As gardeners, we are using our greenhouses more and more for starting seeds, overwintering plants, and even as a place to grow vegetables year-round.
But what do you do when the days start getting shorter in the fall and there is less natural sunlight available? This is where supplemental lighting comes in.
Not only do you need lights in your greenhouse to see what you are doing by way of bulbs and fluorescent lighting, but plants also need light for photosynthesis. This is where grow lights come in.
There are quite a few different lighting options for your greenhouse lighting needs.
Here are 3 main ways to power the lighting in your greenhouse:
- Mains electricity
- Battery-operated or USB rechargeable
Mains Electricity Lighting
If you are looking to increase light intensity in your greenhouse then the most obvious choice is to use electric lights.
The main advantage of using electric lighting is that it is relatively cheap to set up and you can get a lot of light from a small space.
You do need to be careful though as too much light can actually be detrimental to some plants.
If you are using electric lights in your greenhouse then you will need to make sure that the space is well ventilated so that the heat generated by the lights does not build up and damage your plants.
Related: The Best Ways Heat a Greenhouse
Battery-Operated and Rechargeable Lights
Battery-operated or USB rechargeable lighting is a great option if you want to be able to move your lights around or if you want to be able to take them with you when you travel.
Even wireless rechargeable lights are becoming popular as they are so easy to set up and use.
The downside of battery-operated lights is that they can be more expensive than other types of lighting and the batteries will need to be regularly replaced or recharged.
Solar-powered lights are a great option if you want to be completely self-sufficient and not have to rely on mains electricity.
They are also perfect for led grow lights as they do not generate any heat.
Solar-powered lights are becoming increasingly popular as the technology improves and the price comes down.
The main disadvantage of solar-powered lighting is that it can be more expensive to set up than other types of lighting.
You will also need to make sure that you have enough sun exposure to charge the batteries during the day.
What is a polytunnel?
Polytunnels are traditionally commercial types of greenhouses but are now becoming more popular among domestic growers.
Polytunnels are a great option if you want to extend your growing season or if you want to grow plants that need a lot of light such as tomatoes.
Lighting a polytunnel can be a challenge as they are often quite large spaces.
Since polytunnels are quite large, using main electric would be the preferred option as solar lighting may not produce enough light.
Mains electric lighting is also a good option as it can be easily directed to where you need it the most.
LED grow lights are a great option for polytunnel lighting as they do not produce any heat and can be easily directed to where you need them most.
Types of Grow Lights
Now that you know how you are going to power your grow lights, let’s take a look at the different types of grow lights available.
Fluorescent Grow lights
Fluorescent grow lights are a great option for starting seeds or growing plants that don’t require a lot of light.
They are relatively cheap and easy to set up and they don’t generate a lot of heat.
The main disadvantage of fluorescent lights is that they are not as bright as other types of grow lights and they don’t last as long.
High-intensity discharge (HID) grow lights
Full-spectrum HID grow lights are the brightest type of grow light available and they are perfect for plants that need a lot of light.
They can be more expensive to set up than other types of lighting but they will last longer and they are more energy-efficient.
The main disadvantage of HID lights is that they generate a lot of heat so you will need to make sure that your greenhouse is well ventilated.
LED grow lights
LED grow lights are becoming increasingly popular as they are more energy-efficient than other types of grow lights.
They also last longer and generate very little heat.
The main disadvantage of LED grow lights is that they can be more expensive to set up than other types of grow lights.
- No matter what type of greenhouse or polytunnel you have, there are a few general tips that will help you get the most out of your supplemental lighting.
- Position your lights so that they are evenly distributed across your space. This will ensure that all of your plants get the same amount of light.
- Make sure that your lights are not too close to your plants as this can cause them to become leggy or stretch. If you are using HID lights, make sure that your greenhouse is well ventilated to prevent the build-up of heat.
- You will also need to regularly clean your grow lights to ensure that they are working properly.
- Finally, make sure that you have a backup plan in place in case of power outages. Having a generator or battery-operated lights on hand will ensure that your plants don’t go without light for too long.
Can I USB rechargeable string lights in my greenhouse?
Yes, you can use USB rechargeable string lights inside and outside your greenhouse.
What is the best type of grow light for starting seeds?
Fluorescent LED grow lights are a great option for starting seeds. They are relatively cheap and easy to set up and they don’t generate a lot of heat.
Can I use solar-powered lights in my greenhouse?
Yes, you may use solar-powered lights in your greenhouse. However, keep in mind that solar lights may not be bright enough to enable you to work inside the greenhouse. While watering or picking, most gardeners claim there is sufficient light to see by, but not much else.
Related: Solar Panels in your Garden
What type of light is best for growing vegetables indoors?
Use a mix of both blue and red lights for the healthiest plants, or a full-spectrum bulb that emits both wavelengths. Blue light promotes vegetative growth, while red light is required for flowering and fruiting.