Exploring Grow Light Reflectors
HID lamps produce light in a 360 degree, circular pattern, and this means you lose out on a lot of light coming from the top of the bulb if it’s not being reflected back down onto the plant. Because of this, you should always use a reflector/hood when using high-intensity lighting that illuminates light in 360 degrees.
Reflectors come in different sizes for customizing your light footprint. At Hydrobuilder, we offer three sizes: 6”, 8”, and the less common 10”. For picking a size, you’ll need to consider the main trade-off. A smaller hood will reduce you lighting footprint and concentrate the light the most, however, heat will build up more in smaller hoods.
Often reflectors have a cooling component, which is highly recommended as HIDs produce a lot of heat and will almost undoubtedly require a cooling and exhaust system. But a cooling unit may hurt your HID lamp’s performance depending on the bulb type and the way the reflector cools the lamp.
We offer reflectors for single ended and double ended HIDs, as well as ones for CMH bulbs. If you want your reflector to cool your double ended bulbs, you want to make sure to purchase one that is air-cooled as it will not directly cool the lamp. Directly cooling the lamp will decrease the lamp’s performance because double ended lamps use nitrogen gas that is sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
Reflectors are easy to install and can be hung in your grow tent with hanging cables. The lamp will easily fit right into them, and the hood will come with a lamp cord that will plug into a ballast.
Let’s begin by explaining exactly why we need a grow light reflector, in the first place.
No matter how hard humans try we are not able to fully duplicate the full spectrum and multidirectional rays of the natural sun. We can up UV rays, light intensity and color spectrum but the same underlying problem arises with every bulb or lighting source we develop.
The light largely goes in one direction- down.
The whole idea is to spread this light outwards so that plant grown in an artificial environment receive as even and natural of usable light as possible.
This is the purpose behind grow light reflectors.
They take that usable light and spread it out through reflection to maximize its effectiveness in promoting the photosynthesis process of our plants.
What makes a good light reflector?
This is the age-old question when it comes to light reflectors and the answer is remarkably simple.
A good grow light reflector is one that disperses usable light the best and in the most natural way as possible. You want a reflector that doesn’t create a hot spot and defuses the light most evenly.
Open vs closed air-cooled grow lights
There are two styles of grow light reflectors of open or closed air cooled. An open reflector is shaped to direct light down and outwards while also deflecting residual heat away from the plants.
Open grow light reflectors have the advantage of being fully adjustable. The grower can adjust the light down, out or away from the plants while at the same time flowing heat away from them.
A closed, air-cooled reflector doesn’t work that way.
Closed reflectors are a sealed unit that have a sheet of glass attached to the bottom and vents on either side for the heat to escape to be pumped from growing area.
Air-cooled reflectors are beneficial when growing heat sensitive plants in more confined areas.
The available reflector shapes
There is not a whole lot that can be said about this other than grow light reflectors come in a number of shapes that are up to personal preference and desired usage so far as what is the best for your individual needs.
We really can’t make a recommendation on these because they will all serve their purposes well under different, specific conditions.
Go with the most reflective material
The whole purpose of a reflector is to reflect light so obviously the best choice is the most reflective material. Cheap reflectors of which there are thousands of on the internet, are made of oxidized aluminum. While, yes, these are the cheapest they are only around 70% on the refractive scale.
The higher end choice is anodized aluminum with a refractive index rating of 85%, however, if you go with a low-end brand they are sure to degrade quite quickly.
The top of the line reflective material is currently physical deposition aluminum or PVD which has a remarkable 95% on the reflective index. The initial higher investment in buying the best more than offsets itself in durability and long life span you’re going to get out them.
PVD reflectors will provide more than 10 years of reliable service compared to the 2-3 at best with a cheap material.
The future of grow light reflectors
Grow light technology has made tremendous advancement in recent years and decades and will continue to do so. Agricultural products and science is a priority for researchers because feeding a growing global population is of vital importance.
Given the great advancements in efficient LED technology there may very well come a time when grow light reflectors may become obsolete. For the time being, however, they are a necessary and important part of the hydroponic industry.