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Your plants need a light cycle to start flowering / fruiting. But to switch a high-power grow light on and off without your supervision, you need a combination of a timer and a contactor or relay.
However, a typical time switch used alone for this hydroponics will die quickly or arc out. This will not become a problem if you choose our time switches by reliable manufacturers. They can offer you peace of mind for their excellent performance, including switching your grow lamp on and off at specific times.
Growers replicate the seasons with lighting solutions on varying time schedules. Many plants will keep growing without flowering / fruiting under longer light periods (18 hours). But if the timing is lowered to only 12 hours, they'll assume that the late summer or the early autumn is coming; thus, it is time that they should start flowering or bearing fruit.
Growers need to control this process for successful hydroponics growing and indoor gardening. Especially if you're using multiple HID lights, you need a contactor. Remember this: Firing several lamps can lead to a surge in an electrical draw that can fuse the pins in the timer. When this happens, your lights will be permanently left on/off, resulting in a potential fire hazard.
Contactors we sell at 420 Grow are designed and built to prevent such issues. They can absorb the surge, ensuring that it won't reach the timer.
In our store, we sell MDF Contactor Boards that give users better control over their fan and lighting controls and help in preventing power surges that would otherwise harm plants.