Plasma Lighting : Another Horticultural Innovation

There have been many improvements in the grow light industry in the last few years. HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights are now putting out more light using less electricity thanks to digital ballasts, LED’s have become more powerful and have a significantly reduced heat output compared to traditional grow lights, but what about Plasma? Plasma lights have been used in the medical field and home electronics for years, but how do they do in an indoor growing environment?

One of the most important things to remember about a plasma light is the spectrum. With the supplementation of Metal Halide and even sometimes LED’s into their design, plasma lights will give a spectrum that is closer to natural light or one that is fuller than almost anything else on the market. Why is this important? Plants have spent millions of years evolving to photosynthesize using the ENTIRE spectrum. Just because plants are good at absorbing red light does not mean that is all they should receive. Study after study has shown that a full spectrum of light will give a better yield – and usually at a higher quality – than that of a strictly red light. Pair that with the fact that plasma lights put out a significantly lower IR signature (heat) than most others, and you’ve got the recipe for a great low-impact grow light.

So, with all these benefits, why isnít everyone running a plasma light? Simple… cost. Gardening is a very new application for plasma light technology and as a result there are a limited number of companies adapting the technology to suit indoor gardens. The average plasma grow light will run you anywhere from $1200 – 3000 depending on size, spectrum, and wattage. Keep in mind that the life of the bulbs for these fixtures is five plus years.  So while there is a large initial investment, there is a considerable savings in both your power consumption and your annual bulb changes. It seems that the initial investment prevents a lot of folks from taking the plasma plunge. Do they work? Yes.  But like all the new emerging lighting technologies, there is a great promise for the future.  With the biggest hurdle being the cost, once that is overcome, the future looks bright!

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