LED 101:Why LED Is The Best Grow Lights For Cannabis

led grow lights vs hps

Light Emitting Diode (”LED”)  is a relatively, modern technology that is more versatile, efficient and also less costly than either incandescent, CFL, or HID bulbs. It works by way of an electrical current going through a microchip, which results in light. Also, with this technology, the heat produced by the LED lights are absorbed into a “Heat Sink,” which in turn results in less heat being released into your room.  

What Are The Best Lights For Growing Weed?

They cost more. So, you could be asking yourself if the extra cost is worth it or not? And are LED lights the best lights for growing weed? That’s a good question, and to quickly answer your question: " If you are going to either commercially grow marijuana or if you are wanting to get the best yield for your cannabis crop. Yes, LED lights are the best lights for growing weed."   I’m sure you’re wondering why.  So, I will go over the advantages of LEDs over incandescent, HID, and CFL technology  in growing cannabis and prove to you why LED is the best for growing cannabis.

led grow lights vs hps
  • Save Money: They initially do cost more. However, in the long run, you'll save money when growing marijuana. First of all, on average, they use at least 75% less energy than the alternatives. This is good, because flowering plants, like cannabis, need a lot of energy when growing. As a result, this 75% less energy consumption could mean substantial savings by switching to LED. Additionally, the best LED bulbs last up to 25 times longer than other bulbs, and they have been known to last up to 11 years of continuous use.
  • Cooler: LED bulbs do get hot; however, a heat sink absorbs the heat, which results in less heat being released, which is is good for the following reasons: A.) Plant Quality-if it gets too hot your cannabis yield will be lessened, and your plants may even burn, which is obviously not good! B.) Efficiency-The more heat you have the less illumination you’ll have. C.) Savings- For best results, your room temperature should be between 70 to 85 degrees for cannabis. However, incandescent and halogen are illuminated through heat, which in turn results up to 90% of the energy generating heat instead of getting more brighter.  As a result, of the extra heat being generated, your cannabis grow space will need additional cooling. LED though as it creates little heat, may not even need any further cooling to get your grow area at the best temperature.
  • Energy Efficiency: LED technology, compared to CFL or incandescent, is 80% more energy efficient. I’ll attempt to not get too geeky for you; but, LED light beams, by design, are focused in a specific direction, which results in fewer diffusers and reflectors being needed and ultimately less energy is used when growing marijuana and other plants. On the other hand, with CFL and incandescent bulbs, light is spread out in all directions, which results in heat being released in every direction and light being lost. The only way to fix this issue with CFL is to buy a reflector,  which will make the CFL bulb focus better. However, even with a reflector, LED still uses less energy and as a result is best for growing cannabis. 
  • Eco-Friendly: They do not contain any hazardous materials, unlike CFL, which is known to carry the dangerous substance mercury. Also, LED bulbs are 100% recyclable.
  • Durability:  Because of its durability, LED bulbs are also known as "Solid State Lighting." The reason for its durability is because LED bulbs use a semiconductor instead of the neon or filament which, results in them being better able to take more abuse than either incandescent  or neon bulbs.
  • No Wait Time: Fluorescent and HID bulbs, after they are turned on, takes  a while to reach full brightness. In fact, it can take up to three minutes for fluorescent and HID bulbs to reach their maximum brightness. In contrast, LED bulbs don't have a warm-up period as all you have to do is turn them on and they'll be at 100% brightness.
  • Control: They can be dimmed, and turned different color, which is definitely helpful when you are going through the different growing stages with your cannabis. 
  • Full Spectrum:  They mimic the full range (spectrum)  that is needed for growing weed and other plants. 
  • On and Off:  Frequently turning them on or off will not affect its life or brightness.

Lumens Vs. Watts

Lumens

LED bulbs are classified by their overall brightness. This measurement of brightness is called lumens. The more lumens you have, the brighter it will be.
Lumens Chart

Watts


Watts measure the amount of energy that is needed to power a light source. LED is not necessarily brighter than CFL or incandescent bulbs. But, CFL lights will use more energy to be just as bright as a LED bulb.

For your reference, I’ve included the following chart to the side and a table below, which can help you convert watts to lumens.

Watts

(Incandescent)

Lumens

100

1,600

75

1,100

60

800

40

450

LED Grow Lights Vs. HID Grow Lights

HID bulbs (HPS and MH) are categorized by the type of gas the is used to make them bright. High-Pressure Sodium (”HPS”) and Metal Halide (”MH”), which produce different colors, are the two most common types of HID bulbs. HPS and MH each produce different colors of the visual light spectrum. So, for best results when growing cannabis you will need to change your lights from HPS to MH  as you approach each marijuana plants growth cycles. Historically, HID and MH bulbs were significantly cheaper than LED bulbs. However, LED bulbs are now less expensive than ever; as a result, there is no real advantage to choosing HID bulbs instead of LED.

The only reasons to choose HPS or MH over LED  is if you need to save money or If, you already have an HPS grow light system that works well for you, when growing marijuana, and you don't want to worry about learning new technology.

 Personally, I agree that it could be a mistake to suddenly switch to LED as LED does have a slight learning curve. However, you should  gradually test out LED lighting for your cannabis and then slowly make the transition into fully using LED technology.

Advantages Of LED Over MH and HID

  • Energy Savings:  LED uses up to 60% less energy than HPS or MH, which results in an added benefit of less heat being released.   This  means that you are less likely to need added air conditioning or venting to cool off your grow room than when using HID or MH for growing cannabis.
  • Full Spectrum: LED is a one size fits all as supplemental lighting is not needed if you are using good full spectrum LED bulbs.  So, you will not need to change multiple bulbs as your marijuana plants grow from seedlings to flower.
  • Less Equipment:  Unlike LED, HPS, and MH require added equipment like a ballast, (Ballast is used to regulate voltage) and a regulator Also, LED lasts up to 100 times more than HPS bulbs.
  • HPS Is Harder to Operate:  Well made full spectrum LED light bulbs do not require you to use different bulbs for the various cannabis growth stages. However, with HID, to get the maximum yield for your marijuana plants, and to save on energy costs, you'll need to switch light bulbs as you reach the vegetative and flowering plant growth stages. Changing  bulbs,  is not a big deal if you have a few cannabis plants.  However, changing your bulbs is quite a chore when growing more than a few marijuana plants.