Sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide – these are the fundamental requirements every plant needs to grow.
In particular, the sun is essential because it supports photosynthesis, a chemical process employed by green plants to create energy.
Sunlight essentially allows plans to create their own energy source, hence ultimately helping them thrive and grow.
However, the trouble is that sunlight is only available for a limited number of hours each day. When the sun goes down, plants are forced to stop the photosynthesis process until the following day.
Luckily, modern science has come up with a way to encourage photosynthesis throughout the day, regardless of whether or not the sun is up.
Grow lights is the answer! Learn more on how to hang grow lights in your grow space.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Use a Grow Light?
- 2 Introduction to Indoor Grow Lighting System
- 3 What Grow Light is Best for Indoor Plants?
- 4 How to Hang Grow Lights
- 5 Final Thoughts
Why Use a Grow Light?
When a plant is exposed to light for a greater number of hours each day, its growth rate significantly improves.
For this reason, many gardeners across the globe have started employing special lighting to allow their plants all-day access to the best lighting conditions.
Certain varieties of grow lights can also speed up plant growth and lead to healthier, looking flowers and fruit.
A grow light is also ideal for those gardeners who want to keep their plants indoors.
For example, if you live inside a small apartment, you might not be able to position all your plants in a place that directly catches the sunlight.
So, instead, you can opt to use a grow light to keep your indoor garden thriving. Once you get the hang of using these lights, you can even add new plants and keep on growing your collection.
If you’re keen on installing a grow light within your indoor (or outdoor) garden, you’re in the right place!
In this guide, we will go over everything you need to know about hanging grow lights. You will better understand the best way to hang a grow light so that your new plants can benefit from them.
Introduction to Indoor Grow Lighting System
A grow light is an artificial lighting system that supports plant development and growth.
A grow light will either provide light from a spectrum similar to the sun’s rays or display a color spectrum better suited to a specific type of plant.
This form of artificial lighting may vary in terms of color, spectrum, energy, and temperature. All of these features can be adjusted to suit the needs of each plant family.
The grow light employed also depends upon which stage the plant is in.
For example, a plant that is currently in full bloom will require different lighting conditions from a set of freshly planted cannabis or seedlings.
There are many different types of grow lights on the market. Each version is unique and useful but differs in many ways from its competitors.
Some grow lights are more affordable than others, too, but may take significantly longer to deliver the maximum yield in your plants.
What Grow Light is Best for Indoor Plants?
Here is a detailed list of the different types of grow lights available for plants. Each grow light differs in the light intensity it outputs.
1. Incandescent Bulbs
These bulbs are by far the most affordable option out there. Incandescent bulbs are ideal for growers who only have a handful of plants on them and do not wish to invest heavily in an advanced lighting system.
Experts recommend using these lights along with natural sunlight for the best results.
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However, those using incandescent bulbs as a grow light should be sure to keep the lights at least two feet away from the plants.
If they don’t, they might cause severe heat damage and end up harming the plants instead of helping them blossom.
2. Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent lights are one of the most popular light choices for home growers and hobbyists.
Most fluorescent lights offer a wide light spectrum, allowing them to be used for all kinds of plants.
However, traditional fluorescent lights lack a specific section of the light spectrum and lack light intensity, preventing them from encouraging flower growth.
Given the low light intensity, these traditional fluorescent lights are better suited for germination and vegetative growth.
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Wide spectrum fluorescent lights produce lesser heat than their incandescent counterparts, deeming them safer for indoor use.
They are also more versatile and, in many ways, more effective than incandescent bulbs, especially because they do not need to be paired with sunlight to deliver solid results.
Moreover, fluorescent lights are affordable to purchase, install, and sustain, which is another reason behind their popularity.
3. High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lights
Out of all the grow light options, you’ll find HID lights to have the highest light intensity. By the Inverse Square Law, HID lights have the greatest light intensities.
This grow light can be installed anywhere you like, be it your living room, basement, or ceiling step of your garage.
However, you’ll need to employ special fixtures to install your HID grow light; otherwise, a HID grow light cannot use HID lights.
HID lamps can be divided into two categories: metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights.
Where MH lamps radiate waves belonging to the blue end of the visible light spectrum, HPS lights give off light from the red end of this spectrum.
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Blue light is ideal for leaf growth, whereas red light is best for flowering and fruiting plants. So, if you’d like to use an HID light for your plants, be sure to consider the type of plant before choosing between an MH lamp or its HPS counterpart.
HID lights are expensive to buy but can provide excellent plant growth results. However, they are not recommended for beginners or small-scale growers due to their high cost.
4. LED Grow Light
A LED grow light, or light-emitting diodes, are relatively new to the gardening market but are becoming increasingly popular by the year.
Such lights have virtually zero heat emission, making them extremely energy efficient with good light intensity.
They won’t burn your plants, either. This is by far the preferred choice of many gardeners as they consider these to be one of the safest grow light options, especially for beginners.
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LED grow light intensity can match the sun’s light spectrum with a 5700K color temperature.
These lights can also produce both red and blue band light spectrums at once, thus supporting the growth of leaves, flowers, and fruit all at the same time.
A LED grow light doesn’t come cheap but has a significantly lower running cost than HID or fluorescent lights, making them well worth the investment in the long run.
As you can see, each light is unique and has its own pros and cons. It would help if you decided which light to employ based on your needs, plant collection size, and budget.
How to Hang Grow Lights
For your grow light to work efficiently, you must hang the light system in your grow room at the right height and distance from your plants.
In addition, depending on the type of light system you have, hanging grow lights may require you to use a stud finder so you can drill holes in joist hangers above your grow room.
When hanging grow lights the wrong way, the lighting system may not be useful in growing your plants – no matter if you have the correct distance or not.
Below are steps on hanging lights in your grow tent or grow room ceiling. Make sure you have the right tools!
1. Locate the Best Installation Spot on Your Ceiling
Where you’ll place your new grow light depends upon how you’ve positioned your plants in your grow tent or grow room.
The grow light system distance should be right above the plants, or else the light beams won’t reach your greenery.
You must also keep the other elements of your ceiling in mind. So, for example, if your room has two overhead fans, you’ll need to position your plants away from them.
You’ll need to find a spot on the floor where the ceiling is empty. This will allow you to accommodate your precious plants and the light within the same column of space.
Once you’ve found the ideal location, you can shift your plants accordingly and begin to prepare for glow light installation.
2. Mark, Measure and Drill Holes
Now that you have an idea of where you want to install your grow lights, you can start marking the exact spot where you’re going to drill the holes.
These holes will help you place your hangers onto the ceiling. Once these hangers are installed, you can start setting up the actual grow light.
Feel free to use a tape measure to make appropriate overhead markings. Once you’ve noted these points with a pencil, you can drill into them and insert the light hangers.
Some people use special hooks, while others may install a joist. The materials and method you use heavily dependent upon the grow light you own.
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If you’re using hanging light reflector combos, you’ll need to install an overhead joist. However, if you plan on installing just the grow light, go ahead directly install light hangers or install hooks.
This is because a light reflector combo is much heavier than just the light.
If your joist hangers are behind drywall, you may need a stud finder to find the joist hangers. Obviously, make sure your stud finder beeps before drilling holes.
The hanging system used in a grow light reflector combo will probably need to drill holes in a wooden joist.
Due to the weight of the grow light reflector combo, if you drill holes in a wood joist, it will prevent the light system from falling in your grow room.
3. Installing Hooks
If you’re using just hooks without a wood joist, here’s how to do it:
- First, place a single hook into the hole you’ve drilled into the ceiling.
- Then, twist the hook clockwise, applying a firm pressure throughout
- You can stop twisting it once the hook has safely been pushed into the ceiling.
- Be sure to flick your fingers at the hook to make sure it has been secured in place (hosting your lights onto a loose hook can quickly turn into a big mess!)
4. Set Up a Rope Ratchet
Now that you’ve successfully installed the hooks, you can move onto installing a rope ratchet that will help you control overhead light height.
It’s best to use a nylon rope ratchet for this purpose. Such rope ratchets are both affordable and extremely durable, making them perfect for hanging your grow lights with.
You can choose between a 1/8 inch nylon rope ratchet and a ¼ version of the same product. (For heavier lights, use the ¼ option.)
You can easily host these ropes from the hooks—use an s-screw or yo-yo hanger if needed—to help hold your lights in place.
This rope ratchet is one of the toughest ones we have used thus far.
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5. Hanging the Lights!
Once your ropes are in place, you can attach your lights to them using additional hooks and s-screws.
You should also try and find a rope height that works best for your plants.
If you’re using a type of light that gives off plenty of heat (like an incandescent bulb), be sure the distance is high enough so that it doesn’t burn your plants!
If you’re using LED grow lights, keeping your grow light one foot above your new plants should work just fine in any grow space.
However, if you want to reduce brightness and light exposure, feel free to adjust the distance by moving it back up to the right spot.
Increasing the distance between the light source and plant canopy by an additional one foot will reduce the light exposure to just 25% of its original value.
Keep this in mind when deciding on a light height from the plants. The correct height will make the biggest difference on whether your plants will have a maximum yield.
If you’re putting in grow lights for the first time, don’t worry, we’ve covered everything you need to know about grow light installation in this guide.
Remember, different stages of the plant require differing amounts of light intensity. So make sure you have the right grow light!
So, be sure to use the tips and tricks listed above for a flawless installation experience!
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.