Choosing what kind of hydroponic growing lights you will use for your growing system is one of the most important decisions you will make as a hydroponic grower. Photosynthesis, the mechanism by which your plants can process and grow nutrients, relies entirely on the availability of light quality.

Choose the right light and enjoy a quicker harvest and a higher yield time after time. Choose badly, and you're more likely to see your plants failing.

Here are the most popular types of hydroponic growing lights used in modern gardens and the benefits of each.

1. Fluorescent Grow Lights:

Fluorescent lights are usually used in smaller or more amateur gardens and are highly limited in their utility. Since they only produce white light and are low intensities, they cannot provide the spectrum of light required for most plants to grow to their potential. Therefore they are only very useful for seedlings and clones.

Since they don't give off much heat, they can be put as close to the plant as you would like, but most hydroponic professionals suggest a distance of between four and six inches. Fluorescent grow lights are usually very cheap, but their bulbs must be replaced regularly, which can add up to a much higher cost over time.

2. High Intensity Discharge Grow Lights

Since they give a wider range of light spectrum colors and thus more closely mimic natural sunlight, High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights are far more suitable for general hydroponic growth. They do however, generate a lot of heat, which might involve the purchase of cooling fans to keep your plants safe.

There are two types of high-intensity discharge lights: metal halide lights and high-pressure sodium lights. Metal halide lights can emit light at the blue end of the spectrum and are more suitable for the vegetative stage of plant growth, whereas high-pressure sodium lights emit light at the red end of the spectrum and are more widely used for the flowering stage. High-pressure sodium growing lights are also suitable for use in fruit bearing plants and vegetables.

3. LED Grow Lights

LED (Light Emitting Diode) light emits illumination through the processing of current in one terminal and out of another, creating a basic semiconductor.

LED lights have a range of functional advantages over more traditional rising lights. Since they generate so little heat, they have little chance of burning your plants; they don't need you to buy cooling fans as well.

LED lights require a greater up front investment, but because they can last from seven and ten years before you need to upgrade them and use a fraction of the energy of other types of lights, they can potentially save you money in the long run. Some studies also show that LED lights are even more efficient in hydroponic gardens.

LED lights are usually provided in a range of colors to be used at acceptable stages of vegetative development. A green LED light, which is "invisible" to plants, is also available and will therefore allow you to observe and maintain your hydroponic garden without interrupting the photo-period of your plants.