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How to set up and install your grow lights

In our previous how to guide, we discussed all things ventilation. However, today we’re talking about grow lights; how to set them up and how to use them to get the most out of your plants.

Why do we need grow lights?

Light is one of the main 9 elements plants need to thrive. In fact, it’s probably the most important factor to get right. In the past, growers only had the sun to depend on, meaning plants would receive as much light as the day could offer. Now, with grow lights, we have the chance to control how much light plants receive and for how long. Then, all other parameters – like nutrients, water and temperature – can be control to optimum levels too.

Light impacts plant development and growth. By plant growth, we mean dry weight; how much actual plant there is. Plants use the light for photosynthesis, which is then used to help them grow big and strong. Plant development, on the other hand, is the shape of the plant. Plants of the same species can easily be tall, short, leafy, bare and wide. And it’s the color of the lighting that impacts development. Blue photons, for example, can stop plants growing too tall. Using LED grow lighting combines the different colors of photons plants need to growth and development, and gives growers more control of their yields.

Different types of grow lighting

When it comes to grow lighting, there are typically two types: Top lighting and inter lighting.

Top lighting – like HPS lights – are set up at the top of the grow space or greenhouse, and are used to enhance the photosynthesis process and the quality of plant.

Inter lighting on the other hand can be placed between plants and leaves, so that no area of the plant is left in the shadows. With top lighting, only the tops of the plants get access to the light, while the upside of the leaf stays dark.

LEDs are great for inter lighting as their cooler temperatures reduce the chance of the plants being damaged by the heat.

Inter lighting is supplemental – you'll need top lighting or daylight as well.

How much light do my plants need?

Depending on the type of plant grow light nz you’re wanting to grow will determine how much light they need. There are typically three categories: short day, long day and day neutral plants.

Short day plants are also known as long night plants. They typically need more darkness than light in order to thrive. These plants only typically flower if they receive less than 12 hours of light a day, so you can turn off, or dim your lighting panel for longer, and save yourself a little money on energy bills. Examples of short-day plants include Fall or Spring bloomers like chrysanthemum and kalanchoe.

Long day, short night plants are the opposite, and need more than 12 hours of light a day with very little time in the dark. Long day plants are typically found in the Summer where there is more sunlight, and this category includes things like lettuces, spinach and potatoes.

Finally, there’s day neutral plants that aren’t really impacted by how much light they get. Flowering is controlled entirely by the temperature and natural development of the plant.

A Breakdown of the LUMA400

To provide your plants with the most even spread of light, the LUMA400 comes fitted with 90-degree lenses with inbuilt diffusers. Without these, the light is much more direct and intense in a single beam – making it more difficult for the plants to absorb it.

Even with this extra spread of lighting, we always recommend you used a reflective or white lining for in your grow tent, so that the light can bounce around the room and reach all angles of the plant.

The diffusers can actually be removed from the light panel using a Phillips screwdriver or drill. Four screws hold the edges into place and can be unscrewed for adjusting and cleaning. If you only have access to a small grow space, you might also find that you can’t get enough height to use the diffusers, which is another reason you might choose to remove them.

Underneath each diffuser is an XP-35 COB chip, which is very similar to the world-renowned Cree CXB3590. The XP-35 has a CCT (color temperature) of 3500, making this light perfect for both the flowering and vegetive growth stages. Overall, this saves you money as you won’t need to use different lights for different phases of the plant’s grow cycle.

On the side of the panel, you’ll have a slot for the power cable and a dimmer switch. The dimmer is perfect for monitoring how much light your plants get and for how long. The intensity can be dialed up or down between 0 and 100 watts. During the vegetive stage, we recommend using the light at quarter or half power.

Finally, on the back you’ll see two passive cooling heatsinks. These run completely silently - so not to interfere with the atmosphere in your house – and keep the lighting unit cool. They might get a bit hot to touch themselves, but they do help the light run at optimum temperature.

Everything you need for indoor grow light installation

To make things easier, we’re going to focus on one of our best grow lights, the LUMA 400 by 4Seasons – which is ideal for 60cm x 60cm x 160cm grow tents.

When you order the light panel, you’ll also receive a waterproof power cable and four ratchet hangers. And, as with all of our products, you’ll get a 2-year warranty alongside your purchase.

If you’re new to growing, the guide provided with the grow light has lots of information about the different stages of the growth cycle, and tips for measuring the PPFD for different plant types.

Setting up the LUMA 400

The first thing you’ll need to do when setting up the LUMA 400 is to attach the four ratchet hangers to the corners. These will then be used to hang the light up in the grow tent. The hangers themselves are incredibly strong, and can hold a lot of weight between them, so don’t worry if they don’t first appear suitable.

To attach each hanger, you’ll first need to untangle the ropes (which are usually packed with an elastic band or cable tie). The rope can be pulled through each hanger smoothly by pressing down the button on the side of the ratchet to open the seal.

In order to connect the hangers to the panel, we recommend turning the light upside down so that the diffusers are facing the table. However, in order to avoid them getting damaged, use the molded foam packaging provided to keep them safe and in place.

The ratchet end should then hook into the corner tabs. Once all four are connected, you can place the light in the grow tent on the floor – still with the foam attached to avoid any damage.

Installing the grow light

With the light panel faced down, loosen the ropes of each hanger by holding down the button at the side of the ratchet. Take the hook end and pull it all the way up to the roof of the grow tent and loop it over the tent structure poles. Use the hook to loop around the hanger and secure into place. The easiest way to secure the hanger is to clip the hook back onto the rope so it catches itself.

Do this with all four hangers so that the light is now attached to the top of the tent, but still laid on the ground.

If the hangers feel a little slack, use the button on the ratchet to feed through more of the rope so that the hangers feel tighter. Then, take the longer end of the four ropes and pull them so that the light is lifted to the top of the grow space.

In terms of canopy level, we recommend keeping your lights at around 45cms above the canopy for an even spread of light.

After pulling the light into position, tighten or loosen each hanger until the lighting panel is level. You can then take the excess rope and wrap it around the hanger to keep things tidy. Alternatively, you can tie it up with a cable tie so that they are still accessible whenever you need to adjust the light’s height.

Fitting the power

Once you’re happy with the placement of your light, you can attach the power. We recommend feeding the cable either from the top of the grow tent (to keep the wire away from plants) or the bottom (it’s waterproof, so should be okay!)

To ensure the cable is secure and waterproof, you’ll need to attach the cord and tighten the seal to it fits snug. The power cable can only be fitted in in a certain way, so it should be quite straight forward.

Measuring PAR

Using the Apogee PAR meter, you can measure how much lighting your plants are getting from your current set up. This might mean you need to lift or lower the light panel, or reduce the intensity via the dimmer switch. The PAR meter should also show you the different levels when working with the dimmer.

Managing temperature in the grow tent

Of course, our ventilation guide gives you everything you need to ensure your plants are getting fresh air every three minutes. However, there may be times where you need to actually add heat to the grow

space, rather than remove it. By placing your light higher up in the tent, at a higher intensity, the same amount of light can be absorbed by the plants, while the temperature of the space will increase.

Which LUMA grow light do I need?

Choosing a grow light can be difficult, as there are so many different plant species and a number of growth stages that need different levels of light.

However, as a general rule of thumb, we recommend the LUMA 400 for 60cm tents. You can also use the light in 80cm grow tents if you’re just looking to improve the vegetive stage.

The next in line is the LUMA 800, which works for the 80cm or 100cm tent and consumes 200 watts when run on full power.

Finally, the LUMA 1200 is the most efficient for larger tents, reaching 1 – 1.2m.

There is a lot to consider when choosing your grow lights, and a lot of trial and error when trying to find the right levels for your plants. If you have any questions, we’re always on hand to offer recommendations!