The correct phytolamp - choose a lighting device for illumination of plants
In wise nature, everything is thought out to the smallest detail - sunlight provides the best way to meet 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 in the cold period, we take on a very difficult task. One of the most important factors for the successful growth and development of plants is optimal light. What phytolamp to choose to provide it? In this article, we will deal with the main characteristics of lighting devices in order to understand what is needed in each particular case.
The importance of proper lighting for plants
It would seem that the illumination of plants in the room should not cause special questions: it is worth highlighting a personal lamp for a flower and the result will be excellent. But it is not so.
For a person, light is mainly associated with certain visual sensations. With sufficient lighting, it is easier for us to navigate in space and consider the details of objects, and the onset of darkness signals the need to go to bed. As for plants, illumination means much more to them, because to a certain extent they use light “for food”. In this regard, not only quantity but also the quality of light is important for them.
As you know from the school biology course, photosynthesis is the basis of plant life. Due to this complex chemical process, water and carbon dioxide are converted to oxygen and sucrose with the participation of light, resulting in an increase in green mass. But besides the well-known photosynthesis, it is important to know about the existence of such a phenomenon as photomorphogenesis. In simple words, under the influence of light rays of a different spectrum, processes such as seed germination, root growth, flowering and ripening of fruits are activated.
Therefore, when choosing a lamp for lighting plants, 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 determine whether a particular lamp is suitable for lighting plants.
To navigate the characteristics of most lamps on sale, and learn to read the markings on the packaging of fixtures, I invite you to take a short excursion into physics.
W (W) - watts, lighting power
W (W) - watts, power - they indicate the amount of energy consumed by the lighting device. It is important to understand that this indicator is not always directly proportional to the light output, since when converting energy into light rays, some of it is lost.
Of course, there is a relationship between the power and intensity of the glow, and a fluorescent lamp with an index of 40 W will look brighter and will illuminate a much larger area than a similar lamp of 15 watts. But, nevertheless, with 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 - these are units for measuring the luminous flux, that is, they indicate how much light the lighting device gives. In simple terms, lumens show the brightness of light.
The lighting requirements of plants depend on their species. If we take the average indicators for indoor flowers, for their confident growth and development, the amount of light should not be lower than 6000 Lumens. But best of all, when this indicator approaches 10000-20000 Lumens. By the way, in summer, on the soil surface, illumination ranges from 27,000 to 34,000 lumens.
K - Kelvin, shades of light
Kelvin - this unit shows 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 the grower?
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 cartridge, the base is indicated by the letter E, while the standard cartridge is marked as E40.
V - Volts, voltage
The voltage at which the lamp operates; some lamps indicate the maximum range of the lamp. For example, 100-240 V. Most of the domestic lighting devices are powered by a standard 220 Volt mains.
Choosing a fluorescent lamp to illuminate plants
According to studies, about 6,500 Kelvin are needed for seed germination, seedling growth and successful vegetation. And for magnificent flowering and fruiting - 2700 K.
To illuminate the premises, “warm white light” lamps are usually produced (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. The “daylight” marking may also occur (Day light), whose performance starts at 6500 K.
In this regard, we should also mention such a thing as nanometers (nm). Unlike Kelvin, nanometers show the wavelength of light radiation. The interval of electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye has a wavelength in the range from 380 nm to 740 nm. Scientists have proven that the most effective for the full development of plants are indicators of 660 nm (visible by a person as red light) and 455 nm (perceived as blue).
This is due to the fact that the energy necessary for photosynthesis is mainly the red rays of the spectrum. The green and yellow component of light for plants is practically useless.
According to the indicators of special devices, in lamps of cold light there is most of all green and blue, and almost no red. Whereas a warm light lamp has a significant amount of red. Thus, if you plan to illuminate plants with ordinary household fluorescent lamps (fluorescent), then it is better to combine both types of lamps. For example, warm white is 2800 K and cold white or daytime is 6500 K, since the first contains a lot of red, which is important for plants, and the second contains a significant amount of blue.
Phytolamp Osram Fluora
I would also like to mention the popular special-purpose lamp - Phytolamp Osram Fluora ("Flora"), suitable both for winter lighting of indoor flowers, and for lighting up seedlings in the room. The spectral composition of this lamp is specially selected for the optimal growth and development of plants with intense radiation within the range of 440 and 670 nm.
On sale you can find five different types of this luminaire:
- 438 mm - 15 W - 400 Lumens;
- 590 mm –18 W - 550 Lumens;
- 895 mm - 30 W - 1000 Lumens;
- 1200 mm - 36 W - 1400 Lumens;
- 1500 mm - 58 W - 2250 Lumens.
The declared service life of the lighting device is 13,000 hours.
Advantages of Osram Fluora phytolamps:
- Phyto-lamp Flora is balanced in spectrum, therefore it contributes to the full development of plantings;
- a phytolamp emits light in the required range, and at the same time it does not expend energy on heating and generating light in the "useless" part of the spectrum;
- such fixtures 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 Osram Fluora:
- unusual pinkish-violet color, which, according to some reports, negatively affects eyesight, 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 room;
- the high price of a lighting device, several times higher than the cost of ordinary household lamps;
- a similar phytolamp can not always be found on sale;
- the need to purchase a housing and cord with a plug and a switch, as well as self-assembly of the lamp, since such lamps are usually sold separately;
- lamps of the Osram Fluora type do not light up well at low temperatures, therefore they cannot be used in unheated greenhouses;
- the Osram Fluora lamp 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 use, the less light it begins to emit (with the approach of the end of its life, this indicator can be about 54% of the original).
Rules for using fluorescent lamps to illuminate plants
When calculating the number and power of the fixtures needed for illumination, you can use the standard formula: 1 m2 The area of cultivated plants, on average, will require 5500 Lumens. Thus, 2750 Lumens will be needed on a windowsill or shelf with plants 1 meter long and about 50 centimeters wide.
That is, based on this formula, when using an Osram Fluora lamp to illuminate such an amount of seedlings, three lamps with characteristics are required: 895 cm - 30 W -1000 Lumens. But in practice, no more than two lamps are usually used for such an area, and with sufficient lighting from the street you can do even one. Therefore, in this case, it is necessary to take into account the individual conditions of each apartment and the degree of exactingness to light of specific cultures.
The main signs of a lack of lighting can be called: elongated stems (lengthening of internodes), pale color of foliage, yellowing of the lower leaves. In this case, you can try to lower the lamp lower or add another additional lamp.
As for lighting indoor plants in the winter, then, as practice shows, for tropical indoor plants (monstera, citrus fruits, philodendrons and others), one T8 fluorescent lamp 60 cm long and 18 W power at a distance of 25 cm above the flower is enough.
For tall palm trees up to two meters high, two “T8” fluorescent lamps with a power of 36 W and a length of 120 cm are needed. It is very useful to use a screen made of reflective materials.
When placing fluorescent lights, 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 is reduced, the luminous flux becomes much less than declared (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, low placement reduces lighting area.
The lamp hours 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. Lamps must be turned off at night. Round-the-clock illumination not only does not bring any benefit, but also harms the plants.
Choice of LED lighting for plants
In this article, we will not touch on ready-made LED lamps designed by professionals for lighting plants. But if you decide to assemble the LED lamp yourself or use an LED strip, then you need a little 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 red it should equal 660-670 nanometers (nm, nm) and 440-450 nm for blue.
A separate issue is the ratio between the number of red and blue LEDs. According to researchers and gardeners, seedlings grow best when using blue and red LEDs in a 1: 2 ratio. Such proportions (from 1: 2 to 1: 4) contribute to active vegetation and will be useful not only for seedlings, but also to any plants that build up green mass. At the stage of flowering and ripening, the ratio of blue and red LEDs from 1: 5 to 1: 8 is recommended.
The optimal power of individual LEDs used to illuminate plants is from 3-5 watts. One LED of this power is enough for a lighting area of 10-20 cm2. But on sale are also found ready-made LED strip. However, they, as a rule, consist of diodes of low power, so it is advisable to use them in combination with fluorescent lamps.
Do you make the manufacture of phytolamps with your own hands?
Immediately make a reservation that our attempt to independently assemble an LED phytolamp failed. Nevertheless, negative experience is also useful, so I will briefly tell 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 the LED phytosanitary fixture, we needed: 3 W LEDs (red and blue), a power driver with an output power of 54 to 105 Volts, an aluminum plate, terminals for wires, a wire with a plug and a switch, a wooden rail, wires 5 meters, heat-resistant adhesive .
I will not dwell in detail on how we, the absolute humanities, twice arranged a short circuit when trying to turn on a newly made lamp. I only note that the finished lamp worked successfully for no more than two weeks, after which the LEDs began to light one after the other 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 cooling (cooler). An additional negative factor in our lamp was that metal strips with LEDs were placed on a wooden frame, and the tree does not provide sufficient heat dissipation. There may have been other mistakes that are not easy to guess for the humanities.
Of course, each situation is individual, but I would not advise assembling a lamp on my own for people without a technical background or who have no experience in the field of electrics. In particular, in our situation, the well-known principle "avaricious pays twice" worked. The money went not only for the purchase of parts for the assembly of an unsuccessful version of the lamp and the updating of regularly burning LEDs, but also for the subsequent purchase of finished lighting devices.
Currently, we are lighting seedlings with Osram Fluora phytolamps, as well as household fluorescent lamps in combination with LED strips.