When you are growing in a hydroponic environment, it is important to have plenty of light. In hydroponics, the more light you have, the better your plants will grow. However, there is a trade-off. Stronger HID lights will use more electricity and also emit more heat. So there is always a compromise between high powered lights and dealing with the heat. The idea is that you want to use the strongest light you can, but not raise the temperature in your hydroponic environment any more than the plants are comfortable with. Plants are generally comfortable in the same temperature range as humans. For this reason, you need to have smart ways to dissipate the heat from your garden.
This article will cover the most efficient ways to keep high intensity lights cool, so your plants can maintain a healthy growth rate.
Probably the most common and easiest way to keep your lights cool is to use an air-cooled light reflector. These types of air-cooled reflectors house the bulb inside a reflective housing, and it also has a piece of glass at the bottom that separates the bulb from the plants. Essentially, the glass at the bottom of the reflector retains all the heat from the bulb and prevents it from reaching the plants. Therefore, any heat generated by the bulb will remain inside the reflector and will not be able to interact with your plants.
Often with this type of air-cooled reflector installed, you will have a fan that blows cool air over the bulb, as well as another fan that will often pull the hot air out of the room and move it to another location. Usually you want to get that heat away from your plants as much as possible, preferably in another room. That way, only the cool air in the room will pass through the bulb. By trapping the hot air within the reflector, you can keep the light closer to your plants and therefore maximize the light without burning your plants. Essentially, the closer the light is to your plants, the more efficient the light will be. By using an air-cooled reflector, you can easily achieve this and get maximum performance.
Lately a new invention has appeared on the market that will surround the water around your lamp. Basically your light bulb is encased inside two glass tubes. Then cold water from a cooler is passed over the bulb keeping it cool and dissipating heat. This will allow you to keep your light very close to your plants without temperature problems. However, it is really dangerous to put so much water and weight on top of your garden. Hot lights, cold water, and electricity do not mix, so this technique to dissipate heat is not recommended. However, if you want to take the risk, be prepared to have to lift a lot of water weight. And also operate a large quarter horsepower water cooler to keep plenty of cold water around your lamp.
Instead of using HID lights, you can also choose to use LED or fluorescent lights. However, no type of light will produce as many lumens as a high pressure sodium or metal halide lamp. Although these lights will run much cooler and generate less heat, they will not give you as great a performance. It is much better to use HID lights with an air cooled reflector for maximum performance. Don’t believe the hype from the LED and fluorescent light manufacturers. The advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages of lower performance.
You will get your best performances by using an air cooled HID reflector.