When it comes to farming, the vegetative phase is the footing of a successful flowering and fruiting stage. This is because plants develop their structure and gain root mass in the vegetative stage.
In this stage, farmers tend to use various manipulating practices to shape their plants to upsurge their yields. Of all manipulating techniques, one essential technique molds the plants for a robust finish: using an artificial source of light.
An orchard's artificial light is the only energy source for indoor plant growth. Since the vegetative stage requires adequate lighting as flowering and fruiting, indoor farmers must invest heavily in artificial lighting.
Unfortunately, most indoor farmers spend a lot of money and time working on their indoor garden's lighting. This is because various artificial lights that farmers use for the vegetative stage come with disadvantages and advantages. The different types of artificial lighting used for vegetative purposes include high-density discharge, high-pressure sodium, T5 fluorescents, light=-emitting diodes, and metal halide.
However, in this blog post, we will talk more about metal halides since they are the most popular options for vegetative development among indoor farmers. Furthermore, they provide plants with a lot of heat and are of high quality.
What is a Metal Halide?
They are lamps that give out a white-colored light. For many years, indoor farmers have ventured into using this light for vegetative purposes since they are an ideal source of light energy. However, these lights are also perfect for fruit production and flowering stage as they mimic the early summer or spring seasonal sun.
Metal halides are high-intensity discharge bulbs that contain a quartz tube packed with a noble gas. The gas produces a white-colored light that creates blue wavelengths when intensified. The quartz tube includes two electrodes that create a spark that lights up the bulb.
Metal halides are compounds created when halogen and metal elements merge. They include substances such as uranium hexafluoride and sodium chloride. These bulbs create light by passing an electric current through a perfect mixture of metal halide gas and mercury.
Although these lamps operate the same as gas-discharged bulbs, they tend to differ in gas composition. The presence of metal halide gas enhances both the quality of light and the efficiency of the bulb.
These lamps can operate for a maximum of 20,000 hours on which they degrade to a point in which they become less effective for vegetative growth use. However, they are the best source of artificial lighting for indoor farming since they produce a lot of heat and have a high lumen output.
Generally, metal halide lamps are unmatched when it comes to efficiency and quality. However, you should note that even though metal halides sound the same as ceramic metal halides, they are two different products. We will talk about their differences towards the end of the blog post.
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The Different Types of Metal Halide
Metal halide grows lights are available in four forms: blue metal halide, standard metal halide, e-start metal halide, and dual arc.
Daylight Blue Metal Halide
This bulb is one of the most potent growth lights for vegetative growth. This is your go-to product if you want to generate bushy yet friendly compact plants with tight intermodal spacing. This gives the pants room for producing colorful and large flowers and fruits.
Blue metal halide bulbs also shorten the vegetative stage by a week, enabling indoor growers to add another crop annually. When it comes to emitting light, this product produces unmatched light similar to sunlight energy. It is an ideal bulb for experienced indoor growers who want to achieve high-end quality plant products during all plant growth phases.
Standard Metal Halides
Standard metal halides offer plants with spectral light energy needed for the early stages of plant growth. This product outperforms its rivals since they have a high consistent output and light intensity. They also have an Eye Hortilux spectrum feature that lowers the bulb's replacement cost and extends the bulb's lifespan; hence, making standard metal halide a cost-effective solution for vegetative growth purposes.
E-Start Metal Halide
They are ideal bulbs designed for use on digital or electronic ballasts. The operating and starting features of digital or electronic ballasts are different than the traditional magnetic coil and core ballasts. The differences enable the bulbs to have an added advantage on performance over life for enhanced garden results.
These lamps merge the power of Hortilux Blue MH and Super HPS in one light. This enhances plant production, making growing products an easy undertaking and a successful project. If you are a first-time indoor grower, investing in this product will provide you with quality results of more vigorous fruit and flower production and compact plants.
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Why Use Metal Halide for Vegetative Plant Growth
As mentioned earlier, these bulbs contain a noble gas that emits a white-colored light that produces blue wavelengths when intensified. However, the spectrum also has green, yellow, and orange wavelengths, depending on the intensity of the gas. These varying blue wavelengths make the bulb effective for growing plants, especially plants in the vegetative stage or those that do not flower.
Metal Halide helps your plants to grow lush and dense canopies. It also protects the plants from stretching that occurs mainly in the flowering stage and can easily lead to weak branch structures.
Remember, lack of blue light leads to stretching, and that's where metal halide bulbs come in place. Furthermore, indoor farmers who use HPS bulbs tend to stretch since these bulbs emit no blue spectrum light. Thus, if you are using HPS bulbs, adding a metal halide bulb to the mix can help solve the stretching problem.
Metal halides lack red wavelengths, making them less efficient and less effective in promoting the growth of flowering plants. Thus, it would be best to use HPS bulbs for flowering purposes and metal halide bulbs for vegging purposes. However, you can use both bulbs if you want to attain a complete spectrum.
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The Ideal Metal Halide Bulb for My Indoor Garden and What You Need
Metal halides are available in different wattages, with 1000W, 600W, and 400W being among the top efficient bulbs. But of all three bulbs, the 600W bulb is the most efficient of all.
A metal halide bulb cannot run alone; hence, you will need a reflector and ballast for further efficiency. Furthermore, if you want to use these bulbs, you will have to change the sockets using a standard light socket. The reflector can be air-cooled, an open reflector or a simple mogul socket merged with a cord.
When it comes to the ballast, it must match the bulb’s wattage. However, you can also purchase a digital dimmable ballast and auto-detect bulb if you want to make your life simple and extend the bulb's life. Furthermore, there is no need to purchase a manual and old ballast that will stress you in the future.
When purchasing the reflector, go for a simple option. If you are on a tight budget, go for cool hoods and ensure you attach the reflector to ventilations. However, if you have a problem digging deep into your pockets, an umbrella-style or a wing reflector will do the trick.
Common Areas Where Metal Halide Bulbs Are Used
Apart from acting as a source of light for indoor gardens, metal halides are also great for providing light for commercial purposes. Since they emit a lot of light, they are a reliable source of light for extensive sports facilities such as hockey rinks and stadiums. Furthermore, you can use them for high bay lightings for extensive indoor facilities and warehouses.
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Metal Halide vs. Light Emitting Diodes
Light-emitting diodes are electric components with an anode and a cathode through which electric current passes. Manufacturers build LED bulbs with semi-conductive materials like selenium and silicon that conduct electric currents in different scenarios.
When comparing LED and metal halide bulbs, these bulbs tend to have lots of differences in efficiency, quality of light produced, and application. The two bulbs also tend to have different methods of creating a light, but all tend to make high-quality light. For instance, metal halides use evaporated metal gases to make light, while LEDs use semi-conductive materials to produce light.
Although metal halides have a short lifespan than LEDs, they produce high-quality light than LEDs. In addition, they are also highly efficient in terms of excellent color temperature outputs and exist on the cool color temperature that is as low as 3000K.
Metal Halide vs. HPS
HPS bulbs contain high-pressure sodium that gives the bulb a yellowish or reddish color spectrum. You will find these bulbs in street lights mainly since they provide users with a yellowish glow. However, these bulbs are excellent for later-stage growth in plant growth, where plants start producing fruits, flowers, and buds.
This is because, during these phases, plants require red-spectrum light for optimal growth and development. Therefore, HPS is ideal for this phase since they produce a lot of red spectrum light, but you should not depend on them alone.
Running both bulbs is your best solution if you are an indoor grower who wants to achieve the best, satisfying results. This is because metal halide bulbs are efficient for vegging and seeding purposes, while HPS bulbs are efficient for flowering purposes.
If you use HPS during the entire growth process, you will get spindly plants because of the lack of blue light that enables the plant to grow strong. If you use metal halides for the entire process, the blooming results will be poor since flowering plants require red light.
Metal Halide vs. Ceramic Metal Halide
Ceramic metal halides sound similar to metal halides, but they have a lot of differences. The main difference between the two bulbs is that ceramic metal halides use a ceramic tube instead of a quartz tube. This leaves room for a higher arc tube temperature that creates space for a perfect amalgamation of gases to create an excellent optimal spectrum.
However, although ceramic metal halide produces a lot of heat than LEDs, they have less heat than metal halide and HPS bulbs. When it comes to cost, ceramic metal halide system costs twice as much as metal halides, but they tend to have a lower cooling cost. This is because ceramic metal halide bulbs use less energy to create high-quality light for vegetative plants.
Compared to metal halide, ceramic metal halide are very good for flowering. However, HPS bulbs are better since they have a redder wavelength. When it comes to vegging and seeding, metal halides are the best but with a slight difference.
Metal Halide vs. Fluorescent
Like metal halide bulbs, fluorescent bulbs also have a blue wavelength component that makes them an excellent option for vegetative use. However, fluorescent bulbs tend to have a complete spectrum, but the difference lies in power.
Metal halide bulbs are much more efficient in delivering output. Thus, if you have a small garden that requires cloning, seeding, or vegging, fluorescent bulbs will be your go-to option. However, if you want more power, then metal halides will suit you better.
Frequently Asked Questions
The number of plants grown under metal halide bulbs depends on the space and types of plants needed. However, some people claim that bulb wattage also determines the number of plants. But since this theory cannot work in all plants, you should do thorough research to see how many plants you can grow in one area.
Compared to incandescent bulbs, metal halides produce light that is three to five times more efficient. They also make unmatched high-quality light that is perfect for vegetative growth.
Furthermore, depending on the mixture of metal halides, these bulbs tend to have an extraordinary color temperature that can go up to 5500K. This makes them perfect tools for high-intensity applications such as athletic facility illumination, car headlamps, and photographic lighting.