Welcome to 7 Pot Club.
🎵 I grow hot peppers 🎵 Each year, I start a lot of pepper plantsindoors.
This season I have 262 plants spread across 4 tables in our basement.
Obviously, the plants need light to grow.
In this episode, I’m going to show you the lights I use togrow healthy seedlings for planting outdoors.
I’m going to talk about how much energythey use, how much light they produce, how much noise they make, and how I work aroundtheir biggest limitation.
Let’s get started.
Before we dig in, I’d love to share withyou two short verses that popped into my addled brain the other day, set to musicand written from the perspective of a young pepper plant.
🎵 I need the lightStrong and clear and bright 🎵 🎵 i need soil with roomFor my roots to grow 🎵 🎵 I’ve lived all my lifeUnder artificial light 🎵 🎵 Oh but someday soonI’ll see the shining sun 🎵 If you haven’t seen it before, here’smy set up.
I run a fan for a couple of hours a few days a week to simulate wind.
This encouragesthe plants to develop thicker stems.
I have 4 trays on each table with one light for each.
I have another table in the opposite corner with 6 trays.
On this table I’m using my3 older lights that are not quite as bright.
Now, I’m not an expert on indoor plant lighting, and I don’t grow indoors year round, except for one AeroGarden in my office.
I don’tuse grow tents, grow boxes or reflective materials to maximize light.
i just need to give a goodstart to a couple hundred seedlings that will be planted outdoors.
I don’t have a greenhouse, so this is how I make it work.
I was an early adopter of LED grow lights.
They’re much brighter than fluorescents, they deliver light in the color temperaturesthat growing plants need, and they’re dramatically more energy efficient than metal halide orhigh-pressure sodium lights.
I bought this one 8 years ago from Advanced LED Lights, and back then it cost over $400.
That’s about 10 times as much as a light of similarintensity costs today.
It’s rated at 120W, and although it’s not as bright as the newermodels, it’s still going strong.
While LED technology for plants makes advancements everyyear, most consumer LED grow lights are still constructed like this.
A whole bunch of individualLEDs of different colors are arranged in rows in a circular or rectangular housing.
I have four lights of this type.
In additionto the one I just showed you, I have this 300W Viparspectra purchased in 2017, and 2of these 1000W Hi-Sdard lights I bought last year.
This model sports VEG and BLOOM switchesto separately control the blue and red LEDs.
I just keep both switches on all the time.
Here’s an Apollo 192W light I purchasedin 2014.
The type of LED grow light is known as COB, which stands for Chip on Board.
Multiplebare LED chips are bonded directly to a substrate.
You can see this really well on this tinyCOB light which has no lens or reflector covering the chip.
The chips can be packed more closely togetherfor greater light density.
The circuitry is much simpler, more efficient and potentiallymore reliable than lights that use individually wired LEDs.
My brain will melt if I get toodeep into an area that is beyond the range of my limited expertise, but I’ll providea link or two in the video description if you want to read more about COB technology.
Several weeks back, I unboxed my newest light.
It’s from the improbably named company Hipargero, and has a combination of both types of LEDs.
It has 4 full-spectrum COBs and 16 3W LEDs.
It’s rated at 800W.
This light also hasVEG and BLOOM switches, each of which control half of the lighting elements.
When both switches are on, this light is noticeablybrighter than my other lights, and the color of light is more pleasing than the purplecolor of the conventional LEDs.
The light seems more focused than my other lights.
WhenI first deployed it, I was doing a daily misting of my newly transplanted seedlings.
It wasvery cold outside and the indoor air was quite dry.
Then I noticed damaged leaves on someof the plants.
At first I thought it was some kind of blight, but i finally realized thatthe light was actually frying the wet leaves.
This has never happened with any of my otherlights.
The affected plants have recovered with new healthy growth, but I immediatelystopped misting, and I was too afraid to use this light at full intensity until just recently.
If you want to know why I don’t have thegrow lights on when I’m recording audio here in the basement, just listen.
All these lights have one or more fans, sothe power consumed is a combination of the noisy fans and the lighting circuitry.
TheHipargero combo light is rated at 800W, but consumes 237W with both switches on.
The othersall draw lower amounts, from 155W down to about 94W.
But i t definitely adds up.
Having all these lights on for 16 hours aday is increasing our electric bill to the tune of about $60 a month.
We’re subscribedto a wind energy program offered by our local utility, so at least all the energy we’reusing to power these lights is coning from a renewable source.
So now we know how much energy the lightsuse.
But how much light do they produce? This is not a question that can be accurately answeredunless you invest in a pricey PAR light meter.
PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiationwhich means these meters only measure the range of wavelengths actually useful for growingplants.
I can’t afford one of those.
I’m stuck with an IOS app called Lux LightMeter Pro that measures all the wavelengths my phone’s camera can see.
But it may beuseful to measure relative intensity of the different lights and how the light falls offas you move farther away.
We’ll be doing these readings in foot candles.
None of these artificial lights come anywhere close to the intensity of actual sunlight.
In the direct afternoon sun, we get measurements of 6000-7000 FC.
On our back porch, with sun shining througha window, we only get about 300 FC.
Let’s see how that compares to the grow lights.
The 800W Hipargero combo light measures about700 FC at 24” directly under the center of the light.
As you might guess it fallsoff pretty quickly as you move away from center.
Falloff is more intense the farther away youget.
These larger lights are supposed to cover a 2 x 4’ area.
The 1000W Hi-Sdard conventionalLED light measures about 800 FC in the center.
This is higher than the combo light, whichis surprising.
But it has a great amount of falloff.
When you get to the very edge ofthe coverage area, the meter registers a tiny fraction of the center reading, although itstill looks pretty bright visually.
I got similar readings with the 3 older lights, but their center intensity at 24” was quite a bit lower.
This falloff of light is why I move each trayone position over every day and rotate them in order to balance the amount of light eachplant receives.
Otherwise, I’d need to have twice as many lights, or put them on a motorizedtrack.
I only need to light them until they’re ready to transplant outside, and I’m happywith how well they do with this setup.
If you’re interested in buying a grow light, I’ll provide Amazon affiliate links in the video description.
It seems like manufacturerschange models constantly, and although the exact lights I’ve shown you today may notlonger be available, there are similar and probably improved versions you can check out.
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For 7Pot Club, I’m Rob.