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The Truth about Lumens


More than a few beginners are confused about lumens. This term has just recently started to become used for different types of light, and it's still a little bit mysterious to most of us. Sort of like the English versus metric system, these types of changes in units of measurement take a while to get used to. Here are some of the basic truths about lumens that help explain why they are used so much in hydroponics.

A Unit of Light

One of the fundamentals of the “lumen” is that it's a measurement for an amount of visible light, or in other words, a photometric unit. It actually measures light intensity. This is in contrast to the traditional measurement of light units, the watt, that instead measures the electrical draw.

Why did we use an electrical output measure for so many years to talk about luminous intensity? That has to do with the lighting industry and Thomas Edison himself, but that's a story for another day.

An Equal Measurement

Another truth about lumens is that every type of light can have the same measures. You might look at traditional incandescent bulbs, CFL's or new LED lights and wonder whether one them equals another. Because the lumen is a standard measurement, you know what you're getting out of the light no matter what kind of light it is. At x number of lumens, an LED will be just as bright as a CFL, etc.

Light Spectrum

In addition to having the right number of lumens, growers also need a specific spectrum of light. They need certain kinds of reflective light in plant environments to nurture plants all the way through to development. In fact, it's ideal to have two different types of light spectrums, one for the vegetative phase and one for the flowering phase of growth.

How Many Lumens Do You Need?

The need for luminous intensity varies according to many factors. You have to look at how many plants are growing, the square footage to be illuminated, and much more. Some systems have reflective interiors that bounce light around more effectively, to make the most of a lower number of lumens. One rough estimate is that in general, 2000 lumens per square foot is necessary.

For more on hydroponics and everything related to lighting, nutrients, irrigation and more, keep looking at what manufacturers and retailers are offering for today's hydroponic audience. Build your system and succeed with hydroponics today.

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