Best Lighting Options for Vertical and Indoor Farming

Vertical and indoor farming is seen as the future of agriculture because it allows for food production in virtually any environment. When you have the proper lighting installed, you can grow seeds into healthy fruits and vegetables without regard for the season outside.


As companies establish large-scale operations that look at this farming option, homeowners and renters can develop their own spaces to grow food inside. At the center of this operation is the inclusion of an appropriate grow light.


Since there are several different types of grow lights to use, it helps to take a closer look at what is needed for this effort.


What Kind of Light Can Replace Sunlight for Plants?

Artificial light and a growth chamber can be used to establish a vertical or indoor garden. Even though sunlight is best for plants, the intensity levels of a grow light can mimic the necessary exposure to achieve results for an urban farm.


When plants convert light energy into chemical energy, that process is called photosynthesis. It helps them create sugars and various compounds required for growth and survival.


LED light has a lot in common with sunlight. They can be set to mimic the intensity and hue of what the sun offers.


The extended lifespan of an LED grow light also means it is less likely to burn out during the year.


What Is a Grow Light?

A grow light is an artificial light source. It's typically plugged into an electrical receptacle, but it could be hardwired into a building. The spectrum it produces is designed to stimulate plant growth by encouraging photosynthesis. 


These lights are often used in applications when there isn't a lot of natural light available to use. If you wanted to grow vegetables during the winter, this resource would supply the additional sunlight hours needed to help a plant stay healthy. It even offers fruit and vegetable production opportunities.


If you look at a large-scale indoor or vertical farm, the lighting operations can replace direct sunlight. In some applications, this technology can even outperform what the sun naturally offers when it shines.


What Are the Different Types of Grow Lights?


If you're interested in starting a vertical or an indoor farm, you'll need to install the appropriate grow lights for your requirements. Three different options are available to review when creating this environment.


1. LED Grow Lights

The first red and blue LED grow lights appeared just before the start of the 21st century. This technology delivers an energy-efficient approach to plant growth, and you can place the fixtures farther away from the gardening area while producing enough light.

This option is 50% more efficient than any other urban farming light option. Since the heat production from LEDs is virtually zero, you can create an appropriate indoor environment for nearly any type of fruit or vegetable you want to grow.


It is usually necessary to wear some sort of eye protection when working around grow lights consistently because of the full-spectrum approach. You wouldn't want to stare directly at the sun either.


2. HPS Grow Lights

HPS stands for “high-pressure sodium." This option has grown in popularity in recent years to overtake fluorescent options. You'll find them more common in commercial settings or with farms where established growth patterns exist.

The technology behind HPS growth lights is nearly a century old. It's a reliable choice that has some strengths, but you've also got to manage its weaknesses.


HPS technology produces considerable heat when it shines all day. That means the grow lights must be kept away from the plants by a significant distance. The infrastructure requirements to meet the fire codes in most communities make it an unreasonable investment for someone wanting to start an urban farm for the first time.


LED grow lights provide a similar outcome without the extra heat management requirements.  


3. Fluorescent Grow Lights

This indoor or vertical farming option is typically seen for growing vegetables or herbs. You can use CFLs or tubes to create the results you need.


The tubes you can find with this option come with several different intensity levels, allowing you to create separate “beds" for your indoor farm.


Since the tubes require a stand and a ballast, you'll lose some space for the plants, but it can deliver results in limited areas since you can install a single fixture.


LED grow lights have a longer lifespan and consume less energy to produce the same results. Fluorescents have a good heat profile, so they can be kept closer to the plants.


What Grow Light Options Are the Best for Me?

Anyone who is new to indoor or vertical farming can benefit from using LED grow lights. You can find several wavelengths available to use, the energy requirements are minimal, and you have access to more placement options.


The second choice would be to use CFLs – not the tubes. Less heat is generated with this choice, and you won't need to worry about a separate ballast since it's built into the product.


LED lights let you grow a garden on a massive scale, and it is potentially better for the plants to use this option.


The role of LEDs in urban farming has made it possible to grow vegetables at a larger scale while creating a shorter growing cycle. Indoor farmers are even experiencing higher yields by using this technology. That's why LEDs are becoming the go-to lighting source whenever a controlled environment is desirable.


What Farmers Need to Know About LED Grow Lights

Lighting is the make-or-break decision that urban farmers face when setting up their first garden. When you have the incorrect spectrum available for the plants you want to grow, the results will be average or less.


Switching to LED grow lights can change that dynamic instantly. It helps to plan out your layout and fixture placement to ensure enough exposure occurs across the entirety of your indoor or vertical garden. You don't want to waste any light waves when creating this resource.


White surfaces reflect light, so it helps to have as many of these as possible when establishing an indoor garden.


Mirrors and lighter surfaces provide the same benefit. You can even install movers that distribute the illumination to a wider area without disrupting the necessary spectrums for photosynthesis and growth.


Can I Use Any Light as a Grow Light?

Urban farmers can use any LED light to grow plants indoors or on vertical stands. Although that is possible, it won't guarantee that the plants have efficient photosynthesis processes, which means the health of the garden isn't guaranteed.


A regular LED light doesn't offer enough wavelengths to mimic what the sun provides. That's why a special grow light that delivers the full spectrum is necessary to produce the best results.


Here's a closer look at what to expect when comparing a regular LED to a specially designed LED grow light for indoor gardening.


Benefits of LED Grow Lights

Benefits of Regular LED Lights

Today's best LED grow lights contain specific spectral wavelengths that encourage plant growth to occur. These options can be tailored to particular color temperature needs and other features to produce a productive indoor garden.Regular LED lights are readily available from most retailers. It is possible to try indoor gardening with a single fixture and a pot with a few seeds to see if this practice is right for your needs.
An LED grow light supports all stages of plant growth, even during the planting stage of the garden. This benefit encourages photosynthesis to occur naturally while providing options to lessen the growing season for some species.The cost of a regular LED light is typically less than a grow light, although you'll lose access to the beneficial spectrum that plants enjoy when growing in an indoor environment.
It is possible to generate a room full of healthy light for an indoor garden without experiencing a significant power consumption event. LEDs are an energy-efficient product. LED bulbs are durable, ensuring that the occasional bump or impact won't cause your setup to require additional products to maintain the garden.


What Are the Benefits of an Indoor Garden?

Indoor gardens make it possible to grow fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs in nearly any environment. Urban farmers can mitigate space issues by using empty spaces in each room or on balconies to produce food.


Many people decorate their homes with indoor plants. An indoor garden provides a similar benefit. If you choose the vertical approach, each wall could become a place to grow food. That means you'll have access to year-round produce, even when snow or ice is outside.


It's also important to note that anyone can become an indoor farmer. It's something that a family can do together in a large home, or a college student can try in a studio apartment. You can even turn it into a communal project that offers the chance to learn more about how plants grow.


Indoor gardening's best benefit is that you have fewer weeds to pull or manage, which means more results from less physical effort.


That journey begins when you incorporate LED grow lights into your garden's design. Since you can start this resource, you can have a successful gardening experience. 


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