The Different Types of Grow Lights for a Stellar Cannabis Crop

different types of grow lights

If you live in one of the legal states, you’ve probably been curious a time or two about growing your own weed. Many people are often turned off by all the intricacies that go into growing a good cannabis crop, though, because there’s a lot that goes into it. If you think about it, indoor grows are kind of unnatural. The number of different types of grow lights, alone, can make your head spin. You really have to do a lot to get a good yield and happy plants, and for some, this is not financially possible, or they don’t have enough time or space.

Before I was a regular smoker, I had a cannabis crop growing in my apartment because it seemed like a fun thing for me to do. I’ve always loved gardening, and it felt like a when-in-rome type of deal, so I germinated some seeds and I started to do some research. I spent so many hours researching hydroponics versus soil grows, nutrient and water requirements, and of course, indoor lights. There are tons of things that go into growing a successful indoor cannabis crop. Let me tell you though that nothing will ever beat the power of the sun for big beautiful bushy plants. There are, however, a few types of lights that come close.

Types of Lights

There are three main types of marijuana grow lights, and the best light for growing weed really comes down to your time, space, budget, and energy needs. There are a lot of little details you must consider, especially the grow laws in your state, so before you make any decisions, be sure you know your marijuana cultivations laws inside and out. If you don’t own your home, you must also check with your landlord or property manager to make sure it’s okay to grow cannabis indoors, since some of these lights can be really hard on house wiring, and nobody wants to get evicted over a plant. Just something to keep in mind.

That being said, there are three main types of cannabis grow lights. Each type of light comes with its own list of pros and cons, and it’s up to you and your individual needs to determine which lights will work the best for you. The three types are fluorescents, LEDs, and High-Intensity Discharge lights (HID)


  • CFLs (Compact fluorescent lights): These are the energy efficient bulbs you probably use in the lamps or light fixtures at home. They’re the twisty shaped ones, and they stay relatively cool. They’re great for veg rooms for this reason. They also last for a much longer time than regular bulbs, and they’re a lot more energy efficient, meaning they’ll save you some money and won’t be too hard on your house’s wiring.
  • T5 Lights and other tubes: You can find these puppies at almost every garden supply store. They’re super cheap and energy efficient, the light spectrum is great for vegging plants, and they’re nice and compact if you don’t have much space. These are the long, tube lights that usually come in a panel. They come in various sizes so they can fit in just about any closet or compact space. They are also good because they stay cool enough that your plants won’t burn unless they’re physically touching the bulbs. Great for tall gangly Sativa plants.


  • Metal Halide (MH): Typically used during the veg stage since the bulb produces a blueish light that baby weed plants crave. All HIDs get hot, so ventilation is a must and if space is a concern these may not be right for you. Typically an in-line fan or an air conditioner is needed. You must also keep your plants pruned and trimmed back because if they get too close to the light they will get burned.
  • High-Pressure Sodium (HPS): Perfect for the flowering stage since the yellow light reminds the plants of the autumn sun and really jump starts their flower production. These lights are energy hogs, but the amount of bud they produce vs the wattage is always worth it. You’ll want to pick up a few ballasts and an in-line fan or air conditioner because these bad boys get very warm as well. You’ll want to trim your plants so they grow out instead of up.
  • Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH): A weird MH light, CMH lights use ceramic as the main part of the light bulb like an HPS light. They are more efficient than MH lights but not as efficient as HPS lights, and they also get hot. You will definitely need a couple fans or an air conditioning unit to keep the room cool, and again, you must keep your plants trimmed and prevent them from growing too close to the fixture.


  • LEDs are an alternative to HPS lights since they’re smaller, run much cooler, and are easier to set up. They can also be used throughout the life cycle of the cannabis plants because you have the power to pick the spectrum for your plants at any stage of the lifecycle. For example, vegging cannabis plants like cooler blueish lights while flowering plants prefer golden autumn rays.
  • LEDs are great for small spaces, as they can be just as compact as most fluorescent fixtures. In the long run, they may cost a little bit more to run daily, but the plants won’t suffer from heat damage, and that’s something to consider if you can’t monitor your plants constantly.
  • It’s a rumor in the industry that really sticky bud is grown with LEDs.

The Best Lights for Growing Weed:

As long as your plants are getting the right light spectrum at the right stage of their life, you can’t really go wrong. It really just boils own to your time, ability, and space. There have been some very successful grows in the industry lately where they used both LEDs and HPS lights at the same time to give the plants the full light spectrum. These grows have produced record amounts of really beautiful flower, but further study is still needed to prove or disprove this theory.

Despite popular opinion, you can grow marijuana with fluorescent lights from beginning to end. They will grow just as well, but your yield will suffer a small bit.

The type of marijuana grow light you choose actually matters very little compared to how much light you’re giving the plants at each growth cycle stage. Like I said, nothing beats the sun, but you can’t grow at all without some sort of light.

My Opinion

  1. These are the best fluorescents since the warranty is great, and even with constant use for months at a time, the ballast doesn’t go bad. After over a year of punishment, the ballast in my 48″ started to go bad, and they repaired it free of charge at Grow Warehouse.
  2. These are the best HID lights. IF your bulb breaks, they will replace it. It’s lasted me a very long time.
  3. These are the best LED lights. I haven’t used them personally, but I’ve heard great things!

Phew, that’s a lot of information to digest! There are so many options out there for marijuana grow lights, and it can be scary to dive into it without doing your research. Your light cycle matters just as much as your spectrum, and really, any light will produce beautiful flowers that you got to grow yourself. That’s something to be proud of, no matter what situation you may be in financially!