Marijuana Grow Lights: Which Digital Ballast Hydroponics Technology Works Best?


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By Steve Davis

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Find out how digital ballasts make better grow lights for marijuana…
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" Check out your new marijuana grow light options… "

When you eyeball your medical marijuana garden and see your marijuana leaves reaching towards your glowing grow lights, you’re witnessing a marijuana feeding process that’s as essential as providing hydroponics nutrients.

Your marijuana plants absolutely must have photons. Without light, your plants lose photosynthesis—the main engine that powers how they build structure and carry out their metabolic processes.

Used to be, we had only a couple of choices when it came to hydroponics lighting equipment:  you could use fluorescents, or high intensity discharge (HID) lights, but only HID metal halide and high pressure sodium grow light bulbs provide enough light intensity to power marijuana plants.

To convert raw electricity to light your plants can eat, you need an interface between your electrical outlet and your HID grow light bulbs. The interface is called a "ballast."

Until recent grow light modernization, we were limited to using magnetic core and coil ballasts to power our HID lights. Those ballasts are clumsy and heavy. They’re often referred to as “boat anchors.”

Fortunately, in the last seven years, we’ve seen important improvements in HID and other forms of hydroponics lighting.

For example, florescent grow lights now come in high output styles useful for seedlings, clones, and veg phase, but they’re way too weak for a productive bloom phase.

Marijuana growers tried LED hydroponics lighting, and some growers say they find LED grow lights useful for microgardens. Most growers say LED units just don’t offer enough light intensity for full-size marijuana plants in large gardens.

Hydroponics “plasma lighting” is second to HID grow lights in intensity. They’re appropriate for veg and bloom phases. But they’re not as strong as HID, so they’re best suited for marijuana plants less than three feet tall.

Discover the Two Types of Hydroponics Digital Ballasts…Which One is Better for Your Marijuana Plants and Bank Account?

Because they generate enormous light intensity, HID grow lights are still the favorite medical marijuana hydroponics lighting choice.

In the metal halide and high-pressure sodium grow light world, you’ve got modernized bulbs such as the ceramic metal halide (CMH), and most marijuana growers now use digital ballasts instead of magnetic core and coil ballasts.

Digital ballasts are smaller, more energy efficient, more reliable, and more versatile than their larger core-coil counterparts.

There are two types of digital ballasts. The early digital ballasts that were developed before full spectrum digital ballast research was complete are digital ballasts that all use a “high frequency sawtooth wave” approach.

If we wanted to detour into a tech nerd electronics discussion, we could spend a long time explaining high frequency sawtooth waves, but it’s enough to know that high frequency sawtooth wave digital ballasts are bad for your expensive HID bulbs, and that the old school digital ballasts have built-in inefficiencies that waste electricity and plant potential.

In fact, sawtooth wave high frequency digital ballasts drive bulbs too hard, causing HID bulbs to age prematurely. They put out inferior, unstable grow light spectrums that aren’t good enough for your plants.

In extreme cases, HID grow lights have exploded because of standard digital ballasts, and there are many other operating problems with high frequency digital ballasts.

Engineers seeking remedies for the many defects in the first generation of digital ballasts went back to the drawing boards to give you better digital ballast technology.

You now have another type of digital ballast—a low frequency square wave ballast—that greatly improves your grow light efficiency, cost to benefits ratio, crop output, bulb life, and ease of use.

The low frequency square wave ballast is more reliable, uses less electricity, and has more features that make your marijuana grow better and produce more.

It doesn’t generate high levels of radio frequency interference (RFI) common to the high frequency sawtooth ballasts, which means you avoid security problems and home electronics failures common to digital ballasts made by NextGen, Phantom, Galaxy, Lumatek, Quantum, HID Hut and other manufacturers.

In the most modernized marijuana gardens, hydroponics growers use grow light set-ups combining low frequency digital ballasts with upgraded HID metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs designed for marijuana…and see faster growth, larger yields and more THC.

You get more harvest reward per watt of electricity used.

When you watch the video at the end of this article, you see a scientific comparison that contrasts the primitive digital ballasts with new low frequency squarewave digital ballast technology.

Take a look at this intriguing video right now for the facts about low frequency digital ballast grow lights that increase your marijuana gardening rewards and pleasure.

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Photography by © copyright, 2012, Steve Davis
Article by Steve Davis, on Jul. 24th 2012

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