When you’re setting up an indoor grow environment for your marijuana plants, picking the right grow lights is a crucial decision.
Growing your plants outside, you can rely on the sun to hit your plants’ photosynthetic sweet spot. Inside, you’re responsible for supplying the right wavelengths for healthy growth.
Unlike regular indoor lights, grow lights mimic the spectrum of sunlight. This allows plants to convert light energy to chemical energy with maximum efficiency.
With marijuana plants in particular, your choice of grow lights has a considerable impact on bud production.
When you’re first looking into grow lights, things can easily get confusing. After all, there are many kinds out there. To help you, here’s an overview of the three major types of grow lights – and a run-down on which one is best for your needs.
To start with, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights come with a hood that reflects light. That light is produced by an arc between two electrodes in the large, gas-filled bulb.
HID lights became an indoor growing staple in the 1990s. They are great for growing marijuana. However, a major disadvantage is that they get pretty hot. Some types even have built-in exhausts to vent that heat. Plus, their electricity consumption is also fairly high.
The two most common types of HID lights are metal halide (MH) lights, which contain mercury and metal halides, and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights, which run on sodium, mercury, and xenon.
Next up are CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Lamps. Among growers, these lights are also often called T5s – tubular with a diameter of ⅝ inches.
The big upside of CFL lights is their price. Overall, they are the cheapest option out there, because they require far less electricity than HID lights in the long run. Plus, their spectrum is great for vegetative growth, especially during germination.
However, the major downside of CFLs is that they don’t really meet the light requirements of flowering plants.
Finally, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are the newest solution when it comes to grow lights for marijuana cultivation.
Their biggest plus is that they are super energy-efficient. They also produce far less heat than HID lights. Additionally, they are easy to set up and long-lasting.
However, good LEDs can be fairly expensive. Cheaper knock-offs often don’t supply the right wavelengths for growing weed.
How do you choose?
When choosing the grow light for your marijuana plants, consider both your budget, the constraints of your grow environment, and your realistic needs.
HID lights are the most budget-friendly option in terms of equipment alone, but will cost you more in electricity. Plus, if you have a small grow environment or even a tent, the heat they produce quickly becomes problematic. This means that you might have to invest in extra ventilation.
Consider how many harvests you’ll be growing per year – and when your initial investment will pay off.
Finally, how powerful a light you need also depends on the number of plants you grow. For 6-12 plants (the legal limit for personal use in many US states), one or two lights usually suffice.