Lighting Controllers, Movers, & Meters
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of your garden's environment and there are no shortage of accessories and upgrades available for your current light fixtures. With so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which upgrades are best for your grow, and how to utilize them. In this article, we will cover common lighting accessories and upgrades so that you can decide what best suits your needs.
When you grow indoors, your lighting system acts as the sun for your plants, so it is critical that it functions reliably, and that it turns on and off at the correct intervals. When using only one light fixture, 1,000 watts or less, this can usually be accomplished easily with an outlet timer set to the proper schedule. However when using multiple lights this can quickly become unmanageable as well as unsafe. A controller can remedy this issue by acting as a central power supply for your all of the lights in your setup.
Each of your light fixtures plug directly into the controller, where you can easily set the on/off schedule for the entire system rather than needing to use multiple timers. Lighting controllers are intended to be used with large amounts of power, so you can feel completely comfortable plugging multiple high wattage ballasts into your controller, rather than relying on a basic wall outlet timer that may not be capable of handling the surge of power created by a ballast as it turns on. The controllers are able to handle large amounts of electricity as they are typically hardwired directly to your home's power source. Wiring a controller into your home's electrical system is a very simple process, but as with any project involving electricity, if you feel unsure of your abilities you should contact a professional!
Not only should your lighting be set to the correct schedule, but you also need to ensure that the light being given is reaching as much of your plants as possible. Your light and its reflector are great for directing as much light as possible toward the top of your canopy but often with stationary lighting the lower and side growth of your plants are shaded from receiving direct light.
A light mover system can solve this issue by slowly moving your light fixtures back and forth over your canopy. This constant movement of the light source increases its overall coverage, cuts down on shaded areas, and helps reduce hot spots. While standard, static lighting will quickly burn the tops of your plants if it is too low, a light mover system actively prevents that issue. The perpetual motion that the lights are kept in helps prevent your plants from being burned, while giving you the ability to lower your lights to increase their penetration and intensity.
These systems are easy to install and an excellent option for any grower looking to increase the efficiency of their lighting setup! Need more convincing? Check out this helpful infographic that details additional benefits of using a mover:
You can find all of the light mover systems we carry here.
It is impossible to determine the intensity of your light's output if you have no way to measure it, which is why a reliable light meter is an indispensable tool for any serious grower. Using a meter, you can adjust your lights by raising or lowering them and dialing in the perfect distance between light and canopy that maximizes your setup's efficiency. When discussing light meters, there are two primary units of measurement used: PAR and footcandles.
Footcandles are useful for measuring the amount of light output that falls onto a surface, such as the canopy of your plants. While this can be helpful many growers find that this unit of measurement is not specific enough and a bit too outdated to suit their needs. While it is able to give you an idea of the amount of intensity that your light is giving off, it isn't specific about the type of light being measured. That being said, it is still a much better choice than just relying on the look or feel of your lights when adjusting them, and footcandle meters can often be a more affordable option for a grower who is new to using a meter.
Plants primarily only utilize light within the spectrum of 400nm - 700nm for the process of photosynthesis. PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) is a unit of measurement for light that displays the strength of light output that falls within that range. This is extremely useful as you are able to adjust your lights, their arrangement, and distance from plants, based on the amount of actually useable light that your canopy is receiving rather than just measuring the amount of light in general. These meters tend to be more expensive than footcandle meters, but are far more useful due to their specificity and are an excellent investment for any indoor gardener.
You can find all of the light meters we carry here.
We know that there are a lot of options when looking at accessories and potential upgrades for your lighting systems which can feel overwhelming, but don't let this discourage you! We hope that this guide helped cut through any confusion or questions you may have had, but if you're still feeling stuck, no problem!
Give us a call at 888-815-9763 and any of our experienced professionals will be more than happy to assist you.