The eternal light question
Does any one out there have any data on the costs (approx) it tkes to run each type of grow light.
Example. How much does it cost (again approx.) to run the different strengths of MH, compared to hps, compared to CF, and so on?
I would like to gather the data on these to put out there since it seems to be the common question that a lot of new comers, including myself, have but have never really found an answer for.
The cost of running lights can be a HUGE factor in setting up a grow system and it to have the data telling what it costs to use each type of light could save a person a lot of money if they are on a budget. To buy an expensive light system and finding out that you cannot afford to run it is many steps back verse having to use a lower light and dealing with the slight drop in over all plant productivity.
Again, I am just a new comer looking for answers.
Thanks in advance for any info. provided.
This is a good question, I was wondering the same thing about a year ago. Although I grow in natural light, so it isn't an issue for me right now. I will try to look for that type of info later tonight if I can. I think one of the big reasons it is not readily available is because electricity costs vary so much from one area to another, and even sometimes with the season like summers when everyone is running their AC. I can tell you how to figure out the exact cost of the lighting once you have it running, but it needs to be plunged in first.
I could be wrong but as I understand it, MH and hps are the most expensive to run. Then I would guess that florescent would be next, and lastly led would likely be the cheapest to run. There are also other considerations to consider like heat buildup with MH and HPS, and the electricity needed to run fans to get rid of it. Also the the fact that florescent cant put out the same type of intensity (needing more to do the same job). LED may be the cheapest to run but not to buy that I know of. They all have there pro's and con's. Is it possible to grow in natural light?
Even what you have stated is a good start to answering some of the questions that are out there with out having to weed through multiple sources.
I totally understand in some instances it is comparing apple to oranges, some lights give off heat and need fans others are cooler but not as intense, etc.
But again those are things that people have to mull through a lot of info to gather and having them in one place is helpful.
Unfortunately, growing year round in natural light is not an option for me. I live in Wisconsin and the amount of light wanes in the winter not to mention I am gong to try this Aquaponically and have yet to develope a taste for fish popsicles.
I think the person was looking for a cost comparison chart, not really wanting to make there own. I don't know if dividing the lumens by the wattage will give you an accurate power consumption. But let say to make the math easy, you have a florescent light that puts out 10,000 lumens at 100 watts. 10,000 divided by 100= 100. Is that 100 kilowatts? Is that per minute, per hour? Also how would you figure out the energy consumption for appliances that don't put out light (lumens)?
It needs to be broken down into kilowatt hours in order to be able to figure out the cost per hour to run. Then the actual kilowatt hours can be multiplied by the cost per kilowatt hr on the electric bill.
I don't know how accurate it is but this link may help.
APPLIANCE COST CALCULATOR
As I mentioned once you have it plugged in, you can use a KILL A WATT meter like the P3 Kill A Watt meter to tell exactly what it costs, as well as monitor cost and usage (of any electric device/appliance). The Kill A Watt meters come in all shapes and kinds, with many different options, and for as little as $18 and up. Most home improvement stores carry them.
P3 Kill A Watt Electricity Load Meter and Monitor
Kill A Watt P4320 Electricity Usage Monitoring Surge Strip
P3 International P4480 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor with Electronic Graphic Timer
Last edited by GpsFrontier; 07-25-2010 at 03:58 AM.
Watts/1000 = kilowatts
(Lamp watts/1000) X hours of operation = kilowatt hours
KWH X cost/kwh = cost
Although I'm simply not sure that the lumens plays a part in the calculation at all. There are many devices that use electricity that don't put out light at all, yet energy consumption for those devices have been able to calculated. If memory serves, the calculations are determined by the watts and amp draw. Also any Resistance (Ohms) will play a part. I don't remember if voltage needs to be figured in, or if higher voltage just helps push through more amps. But bottom line, every cost calculate I have seen relays only on knowing the wattage. So with all that in mind, I just don't think that knowing the lumens plays a part in the calculation at all.
Your local hydro shop will have a catalog that will have a chart for different size magnetic ballasts. the chart brakes down hours ran and $ per kw giving you a general idea of how much it will cost to run. I know a that a 400w lumatek with a eye super hps will run at 423-425w. I saw that on a different forum
I'm going to go against everthning you may have heard about lights. I ran a test this summer with tomatoes out side and inside with full sun no shade. my inside plants grew twice as big fruited first the out side in natural light.
my bulbs are the cheap $1 at lowes f32 4ft bulbs and my lumens meter reads about 1200 in the center of my light fixture. plants grow fine
to compare i have a system that grows just as well with 1200 watts hps on light rail movers. just cost me more money.
I now believe its the closeness to the light that makes it less money to run. hps put out lots of light but you have to keep it so far away. in florecent the plant can grow right on it.
To much energy being used on heat rather than light out put. and to be fair my 1200 wat hps is in a position of where i run 768 watts of florecents so its a savings of a third. but no light movers, no a/c just fans. its as good and cheaper in the long run.
I now believe and am building a new light fixture for my out door green house that is as simple as one 8 foot florecent bulb mounted right down the center on my grow pot going vertical to the roof and i will be letting the plant envelope the bulb during growth. this way i figure i currently get only part of the bulb shining on the plant so i have to add additional bulbs around it to surround it. now i will have 360 degrees of bulb from one bulb and i belive this will be the same as four bulbs.
with this theory i will go from hps 1200 watts to my current 768 watts to 288 watts. why shine on the plant from the outside when you can go to the center of the plant and shine out all the way around.
If you have lighting, you have lumens
If you have lumens in an electric light, it takes watts to make them.
This is physics and not a matter of opinion.
The question is about calculating electricity cost. Just because it's referring to lighting makes no difference. You calculate energy consumption using the same formula whether it's a light, refrigerator, radio, TV, computer, electric fan, pond pump etc. That is not an opinion, they teach Ohm's Law (current (amps), volts and Resistance are the 3 parts of electricity) in school, although it has been a lot of years sense I was in school. Watts is a measurement of the rate of energy conversion, and if I remember correctly is also a measurement of the heat generated by that conversion. No where is lumens (a measure of the power of light perceived by the human eye) mentioned as any measurement (or part of) of electricity.
Once the amount of energy used is determined, then it can be multiplied by the price per Kilowatt that the electric company charges (easily found on your electric bill).
Last edited by GpsFrontier; 10-30-2010 at 02:12 AM.
Seems like a lighting question to me.............
Watts and lumens are both measures of energy, even if you don't know it.
Oh my goodness, the original question has seemed to have gotten lost in a massive amount of extra information.
Let me jump into the fray..hehe
Ok, lighting costs are easily calculated and I can tell you how to do it with no pain or strain.
First, let me say that what you pay for is "Watts Used Per Month".
When you have used One Thousand Watts for One Hour, you have used exactly One Kilowatt.
So, if you use 250 watts for 4 hours, you have; 4 times 250 watts equals 1000 watts used in 4 hours. So, you have used One Kilowatt in 4 hours.
If you look either on your account with your electric company or on your bill, you'll see how many Kilowatts you used for the entire month.
You'll also see how much you paid for using them as your final total bill.
Yes, I know that includes 900 taxes and fees. I don't care. You paid for it anyway.
If you divide your total bill by the amount of kilowatts you used for the month, you'll see how much each kilowatt cost you, including all the fees and such. I do this every month and it comes out to within a dollar or two of what my bill is.
Like last month:
Total Bill: 203.94
Kilowatts Used: 1994
Now: 203.94 divided by 1994 = 0.102
That means I paid 10.2 cents per/kilowatt that I used, overall.
I read my meter and do this equation every month. It's always within a dollar or two.
I see how much I used and do the math. Then I know how much my bill will be.
So, that said, a watt is a watt is a watt is a watt. One watt costs exactly what one watt costs. It makes absolutely no difference what used the watt.
Now we're at the root of the answer:
If you are using a 400 watt light, and it is really using 400 watts, then for every hour you have it on, it will consume 400 watts. If you have it on 24 hours a day, it will use 9600 watts, or 9.6 kilowatts.
If you pay 10.2 cents per/kilowatt like I do, then that light will have cost you 98 cents for each day you ran it for 24 hours.
See how easy that is?
Now, here's the proverbial monkey wrench in the works...
But, but, but....MY 400 watt HPS bulb says it will put out 430 watts of light!
Ok, here's the only REAL answer to that.
I own a small meter called a "Kill-A-Watt" meter ($25). I plug it into an outlet, then plug a device into the meter. I then set it to record how many watts are being used.
I leave it on like that for exactly 24 hours to the very second.
It shows me on it's readout, EXACTLY how many watts that device used in that 24 hour period of time.
NOW I know how many watts that light REALLY uses.
From that point, it's as easy as I've shown above to figure out almost exactly how much your light will cost you each month by just doing the math.
Last edited by NorEastFla; 10-29-2010 at 02:17 PM.
Lights are not the only things that use electricity, energy and electricity are not the same thing (even if you want to think so). The electric company does not consider or charge by lumens. If they did then they would not be able to charge anything for running your refrigerator all the day, except when you open the door and the little light goes on. But then all you would need to do is take out the bulb and all that electricity would be free. The electric company (that charges you for the electricity) does not care if it's a light or not, they charge the same regardless. You just cant get past the word "light" to see the picture.
I agree everything you've said. I had thought about using the wattage of the light bulb itself, but just didn't know if that would be real accurate. Like you mentioned the actual wattage may very. Also I know the ballasts used by some lights must draw wattage/electricity. I too recommended using the Kill-A-Watt meter, I even left several links to some in my second post in this thread as a bit of info for anyone it may help. Although the original poster of this thread was hoping to be able to compare costs before buying the lights, so I'm not sure if it helped him with the exact question. But I agree they are very useful.
P.S. I noticed that you never mentioned "lumens" in the entire post. hehe.
Last edited by GpsFrontier; 10-29-2010 at 07:33 PM.
I have used that Kill-A-Watt Meter so many times on the various devices in my home that it's paid for itself in nothing more than my own piece of mind.
You can even figure out exactly what toasting a slice of bread costs with it...hahaha
Lumens become important only when calculating *how much* light is needed and/or given to a plant. The medicinal marijuana growers in many states now find it necessary to calculate maximum lumens for optimum growth of their medication. I know an elderly lady who uses it for her arthritis and swears it helps her more than anything she's ever used. The growers of those plants really get into how much of this and that they use.
If I were growing exotic plants in an indoor, regulated environment type grow, then I would need to know precisely how many lumens per/square foot of plant canopy I was using, so that my plant growth would be maximized for the periodic plant sales.
Lumens, however, have nothing to do with power consumption really. They have more to do with plant growth and the ability to *see* in the various spectrum.
Photons being the physical part of light, wattage being the power side, spectrum being the type and lumens being the amount of photons of each spectrum.
Whew! That was a mouthful! hahaha
Again I agree 100% with what your saying. I was taught in school that anything that causes resistance (ohms) generates heat and uses electricity. Like you mentioned even a extension cord has resistance and is a factor in power consumption. I don't claim know everything, but that doesn't mean that I just believe anything that anyone says either. If it doesn't make sense to me, I ask questions (sorry if that offends you willard3).
I have known about the Kill-A-Watt Meters for about two years now. I saw one on a show about being green, and decided to look into them. I still have not gotten one, but would like one because I would like to know just how much each appliance in the house is costing to run. I grow everything outside so hydroponic lighting is not an issue for me (at least now), but I may do some indoor growing in the future. I also know they are easy to get, I have seen them down at Home Depot and Lowe's, I just always seem to have something else to spend the money on.
And again what you say about Lumens is very true (I was only being sarcastic in my P.S.). But I agree that Lumens are essential to plant growth and photosynthesis, and even a form of energy in that regard. It's just not as a form of electricity as willard3 would have me believe. But simply just a measurement of preservable light (the key word being "preservable") to the human eye. I also know there are meters that will tell you the Lumens at the distance you place it from the light (I don't have one of those meters either). But for any indoor commercial growing operation that would be a must for cost efficacy.
P.S. When I retire, I plan on getting glaucoma so I can get one of those medical marijuana cards myself. It has been 20 years sense I have partaked. But when I'm sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair, I'm rolling a duby to go with my rum and coke regardless.
Last edited by GpsFrontier; 10-30-2010 at 04:27 AM.
Hey, GpsFrontier. I hope when your retirement comes, it's as fun as mine is currently being. I planned for a lot of years and now I'm reaping the benefits of that planning. I'm certainly not rich, but I've enough now to live the rest of my life comfortably and as secure as I can be.
So far, I've grown all of my hydroponic veggies inside. The bugs and weather here in North Florida are too much for a hydroponic grow without an enclosure, and thus far, I haven't had the time or money to build what I'm going to this winter outside.
Next year, my fantasy outdoor hydroponic garden will finally be a reality.
I'm planning it for an area of 20' x 20' for the first year and will use next year to tweak the systems and layout. In 2012, I'll be going full blown commercial with about a half acre of hydroponic veggies that I'll sell at my own hydroponic veggie stand.
I'm in every hydroponic site on the net, (that I could find anyway), and I've seen Willard at several of them. He's actually a very informed person about hydroponics, but like all of us, he isn't perfect in his knowledge. I'm sure sorry that you and he got off on the wrong foot, and I hope he'll be back to share his knowledge with all of us here.
This has been a very good thread here. Lots of information for those who are getting into hydroponics. I love hydroponic gardening so much that I'm afraid I'm a bit of a fanatic about it. Once someone gets me on the subject, I'm likely to talk their ear off.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against willard3 in general. I may not be the smartest person on the planet, but I'm far from the dumbest also. If something someone says doesn't make common sense to me, I don't just believe it because they want me to. I'll ask questions in order to make sense out of what there saying. But just because they may give a reply, doesn't mean that it makes scene or is true either. Until they give me a reason to believe them, well that's just their tough luck. Then when they basically demand that I just believe them because they say so (that's where my problem with him in this thread started), well I guess I just don't respond well to that type of attitude. For someone to demand I do/believe what they say, well all I can say is that they better be a police officer, judge, or something with some real authority over me. Then they may have a chance.
P.S. I am very interested in your progress on your setups and plans, as you know we have very similar goals. It's frustrating for me though right now because I just can't seem to come up with the money I need to get things rolling. I plan to start some commercial systems in the back yard, then when I have things dialed in. I have talked to a local nursery owner who has 9 acres of land that's willing to work something out with me setting up a commercial growing operation there at his nursery.
Last edited by GpsFrontier; 10-31-2010 at 05:24 AM.
I am very interested in you gentlemen's progress toward the commercial side of your hydro efforts.
I am just starting the process, but my 3rd and 4th chess moves ahead have me entertaining the feasibility of not only feeding my family, but commercial ventures as well.
I look forward to seeing your progress and am very interested in what the number crunching turns up.
I've started another thread so we can move this off-topic conversation out of this lighting thead.
Here's the link:
Design, setup and production from a Commercial Hydroponic Farm