High Output Fluorescent vs HID grow light

karyn1(7a)October 3, 2006

I've been looking at some lighting systems since I'll have to put a number of plants inside the house this year : ( I don't really know the difference between high output fluorescent vs HID. They are both sold as grow lights, are about the same price and each set-up produces 50,000 lumens. I don't know which lights will cover a larger area. They do sell tracks that automatically move the light boxes, similar to the movement of the sun, but I don't know if I want all that set up in my house. Does anyone have an opinion on which system would be better? It's not just for plumeria, but a number of tropical plants.


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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Karyn, I've never seen the high-output fluor., but I use a 1000-watt metal halide HID lamp. It lights up about an 8' x 8' depending on how high it is mounted. I do not have it on a track. I will put lower-light-requirement plants off to the sides. It uses a separate power supply unit (ballast) that is maybe about 8" x 8" x 6". I have the lamp on a timer for about 12 hours in the winter. It gives off a fair amount of heat and the lamp must hang down from the ceiling a bit for circulation. Bulbs are pricey -- about $85 if I remember, and should probably be replaced every couple years for maximum efficiency.
It will run your electric bill up a bit. I'm not sure how much elect. the fluo. uses, but I'd certainly consider that. So electricity costs as well as bulb replacement cost should figure into your research. Sorry not much more help.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 12:10PM
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Dave thanks for that info. It's probably a better idea to go with the HID because it produces heat. I'm almost positive that we use fluorescent bulbs in the greenhouse because they don't produce a lot of heat, but I could be wrong. The downstairs where I plan on keeping the plants is quite cool, especially in the winter because we have natural slate floors so the additional heat would be welcome. My electric bills are minimal during the winter, even with all the lighting I doubt they would come close to what my summer electric bills are.

The bulbs definitely aren't cheap but it will be a small investment to keep the plants going. I'll go with the metal halide for foliage growth as opposed to the high pressure sodium bulbs. I found some that include the hanger, reflector, ballast, timer and 1000 watt bulb (110,000 lumens) and I can probably get away with 2 of them. The 1000 watt bulb covers an 8'x 8' primary growing area and a 12'x 12' secondary growing area. I can't find them anyplace locally. I though maybe Behnke's but they don't have it. Do you know of anyplace in the DC metro area that carries the lights?

I can just see it now, cops busting down my front door because someone thinks I'm growing pot. lol

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 2:48PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA


I ordered mine from Worm's Way. They sell replacement bulbs too. If you direct a fan up at the bulb, it should add some warmth to your room, depending on the size of it. You can also buy a glass piece (lens) that fits in the reflector so you can place plants closer to the light without burning them (I mean this bulb gets hot!). It also helps protect the bulb from water splashes, etc.

Ya know, I was gonna mention the 'pot thing', cause I'm sure that's what it looks like when someone drives by!

Here is a link that might be useful: Worm's Way

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 4:22PM
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Dave the next time you are looking for lights check out ACF Greenhouses. The whole set-up, 1000 watt bulb, ballast, timer, protective glass lens, hanger and housing is only about $350. There are some other extras that you can buy but I don't think they are necessary. One is an automatic height adjustment. It's only another $30 so that might be worth it. I didn't check to see what the replacement bulbs run. The additional heat will be great. I'll still have to put some type of insulation on the floor under the plants, maybe a few sheets of plywood or something. We have to run space heaters if we want to stay in that room during the winter. The floors are beautiful but God forbid you set foot on them with bare feet in the winter. It's like touching an ice cube tray! lol We are so used to police helicopters buzzing over the greenhouses and fields at the farm. I just don't want them checking out my house!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 9:02PM
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I know this might be a little late, but first off id like to say that high output fluro is fine for clones and short times of vegetative growth.

For everything else they can't be compared with a HID light IMO, besides it's not lumen or lux thats interresting for plants or to us as plant growing geeks.
We wanna look at the PARlight output, most lights won't list it and then u know it's a crappy produckt.

Hortilux, phillips, osram ect. ect. all got datasheets on there bulps telling the PARlight output, because plants don't grow from lumes, they grow from photosythetic active radiation!

I use 400 Watt lights for small areas and 600 Watt lights myself for better coverage, the 1000 watt lights are fabules for commercial greenhouses indeed. For privat and hobbie use I found that the 600's got the way best coverage, the 400 watt is ideal for a small grow area for a few plants needing a little extra winter light or whatever reason u got indoor lights.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 2:36PM
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I have a large area with a couple hundred plants that needed to be lit so I ended up buying two 1000 watt HID systems. They have performed well beyond my expectations. I wish I had bought HID lights years ago. Even though I'm only using MH bulbs I'm getting loads of flowers and fruit that is so far holding and some even ripening. Not only that but it's keeping the room nice and warm without having to run additional space heaters : )

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 7:53AM
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how much does a phillips 1000 watt blub cost a month to use and does anyone have a balast and reflector for sale?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 10:36AM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Karyn- About your floors, Home Depot or other home improvement centers sell 4x8 sheets of styrofoam insulation with foil on one side. These are usually pretty inexpensive and I think would cut down on the cold radiated from the floor plus they are easy to cut and fit. I used some sheets cut up to put under pots I left outside all winter on the cement and they worked great. No losses. Just and idea. I do not have lights but you are correct in that fluorescent bulbs give off little heat and use less electricity. Happy spring. Bill

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Hi Bill,
The lights have actually generated enough heat that the floor warms up nicely and they retain heat. I like having the pots directly on the floor for watering (not the plumies). The floors are natural slabs of slate and the water doesn't damage them. I just make sure it doesn't run to the edges of the room and get into the walls.

It doesn't feel like spring here yet. It's been an unusually long cold winter. We've only had one day so far in the upper 70's. Normally we've had several warm days by this time but I'd say the average temp is in the mid 50's. Almost all my plants are still inside or in the greenhouses

I do have a couple plumeria cuttings that I'd bought last fall that are rooting and I have a few 2 yr old seedling plumies that weren't damaged but everything else had to be cut way back to remove all the bad stems. I lost a few that I'd recently bought like my Penang Peach, Nebel's Rainbow, K. Wilder and the list goes on : ( Thanks for the tip on the insulation sheets. I might be able to use them in some other areas for the plants.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 12:56AM
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For my many houseplants, I had florescent lights strewn all around my house, one within two feet of each plant. The Dr. Suez inspired CFL bulbs spire out of the fixtures, stinging the eyes, and to tame the snarls of cords was a constant battle. Tired of the clutter, I joined the elite society of indoor grower in adopting a 400 Watt Metal Halide fixture.

T5 lights appear to have roughly the same efficiency (lumens to watt ratio) as MH, and the lost energy becomes heat. Why would I want a huge florescent fixture with lower output? Though florescent enthusiasts claim longer lamp life, replacing several T5 tubers every two years must be more expensive than a single MH bulb at $10 each year.

A smaller device that achieves the same effect represents a superior technology. While T5 is an improvement over other florescent, the technology seems far inferior to HID. Am I missing something?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 1:11PM
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JeffreyJoe(5 New Hampshire)

It looks like you dredged up a 5 year old thread, but the info is still pertinent. I am using the the spiral 200W daylight cfl bulbs $7.95 each at HD online. I house them in deflector fixtures bought at walmart - get ones with a ceramic base. These use up only 42 watts each. No heat build up - cool - no burning fingers or plants. I have not come across a more efficient system. Please share your thoughts as I can always use more info! :)


    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 6:19PM
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