By Erik Biksa
An Introduction to Ceramic Metal Halide Lighting Systems
Ceramic Metal Halide Crop Lighting Systems AKA ” CDM” ” LEC” “CMH” are gaining popularity with indoor growers looking to maintain very high quality crops of respectable yields while drastically reducing electrical consumption for the same sized crop lighting foot print versus 600W or Conventional 1000W HID lighting systems operating High Pressure Sodium lamps.
“The 3100K 315 Watt Ceramic Metal Halide Lamps are the most popular with growers.”
So, you may have heard this or that about their performance-most of the feedback you may here is overwhelmingly favorable when speaking with real indoor growers. What do you REALLY need to know when making a serious decision about buying Ceramic Metal Halide lighting for your new grow-or what about retrofitting your existing one?
Here’s a list of The Five SHOULD Ask Questions in order to get the most out of your investment and your valued crop of plants.
What kind of lighting foot print should I have with a 315 watt Ceramic?
If you use the single jacket, T-9 (which is unshielded) lamp type you can cover a 4’ X 4’ area as well or better than a 600W standard HPS lamp.
If you use the shielded type, which are often supplied in arrays of TWO-315 watt ceramic lamps in a single fixture, you can expect the same yields or better than a standard 1000W HPS lamp.
Will the quality of the harvest be as good as with my HPS lighting system?
Following the above recommendations for plants preferring higher light intensities, you can expect the harvest quality to be BETTER in most instances. Most HID lamps don’t produce any significant UV levels—ceramic metal halide is an important exception. Growers notice firmer and denser fruits, flowers and buds versus HPS (it’s also easier on the eyes because it’s more like the sun VS HPS)
How high should the fixture be over top of my plants?
Anywhere from two to three feet above the crop canopy works very well—this figure is slightly dependent on the lamp reflector type and what stage of development the crop may be in.
Do the lumieres (all in one fixtures) run hot?
The ballast component produces some heat—similar watt for watt to HPS. However, the lamps in practical terms run exceptionally cool. Keep in mind that you are replacing 600-1000W of heat with 315W worth of heat. This means a lower electrical bill and less energy hungry cooling systems required.
Are they reliable?
Yes, most grower have found this technology to be as reliable or better than standard HID crop lighting systems