Are you new to growing cannabis? Are you a grower with a few years under your belt, but still can’t decide which lighting is best for you and your plants? No matter where you are at your stage of learning about the cannabis industry, having proper lighting effects not only your plant’s growth but their production as well.
There are so many different kinds of light bulbs and lighting systems to choose from; it can be overwhelming and confusing.
Grow lights come in all sorts, shapes, and sizes, from HIP, HPS and LED lights. How do you know which one is right for you and your plants? Well, we’re here to help alleviate some of the guesswork for you. We’ll be discussing the difference between the light bulbs, in addition to the pros and cons of each one.
If you are a person who is just starting to explore the possibility of growing a small garden of cannabis plants, or you’re new to the gardening industry, using fluorescent lights are an excellent place to start. They are available in two styles, the Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or the T5 grow lights. CFLs are the light bulbs you see in the stores that resemble a tight spiral shape. T5 lights are the traditional long lights that are common in business offices and even in your kitchen.
- Sold in local garden centers, home improvement stores, and even your local grocery store.
- They are reasonably priced.
- Provide full light spectrum (red, green, blue, yellow, and white light) for healthy plant growth and production.
- Perfect for small spaces as they can be situated a few inches above your cannabis plants.
- Provides good yields once plants are trained.
- Produce fewer yields per watt compared to other grow lights. This is true, especially in the flowering stage. (LEDs on the other hand, produce up to 4 times the yield per watt).
- The light does not penetrate into the center of the plant. This is why these kinds of lights are good for plants that have been trained.
- Although these lights are generally energy efficient, they are not as efficient as the other grow lights mentioned in this article.
Fluorescent grow lights are an excellent choice if you want to add it to your other grow lights. It’s also good for young plants. It’s best if you don’t use the more intense lights when your plants are young anyway because the lamps can burn them. There go your initial investment and your yield.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights
Now that you’ve got the hang of how to grow your cannabis plants, you’re ready to invest in a more efficient and productive grow light. This is when you may want to think about using High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights. As with the fluorescent lights, they are available in two varieties, the Metal Halide (MH) Grow Light, and the High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) Grow Light. Both grow lights can be purchased in different sizes, depending on the size of your grow room.
- HIDs are a very efficient grow lights because they give you the highest yield per watt. This is especially true of the HPS grow lights.
- Both lights can be used to grow your garden. They can be used together, or individually, although if you use them individually, the HPS lights are best.
- HIDs are also available in small models (150-250 watts) if you have a small garden, but as you add more plants, you can upgrade to the larger HID lights.
- Can easily adjust the height of the fixture as your plants grow.
- HID grow lights run hot, especially the HPSs. This is why they have to have a hood (which reflects the light back onto the plants), and a ballast (which regulates the voltage of your lights).
- Cost a small fortune depending on the system you purchase. Plan to spend a few hundred dollars initially.
- Available only through online retailers instead of in your local stores.
- HIDs are not suitable for small spaces. There is a lot of equipment that you need. We’ve already mentioned the hood and ballast; you will also need a fan and ductwork as well to vent out the heat away from your tender cannabis plants.
Since The MHs only has the blue light spectrum and is used during the vegetative stage of your plants; whereas the HPSs only have the yellow light spectrum and are used during the flowering stage of your plant’s growth. Many gardeners use both kinds of lights to get the most production from their plants. Therefore, HID lights are said to be the “Golden Standard” of the cannabis industry.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
Another grow light that has become very popular with cannabis growers is the Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs. These lighting systems are ideal for the established cannabis gardener and provide abundant yields. They require little set-up and are easy to maintain.
- Run cooler than the HPS lights and are, therefore, energy efficient. They have a cooling system already in the bulbs which keeps them from getting too hot.
- Provide full light spectrum (red, green, blue, yellow, and white light) for good plant growth and production. LEDs also have adjustable features that allow you to choose your lighting needs for your plants.
- Do not need the extra space to vent out the heat and direct it away from your plants.
- No need take time and set them up, simply plug them into the wall outlet, and you’re good to go.
- Produce four times the yield per watt compared to the CFLs.
- Plan to spend up to $1000 on a good LED grow light system. They are not cheap, but you also will not be running to the store every few months or annually to buy light bulbs.
- Need a large grow room, or at least a large area, for this kind of grow light. The LED lights cannot be too close to your garden because the light is very strong even though it does not get very hot.
- Each bulb is a little different in its performance, so allow yourself some time to get used to how they operate and how they affect your plants.
- There are not a set of “standards” that the manufacturers need to adhere to, so do your homework when you are ready to purchase these lights. These lights are not held to a standard which makes it easy for retailers to take advantage of you.
LED grow lights can be a great alternative if you have the money to invest. In the end, though, you will not only save on your energy bill, but you will not have to spend extra money on the bulbs which last up to years.
There are varying opinions regarding which bulb is best for the cannabis plants. Some say the HPS lights are optimal, while other growers will tell you, that the LED’s are the only choice. It all comes down to what you can afford and your growing space. You also need to consider the amount of work you’re willing to put into setting up your grow room correctly and efficiently. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference and what you think will work for you. If the lighting system doesn’t end up working for you, feel free to make some adjustments. Nothing is set in stone, so relax and watch your lush, beautiful cannabis plants continue to grow.