the market, along with some key points for choosing the right bulb.
Top 5: Best HPS Bulbs
Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights
This HPS bulb has an extremely high lumen output, able to generate 85,000 lumens at once. It is designed to help people with professional hydroponic garden setups in indoor spaces and outdoor greenhouses. The model is compatible with both magnetic and electronic ballasts.
The bulb is designed specifically for plant growth, with a red and orange spectrum that's much higher than traditional designs. This helps to increase your crop yields and harvests.
One major problem with HPS bulbs is that they tend to wear down quickly. But this design tends to retain more than 90 percent of its energy output even after 6,500 hours of running. The entire lifespan of the bulb is a whopping 32,000 hours, significantly more than many traditional designs.
The package comes with two 600 watt bulbs. Bulbs at this wattage have the highest efficiency rating, so a two-pack will be more helpful for your garden than a single 1,000 watt bulb. It takes about 5 minutes for the bulb to reach full brightness. You must also wait a minimum of five minutes after shutting the light off to reignite it.
This bulb is a little more expensive than some other options on the market, but for good reason. Eye Hortilux creates bulbs that maintain their power throughout several different growth seasons. More traditional designs tend to need replacing every single year.
The HPS technology allows the garden to create better harvests and bigger flowers.
Another major advantage of this option is that it gives you a fuller spectrum of light. Most HPS bulbs only produce light in the yellow and red spectrum. This is good for the summer phase of plant growth, in which plants flower.
But plants also need blue and green light when they get started in the spring. To this end, these bulbs create 25 percent more light in the green, blue, and violet spectrum. They also have 17 percent more energy across the total spectrum when compared to the competitors.
Outdoor Solar Lights
1,000 watt bulbs are the most powerful ones on the market. Because of this, they also generate the most heat, so you need to be prepared to create an effective cooling system. But if you want to provide the most light with the least amount of space, a 1,000 watt bulb is the best choice.
This double-ended bulb performs better than traditional bulbs. It is part of the Hi-Lux Gro series created by Ushio. This line of lamps is built for gardeners who want to get professional results from their growth. They are designed for maximum growth and harvest potential.
Every bulb is manufactured in Germany and comes from a certified facility. The bulb utilizes a high ratio of red and blue light to allow for more efficient photosynthesis. There is also a high lumen output that converts into high PAR levels, which is what you want when encouraging growth in your plants.
The bulb's lifespan is longer than the average model on the market. It also consumes less energy than many other 1,000 watt competitors. The tube design is built for use in compact light fixtures.
This two-pack of high pressure sodium bulbs comes with medium bulbs that have a power level of 150 watts. That's among the lowest on the market. Because of this, the bulbs are best for small gardens. They might be preferred by people who want an option that doesn't generate tons of heat.
That said, the bulbs will generate some heat, like any HPS bulb will. That's why it's so important to have an adequate cooling system in place.
This is one of the more affordable options on the market if you want to buy several bulbs at once. They will work for about 1.5 square feet of plants, so they're good if you're trying to light a small garden or a single indoor plant.
The design will generate about 15,000 lumens of light. There is also a lamp life of 20,000 hours.
Kind LED Review
Another excellent option from Eye Hortilux, this is a good choice for people who want an efficient and extremely powerful lamp. The goal is for people to extend their growing season to a year-round event. These bulbs work with the energy levels that allow for maximum plant growth during the harvest phase.
One of the biggest selling points of these particular lamps is that they are lead-free. They also use less mercury than typical HPS bulbs, which makes them safer for use around the house. It's also easier to dispose of them safely.
Eye Hortilux's designs give you 17 percent more overall grow energy than a standard lamp. Like the other Eye Hortilux option on the list, there's a broader spectrum of light than with standard lamps. In fact, you get 25 percent more energy on the blue-green spectrum.
This allows the lamp to give you noticeable benefits during the rooting and planting season as well.
How To Use Grow Lights For Indoor Plants
The right HPS bulb for your garden will vary depending on your needs. How large is the garden? How much room do you have to set up your grow lights? Will you have enough space to cool the bulbs as well?
Your HPS bulb choice is just one part of the grow light equation. You'll also need to invest in a ballast and a cooling system. Ballasts are necessary to keep from breaking or exploding the bulb, and the coolant will prevent potentially dangerous fire hazards.
The iPower 600 watt two-pack is a good choice for people looking for the most powerful setup. Together, these two bulbs generate more PAR light than a single 1,000 watt bulb. The double-ended design works better than traditional designs, and the company has created a longer-lasting bulb that will work for up to 32,000 hours.
For a bulb that has a more balanced spectrum of light, we recommend the 400 watt Eye Hortilux. This enhanced lamp gives off more light in the blue-green spectrum than most competing models. That makes it good for use both when the plant is growing and when it is ready to flower.
For those looking for the most powerful bulb on the market, we recommend the Hi-Lux Gro lamp from Ushio. This product is part of a series of advanced grow lamps. It has a powerful 1,000 watt design that allows it to output the highest number of lumens on the list. In addition, the design is built to be used with compact light fixtures.
If you're working with a smaller garden area, the Sunlite 150-watt bulbs are a good option. These are the least powerful bulbs on the list, but they're also among the most affordable. Each one has an average lifespan of 20,000 hours. In addition, 150-watt bulbs don't get as hot as the more powerful options on the market. Just keep in mind that you will need some cooling measures.
If you need a more powerful option, the 600-watt Eye Hortilux option is another great choice. It has a balanced light spectrum that produces blue-green light in addition to red-yellow light. That makes it ideal for use during all phases of the growing season.
Frequently Asked Questions
HPS bulbs were first invented in 1964. They use light technology to support the growth of indoor plants. To make the light more efficient, the arc is kept at a high pressure. Traditional bulbs use sodium to create a wider light spectrum, hence the name "high pressure sodium." There are also xenon and mercury concentrations used to heat the lamp.
Farmers and gardeners often rely on HPS bulbs because the technology uses proven light techniques to enhance the growth of indoor plants. The bulbs are available in a variety of sizes, so you can place them flexibly according to your needs.
The lowest wattage tends to be 150 or 250 watts. However, for these lights to be effective, they need to be included with their own reflectors and ballasts. It's more common to find bulb sizes in 400, 600, and 1000 watts.
1000 watt bulbs have the most powerful effects, but they also burn the hottest.
There are several ideal things about these types of bulbs:
Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks as well. These mostly relate to the accessory equipment required, such as:
HPS bulbs generate a lot of heat, with higher wattages producing even more heat. They require cooling in order to avoid drying out your plants or starting a fire.
It's important to make sure that your greenhouse has ventilation. The hot air should be removed from the growing area, and cooler air should be continuously pumped in.
If you are growing indoors, you will need some kind of powered ventilation system. This typically uses a combination of fans and filters.
When you set up your fans, make sure some of them are pointed directly at your HPS bulbs. This will help keep them from getting too hot. Different bulbs should also come with manufacturer instructions for how to keep them cool.
Grow lights work with different light spectrums based on the phase of plant growth. Plants respond to light spectrums because of how sunlight changes in intensity during the seasons.
The golden light emitted by HPS bulbs is good for flowering and budding. It is used to maximize the harvest potential of an indoor crop or to increase the number of blooms in an indoor garden.
Plants can also benefit from green-blue light during their early growth season. Because of this, some gardeners use metal hallide lights in addition to HPS bulbs. This provides a more balanced overall spectrum.
Fitting ballasts are an essential part of the HPS technology. You have to use one if you want to set the bulb up safely. Otherwise you'll break the bulb -- or even cause an explosion.
Ballasts power the bulbs. This equipment regulates the voltage of your electricity, pulsing it so that your bulb runs efficiently without overheating. That helps prevent the potential for surges and explosions.
Digital ballasts are designed to keep the bulb running at peak efficiency safely even in situations where people experience power surges or other changes to their input voltage.
Different bulbs suit gardens of different sizes. The lower the wattage, the smaller the area that the bulb can cover. The higher the wattage, the higher the heat output, so you'll need to invest in more cooling technology.
150 watt bulbs are the least powerful. They should be hung just six inches away from your plants, and they can't efficiently grow for an area larger than 1.5 square feet.
250 watt bulbs can be hung 10 inches from the canopy and cover 2.5 square feet. However, these bulbs do tend to get much hotter, so it's important to make sure your cooling system is up to snuff.
Most 150 and 250 watt configurations come with their own built-in reflector and ballast. With the more powerful options, you have to set up the reflector and ballast yourself.
400 watt configurations are the most common on the market, and for good reason. They tend to be measurably more efficient than 250 watt bulbs, but they don't produce as much heat as the 1,000 watt bulbs. You can uncommonly find all-in-one kits for these like the 150 and 250 watt options, but most choices will be a kit with the ballast and reflector packaged separately.
With a 400 watt bulb, you can optimize the efficiency of 3.5 square feet of plants.
600 watt bulbs are the most efficient and least wasteful. However, they do generate more heat than 400 watt ones, so you need to invest more in your cooling.
The 1,000 watt bulbs are actually less efficient than 600 watt ones. In fact, some gardeners suggest that you should use two 600 watt bulbs in place of a single 1,000 watt bulb. Because of this, they're mostly recommended for gardeners who need to conserve as much space as possible with their lighting rig.
Double-ended HPS bulbs are an improvement upon the traditional bulb setup. These are recommended above traditional bulbs by nearly every gardener and farmer who uses them. They last twice as long as traditional bulbs, and they give out 10 percent more PAR light.
In addition, the lights are slightly more efficient than the standard bulbs, and they have a better red light spectrum. They emit more UV light and IR light, too.