High pressure sodium (HPS) lamps have been in use for many years, mostly for outdoor lighting systems like parking lots, buildings perimeters, etc. HPS is the leading provider of hydroponic lighting around the world and the benefits of these lamps are numerous compared to other hydroponic lighting sources. These lamps, due to their color spectrum, have the very unique ability of enhancing the flowering or fruiting process. This is mostly evident due to the fact that HPS lamps giver off an orange and red light spectrum, thus simulating autumn sunlight which generally produces a larger harvest and a much higher quality of fruits and/or vegetables.
Some of the benefits of using HPS lamps are as follows:
The bulbs have an extraordinary life span, most come with a two-year life span which saves you a bundle of money in replacement bulbs.
This type of hydroponic lighting is king when it comes to the sheer light output for your plants and they actually producing six times (or more) light than any other kind of hydroponic lighting.
Many people running a successful greenhouse love HPS lighting as a secondary source of light, besides the sun. The suns rays produce more than enough light in the blue spectrum, and by adding some supplemental HPS lighting giving off light in the red and orange spectrum, it maximizes plant growth to a whole other level.
Another great method of hydroponic lighting is to combine the usage of both HPS lamps and metal halide lighting. Use the metal halide lighting for the vegetative stage of plant life and, when they go into the flowering stage, switch to HPS lighting. Using this method will drastically increase the amount of fruit produced as well as the size of the fruit produced.
You can still run HPS lamps throughout the complete life span of any plant, but by using a metal halide lamp in conjunction with an HPS lamp will only maximize your growth by simulating the light given by the sun for the appropriate season. I would highly recommend using this combined lighting scheme, if possible, you will see at least a 10 to 20% growth rate and size when using this method -metal halide for the vegetative stage and HPS for the flowering stage.
When using HPS lamps for your hydroponic lighting, there are a few important things to keep in mind for safety reasons for both you and your plants:
For one, never touch the lamp when in use they get extremely hot and could give you severe burns.
Always have the lamp at an appropriate distance from the crop. Having them too close can quickly burn the tops of the plants.
If the bulb breaks, the first thing you need to do is to properly ventilate the room due to the chemical composition in the lamp. You also need to wear protective gloves when handling the broken bulb and try not to inhale the chemicals coming from inside the bulb.