Choosing the Right Grow Light Timer
Most gardeners know that they’ll need grow lights when cultivating plants indoors. However, to make those lights work correctly, you’ll also need a grow light controller or timer to set up nighttime and daytime lighting schedules. Some growers see these tools as accessories, but we believe they’re necessities. In this guide, we’ll explain why grow light timers are so important, give you some information on the different types of controllers and timers, and offer some shopping tips.
Why Grow Light Timers are So Important
If you’re growing crops indoors, it’s crucial to ensure that the plants get enough light. Requirements vary by plant species, but for those with vegetative and flowering cycles, those variations are even wider. For instance, during the vegetative stage when the focus is on branching, leafy growth, plants may need up to 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness per day. Some gardeners leave the lights on 24/7 during the vegetative stage, but most prefer to give their plants a little break.
When a plant enters the flowering stage, it needs less lighting. The decrease in available light simulates the change from summer to fall. At this time, most plants do well with a 12/12 light cycle. Unless you plan to sleep in the grow room and turn the lights off and on at the same time each day, you’ll need a grow light controller or timer. With these important components, it’s easier to automate certain parts of the cultivation process.
Using Timers in Hydroponic Gardens
Not only do timers play a crucial role when using grow lights, but they’re also an essential part of a hydroponic garden. Depending on your setup, timers may be used to control several aspects of a hydro grow room.
In most cases, timers are used to control a hydroponic garden’s lighting. Different crops need varying levels of light, and in many instances, the duration of that light must be changed at certain times during the growth cycle. A timer will allow you to customize the lighting schedule to suit your plants’ needs.
Timers can also be used to determine when the grow room’s ventilation system turns on and off. Some growers use them to control nutrient flow intervals. Some systems, such as ebb and flow setups, can be set to release nutrients at predetermined times. Here, a timer can be used to regulate lighting and watering.
Different Types of Light Timers
Though almost any timer will do the job, some of the newest options have some useful features. Here, we’ll discuss a few common grow light timer types and the differences between them.
- Single-outlet vs. dual-outlet timers. The difference between these two types is obvious. While single-outlet timers accommodate just one light, dual-outlet models can handle two. These timers can be used with most types of lights, as well as equipment like fans and CO2 generators. Even when using a dual-outlet timer, you’ll need to know the outlet’s rated amperage. Most are rated to about 15 amps, but ratings can vary. Single- and dual- outlet timers work in much the same way; simply program a setting to be used for both lights.
- Mechanical vs. digital grow light timers. Every timer is either mechanical or digital, which indicates how they’re programmed. A mechanical timer, which is also known as an analog timer, typically includes switches or dials for time adjustments. The dials are usually broken down into 24-hour cycles with 15-minute off/on options. Analog timers are suitable for small-scale growers. However, most gardeners prefer digital timers because of their LCD readouts and built-in functions. Digital grow light timers are simple to use, and it’s possible to set a different schedule for every day of the week. Many models also work during power outages, thanks to their battery backup features, but manual timers will have to be reset. Both digital and mechanical timers can be bought with single- or double-outlet capabilities.
- Multi-zone controllers. A large multi-zone controller is great for a gardener who’s managing a large grow room. They come in a few forms. Some resemble power strips and can be used to operate other kinds of equipment, such as fans and CO2 generators that are on the same cycle as your grow lights. Others lack the ability to set timers for every outlet, and on these, you’ll likely have to use the same preset schedule for everything. These controllers are safer in that they prevent overloads by shutting off automatically when too many devices are in operation.
Let the experts at Agron help you find the right grow light timer for your garden and your needs.
Must-Have Features for Grow Light Timers
Today’s grow light timers have all sorts of cool features. Though they’re not a requirement for everyone, they may be useful for growers in some situations. These features include those listed below.
- A trigger cord. Though this feature isn’t mandatory, it can be beneficial. With several trigger cords, you can stagger light timing or set multiple schedules.
- High-temp shutoff. This feature protects your grow room and its lighting when the temperature climbs past a preset point.
- Photocell. Some controllers and timers have this feature, which is well-suited to use with fans and CO2 generators. Photocell puts these components on the same cycle as the grow lights, which makes sense, as they’re all used at the same time.
Other useful features include integrated circuit breakers, hot start time delay, universal X outlets, and high amperage control. No matter what kind of grow light timer you’re looking for, our experts can help you find it. Browse our entire inventory online or call us today for more details.
Timers serve several functions within an indoor garden. Not only do they regulate the intensity and frequency of lighting, but they can also be used to control nutrient flow in a hydroponic setup. With the right timer from Agron, you can grow healthier plants and enjoy greater yields with every crop.