We were curious about what the biggest misconceptions might be with light movers, so we went straight to the experts at Gualala Robotics, the makers of LightRail light movers, to get their take. Here is Nancy Hamilton with the three biggest myths she hears about moving lights.
Light Movers should be used primarily to cover more area
Although this is certainly a benefit, it should not be considered the most important reason for using light movers. Better reasons include the significant advantages achieved by distributing indoor plant light. And, that grow lighting would be at a greater range of angles while at the same time, reducing shadow patterns. We know that as indoor grow light travels from the bulb, its intensity diminishes (Inverse Square Law). So, light movers allow for closer plant-to-lamp tolerances.
This grow equipment detail happens while maintaining a good footprint from our indoor grow light. So, when more of the plant is covered with the grow lamp during the photoperiod at the correct intensity, this is what happens. The maximum light saturation point for green leaf photosynthesis (Leaf Area Index) is more easily achieved. In short, grow light movers are more about unleashing the power in our grow light setups. And, that power in our grow light system is more important than simply covering more distance.
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Light movers and the veg stage, but what about yield?
Purveyors of the veg only myth usually also subscribe to Myth #1, but here’s the deal. There’s a limit as to how thin we can spread indoor grow light before returns diminish. As a rule of thumb, 30-35 W per sq. ft. is about as skinny as we should go with our grow equipment. Of course, there are many variables to this grow equipment rule. But, if we break this rule, then we will likely have a difficult time. And then, Myth #2 will become true because as we all know, plants require less indoor grow light intensity in the growth stage than they do to bloom. The growth phase typically has the longer grow light time of 18 hours, but the actual intensity for the plant lighting of the growth phase can be weaker. Still, more powerful grow lighting has its advantages towards results. In the later growth phase all the way through the bloom phase, we can fire in our grow lamp. That’s close and effective indoor plant light for maximum ppfd, as shown in this ppfd chart link. And, that equals maximum grow light system results.
But of course, that’s only true when our indoor grow lights are moved, each on a LightRail light mover. We recommend a run of 18 to 39 inches, switch stop to switch stop, with a 35-second delay at the ends for that longer run. Half the grow lighting fixture will go beyond that stopper setting, and that’s for both directions of the run. So, that will likely fill up a 6′ length grow area depending on our grow light system.
Subset of Myth #2
Now, this brings us to a subset of Myth #2. Too many people believe that LightRail light movers should only be used in large spaces but not small gardens or small grow tents. Grow light movers work in any setting, large or small. Simply moving our grow light system a matter of a foot or so may be just right, and on half a light mover rail. And, that will benefit our garden immensely and result in healthier plants and significant yield increases.
So, while we are all about a grow light mover used in smaller gardens, moving our grow lamps in large, commercial spaces such as a grow warehouse is just as important. Multiple stationary commercial grow lighting cannot duplicate what light movers can do. The key is in imagining our larger grow area divided into those 6′-7′ rectangles of workable light moving space (Check out the Sample Rooms). So from smaller grow spaces like a garage grow room or basement grow room, to larger grow spaces like a grow warehouse, indoor grow lights should be maximized. Grow light movers work in all these settings. And, LightRail light movers will move any light and all lights should move. Even the greenhouse setting needs supplemental indoor plant light in the off season, or an hour or two of supplemental plant light year round. For the greenhouse, there is the LightRail 3.5 Extreme Duty Greenhouse Package that is perfect for that unique greenhouse environment.
Light movers and the expense
The myth would question if they are too expensive. First, let’s address why they cost what they do. LightRail light movers are not static. Instead, they are dynamic, continuous-duty grow equipment devices that operate in a harsh environment. And, that indoor grow system setting is the hot, dry ceiling directly above our grow light setup. A grow light mover will run back and forth, 12 to 18 hours per day. And, this indoor grow system will do this as many as 100,000 times per growth cycle. Anything less than instrument-grade, continuous-duty components will not stand up to this task. Of course, we can only speak to our own product, but we know by heart what it takes to deliver a dependable workhorse. So, LightRail light movers are not too expensive but are. instead, a value product.
Next, although stationary grow lamps are far more efficient today than they’ve been in the past, Inverse Square Law has never changed. Because of this, as much as 50% of a stationary grow lamp is wasted. That’s because it lacks the ability to get closer without hot spots and light overkill. Also, stationary grow lamps cannot diversify by getting the best indoor plant light to more of the plant. However, put any stationary grow lamp on a grow light mover and it begins to pay for itself instantly. It’s an efficiency product and testing proves this out.
So let’s do the math. If a grow light mover increases the efficiency of our indoor grow lights that are only 50% efficient when stationary. And, it does this while covering up to 30% more area. And, if it is quality constructed and made to last crop after crop and year after year, what’s too expensive? We can’t afford not to do this. Simply put, moving our indoor grow lights is the single most important way to supercharge our grow light setup.
*Original Article from Maximum Yield Industry News – April 2014 Issue