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Few questions since all the marketing ploys have gotten me confused. I was hoping someone may have done some tests or have data to back it up.

1. Reflectors: how much more par does an excellent reflector give you vs a decent one? All are advertising 95% reflective, so what's the difference? Is this just a branding thing?

2. Bulbs: are the brand name bulbs really better than the $7 bulk bulbs? What line of gains do you get for the high end bulbs, given two have the same stated color temperature?

3. Bulbs(2): does anyone have the par performance per color temperature reference? Is there really a drastic difference between 6500k, 6000k, acitnic(sp?), colormax, etc?

4. Bulbs(3): what about pure spectrum bulbs? I've seen some pure reds or pure blues advertised. Would a mix of these be better plant bulbs even if they are a little dim?
 

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Few questions since all the marketing ploys have gotten me confused. I was hoping someone may have done some tests or have data to back it up.

1. Reflectors: how much more par does an excellent reflector give you vs a decent one? All are advertising 95% reflective, so what's the difference? Is this just a branding thing?
The shape of the reflector is the most important thing. If you can look at the bulbs and see an image of each bulb on each side of the real bulb you get at least twice as much light from the bulb. Still better reflectors show 2 reflections of each bulb on each side of the real bulb, and can give up to 3 times as much light from each bulb.
2. Bulbs: are the brand name bulbs really better than the $7 bulk bulbs? What line of gains do you get for the high end bulbs, given two have the same stated color temperature?

3. Bulbs(2): does anyone have the par performance per color temperature reference? Is there really a drastic difference between 6500k, 6000k, acitnic(sp?), colormax, etc?
I have never seen any data like this. I believe that any color temperature between about 5500K and 10,000K will give similar PAR readings. Actinic bulbs can give various PAR readings since there is no standard spectrum for those bulbs. Colormax bulbs should give about the same PAR as 5500-10,000K bulbs.
4. Bulbs(3): what about pure spectrum bulbs? I've seen some pure reds or pure blues advertised. Would a mix of these be better plant bulbs even if they are a little dim?
Fluorescent bulbs do not come in "pure spectrum"s, because of the way they work - they all use phosphor coatings on the inside of the tube to convert the UV radiation from the glow discharge in the bulb to a visible light, but those phosphors radiate at discrete wavelengths, so 2 or more phosphors are needed to give something approaching white light. Trying to use anything but "white" bulbs would be difficult to make look good.
 

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4. Bulbs(3): what about pure spectrum bulbs? I've seen some pure reds or pure blues advertised. Would a mix of these be better plant bulbs even if they are a little dim?
Hoppy got everything else really well. I'll add my bit to this one.
Ads for red and blue fluorescent tubes are about growing pot plants. The concept is that one color tube produces better plant growth and the other produces better bud growth. Apparently buds are the important part these days. I haven't watched Weed's since season two so I really don't know.

The 'red' bulbs/tubes/lamps tend to the red side of the visible spectrum while the blue tend toward the blue side of the visible spectrum. They aren't just red or just blue.

As a side note, your local hydroponics store sells T5HO strips and reflectors for them that can be great tank lights - at usually very good prices. They also sell air pumps and substrate materials that can be useful.
 
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