Documents: Latest From: The Real Dirt:

New Light for the Long Dark
by John Harmon
August 4, 2002

I know it seems a little early to be getting ready for the dark of winter but the fresh snow on the mountains around Whitehorse on Monday morning should have you thinking about it. The biggest problem facing you and your houseplants over the winter is the lack of light. There's another new bulb on the market that will help.

The Envirolite is a new low energy use bulb. It boasts a full daylight spectrum and has a built in ballast like a compact fluorescent so it fits in any regular light socket. They recommend Envirolite for use in any application where true color rendering is important. It also comes in a high red spectrum. Either one will work for plants. The full spectrum (6400K) will produce great light for all round growing and the high red spectrum (2700K) could be used for flowering plants.

The new technology electronic ballast provides for instant, flicker free illumination. Much better when compared to earlier magnetic ballast's. Envirolite bulbs have a rated life of 10,000 hours before intensity may diminish. That's enough hours to last for almost two years running 16 hours a day before you have to worry about replacing them. Compared to fluorescent lights it a vast improvement.

Fluorescent bulbs loose intensity as they are used. A new bulb, like a new car, looses a bunch in the first 100 hours, generally ten percent. By the 500-hour point it will have lost another five percent. You can expect the light intensity to drop by 30 percent or more by the end of the lamps rated life. A regular fluorescent tube's service life is also affected by how often it is turned on. Every time the bulb is started it looses a little life expectancy. The new bulbs are not as affected by start/stop cycles as the old ones.

Last October I talked about the electronic compact fluorescent light bulb made by Sylvania called Gro-Lux Daylight. This bulb has a built on reflector that provides an 80-degree beam spread. It puts out an impressive 875 lumens for only 20 watts. A full spectrum four foot regular fluorescent bulb puts out up to 2250 lumens but that’s over it’s four foot length and consumes 40 watts.

The Envirolite comes in a range of sizes from seven watts up to 125 watts so there's a size to fit any application. The best one is the 125-watt size. It puts out 9600 lumens or over 10 times the output of the Sylvania Gro-Lux Daylight with only a little over six times the wattage. The Sylvania Gro-Lux Daylight costs around $32.00 or .036 cents a lumen. The Envirolite on sale works out to about .0104 cents a lumen. More light for your hard earned and battered dollar.

Another advantage of the Envirolite is that it puts out very little heat. You can actually touch the bulb when it's running without burning your fingers. That allows the bulb to be hung into the middle of a group of plants and very close to the leaves without worrying about burning them. The closer you can put the light to the plants the better they will do.

These lights are available by mail order from North American Greenhouse, 1-1204 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, Alberta. You can phone them at 403-276-5156. They have a sale going on now on the 125-watt size. Regular price is $119.95 but the sale price is $99.95.

These new lights should help your plants to survive and thrive throughout this year's long dark.

John Harmon owns and operates Tropicals North. Write to John c/o The Yukon News, 211 Wood St., Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2E4 or e-mail


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row