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  #1  
Old 03-25-2008, 09:00 PM
Ross Ross is offline
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Default A summary thread on lighting

Just thought I'd try to summarize a lot of comments that have been made here over the life of this section of the board. Maybe this can be made a sticky?

Light Intensity

We continually read figures about the needs of orchids as per light. Something like "This orchid needs 1200-3000 foot-candles light" or whatever. My findings are that those figures are not valid when growing under lights. I am convinced that those figures are based on greenhouse growing or outdoors growing where the sun rises in the AM at a very dim light level, then increases to a high slightly after lunch time then starts to dim until sunset. The color (Kelvin) changes all the while. Under lights, we grow at a constant Kelvin, at a constant light intensity (foot-candles) and a constant timing over the year. This can lead easily to purple coloration in orchids at 1200-1500 FCs where the subject is supposed to take full sun!

Plants require only certain parts of the light spectrum to grow and bloom.

While this may be true, there is a matter of practicality for most of us. While "cool white", "warm white", etc. bulbs all have their own spectrum, "full spectrum" bulbs promise to deliver the whole range of light as perceived by normal human beings. This also works for most plants. Yes, there is a mid range not totally used for plant processes, but we, as human beings, use that range in viewing the plants. Therefore, we need that middle spectrum to fully appreciate the flower colors.

What are the best type artificial lights for orchids (or any other plants)?

This is a very heated discussion. There are florescent tubes (both straight and twisty), there are high intensity discharge bulbs (so-called hot lamps), there are incandescent bulbs and spot lights, there are LED lights. There really are a lot of different solutions. Which is right for you? Well consider the following:

For florescent fixtures: they run cooler than most (except LED), they can output very high amounts of light per unit energy consumed (depends on type of bulb/fixture), with the coily bulbs they can be compact and easy to install or position, for the bi-axial CF fixtures, they give off lots of light at relatively cool temps.

There are basically 3 types of florescents you'll run into (plus a couple special types - based on 48" tubes). There's T12 (like shop lights) - these are typically 32 watt, fairly dim and starting to disappear. There's T8 (like kitchen florescents) - these are typically 40 watt, much brighter than t12, commonly available in big box stores, and very effective for growing orchids. There's T5 (special thin bulbs only available through specialty growing shops like Hydroponics Stores.) These are the highest lumens per watt consumed for the florescent tubes. Their use is dependent on a high quality fixture to reflect maximum lumens back to the plant.

Compact Florescent: These are basically a compromise, but a valuable one at that. A lot of the potential light energy is lost back into the system, by design. However, what is projected is very bright and the fixture is more easily positioned than with many other fixtures. It still has the coolness of the straight tube fixtures, but with slightly less effeciency of light output. It serves a very useful need for many people.

For the High Intensity lamps (HID and HPS): they give off probably the highest amount of light possible for the amount of energy consumed, They can be positioned further from the plants than with other light sources, they last longer while burning, They are available in two different light colors (Kelvin) and hold the color temperature and output probably longer than any other style bulb.

Incandescent bulbs, including small "plant light" flood light bulbs:

These bulbs tend to be popular where space is an issue, where very few plants are involved, where heat is not an issue (these give off lots of heat) and where expense is an issue. They can be effective only under these conditions. There are lots of drawbacks for these bulbs.

LED Bulbs, particularly the red/blue spectrum:

I won't say much here, other than these are still in the design stage, for the most part. Yes, there are a few products that seem to promise enough light to grow orchids, but the cost is still high for the output compared to the solutions above. For now, see the threads:

http://www.orchidboard.com/community...hts-equal.html
http://www.orchidboard.com/community...me-garden.html
http://www.orchidboard.com/community...ht-levels.html
LED Lights
http://www.orchidboard.com/community...new-light.html
http://www.orchidboard.com/community...acts-pics.html
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  #2  
Old 03-25-2008, 09:58 PM
Becca Becca is offline
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Wow Ross! You put a lot of work into this! It will be very helpful for those looking for info on growing with lights!
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Old 12-11-2008, 04:43 PM
Niki Niki is offline
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A summary thread on lighting
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Ross,

thank you!!!! You saved me LOADS of time.

I'm committed to growing some orchids in my very dark bedroom. I just purchased a tray so that I can maintain humidity for the orchids. We installed a outlet above the fireplace (orginally for a TV, but now we're putting orchids there instead) so I have everything I need to give the orchids light. I haven't done enough research to figure out what my light needs are, but I'm hoping to grow mainly phals and maybe one dendrobium up there.....
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Old 12-11-2008, 08:06 PM
Blueszz Blueszz is offline
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Thank you Ross!
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Old 12-11-2008, 08:07 PM
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cb977 cb977 is offline
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Ross, thanks for all the work you put into this!
Sorry I never saw it before...it is now a sticky
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Old 12-11-2008, 09:09 PM
Niki Niki is offline
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What's a sticky?
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Old 12-11-2008, 09:46 PM
Sandy4453 Sandy4453 is offline
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This is a perect example of why I think this is the best orchid website anywhere. Ross, this is so fantastic, so informative, so comprehensive, an outstanding tuitorial. Thank you so much for this and the links. . Every time this topic comes up, I got into a meltdown, trying to sort through too many choices but this is FANTASTIC!!! I appreciate what you've done, here This is just so helpful.

So......do you happen to know how to install lights on a screened patio that loses light in winter, without getting electrocuted when it rains?

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Old 12-12-2008, 06:31 AM
Magnus A Magnus A is offline
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Very good Ross! Thank you for putting this together on a very informative level!

One comment on the HID/HPS there are more color temperature coming, for the Rx7s socket there are three different from Osram (D = 5600K , NDL = 4200K, WDL = 3000K)
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:25 AM
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cb977 cb977 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niki View Post
What's a sticky?
When a thread is made a "sticky", it will always be at or near the top of the forum it's in so it doesn't get lost in the mix.

Open up any of the forums we have here and you'll see a separate section at the top...those are all "stickies"
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:26 AM
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cb977 cb977 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandy4453 View Post
This is a perect example of why I think this is the best orchid website anywhere. Ross, this is so fantastic, so informative, so comprehensive, an outstanding tuitorial. Thank you so much for this and the links. . Every time this topic comes up, I got into a meltdown, trying to sort through too many choices but this is FANTASTIC!!! I appreciate what you've done, here This is just so helpful.

So......do you happen to know how to install lights on a screened patio that loses light in winter, without getting electrocuted when it rains?

Ahhh...I see Sandy has found some of the new smilies
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