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2021- Edition-Guide To Buying The Best CFL Grow Light

Why You Might Consider Growing Weed With CFL

Compact fluorescent lights (“CFL”) are easily recognized by their spiral, curly design, which results in them being more compact than regular fluorescent tubes.

The CFL bulb though is not as popular as it used to be as other newer, and more versatile grow light technology, has become more popular, and frankly, other lighting tech does work better.

However, growing cannabis with CFLs does have a purpose and it can be the right choice for many individuals. Therefore, I felt it would be important for me to give you an overview of the CFL light bulb and you can then make the decision on if the CFL is for you or not.

Is LED Better Than CFL For Growing?

Amazon Basics 100W Equivalent, Daylight, Non-Dimmable, 10,000 Hour Lifetime, A19 LED Light Bulb | 2-Pack

LED Vs. CFL Grow Lights

The simple answer to this question is yes. LED grow lights are better than CLF. However, a CFL grow set up under the right situation, can be an acceptable and even better choice for some cannabis growers. For example, growing with CFL is perfectly fine under the following situations:

  • Beginner CFL Grow light Setup-Because of minimal equipment needed, CFL works well for newbie cannabis growers who want to keep their costs to a minimum.
  • Small Operation-CFL grow lights work well if you are only wanting to grow one or two marijuana plants.
  • Small Growing Space-The CFL light is a compact alternative to bulky, traditional fluorescent tubes, that can fit in perfectly in tight places.

CFL Cannabis Grow Lights For Growing Marijuana

Pros and Cons (In Comparison To Incandescent )

PROS

  • Cost-They may initially cost more than incandescent bulbs. However, they can last up to ten times longer than the 1,000 hours average lifespan of an incandescent bulb. (Last up to 10,000 hours)
  • Energy Savings-On average, with CFLs, you will use 75% less energy than with traditional, incandescent lighting.
  • Less Equipment May Be Needed-CFL lights do not run hot. Therefore, depending upon the size of your grow area and the overall grow room environment, you may not even need a cooling setup.
  • Easy To Set Up-You don’t need any special equipment to use CFLs as, for many bulbs, all you have to do is simply plug the light into a traditional light socket. This is different than growing with T5 light that require a separate ballast. (Ballasts regulate voltage in regular fluorescent bulbs and also HID lights) For CFLs, the ballast is included in the bulb.
  • Beginner Friendly-Great way to learn how to grow weed as CFLs work well for growing just one to two marijuana plants.
  • Compact-CFL light bulbs do not burn as hot as incandescent bulbs. This means they can be placed closer to the cannabis plant, which is especially valuable for growers with limited space. I.E., CFL Closet Grow Setup or for the guerilla marijuan grower.
  • CFL Yield-By hydroponically growing weed with CFL you can realistically expect from one to three ounces of marijuana. (The exact yield depends upon the strain, size of the marijuana plant, etc.)
  • Versatile -A CFL bulb can still be used for the vegging plant life cycle if you decide to switch over to LED grow lights.
  • Environmentally Friendly-CFLs use around 75% less energy than incandescent light fixtures.

Studies have shown that the US consumer changing just one incandescent light bulb to a CFL bulb could save enough energy to power three million homes.

  • Works Well With AutoFlowering Cannabis Seeds-As they do not emit that much heat work well with autoflower seeds.

Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds-Are feminized seeds that produce plants that automatically flower (hence, the name) after two to four weeks. They take less time to grow and are perfect for the newbie grower.

CONS

Hazardous Material-CFLs contain the toxic substance mercury, which means you need to be extra careful when disposing of them and also be sure to thoroughly clean them up if they are broken.

Dimmer Switches-If you desire dimming, you will have to buy special, and more expensive, dimmable CFL bulbs.

Supplemental Lighting– A few growers state that the CFL lightbulb only works well as a supplemental light as they do not have enough light intensity to be the primary grow light.

Colored Bulbs-CFL lights tend to be limited in color choices.

Labor Intensive-To prevent your plants from burning you will need to adjust your lights two times a week and need to keep your plants short. The above is not an issue if you only have two or three plants. However, if you have more than that, it can be quite a chore.


Miscellaneous Problems That Will Likely Not Matter Much To Growers-Below, are a few problems that should not be a big issue for a cannabis grower.

  • Running At Full Speed-At around 30 seconds to three minutes, CFLs can take a long time to fully warm up. However, as you will turn your lights on and off minimally, this should not be a major issue.
  • Health Concerns-For most indoor gardeners, light exposure hazards from CFLs, especially if you use a grow tent , are minimal. The following complaints though would mainly pertain to people who use CFL lighting for household purposes that result in hours of exposure: Migraines, Anxiety, Tiredness, Seizures, and ADHD-like symptoms.

Best CFL Grow Light Bulb Review

Now, that you have an overview of the pros and cons of CFL bulbs I felt it would be helpful to review a few of the more popular CF bulbs that are often used for growing marijuana.

Philips T2 Spiral CFL Light

Philips CFL T2 Twister-4-Pack
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  • Listed Wattage: Varies (See Listing)
  • Lumens-1,600
  • Color Options-2700K, 5000K
  • Size -4.13″ x 2.28″ x 2.28″/3.8″ x 2″ x 2″
  • Weight : 14.4 Oz-(2700K), 16 Oz-(5000K)
  • How Many? 4 to 6 Pack
  • Energy Star Certified? Yes
  • Lifespan :
  • Warranty-Limited 9 to 11-Year Warranty (Based Upon 3-Hours A Day Use)
  • Plant Growth Stage-Flowering/ Vegetative

PROS

  • Heavily Vetted-Over 1,700 reviews.
  • Ratings- Phillip’s CFLs have an excellent overall rating for energy efficiency, brightness, longevity, value, and more.
  • Grow Light Use-18 comprehensive reviews that specifically mention the Phillips being purchased for as a grow light.

CONS

  • Longevity-A few complaints mentioning of a few bulbs died prematurely.
  • Packaging Issues- A few customers complained about receiving a broken bulb in the mail.

Conclusion

Phillips grow light bulbs are very popular on Amazon. Also, only a few reviews mentioned bulbs burning out prematurely and/or that the bulbs were broken when received in the mail. I feel these complaints though, are flukes and are not overall indicators of the quality of Philips CFls.

The reason for my above assertion is that Phillips CFLs have a very high overall rating for longevity and packaging. Because of these high ratings, I am confident that the issue of the CFLs dying out too soon or sub-standard packaging is not a trend, and you should feel confident buying them.

In conclusion, based upon the overwhelmingly positive and thousands of reviews, you cannot go wrong buying Phillips CFL bulbs.

Sylvania

CFL 2700K-Pack of 3

SYLVANIA T2-2700K, CFL
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  • Listed Wattage: 20Watts
  • Lumens: 1,300
  • Size: Overall length is 4″
  • Color Options: 2700K
  • Weight: 8.8 oz
  • How Many? 3 Pack
  • Energy Star Certified: Yes
  • Lifespan:10,000 hours
  • Warranty:
  • What Plant Stage: Flowering

PROS

  • Compact-Praised for being micro-size.
  • Good Reviews-Overall positive reviews with over 70% perfect reviews.
  • Flowering Stage-2700K for flowering works well

CONS

  • Minimal Reviews-There is only 100+ reviews. (I.E., Phillips CFL has over 1,700 reviews) Therefore, it is hard to evaluate any positive quality trends for the Sylvania, CFLs. Additionally, due to the lack of reviews, Amazon does not have overall ratings for specific issues like longevity, brightness, etc. Phillips had.
  • Packaging-The majority of negative reviews noted that the Sylvania CFL bulb was poorly packaged, which resulted in broken bulbs being received. Even five-star reviews stated that they received a broken light or two.
  • Burned Out-Few reviews mentioned that the bulbs died out prematurely.

Conclusion

At least online, I do not recommend that you purchase these reviewed Sylvania CFls. The reason for this is two-fold; lack of reviews and a high number of reviews where customers complained that they received a defective product.

Satco S8201 9 Watt (40 Watt) Mini Spiral CFL

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  • Wattage-13
  • Lumens-500
  • Size-2.01″ x 2.01″ x 4.02″
  • Weight-2.11 oz
  • How Many?
  • Lifespan-Not Listed
  • Warranty-3 years limited
  • Numerous Reviews-500+, overall positive reviews
  • Compact-Very compact, at 3.38″, the Satco is among the smallest CFLs available.
  • Customer Service-Buyers noted that Amazon, with no hassles, replaced a broken and prematurely burned-out light bulb.
  • Unknown For Growing: No mentions either positive or negative, saying that that Satco was used for a grow light.
  • Negative Reviews-There were around 10% negative, one-star reviews.
  • Starting Time-A few reviewers mentioned that it takes a while to start up and get to full brightness.

Final Thoughts And Recommendations

CFL grow lights are a good choice for the hobbyist, newbie grower, or for those that only want to grow one or two plants. However, if you are going to be growing more than two marijuana plants; it is highly recommended that you look into LED grow lights.

Click Here to find out my take on LED Bulbs.

Best CFL Light Bulbs?

As for the “Best CFL Light Bulbs”, I highly recommend Phillip CFLs. The main reason for my recommendation is that Phillips has over 1,700 overall positive reviews. Additionally, Phillips CFLs, have a high overall rating for issues concerning brightness, packaging, etc. So, based on the number of reviews, and the highly positive reviews, the Phillips CFL bulb is recommended.


Appendix

The following info is background information that you might find useful.

US Government Info For CFLs

For more general, US Government information on the CFL light bulb Go HERE

Kelvin, Watts, and Lumens, Measurements

You will see Kelvin, Watts, and Lumen’s measurements when you are shopping and comparing light bulbs, which can get quite confusing. I’ve included a brief explanation below.

  • Kelvin-Tells you what light color spectrum that your bulbs will emit and guides for you to select the best grow light that for mimicing the particular time outside during the year. It is scientifically known as a color temperature measurement. Kelvin is represented by K and different ranges represent different colors.
  • Watts -Wattage is a measurement of the amount of light intensity that a grow light gives off. A rule of thumb is more watts equals the more weed you can grow.
  • Lumen-The lumen output is a measurement of the brightness level of a lighting fixture. The higher the lumens number the brighter the light bulb. Also, lumens are used to help you figure out how many lights you will need in your grow space.

The Health Concerns of Mercury Contamination With Compact Fluorescent Lighting

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury. (From one to four milligrams per bulb) Mercury is a hazardous substance that, when ingested can cause neurological damage, concentration problems, memory problems, motor skill deficits, lower IQ, fatigue, and paralysis/

Mercury is not released, when a CFL grow light is on. However, mercury contamination can occur if a CFL bulb is broken or disposed of incorrectly. Also, exposure from a CFL grow lights breaking could cause mercury poisoning for the consumer if the broken CFL bulb contaminates the product.

Miscellaneous, Health Issues

The following, which hasn’t been proven, are potential health concerns caused by CFL light exposure:

  • Migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Seizures
  • ADHD symptoms

Best Practices For CFL Bulbs

  • Dimmable Bulbs- Only use dimmable CFL bulbs with a dimmer switch.
  • Three-Way CFL Bulb-Only use three-way bulbs on three-way sockets.
  • Screw Them In Right: Screw the bulb by holding the white plastic part of the bulb and not the glass tube.
  • Socket: Not all CFL bulbs can fit into an ordinary socket. So, make sure that the bulb you are buying will fit any sockets that you currently are using.

What CFL Light Is Best For Growing?

When growing with CFL, to maximize your harvest, you will need to have different colored bulbs that cover the various light, color spectrums. This means that you will need a different color, bulb for the vegetative and flowering growth stage)

To make sure that you get the correct color, you need to reference the kelvin measurement. So, to answer this question, the best CFL light (or bulb) depends upon whether or not you are in the flowering stage or the vegetative stage of plant growth.

The following are the recommended CFLs color bulbs for the vegetative and flowering stage and the Kelvin measurements.

Seedling Growth Stage (5000k to 6500k)

The vegetative growth stage, in nature, is where the growth starts rapidly. So, it is very important that your plants get enough light. CFLs at 5000k to 6500k are the recommended bulb for the vegetative stage in cannabis. These bulbs have a blue tint and are often called daylight bulbs. The best CFL For the flowering Stage is 2700K to 3000k.

Flowering Growth Stage

The flowering stage is the final growth stage in plants, and in nature, this stage occurs during the late summer days, when the days becomes shorter and the sunlight isn’t as bright. CFLs with a Kelvin (“brightness”) range from 2,700k to 3000k work best, and 2700k for flowering is ideal. These bulbs are also called “soft white” or “warm white light.”

Light Bulbs Between (3001k to 6549K)

This range is called the cool white or bright white range and these bulbs should not be used for indoor growing.

How Many CFLs Per Plant?

There are two ways to estimate the amount of lighting (CFL bulbs) that will be needed:

CFLs Per Plant-As plant sizes vary this is not the preferred method and the square foot method should be used instead.

Square Foot Method-As it is more precise, this is the preferred method. To use the square foot method you first need to plan ahead by asking yourself these fundamental questions:

  • How big is your grow area or grow tent?
  • How many cannabis plants do you want to grow?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • What type of cannabis strain are you going to grow?

Lumen and Watts

The wattage and the lumen rating are goods ways to also help you determine the number of bulbs needed. Therefore, I will include both the lumen and watts, standards, to help you purchase the correct number of lights. First, though you need to understand the following background information.

More Lumen, More Watts, Within Reason, Means Better Results

A general rule of thumb is that, within reason, the higher lumen and watts, the brighter it will be, which in turn means you will have a better yield. However, common sense needs to apply; so, you wouldn’t for example, have ten 1,000 watt bulbs for one plant.

Instead, based upon industry guidelines (I will explain it later) you should aim to get a grow light that has either the most watts or lumens that you can afford and will work in your grow area.

How Many CFLs Needed Per Square Foot?

Lumen

For a quick review, Lumen is a measurement of the overall brightness of a lighting source. The higher the lumen number, the brighter the light. And the brighter the light (lumen) the better results you will likely see. Generally, depending upon the size of your cannabis plant or plants, the strain, your budget, etc., the higher the lumen number the better.

The following is based upon one, average-sized, cannabis plant where the light is placed from 3″ to 5″ away from the plant.

Square Feet:2,000 to 7,500 lumen

Actual Wattage*

The number of watts is the traditional method for deciding the number of bulbs needed per square foot.

  • Square Foot: Flowering Stage (60 minimum to 100, 100-watts is what you should shoot for)
  • Vegging Stage, Seedlings and Clones: 60 Watts Per Square Foot

*Actual Not Equivalent Wattage-Compact fluorescent light package’s list both actual and equivalent wattage, which can be a bit confusing when you are wanting to apply the above rules. Actual is the amount of energy that the light uses and equivalent is what the light would use if it were an incandescent light. Admittedly, this can get a bit confusing when you are trying to buy the correct number of bulbs for your grow setup. However, all you need to remember is to use the actual wattage and not the equivalent wattage that is listed.