Mylar, Foil, Foylon and Reflective Hydroponic Surfaces
Light not reaching your plants is wasted light. In a hydroponics setup- light is money.
A reflective surface in a hydroponic grow room optimizes the use of available light and decreases the need for expensive lighting, making it highly cost effective. The correct reflective surface can increase the amount of light plants receive by up to 30%.
Choosing the right reflective material is vital to the success of your harvest.
Hydroponic lights are placed above the plants, just as the sunlight is above them in nature. Reflective surfaces, when properly placed help to provide light and heat to all portions of the plants.
Mylar is a highly reflective polyester film available in varying thickness, generally 1 and 2 mm thicknesses. The thicker the mylar the more durable it will be. Thinner mylar will naturally tear more easily.
Maintenance , such as basic cleaning will frequently damage or destroy 1mm mylar. Mylar reflects up to 97% of available light when it is un-creased or torn. It is the most cost effective in the short run.
C3 is comparable to 2mm thick mylar, the difference is that it is also 90% infrared proof. The infrared proof attribute is favored by those growing controlled substances, who wish to avoid detection via IR scanning.
Mylar and its cousins Foylon and C3 can be attached to walls with Velcro, which reduces the risk of tearing, creasing or bending when taking it down for cleaning.
It needs to be flush with the walls to avoid air pockets which can create hot spots as well as harbor fungus and mildew. The thinner 1mm thick mylar stands a fair chance of being creased or ripped in the process when Velcro is used to attach to the walls.
Adequate ventilation is essential if mylar or its cousin foylon is being used in your grow room. Hot spots , or excessive moisture will cause discoloration and hence reduced reflectivity. Moist spots and condensation from excessive moisture will also cause damage to the reflective surfaces, both temporarily reducing the reflective quality as well as more permanent damage.
Related Article - Hydroponic Ventilation
Panda Film is another highly reflective and cost effective alternative to mylar. Although it is not as reflective, it is somewhat comparable. It is black on one side ,white on the other and about 6 mils thick. It needs to be replaced every other year as it becomes brittle.
The white side reflects light back into the foliage of crops. The black under layer stops light reaching the soil in a greenhouse scenario , in hydroponics - with no soil it helps to prevent algae growth, which is a problem in some grow rooms. Related Article - Algae Buildup in Hydroponics
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