HIDs have been the standard in indoor weed growing for decades, but LEDs are quickly catching up to them.
Young and mature plants, or vegetative and flowering plants, respectively, like different types of light, and you can buy grow lights that target each spectrum. Commonly, growers using HIDs will use MH bulbs for vegetative plants and HPS bulbs for flowering. Some LEDs are also designed to target different light spectra.
Grow lights allow you to control exactly how much light your plants receive, ensuring they get the same amount of light day after day, without the grower having to solve problems with bad weather or cloudy days that happen in an outdoor environment.
Types of marijuana grow lights
Fixtures come in all shapes and sizes and can usually accommodate 4-12 long fluorescent bulbs; a standard size is 8 bulbs. Fixtures usually have a reflective material to bounce light in one direction, down on your plants.
One of the crucial elements a cannabis plant needs is light. During photosynthesis, a plant converts light energy into chemical energy, allowing it to grow strong and healthy, and with cannabis in particular, light also fuels bud production.
However, because of their low price, if you’re new to indoor growing and not sure how often you’ll do it, you may want to invest in an inexpensive HID light at first to test the water.
You can find lights for under $100, but they may be low quality and not produce the right spectrum of light, and you can also easily spend as much as $2,000 for a large, state-of-the-art LED.
You should also be aware that while LEDs don’t put out as much energy, your plants are still susceptible to light burn. So, like any other lights, make sure that you are keeping your lights a proper distance from your plants and keep plants dry when under direct light.
The main types of cannabis grow lights are HID, or high-intensity discharge, CFL or compact fluorescent lights, and of course, LED or light-emitting diode lights. HID lights were the most commonly used cannabis grow lights when indoor growing first became popular in the 1990s. This was because they produced just the right number of lumens to grow cannabis indoors.
There are many reasons to use LED lights when growing cannabis.
For many, the main reason is that they are relatively inexpensive when compared to the much pricier HID setup. This is especially true if you are growing a smaller number of plants. Our grow lights at A Pot for Pot are specifically designed for growing a small number of marijuana plants and is priced well under $200 – proof that high-quality lighting doesn’t need to be expensive.
Related: Smell-Proofing Your Indoor Marijuana Grow Room
This was not always the case. When LEDs were first gaining momentum among growers, the technology was still fairly new and had not entirely been perfected. Think about how expensive and inconvenient cutting-edge technology like smartphones were when they first came out, and it often wasn’t worth it. For example, many agree that the first-generation iPhone was not the greatest. However, today’s smartphones are much more affordable, and they are everywhere.
With LED cannabis grow lights, this is not the case. Different color LED bulbs give a grower the ability to manipulate the color spectrum, thus allowing you to use the same light setup for both phases of growth. This not only eliminates the need to purchase two different types of lighting setups, but you’re also guaranteed the best results in your plants!
Another thing to consider is how much money LED cannabis grow lights will save you on your energy bill. HID lights are good at what they do, but the amount of energy they use will cause your energy bills to skyrocket. This not only hurts your pocketbook, but it can also draw unwanted attention in your direction either by a landlord, a nosy neighbor, and/or the police. When people had to keep their marijuana growing activities under wraps, spiking electricity bills often gave them away. While cannabis is legal in more areas now, this does not necessarily mean that you want the whole neighborhood knowing what you are up to.
Growing Cannabis Using LED Lights
If there is one drawback of using LED grow lights, it is that your plants’ grow time will be slower than if you were using HID lights. Again, this is because HIDs emit more energy than LEDs, leading to faster flowering.
Even if you’d like to grow more than a few plants, you don’t have to go for the more expensive HID lights. Simply add to your setup with either a few larger LED bulbs or several of the smaller ones. If you opt to go for the latter option, make sure that your plants and your lights are spaced out correctly, as you want to make sure that each plant gets adequate amounts of light. Using too few lights can cause stretching, whereas using too many lights leaves you at the risk of light burn, as well as energy overconsumption.
Grow Space: Up to 6′ x 6′ in the vegetative stage. Between 4′ x 4′ to 4.5′ x 4.5′ in the flowering stage.
How Far to Keep from Plants: 32″ is the recommended starting distance from the plants.
Grow Space: 2.5×2.5’ coverage at 24” (suitable for vegetative stage) and 2×2’ coverage at 18” (suitable for flowering stage)
These grow lights use huge COB (Chip on Board) LED “bulbs”. Each COB is incredibly bright and intense because they contain multiple LED chips in a small area. COBs produce more intense light than other types of LEDs, and each COB uses a significant amount of electricity. Cree is most popular brand of COBs.
pic by Joe “Nunyabiz” Nunya, an avid LED grower who uses ViparSpectra LED
LEDs give off less heat than a CFL setup with the same amount of electricity, and LEDs also come with additional cooling options like heatsinks and sometimes even built-in fans, which pushes all the heat up and away from the plants, making it easier for growers to maintain comfortable temperatures.
LED grow lights need to be used properly to get the results, but if you know what to expect they pay you back with built-in cooling that allows a grower to hang their lights directly over their plants without worrying about fans, ducting or ballasts. They are easy on the electricity bill and don’t cause a lot of heat problems.