The correct phytolamp – choosing a lighting device for supplementary lighting of plants – Beautiful indoor plants

In wise nature, everything is thought out to the smallest detail – sunlight in the best possible way provides all the needs of plants, activating seed germination, seedling growth, flowering and fruit setting. But when we put green pets in unnatural conditions in isolation from the usual environment, and even with a short daylight hours during the cold period, then we take on a very difficult task. Optimal light is one of the most important factors for successful plant growth and development. Which phytolamp to choose to provide it? In this article, we will deal with the main characteristics of lighting fixtures in order to understand which one is needed in each specific case.

Correct phytolamp – choose a lighting device for supplementary lighting of plants. Farmer HYVE Crowd

The importance of proper lighting for plants

It would seem that supplementary lighting of plants in the room should not raise any special questions: it is worth highlighting the flower with a personal lamp and the result will be excellent. But it is not so.

For humans, light is mainly associated with certain visual sensations. With sufficient lighting, it is easier for us to navigate in space and see the details of objects, and the onset of darkness signals the need to go to bed. As for plants, for them illumination means much more, because to a certain extent they use light “for food”. In this regard, not only the quantity, but also the quality of light is important for them.

As you know from the school biology course, the basis of plant life is photosynthesis. As a result of this complex chemical process, water and carbon dioxide are converted into oxygen and sucrose with the participation of light, resulting in the growth of green mass. But in addition to the well-known photosynthesis, it is important to know about the existence of such a phenomenon as photomorphogenesis. In simple terms, under the influence of light rays of a different spectrum, such processes as seed germination, growth of the root system, flowering and ripening of fruits are activated.

Therefore, when choosing a lamp for plant illumination, it is important to take into account the spectral composition of the light emitted by the device and take into account some other indicators. Let’s try to figure out what characteristics can be used to determine whether a particular lamp is suitable for plant illumination.

The main characteristics of lighting devices

In order to navigate the characteristics of most of the lamps on sale, and learn how to read the markings on the packaging of lamps, I invite you to take a short excursion into physics.

W (W) – watts, lighting power

Watts (W) – watts, power – they indicate the amount of energy consumed by the lighting fixture. At the same time, it is important to understand that this indicator is not always directly proportional to the power of light output, since when energy is converted into light rays, some of it is lost.

Of course, there is a relationship between power and light intensity, and a 40 W fluorescent lamp will look brighter and illuminate a much larger area than a similar 15 W lamp. But, nevertheless, this indicator is far from simple.

For example, if you compare popular energy-saving lamps with other types of bulbs, then with the same number of watts they will shine brighter than other lamps, although they will spend less energy. Therefore, watts are more useful when calculating how much the meter will eventually “wind up” with regular use of the lamp.

Lm (Lm) – lumens, amount of light

Lm (Lm) – lumens are units for measuring luminous flux, that is, they indicate how much light a lighting fixture gives. In simple terms, lumens indicate the brightness of light.

The light requirements of plants depend on their species. If we take the average for indoor flowers, for their steady growth and development, the amount of light should be at least 6000 Lumens. But it’s best when this figure approaches 10000-20000 Lumens. By the way, in the summertime on the surface of the soil, the illumination is from 27000 to 34000 lumens.

K – Kelvin, shades of light

Kelvin – This unit shows the shades of light, the so-called light temperature. That is, how much the glow is visually perceived as warm or cold (not to be confused with the degree of physical heating of the lamp). Why is this indicator necessary for a florist?

The fact is that scientists have identified the relationship between the temperature of light and the development of plants, so it is very important that the flowers receive illumination of the optimal “temperature”.

G – base

This characteristic will be important when you buy a fluorescent lamp and a housing (lamp) for it separately. For bulbs screwed into a socket, the base is designated with the letter E, while the standard socket is marked as E40.

V – Volts, voltage

The voltage at which the lamp operates; some lamps indicate the maximum operating range of the luminaire. For example, 100-240 V. Most of the domestic lighting fixtures operate from a standard 220 Volt electrical network.

For plants, not only the amount of light is important, but also the quality
For plants, not only the amount of light is important, but also the quality. Farmer Orchids Made Easy

Choosing a fluorescent lamp for plant illumination

Studies have shown that approximately 6500 Kelvin are needed for seed germination, seedling growth and successful vegetation. And for lush flowering and fruiting – 2700 K.

For indoor lighting, lamps of “warm white light” (Warm White (WW)), “natural white (neutral) light” (Neutral White Light (NW)) and cold white light (Cool White (CW)).

Depending on the manufacturer, the performance of these lamps may vary slightly. Typically, warm white fluorescent lamps have a characteristic in the range of 2700-3200 Kelvin, natural light – 3300-5000 K, cold white light – from 5100 to 6500 K. Also, the marking “daylight” (Day Light), whose indicators start from 6500 K.

In this regard, such a concept as nanometers (nm) should be mentioned. Unlike Kelvin, nanometers show the wavelength of light radiation. The range of electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye has a wavelength in the range of 380 nm to 740 nm. Scientists have proven that the most effective indicators for the full development of plants are 660 nm (visible to humans as red light) and 455 nm (perceived as blue).

This is due to the fact that the energy required for photosynthesis is mainly the red rays of the spectrum. The green and yellow components of light are practically useless for plants.

According to the indicators of special devices, in the lamps of cold light there is most of all green and blue, and there is practically no red. Whereas a warm light bulb has a significant amount of red. Thus, if you plan to illuminate plants with ordinary household fluorescent lamps, it is better to combine both types of lamps. For example, warm white 2800 K and cold white or daytime – 6500 K, since the first has a lot of red, an important spectrum for plants, and the second has a significant amount of blue.

The most effective indicators for the full development of plants are 660 nm (visible to humans as red light) and 455 nm (blue)
The most effective indicators for the full development of plants are 660 nm (visible to humans as red light) and 455 nm (blue). Farmer Best Home Remodeling

Phytolamp Osram Fluora

Separately, I would like to mention the popular special-purpose lamp – phytolamp Osram Fluorine (“Flora”), suitable both for winter lighting of indoor flowers and for supplementary lighting of seedlings indoors. The spectral composition of this lamp is specially selected for optimal growth and development of plants with intense radiation within the spectrum of 440 and 670 nm.

Five different types of this phyto-light can be found on sale:

  • 438 mm – 15 W – 400 Lumens;
  • 590 mm –18 W – 550 Lumens;
  • 895 mm – 30 W – 1000 Lumens;
  • 1200 mm – 36 W – 1400 Lumens;
  • 1500mm – 58W – 2250 Lumens.

The declared service life of the lighting fixture is 13000 hours.

Advantages of the phytolamp “Osram Fluora”:

  • phyto-lamp “Flora” is balanced in the spectrum, therefore it contributes to the full development of plantings;
  • phytolamp emits light in the required range, and at the same time it does not spend energy on heating and generating light in the “useless” part of the spectrum;
  • such lamps consume a relatively small amount of electricity;
  • the fluorescent lamp practically does not heat up and does not cause burns in plants;
  • a working lamp has no visible flicker.

Disadvantages of the phyto-lamp “Osram Fluora”:

  • an unusual pinkish-purple color, which, according to some reports, negatively affects vision, and also has a negative effect on a person’s well-being (causes apathy and some irritation), therefore it is recommended to shield this lamp from the main living space;
  • the high price of a lighting device, several times higher than the cost of ordinary household lamps;
  • a similar phytolamp cannot always be found on sale;
  • the need to purchase a housing and a cord with a plug and switch, as well as to assemble the lamp yourself, since such lamps are usually sold separately;
  • lamps like “Osram Fluora” ignite poorly at low temperatures, therefore they cannot be used in unheated greenhouses;
  • the luminaire “Osram Fluora” has less light output (brightness) than conventional “fluorescent” lamps;
  • This phytolamp also has a significant drawback common to all fluorescent lamps – the longer the lamp is in operation, the less light it starts emitting (as the end of its service life approaches, this indicator can be about 54% of the original).

Seedlings under the phytolamp "Osram Fluora
Seedlings under the Osram Fluora phytolamp. Farmer Lyudmila Svetlitskaya

Rules for the use of fluorescent lamps for plant illumination

When calculating the number and power of luminaires required for supplementary lighting, you can use the standard formula: per 1 m2 the area of ​​cultivated plants, on average, will require 5500 lumens. Thus, on a windowsill or shelf with plants 1 meter long and about 50 centimeters wide, 2750 Lumens will be needed.

That is, based on this formula, when using an Osram Fluora lamp, to illuminate such a number of seedlings, three lamps with characteristics are required: 895 cm – 30 W -1000 Lumen. But in practice, no more than two lamps are usually used for such an area, and with sufficient lighting from the street, even one can be dispensed with. Therefore, in this case, it is necessary to take into account the individual conditions of each apartment and the degree of demand for light from specific cultures.

The main signs of a lack of illumination can be called: elongated stems (lengthening of internodes), pale foliage, yellowing of the lower leaves. In this case, you can try lowering the lamp lower or add another additional lamp.

As for the lighting of indoor plants in winter, as practice shows, for tropical indoor plants (monstera, citrus fruits, philodendrons and others), one fluorescent lamp “T8” 60 cm long and 18 W at a distance of 25 cm above the flower is quite enough.

For tall palms up to two meters in height, two T8 fluorescent lamps with a power of 36 W and a length of 120 cm are required. It is very useful to use a screen made of reflective materials.

When placing fluorescent lamps, it is important to install them at a height of 15-20 centimeters. The maximum distance should not exceed 30 cm from the tops of the plants, since when it decreases, the luminous flux becomes much less than the declared one (a height of 30 cm reduces the luminous flux of the lamp by 30%). But it is also not worth hanging the lamp too low (less than 10 centimeters), so as not to burn the foliage. In addition, the low placement reduces the coverage area.

The operating time of the luminaire must be set based on the total daylight hours. For most plants, the duration of illumination in late autumn, winter and early spring should be 9-12 hours. For seedlings, the first time it is better to be in the light for about 16 hours. Lights must be turned off at night. A XNUMX-hour light will not only do no good, but it will also harm the plants.

To enhance the brightness of the phytolamp, it is advisable to cover the walls of the rack with a reflective material
To enhance the brightness of the phytolamp, it is advisable to cover the walls of the rack with a reflective material. Farmer Lyudmila Svetlitskaya

Choosing LED (LED) lighting for plants

In this article, we will not touch on ready-made LED fixtures designed by professionals for plant lighting. But if you decide to assemble an LED lamp yourself or use an LED strip, then you will need some theoretical information.

The best LEDs for growing plants are red and blue. In this case, it is very important to choose the appropriate wavelength: for reds it should be equal to 660-670 nanometers (nm, nm) and 440-450 nm for blue ones.

A separate issue is the ratio between the number of red and blue LEDs. According to researchers and horticultural practitioners, seedlings grow best when using blue and red LEDs in a 1: 2 ratio. Such proportions (from 1: 2 to 1: 4) promote active vegetation and will be useful not only for seedlings, but also for any plants that increase green mass. At the stage of flowering and ripening of fruits, a ratio of blue to red LEDs from 1: 5 to 1: 8 is recommended.

The optimal power of individual LEDs used for plant illumination is 3-5 watts. One LED of this power is enough for an illumination area of ​​10-20 cm2… But there are also ready-made LED strips on sale. However, they usually consist of low power diodes, so it is advisable to use them in combination with fluorescent lamps.

Our homemade plant light
Our homemade plant light. Farmer Lyudmila Svetlitskaya

Is it justified to make a phytolamp with your own hands?

Let me make a reservation right away that our attempt to assemble the LED phytolamp on our own ended in failure. Nevertheless, negative experiences can also be useful, so I will briefly tell you the story of our experiments. We ordered almost all the details for the future lamp on the popular website of goods from China.

Note: According to some reports, Chinese LEDs are usually of poor quality, and their characteristics do not correspond to those declared by the manufacturer.

To assemble an LED phyto-light, we needed: 3 W LEDs (red and blue), a power driver with an output power of 54 to 105 Volts, an aluminum plate, wire terminals, a wire with a plug and a switch, a wooden rail, 5 meters wires, heat-resistant glue …

I will not dwell on how we, absolute humanitarians, twice made a short circuit when trying to turn on a newly-made lamp. I will only note that the finished lamp worked successfully for no more than two weeks, after which the LEDs began to burn one after another and required constant replacement.

The reason for this was that during operation, the diodes were heated to a critical temperature, and for successful operation of this type of light bulb, it is recommended to install a cooling (cooler). An additional negative factor for our lamp was that the metal strips with LEDs were placed on a wooden frame, and the wood did not provide sufficient heat dissipation. There may have been other mistakes, which are not easy for the humanities to guess.

Of course, each situation is individual, but I would not advise people without technical education or experience in electrical engineering to assemble the lamp on their own. In particular, in our situation, the well-known principle of “a miser pays twice” worked. The money was spent not only on the purchase of parts for assembling an unsuccessful lamp option and updating regularly burning LEDs, but also on the subsequent purchase of ready-made lighting fixtures.

Currently, we illuminate the seedlings with Osram Fluora phytolamps, as well as household fluorescent lamps in combination with LED strips.


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Anna Evans

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