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There are Basically Two Types of Modern Induction Lighting.

1.   Electrode-less Fluorescent Discharge Lamps (EFDL) , “Electrode-less” Electromagnetic Induction, brilliant  Fluorescent lights on steroids, providing a “greenhouse” like diffused light source.
2.  Plasma Lighting System (PLS) Microwave Induction Plasma Lighting System, intense, direct, penetrating, hard, sunlight like, white appearing RGB light source.

With both Forms: Energy is transmitted into the tube by means of induction, in that it is induced from the exterior of the tube into the interior without the need of electrodes, in the interior of the tube the electrons are excited either through electromagnetic or microwave emissions.  Each method increases the effectiveness of the plasma reaction and the lack of electrodes greatly decreases the fall off of light source output over time.

With No Electrodes, Induction lighting is very intense and the output does not fall off quickly over a few months, as it does with all other currently popular, electrode based, indoor lighting, such as Fluorescent, MH, HPS lighting.  Induction lights were first and primarily installed for the high efficiency and reliability, while producing intense light for a very long life time.

Recent Research has contributed to a greater understanding.  When a continuous spectrum is generated, similar to an Artificial Sun;  Red, Green and Blue photons provide for a more optimal light absorption due to efficient plant/light interception.  RGB colors combined are actually viewed as very white light, although all the colors of the visible and far red spectrum are present when viewed through a prism.

Induction Grow Light Spectrum

The Researched Approach? Use an induction system, select a fixture with a tube  possessing  a spectrum that is continuous, with no gaps, with the full “Rainbow” of “Sunshine” like colors, which extend over into the Far Red zones as well.  It has been documented that deficiencies in Red, Blue or Far Red can be compensated for by an increased Green light factor.  Sulphur Plasma, MWP, lighting fulfills the continuous requirement with bulk and intensity.  The best of the Electrode-less Fluorescent Discharge Lamps, EFDL, lighting  has no gaps down to  the base line, with very intense spikes of Red, Green and Blue. The newest Custom Phosphor Blends produce a broad RGB Spectrum, dubbed as “Sunlight in a Box”, an additional 5% bandwidth @ the 630nm range, providing 95% Par Usable UV and IR Spectrum with an Added Red Phosphor Blend  making them more suitable for efficient production from Clones through Flowering.

Measuring Plant Lighting

We measure visible light in Lumens, LUX, Lumens Per Watt or Foot-candles but are these measurements also adequate when measuring for a plants lighting levels? No.

While there is nothing wrong with knowing these measurements these are not the best measurements to tell us what is the best lamp for the our plants overall lighting needs.  A better way to measure plant lighting is to determine how much energy the lamp consumes and how much light actually makes it to the plant surfaces where both Photosynthesis and Photomorphogenesis occurs.

When measuring light QUANTITY for a plant we look to measure how many PHOTONS, (the minimum unit of energy involving light) are falling each second within a square meter. Photons are such a small unit of measurement that they are referred to as MICROMOLES OF PHOTONS or more often just MICROMOLES to describe a measurement of how many photons are arriving at a plants surface from the emitted light source. For reference 2000 micromoles would be a sunlight level measurement of light.

Of most value to the grower and his plant would be the number of photons being measured at the plant, per second, per square meter, within the PAR ranges of 380-720 nanometers. This value is then known as the PHOTOSYNTHETIC PHOTON FLUX (PPF) level that the lamp emits.

Meters that measure these (PPF) values are often referred to as QUANTUM METERS since a quantum is the amount of energy carried by a photon. These meters will provide entire spectrum measurements of the total number of photons per second values as well as measure the YIELD PHOTON FLUX (YPF) of the lamp which is as we’ve seen by the plants Photomorphogenesis requirements will assist the grower in identifying that the lamp has the proper PAR spectrum for maximum photosynthetic response at that stage of plant growth.

Another way growers like to measure light for plants is by PAR WATTS. What this refers to is how much light energy is available between the 380-720 nanometer ranges that the plant requires for Photosynthesis. What is extremely important to know the efficiency of the lamp being considered. Growers should be careful when considering these values and not to correlate higher PAR WATT values with more successful yields since with energy efficient lighting such as induction the PAR Watts per Square foot may measure 70% less then a HID and while still delivering micromoles in excess of the HID within the plants PPF and YPF requirements.

But is now held by many professional growers that plants may be utilizing light above 720 nanometers, a fuller spectrum will provide for the highest efficiency of absorption, and that higher levels of Green light will accommodate any deficiencies in those ranges. Find the reference in this Article from the Oxford Journal, An artificial solar spectrum substantially alters plant development compared with usual climate room irradiance spectra

When the most “efficient plant/light interception”, occurs, optimum absorption is achieved.  When the rainbow sun  spectrum is optimized, the plants unfurl and grow to a form more consistent with outdoor growth, leaf larger leaf size and number, thinner with more surface area and less bulk, plants thrive with fewer lumen and umole.  An old phrase says it best, “The proof is in the pudding”, or, Results are all that matters!  Find more information about grow light sources.

The Grow Light with optimized spectral qualities and quantities, closest to Artificial Sunlight, will produce the highest yields, quality, trichome production, the best flavors and  fragrance, with the fewest infestations, and with the less energy.  Greenhouse experiences suggest that dispersed light provides superior results over hard and uneven lighting, with EFDL the larger rectangular tubes and the fluorescence produce just such an “Greenhouse” effect.

The Electromagnetic Induction Lights have been around for quite some time.  Originally invented and Patented by Nicola Tesla in 1891.  In the modern age, these were initially introduced primarily for indoor and outdoor industrial and commercial lighting, much as HID, MH and HPS lighting were originally.

Based on Tesla’s well-known principles, light can be generated via a gas discharge through Electromagnetic Induction.  Electromagnetic transformers, which consist of rings with metal coils, create an electromagnetic field around a glass tube which contains a gas, using a high or low frequency that is generated by an electronic ballast.  The discharge path, induced by the coils, forms a closed loop causing acceleration or avalanche of free electrons, which collide with a solid amalgam of mercury atoms which excite the electrons. As the excited electrons from these atoms fall back from this higher energy state to a lower stable level, a plasma state, as they emit ultraviolet radiation. The UV radiation is converted to visible light as it passes through a tri-phosphor coating on the surface of the tube, which in this instance produces a strong RGB response.  All but 2-3% of the UV is converted, the small remaining UV is beneficial to plant growth.  The unusual shape of an induction lamp maximizes the efficiency of the fields that are generated.  These use minute amounts of Mercury which are in a small solid amalgam, in a small bulb that can easily be snipped off for recycling, very green.

How the EI Tube Works!

There are a number of Induction grow lights being sold under a variety names like, “”Plasma”, “Cool Plasma”, “Tesla Toob”, and most honestly, the “Inda-Gro Light (EFDL)”.  With EFDL Lamps,  much like Fluorescent and CFL lights, the mix of phosphors the manufacturer implements in the tube can have widely differing results, the marketing name matters little, the Results are what count!  A long life with real energy savings is even better, the Inda-Gro Light comes with a 10 year warranty on all parts.

Another POV: The newest Phosphor Blend Light Spectrum has more focus on the Red and Far Red end of the spectrum, with an additional 5% bandwidth @ 630nm rangecan be used as a stand alone light from Clones through Flowering, starting with these rather than T-5’s or CFL’s will provide a real jump start on the Vegetation cycle.  The Inda-Gro light produces small amounts of light in the Infra-Red and Ultra violet ranges, which is required for prolific flowering and rich Trichrome production.

The only other grow light source I am aware of with a broader spectrum than Inda-Gro Light (EFDL) is the Microwave Induction Plasma Lighting, this is like HPS and MH combined on steroids.

Plasma Lighting System (PLS) is a more recent development.  Two types were invented in 1990 by  invented by Michael Ury and tested and proven with Lee Anderson in 1994.  The difference between Microwave Induction and the Electromagnetic Induction lights is not simply the source of electron excitement.  The entire mechanism is quite different and varies by manufacturer.

With the compact Plasma Lighting System by LG®, a small inverter sends power to a Lightron® Magnetron which generates a Microwave transmission, this passes through a waveguide and slot onto a resonator mesh, this forms a strong electric field, initiating discharge of the inert gas in the bulb, the bulb heats up, the sulphur compound is vaporized, this vapor causes rapid ionization, generating a dense plasma which emits intense visible light.  The tube is quite small, compared to EI tubes, and extremely intense.

How the PLS by LG Works!

The Originators: SulphurPlasma.com have some very interesting things to say about  this exciting new “Sun on Earth” as they call it.  A Referenced Study compels one to see the huge benefits of this form of lighting with 1000 Watts of MWP out producing 2400 Watts of Metal Halide lighting, click on Biotronic Cucumbers – Read more to read the complete report.

The “Sun on Earth” factor allows these lights to produce more dry weight with less wattage, with less umoles and less lumen delivery, how is this?  The substantial difference may be due to more efficient plant/light interception , or simply put, Optimal  Light Absorption, with a continuous near AS Spectrum.

Typical Sulphur Plasma Light Output

A Netherlands Study: Sulphur Plasma /Quartz Halogen lamp combo grown Cucumbers produced 1.6 greater dry weight than those grown with HPS in 13 days.

With the MWP Spectrum, no Deficiency.

A low Red to Far Red or a low Blue to Red Spectrum ratio can induce an overall shade-type growth response in a wide range of species, characterized by general elongation, a response normally allowing plants to reach above near by plants.

Spectrum Deprived Conditions: Reduced growth and photosynthesis when plants are grown under only red light, (or too much red light?) can be can be reversed by adding sufficient green light to the spectrum.  The PLS lights have sufficient Green to compensate.  Informed by that article in: The Oxford Journal.  Read it in it’s entirety for greater understanding.

Getting the fullest spectrum an RGB spectrum that closest simulates Sunlight, in the PAR range, will undoubtedly provide the best results with Indoor Horticulture. Inda-Gro supplies the highest current standards.

Have a Good Growing Day
Photon Watcher

You are welcome to leave comments, particularly those that help improve the quality of information provided here.

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Comments on: "Induction Lighting, the Lowdown!" (9)

  1. Study this well!!

  2. Diddi, from Iceland said:

    Much has been said about different sorts of lights and the PAR needs of plants.
    As a student of horticulture I am very interested in the idea of near-AS light spectrum sources, such as induction lighting (microwave even moreso than electromagnetic, yes?).
    I’m interested in LED developments as well and perhaps most of all in the combination of different kinds of lights, so that the benefits of one might potentially outweigh the deficits of another.
    I think I read about a light from perhaps Inda-Gro or another induction/led producer that created a light fixture which combined induction with LED. I didn’t see whether it was an EM or a MW type induction, though, nor specific details about the LED spectrum and angle/intensity.

    But after I first read that although induction type lights have a lower LPW output than some lights, they were perhaps the closest to PAR radiation – with the most diffused light and best gradient across the spectrum – I was fascinated!

    HPS and MH lamps are the manufacturers dream though; keep those customers coming back sooner rather than later, like subscribers of a magazine.
    But I don’t SUBSCRIBE to that school of business-thinking… I’m a huge proponent of sustainable methods in both cultivation, agriculture and all facets of modern production.

    I image a greenhouse that is primarily based on “low-tech”, or more accurately; passive climate control systems, such as closed greenhouses that work on the principle of condensation and evaporation of water, as opposed to air-exchange with the outside, to control temperature and humidity (one such is being tested out in Almeria, Spain).

    Information technology, smart sensor feedback and durable, efficient lighting would be ideal as well. “Simple” robotics would have their place too, taking care of the more repetitive and time consuming – input heavy – jobs.
    3D printing is also an incredibly fascinating prospect, which would give someone like a horticulturist – with all the different plastic fixtures, tools and utensils – incredible flexibility and independence!
    Durable lights that are well attuned to supplement natural sunlight according to needs, via “stepping” (gradually turning on and off as opposed to all off/all on), in between lighting, movable fixtures (up and down, even on tracks) and such methods might be the smartest way to implement lighting for horticulture.
    In short; the most durable, useful, smart technologies that we have in today’s toolbox should IMO be married into this “perfect blend” of low and high tech, energy efficient and sustainable technologies and methods.

    Methods also play a huge role in how efficient and smart such an arrangement coud be:
    In a closed greenhouse, the possibility of creating biological feedback loops is very exciting, for instance mushroom cultivation underneath the growing tables, in the cooler, moister, shadier zone which in turn would produce nutrient dense biomass and maintain CO2 levels inside the greenhouse. Excess plant material would then partially feed the mushroom cultivation.

    WELL… getting a bit carried away here, but it just pains me so much to see smart technologies and methods take the backseat as “economically viable” methods keep destroying the environment, reducing the independence and buying power of cultivators and holding true progress back.

    Thanks for an informative article, good sir!

    • Astute observations and imaginings of a sustainable future.

      I too am frustrated at the barriers to the acceptance and implementation of the advanced, energy saving potential of combining different lighting technologies, Induction, LED, with sensor driven intelligent controls, light movers, permaculture in the greenhouse etc. I invite you to visit my website http://growlightsource.com/ , if you had not already. You will see that I and Inda-Gro have worked together to bring leading edge Hybrid and Intelligent Greenhouse and Indoor grow lighting products, accessories and options. These product combinations can provide not only optimal PAR light, but to trigger responses of Phytochrome, Chlorophyll A & B in both Blue and RED regions, Chloroplasts and more.

      I am currently focused on new specific frequency Micro-Lighting products to stimulate specific responses in green plants. The Flower Initiator can be used to affect Phytochrome state changes relevant to controlling flowering, with both short and long day plants. I see this as game changing technology that might allow many crops to be brought to flower under longer days and to reach maturity prior to bad weather. Blue lights can be used to identify plant sex early without bringing them to full flower, etc.

      • Interesting and exciting stuff indeed… almost borders on sci fi but still the primary barrier is the will (aka funds) to implement it!
        What you’re saying about lights tailored to effectively provoke flower formation truly is potentially game changing!

        Many cultivated species require subtle and complex triggers to first initiate flower formation, then to be fertilized and properly mature flowers and yet other triggers for fruit to effectively set…
        In many ways, the extent of knowledge and expertise the Science of horticulture possesses is limited by lighting technology, since outdoor conditions usually have to many confounding factors and can scarcely be controlled or modified effectively…

        We students have speculated much on this topic, for instance wondering about the possible importance of non-par radiation, such as infrared (which has much to do with leaf temperature and how fast fruit matures), green and UV.

        Thus I salute you good folks who are at the cutting edge, pushing the boundaries of what we can make, grow and consequently learn on this earth!

      • Yes, the FAR RED 730nm Flower Initiator and the 2-3% UV-B in the emitted by the Inda-Gro lamps appear to have an affect on flowering outcomes and bud formations. I am consulting with a designer in Oregon, who is designing sustainable housing for the aboriginal of Alaska, buildings with super insulated grow structure up top, using changes in light, spectrum, intensity, water, humidity, temperature and more to generate multiple annual crops to feed the occupants below. Solar and wind powered for full energy and food security.

        With the Flower Initiator we have already used it to provoke flowering, outdoors, one and two two months earlier than ever before with selected short day plant specie. This is certainly more consistently achievable in the green house. One never knows there could be a day when extreme weather conditions force food production largely into greenhouses, or, at the most extreme warehoused indoors.

        Should you students wish to use the Flower Initiator for a published horticultural experiment I would like to hear about it, send an email describing your premise, I may provide one for that if you share your results, images etc.

        The leading edge is where you get the most fun turbulence.

  3. Do tell… how exactly do you efficiently mount the lights to initiate flowering OUTSIDE like you speak of?
    Crop control inside a greenhouse is far more precise and in a certain sense “easier” than growing crops outdoors… yet the outdoors can never truly be replicated in a greenhouse.

    What has perhaps surprised me the most since beginning to study horticulture and plant science, is just how far away from our roots as hunter-gatherers we have truly come. We have modified countless species to suit our needs, yet via selection and breeding controlled by humans, along with our input-intensive cultivation methods, the long-winded but far more intricate selection of nature has been largely removed out of the equation.

    What this means is literally that almost no food that humans eat today (with the exception of the few remaining aborigines and other off-the-grid tribes) is completely natural… contents and structure of proteins, carbs and fats, as well as the overall balance of today’s diet is incredibly alien compared to what we consumed some 10-15000 years hence.

    For better or for worse, humans have begun directing things in the theater of earth to a far greater degree than ever before, and along the way, we’ve ignored or forgotten some of the lectures that nature left for us to learn.
    This is why what you are doing with developing these more dedicated grow-lights is a step in the right direction, while also adding another input. Of course, that doesn’t make it dishonorable in the least, don’t misinterpret… we must continue directing the play that we’ve started as a species, we’ve gone too far for anything else.

    But the difference is, either heeding natures advice and modelling what we can after this amazing, billions of years old experiment, or… rushing blindly forward, without even trying to notice the subtleties!

    In any case, I will see whether us students can incentivize our dean and others who have something to say about experiments, the curriculum and how funds are directed, to strike up a cooperation with you and your colleagues, regarding lighting technology.

    If that fails, one day I’ll want to partake in experimentation myself… I’ll never be content in simply following the flow, since horticulture can be a frustratingly traditional and stagnant profession, in many ways 😛

  4. The way we have used the FAR RED 10 & 20 Watt Flower Initiators outdoors, with 12/12 short day plants is to use an online resource to determine the actual sunset for the unique location, setting the date to initiate when the night becomes 10 hours in length.

    On that date, we set the lights to come on 15 minutes before local sunset and 45 minutes after, not knowing the exact moment of sunset for the location (without proper metering equipment). Although the time needed to trigger the Phytochrome sate change is mere moments. We adjusted the timing some until the flower production appeared maximized, then left it as such until near the end, lengthening the plant perceived night to better mature the finished flowers.

    The lights are mounted on posts/poles 5-10 feet above the selected garden beds, one at each end with vectors to crisscross the bed with the 730nm photons.

    Visit GrowLightSource.com, find the Flower Initiator category on the left.

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