Okay, so I bought a new LED light- I've been doing some research and talking with folks at the indoor farming store (god bless you berkeley), but it was definitely an impulse buy. Still I think I did it right, though I'd appreciate some knowledgeable feedback.
It's a four foot fixture for my growshelf, which is currently in a south facing window in coastal northern california. The illuminated shelf is actually only 3 feet wide by 1 foot deep, so the fixture hangs over the sides a little. The sides that aren't facing the window or the room have a (wrinkly) Mylar reflector stapled on. The new fixture's mostly for supplemental lighting- the plants along the window side (HL nepenthes, U. Alpina, H. Heterodoxa x minor, all in 3+ inches living sphagnum) get pretty okay light, but those on the room side get less. I've set the new light up more on that side of the shelf, the side you can view the plants from.
So. The light is actually for aquariums, but I think the specs are in the correct range: it's a 'Fluval AquaSky LED' fixture: 84 LEDs, 2400 lumens, 35 watts, with adjustable (remote control!) color temp from 3,000 k to 25,000 k. It says it's waterproof, rated for 50,000 hours, has 120 degree dispersion, and that it pairs 6500 k white LEDs with tri-colored RGB LEDs to create an adjustable spectrum. The spectral distribution doesn't have much red (it's at less than 50 out of 100 around 620 nm orange, but close to 100 around 440 nm blue- I'll try to get a picture on here), but if I can fully dim the white LEDs, and since it is only supplemental, will it have been worth the purchase?
The remote lets you add or subtract as much red, green, or blue as you like, plus a dimmer for adjusting the white LEDs- so I can set it to be all red and blue, or add white and green to make it a little easier on the eyes. It also has six pre-set color combinations (biased red, blue, purple, indigo, yellow, and full white), 4 memory buttons for storing custom color settings, three "natural" effects for replicating moonlight, a sunrise/sunset effect, four types of cloud cover intensities, and 3 storm effects- which include flashing lightning. I don't think I'll make much use of most of these effects (except maybe for parties), but it's pretty fun, and I hope the versatility will help me to dial it in for CP growth.
If you've made it this far, thanks for bearing with me! How does it all sound? My main questions are: am I gonna cook my plants by accidentally setting this thing to 25,000 k? Is it sufficiently powerful and within a feasible spectral range to grow tropical CPs? How close to my plants should I put it- can I raise the Heliamphora closer and settle the Nepenthes lower to get the best of both worlds? They've been growing without it, everybody pitchering and leaf jumping all over the place since spring, but I can tell they want more.
I read the equation for lux online- and I am totally boggled by it. I'm a smart guy I promise but I have a math problem.. So 1 lx = 1 lm/1m sq. The new lamp provides 2400 lm for a 1/3 of 1 square meter grow space. So 2400 lm / .33 m sq = 7272.72 lx? The chart online says that falls in the mid range of intensity, and 'will be okay' for Neps. What kind of intensity would it have if I dim the 6500k white LEDs all the way down, just using maximum red and blue? Would it be stressful to the plants to have it on a 'moonlight' setting at night while the humidifier's running?
I'm gonna (attempt to) make and (attempt to) use that ingenious DIY spectrometer from PublicLab- I hope this light works well for my needs, but I'm also just really fascinated and totally confused by the science (did you see the recent visual representation of light as both a particle and a wave??)- any ideas or ways of thinking to help me understand and apply it all would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!