The hydroponic grow room LightRail by Gualala
– is this the best light rail?
by Christian Mason in HydroMag UK September 2014
With possibly the coolest product name since the Snarling Dogs “Blues Bawls” Wah Pedal, the Gualala Robotics LightRail deserves to be in first place on your Christmas wish list. It may sound like a mode of transport on Star Wars planet Tatooine, but is in actual fact an essential component (or it should be) of your grow room. Still using static lighting, granddad? Pah! We’ll bet you still use a Nokia 6110 and carry around a Filofax. Not that there’s anything wrong with being old-school, but there’s old-school and there’s stubbornly stupid. Investing in a Gualala Robotics LightRail will silently glide your grow lamps back and forth over your plants, saving you money and improving your yields. How? Regular readers of HYDROMAG will know, or at least suspect, that we’re about to tell you.
Angles and Motion. You may have noticed, in nature, how the sun tends to move around the sky rather than sit listlessly in the same spot all day. It may have inspired you to kick your ballast in frustration as you cope with the scourge of shadow patterns and hot spots amongst your crop. A LightRail will increase your light coverage by up to 30% according to Gualala. Rather like a diligent parent bathing their offspring, ensuring those hard-to-reach spots behind the ears are given a good scrub, Gualala’s moving LightRail ensures there are no hiding places! Light gets to all parts of your plants, allowing the lower and midlevel leaves to absorb more light. Get ALL your leaves working for your plant (don’t let those low level leaves shirk like the kids at the back of the classroom).
Efficiency. You could be losing as much as 60% of your lamps’ energy by keeping them static. Moving your lights can help you achieve maximum LAI (Leaf Area Index). With the threat of hot spots eliminated, you can place your lamps much closer to your plants, meaning far more efficient use of your wattage. With more leaves absorbing more energy you’ll improve your yields and reduce electricity bills by as much as 23% according to Gualala. All this on just 5.5 watts – the same as a night light! (N.B. The 4.0 model runs on 9 watts).
Flexibility and Control. Gualala’s flexibility manifests itself in two ways. Firstly, with a series of useful add-ons it’s possible to fit the LightRail into any space. The LightRail 3.5 and 4.0 models both come in 2-meter-lengths, while the large-scale grower can opt for the 2.4-metre-long 5.0 model (not compatible with the others). With adjustable switch-stops the length of travel can be set by the grower – you can even cut the rail to size if required. Secondly, the timing of the rail’s movements is under your control. A time delay – set by the grower anywhere between 0-60 seconds, allows your lamps to linger at the ends of the rail – important to avoid the plants in the middle hogging all the light. The 4.0 model also allows you adjustable speed control.
Adaptability. You can buy a rail hanger that allows you to use LightRail in a tent or greenhouse; while additional rails, trolleys (the part that the lamps hang from) and extension rods can also be purchased – catering for all lamp types, all size grow rooms, and allowing for the doubling up of lights if necessary.
We hate coming up with cons with such vehemence that in the HYDROMAG office we sometimes resemble grieving women at an Ayatollah’s funeral. But for the sake of balance here goes:
It’s yet another piece of mechanized kit vying for a socket in your grow room (whatever happens don’t try to run it off your ballast or you’ll burn out the circuit board).
The incessant sound of movement in your grow room might convince your dog there’s an intruder inside. The resultant barking from the more idiotic canine could become intolerable.