Induction Lighting: What It Is and How It Works

By Mark Boutwell
Published: December 1, 2012 | Last updated: July 22, 2022 08:54:06
Key Takeaways

In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla invented induction lighting. After being nearly forgotten for 100 years, this technology (also called the electrodeless lamp) is starting to shed its light on the hydroponics world.

Induction lighting uses an electronic ballast to create a high frequency that generates a small amount of energy. It then sends that energy around in oval shape tube where it slowly reacts with mercury in the tube to create a dangerous ultraviolet light.


Since ultraviolet light is part of the spectrum of light we don’t want, an inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla used a phosphorus compound to change the spectrum of light generated by the initial reaction with the mercury in the tube.

That was more than100 years ago; now, thanks to our advancements in technology, we have become better at fine tuning the levels and quality of phosphorus that alter the ultraviolet light into the spectrum that plants ideally to grow under.


Light generated by induction bulbs is maximized by their unique shape. They do not emit light from one central point; rather, they generate light throughout the tube, making every surface a light source.

This is because the energy reacts with the mercury throughout the entire tube and the entire inner surface of the tube is lined with phosphorus; so, wherever the mercury reactions take place, usable light can be emitted.

A Little History on Induction Grow Lights

Let’s take a second to think about how Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison both solved the same problem. One man uses an enclosed system, with raw materials in harmony, to create a reaction that organically wants to happen when started with a light amount of outside influence (that was Tesla, by the way). The man shoves a large amount of constant energy through a single central point to create the same reaction.


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A Few of the Benefits of Induction Lighting

Fluorescent lighting technology last longer than other lighting sources because there is less moving parts that can break—there are no soldering, tubes or fragile wires, and no worry about oil on your hands. However, the reason why fluorescent bulbs go bad in general is because of the long term consequences of rapidly turning on and off the bulb. When Tesla built his technology, he probably was thinking about quality. So, induction lighting turns on very slowly. This is why it lasts for over a 100,000 hours of burn time. Here are a few other benefits of induction lighting:

  • Highest lumen per watt technology
  • Uses 50 to 70% less energy other bulbs
  • Produces 5 times less heat than other bulbs
  • Uses 80+% less mercury than other bulbs


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Written by Mark Boutwell

Profile Picture of Mark Boutwell
Mark Boutwell II stepped into his first garden when he was about four years old. His father would tell him about how the Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to survive using different farming techniques. When Mark was in a garden, his father would always force him to use their space as effectively as possible. This is the reason why Mark gravitated to indoor gardening as he got older.

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