A Look a the Best Grow Lights For Cannabis
Lighting is one of the most important factors when growing cannabis indoors, so ensuring you have the best type of grow light to suit your needs is paramount. Here are the pros and cons of each type.
When it comes to growing cannabis, nothing quite beats the sun as a source of light. However, it hasn’t stopped us from trying, and there are now some pretty awesome grow lights available on the market. In order to delve a little deeper into the huge range available, we have taken a quick look at the various types of cannabis grow lights, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Short for Compact Fluorescent Light, this is a type of regular household bulb you can pick up from most DIY shops. CFL lights are not exactly powerful, but they do tend to have a full spectrum of light, making them well suited for growing small plants and seedlings – which may come as a surprise to some growers.
Cheap to Buy and Maintain – The low cost can make them an excellent choice for someone wanting to give cannabis growing a go, without investing loads in some serious lights. Also, as they are normal bulbs, they won’t push up your electricity bill by much.
Great for Small Spaces – CFL bulbs do not put out a lot of heat, making them great for micro grows, small tents, and any other place where complete stealth or space are an issue.
Great as Supplementary Light – Should you start with CFLs then decide to upgrade to larger lights, you can still use your CFLs to supplement and boost the light output of your grow room. They can also be great for using on seedlings.
Weak – Of all the lights you can use to grow cannabis, CFLs are the weakest. As a result, they tend to produce small plants with humble yields. However, if you are conducting a micro grow, you won’t want your cannabis getting big.
Not Very Efficient – Linking in with the last point, CFL lights are the least efficient in terms of electricity used/quality of light produced.
Basically, if you have no money and only want to grow one or two small plants, then CFLs are the way to go, otherwise, think about getting something else.
HID LIGHTS (HPS/MH)
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights come in two forms, HPS and MH (High-Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide, respectively). These are specifically designed to grow plants of all kinds indoors – and cannabis thrives under them. They are seen as the golden standard for growing weed, and the go-to light for the great majority of cultivators. HPS tends to be more popular than MH.
Built for The Job – HID lights are powerful, allowing the grower to cultivate some very big plants.
Tried and Tested – HID lights have been used for decades and are proven to work well. As mentioned, this has led to them being the favourite type of light for most growers.
Very Efficient – Although HID lights use a lot of electricity, they use it very efficiently, outputting some seriously strong light for your cannabis.
Easy to Maintain – As long as you take heat into consideration, HID lights are very easy to maintain, and can often be left alone once set up.
Big Yields – Of all the grow light types, HID lights are currently the leaders when it comes to the biggest potential for yields.
Expensive – both in initial cost and running cost, HID lights can end up costing a grower a lot of cash.
Less Discreet – Firstly, HID lights are bright. As such, light leakage can be a concern, especially at night. Secondly, as HID lights use a ton of electricity, your electric company may find the amount of electricity you are using suspicious and report it (depending on where you live). For most hobby growers with a single bulb or two, this shouldn’t be much of a concern – but it is something to bear in mind.
Heat – As HID lights are so powerful, they can often get very hot, especially in smaller grow rooms. As such, they often need to be linked up into the ventilation system to help keep them cool. Otherwise they can scorch your cannabis, or worse, be a fire hazard.
Requires Special Equipment – HID lights cannot be plugged directly into a normal bulb socket. They require a special ballast and hood.
Despite the drawbacks of HID lighting, the sheer raw power and potential they create for your cannabis tend to outweigh any downfall for most growers. For someone who is a regular hobby grower, this is the kind of light they will likely go for.
LED GROW LIGHTS
LED grow lights are a strange one. Compared to the other types of lights, they are fairly new to the market. Unfortunately, they had a bit of a shaky start, with no real industry standard to ensure quality, which led to some bad results and reviews. However, with the march of time and advance of technology, they have slowly improved and begun to repair the damage initially caused to their reputation. There are now many well-established and high-quality LED grow light manufacturers, all producing some very powerful and promising LED products.
Better Quality Bud – Many believe that bud grown under a decent LED light is far superior in flavour and potency than any other type of grow light. The qualities and spectrums of some of the good LEDs can really push cannabis to the limits, and even result in hash tips – not something you will ever get with any other kind of light!
Minimal Heat – LEDs are now at the point where they can put out a comparable power to HID lights, but with minimal heat. Like for like, they are not quite at the same level of power, but considering the vast reduction in heat, some feel the slight reduction in power is worth the cost. LED grow lights rarely affect the temperature of the grow room; that’s how cool they operate.
Super-Efficient – Just like the above point, while not quite able to match HIDs like for like, LEDs are so efficient that they can get close in power, but at a fraction of the electricity usage, keeping bills down and suspicious electricity companies off your back.
Easy to Set Up – LED grow lights can plug directly into the power mains, meaning they don’t require any additional special equipment.
Continue to Improve – LED technology as a whole continues to improve month by month. As such LED grow lights are becoming more efficient and more powerful with each passing model.
Expensive to Initially Buy – Although cheap to run, LED grow lights are normally the most expensive type of light to buy.
Still Somewhat Untested – Compared to HID and CFL Lights, LED grow lights are still relatively untested. Inconsistencies in quality from brand to brand, and the new nature of the technology makes them hard to trust for many growers.
No Industry Standard – Linking into the above point, there doesn’t seem to be an industry standard that needs to be met to ensure quality. This is not the case for HID and CFL lights that all have to meet strict guidelines.
Bleaching – although uncommon, poor quality LED grow lights can cause cannabis plants to bleach, especially if put super close to them.
Not as Powerful as HIDs – as mentioned, LED grow lights don’t seem to be able to output the same power as their HID equivalent, resulting in smaller yields.
On the whole, the LED grow light market is looking very promising, but it still has a way to go. They could be the future, but for now, they tend to be the preserve of the grower who likes to experiment, likes embracing technological advancement, or has a lot of money. Saying this, the reduction in heat and energy use should make them very appealing to anyone who finds these issues concerning – and for the relatively small drop in power, it is probably worth it for some.
So there you have it. Of all the grow lights out there, these are the main three categories. Depending on your needs, you should hopefully now have an idea of what is best for you and your cannabis. Happy growing!