There are a few options for selecting grow lights for cannabis. You’ve got your LEDs, your fluorescents, and your HIDs. Each has their own respective pros and cons, but with all of the new research as of late, it’s looking like LED lights are quickly becoming the go-to light for professional and wholesale cannabis growers. LED lights have been proven to provide a higher yield for flowering cannabis plants because you can fully customize your spectrum. LEDs are also great because they’re more cost and space efficient, and they can produce cannabis flowers of higher quality. They also run a lot cooler than HID lights, so you won’t have to worry too much about burning your plants.
LED lights are pretty new on the commercial marijuana scene, but they’ve proven to be worth their weight in gold when compared with CFLs and HIDs. Unlike the other options, LED lights can produce exceptional yields without burning a hole in your wallet. They also keep very cool, and don’t use too much electricity, making them a popular choice. Saving money is the name of the game if you want to turn a profit on commercial weed. However, they’re fantastic for the home-grower too, because running these lights is a lot easier on home wiring and can save you a lot of money on your initial set up, considering that a bulb for a HPS hood light will run you at about $60 for one high quality bulb, not including the actual hood.
LED lights have been proven to produce amazing yields as well due largely to the fact that you can customize your spectrum at any time, allowing you to give your plants what they want whenever they want it. If you’ve got an average grow going with a quality LED light system, you can expect to yield about a half gram per watt, meaning that if you’re running a 200 watt LED light, you can expect to yield about 3.5 ounces. Of course, every plant is different, but with LED’s in A/B tests, LED lights outperform HPS lights. In one case, Endive grew an Eldorado plant with half the plant under HPS lights and the other half under LEDs. The LED side of the plant was heavier with flower as well as more colorful and fragrant.
LEDs have significantly improved over the past 5 years. A lot of research went into developing LEDs that can produce a better spectrum that isn’t just red or blue, resulting in greener, healthier, more colorful and more fragrant colas. Newer lights have even been developed to include lenses that can penetrate the plant more efficiently, allowing for a better yield with the same amount of light and space.
If you want to use a cutting edge, state of the art light system in your grow, you should choose LEDs. You should also choose LEDs if you have a bit of extra money to spend on your grow operation, quality of your bud is more important to you than initial yield, or if you don’t have the space for an intricate HPS system with ducting and exhaust fans.
But what about my other options? Are LEDs really superior to both CFLs and HID lights? It depends. Not everyone has the same amount of resources available to them to choose one light over the other. Maybe you don’t have enough space or start up money. Either way, we’ll give you a break down on LEDs versus their competition. LEDs have their own set of pros and cons as well, but when you really break it down, LED lights are the best lights for growing weed if you have the resources available.
LEDs vs. CFLs
In case you are confused by the abbreviation, CFLs 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. CFLs are a good choice because they’re so cheap to run and they grow plants just fine. The only issue is that the spectrum isn’t much. CFLs do beat LEDs in one category, though. CFLs stay so cool that they can be used in small spaces. Your plants can basically touch CFLs and not burn, whereas you need to provide plenty of space for LEDs because they are a bit warmer.
However, when it comes to CFLs or LEDs, LEDs take the cake!
- LEDs get much better yields for the same wattage when compared to CFLs because LED lights provide a better spectrum to flowering plants. Basically, for the same amount of electricity, LEDs will produce more bud during your grow.
- CFLs also need to be readjusted on a daily basis because the light distribution needs to change as the plants grow, unlike LEDs, which sit in a panel.
- LED lights also give off way less heat that CFLs with the same wattage. Some of the fancier models come with built in heatsinks and built in fans which allow plants to keep their ambient temperatures without much additional hardware.
- On the other hand though, LEDs need to be kept at least 12-18 inches away from the tops of the plants at all times, making CFLs a better choice if you don’t have the space.
LEDs vs. HIDs
We’ve been talking about HIDs a lot as well, but essentially we’re talking about two of the three main types of HID lights: HPS and MH lights:
Metal Halide (MH): Typically used during the veg stage since the bulb produces a blue-ish 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.
The cool thing about LEDs and these HIDs is that they can both be combined. A lot of growers lately have been using both lights to provide a full spectrum to their plants and produce even higher quality yields. However, for most, this isn’t possible. Here are the differences between LEDs and HIDs:
- Unlike HIDs that need an intricate system, you can plug LEDs into any wall without a ballast and they will run just fine without being too hard on your wiring.
- Most growers believe that LEDs produce more colorful plants with higher quality buds, including more trichomes, a higher potency, and a better taste and smell than HIDs can.
- LEDs don’t get nearly as hot as HID lights, meaning that you won’t need an intricate cooling and exhaust system to keep your grow room and lights nice and cool.
- However, LEDs can be pricey, but this isn’t always the case. LEDs will pay for themselves in the long run when you compare the cost to run them to the cost to run HID lights and the system it requires to keep it cool. In fact, some of the best-LED brands are the cheapest.
- HPS lights beat LED lights in regards to yield/watt every time. Even though LED lights are catching up and constantly improving, HPS lights can still give you a better yield when you look at the wattage being used.