So, I'm looking at replacing the lights for some of my indoor racks, as I somewhat overestimated my available space when propagating 'dews this year and have encountered some crowding problems as I begin to move my tropicals back inside for the winter. I'm leaning towards the 6-bulb model of the highbay fixtures that Av has mentioned from contractorlighting.com, mostly because I'm unfamiliar with HID lighting and the issues of heat and fragility have me a little concerned.
As for my logistics, most of my plants are short and the light penetration of HID systems wouldn't make a huge difference in most of my applications. I do, however, have a number of Neps that are rapidly outgrowing my T12s, and may even be at the point where T5s will also be suboptimal. I also have some tall houseplants (Norfolk Island pine, bananas, ponytail palms) that would appreciate even the fringe zones of a high-output lamp. Currently I use eight T12 shoplights on my entire Nep collection, but my largest plants are crowding each other so if I were to stick with T12s I'd need at least two or four more fixtures once I untangle the various vines. For reference, I use two or three two-bulb shoplights for each six sq. ft. shelf (4' x 1.5', but sometimes I squeeze up to 2.5' in width by using wide tray that hang over the edges of the shelves.) I also have some larger sundews, such as D. gigantea and my binata strains, that always seem to dislike artificial light and get floppy over winter.
Suggestions? The six-bulb T5 fixture above seems like a pretty good deal to me, at approximately $180-$200 a piece including shipping. I plan to buy a case of bulbs separately to get a bulk rate, so I'm not too concerned about that part of the cost. Like I said, I'm tempted by T5s because they seem easy. I understand that one or two HID lamps could light a larger space than a similarly-priced investment in T5s do, but I'm not familiar with the costs and I don't know how big of a difference there is. Also, does anyone know how the secondary costs affect the overall initial investment and upkeep? (Stuff like exhaust fans, A/C during warm months, etc.)
Thanks in advance,