What better way to understand how the uSolaire 180 performs than to do a head-to-head grow lamp comparison… So I enlisted the services of a 200 W CFL lamp (colour: 2700 K) that I have and the following is the result of this comparison. Power-wise it’s a good match, meanwhile in regard to colour there is the obvious difference – the uSolaire 180 uses 5700 K Cree LEDS – but I wasn’t going to go an buy a similar colour CFL lamp just for this comparison. Comme si comme ça.

The test chamber was a HOMEbox Ambient Q60 – https://www.homebox.net/en/product/a-q60/. Both lamps were positioned to be 1 m high.

To measure the light output an Apogee Instruments SQ-520 USB was used – https://www.apogeeinstruments.com/full-spectrum-quantum-sensor/. This sensor measures the Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) of the light source, PAR being the amount of usable light for plants regardless of the colour. (As an aside this sensor was incredibly easy to use! A little installation of required software drivers and software on the computer and then it just worked. Always to be liked: something that just works.)

And thus to the grow lamp comparison itself… Below are two graphs showing the measured light output, the CFL grow lamp ultimately settled at 69.6 umoles/s versus the uSolaire at 336.5 umoles/s. Quite a large difference and a great outcome for the uSolaire 180!

To note: the initial portion of the data acquisition for the uSolaire 180 was caused by me faffing around with the grow chamber, ensuring the measurement set-up was right, etc. Once completed and the door was closed there’s the obvious step change in light measured. As for the other increases in light measured, no idea. Maybe the unit heating up and increasing in efficiency? Or maybe the light meter changing it’s operating point with the increase in temperature?

In conclusion, a great result – clearly a higher output for the uSolaire 180. The difference in light colour may have had an effect but gut feel is not to the degree measured. A little happy dance was had to see such good results.