Correlated Color Temperature(CCT)
The first factor in choosing a color of lamp is to determine whether you need a warm or cool light source. The CCT, expressed in Kelvin degrees, relates to actual thermal temperature. If you've ever seen a piece of metal being heated, you know that as the metal gets hotter, it's color changes. The CCT rating of HID and flourescent light sources indicate how warm or cool the light source is. For instance a lamp with a CCT of 2700 Kelvin is considered warm; with a CCT of 4200 Kelvin is considered neutral; and one of 6000 Kelvin is considered cool.
Spectral Energy Distribution
When you look at a light source, you perceive seeing a single color, but you are actually seeing thousands of hues. The combinations of different wavelengths of light make up the color we see. The relative intensity of the various wavelengths are used to determine a light source's Color Rendering Index(CRI).
Color Rendering Index(CRI)
The CRI is an indication of a lamps ability to show individual colors relative to a standard. This value is determined from a comparison of the lamp's spectral distribution compared to a black body at the same color temperature. Light sources, such as metal halide lamps, are rated with a CCT; however, CCT does not provide any information on the quality of the color. For this, a CRI is also necessary. In general, the higher the CRI rating of a lamp, the better the different colors will show.
5K - 7K Kelvin: Strong Blue Light
Promotes bushy growth. Ideal for rapid growth phase of plants.
Greatly enhances all-around plant growth when used with super
high output, high pressure sodium or 3K warm metal halide lamps.
4.2K - 4200 Kelvin: Cool white Flourescents
Can be used as supplimental blue lighting when used with a 3K
4K - 4000 Kelvin: Neutral Metal Halide
Best single source for plant growth, producing shorter, bushier
growth than 3700 Kelvin and color rendition. Used in general
3.7K - 3700 Kelvin: Softer Metal Halide(coated)
This coated lamp is used in general plant lighting and for more
rapid growth than 4000 Kelvin produces.
3K - 3200 Kelvin: Warm Metal Halide
Highest photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) value of all HID
lighting for all phases of plant growth. PAR watts account for the
nutritional value of light and are a direct measure of the light
energy available for photosythesis.
2.7K - 2700 Kelvin: High Pressure Sodium Lamps
Redder color mix, used for propagation, blooming, supplemental
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