Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Consider using plant lights during winter

Growing plants indoors during the winter can be fun and therapeutic. In many parts of the country the natural light levels are low enough that supplemental lighting is usually required to successfully grow plants indoors.

Before investing in lights, Michigan State University Extension suggests that you look at what it will cost to run the lights during the winter. First look at the rate you pay for electricity. This can be found on your bill and is expressed in cents per kWhr (kilowatt hour). This is the basic rate, but look for additional costs such as PSCR renewable energy, system access distribution, energy efficiency and securization charges and a securization tax.

You will also need information about the light fixtures, specifically the wattage of the bulbs. For example, you may be planning to install two, 4-foot fluorescent fixtures that contain two 40 watt grow lights each. The total wattage is 160 (four bulbs x 40 watts). Since you are charged for using kilowatts, divide 160 by 1,000 and multiple by your electric rate. The result is the cost to run the lights for one hour. Multiply the operating cost by the number of hours you plan to run the lights (14 hours) to find out your daily cost.
Supplemental lighting is usually required to successfully
grow plants indoors during the dark days of winter.

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