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Ceramic Metal Halide

Philips MasterColor Ceramic Metal Halide
HPS-Retro White Lamps

So maybe you have heard about the best grow light bulb on the market…or maybe not - but now you have! The Philips MasterColor Ceramic Metal Halide HPS-Retro White Lamps are something new to horticulture. These bulbs are being manufactured to replace high pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs in factories and warehouses. Along comes the indoor gardener who sees the light and gets them thinking - I bet these would grow great plants! Well they do.

Grow Light Express has been testing these lamps for years and has sold lots of them. We honestly believe in these lamps. We get asked all the time if this is such a great bulb why isn't Phillips directly selling / advertising them to the horticultural markets. Well the technical reason is that with this type of bulb they would have to retool their manufacturing plants at great costs. With the coming advanced in lighting technology (and there is really some amazing stuff heading our way) we believe that they are unwilling to spend the money until the market proves worth investing further in Ceramic Metal Halide technology.

The basics:
These bulbs can be used in BOTH vegetative and bloom cycles - no more changing lamps during your grow. NO DIGITAL BALLASTS - you will destroy the bulb. ONLY use a standard coil and core HPS ballast (dont let the name confuse you). CMH bulbs cannot handle the frequencies of digital ballasts. Of course there are exceptions to this rule as there is at least one digital ballast that is designed to work with CMH lamps. They are fairly expensive and unless you know you have one of these you don't so don't try. The Ceramic Metal Halide bulbs are positional. This means that they are designed to be EITHER horizontal or vertical (they cannot be used universally) but not both. Placing the bulb in the wrong position will cause it to fail early. A tip to success is that most gardeners are reporting better success with the use of supplemental silica. Since these bulbs will make your plants grow fast, silica is helpful. Silica is involved in cell division and overall plant strength.

There are many benefits to these lamps. The main reason for even considering these lamps is the fantastic spectrum of light they produce. Check out the chart below to compare to output of a CMH to a HPS lamp.

ceramic metal halide

As you can see there is a great deal of light energy available in the blue spectrum as well as the red. HPS lamps produce lots of light but its not the "right" light. It is true that plants can adapt and grow well under HPS but they will do better under CMH. Think of it this way, the sun, the light we are trying to reproduce inside, is full spectrum not just a lot of yellow / red. So why just give them yellow / orange? Basically HPS has become the standard for growing in supplied lighting conditions. This is mostly historical (now) because that was the best we had…now we have alternatives.

Other benefits include they "throw" less heat, they have very little color shift (less than 200K over their life time), your plants will have less stretch (tighter internodes).

Ceramic Metal Halide FAQ:

1. I have noticed that the Ceramic Metal Halide HPS Retro bulbs produce less lumens compared to other HPS bulbs?
A: Lumens is an antiquated way of comparing grow lamps. Lumens are a scientific definition based on the human eye and NOT on a plants response curve. This is the hardest part for people considering trying the CMH's to get past. We have been snowed over by the manufacturers just focusing on the max lumens.

2. When are bigger wattage bulbs going to be available?
A: Hum…sometime soon if Phillips keeps their promise! Also there is some new Ceramic Metal Halide technology on the horizon. This may keep bigger wattages of the market but the good news is that the new ones maybe extremely more efficient so you may not need bigger wattages. We will keep you posted on this!!

3. Will they run on my DIGITAL ballast?
A: NO (unless you have a specifically designed digital ballast for CMH lamps). They must be used in HPS ballast.

For additional information refer to the specification sheet for Ceramic Metal Halide Bulbs from Phillips.

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