Light is the primary source of energy for all plants. Without light, plants die shortly after germination. Light enables the plants to synthesize their food from the minerals they absorb from the soil using the photosynthesis process. Cannabis is no different and that is where artificial lights come in. If you need to grow your cannabis in places such as your basement for one reason or the other, then artificial lights provide you with a sure way to supply abundant light energy to grow your plants. The more quality light you can supply, the greater the yields from your indoor garden. In this guide, we look at different lights that you can use to grow your plants.
The Different Types of Grow Lights for Cannabis
LED Grow lights
LED grow lights have become the most popular cannabis grow lights because they are efficient, offer greater penetration, they are easy to install, and most have an inbuilt cooling system. Most cannabis growers say LEDs lights produce more resinous bud yields. Because they run cooler, there is no need to vent or install any external cooling system.
- They can be installed closer to the cannabis plants without burning them.
- LED growing lights are affordable and are cheap to install as well,
- Their light beams further down the plant’s foliage.
- They do not need to be moved around to increase the cannabis yield.
- LED growing lights are much easier to manage.
- They overall produce fewer yields than the HPS cannabis growing lamps.
- Some LED lights get hotter, effecting reliability, especially if they have a higher wattage waiting.
- They need bigger headroom compared to other growing lights.
- LED light produce more lumens and therefore should be kept at least 18 inches away during the flowering stage.
- Cannabis buds can be burnt if exposed to too much light much the same way heat does.
- There is not LED light standard yet, that means you have to experiment with different brands before you get the one that works best for your variety of cannabis plants.
Fluorescent grow lights
There are two kinds of fluorescent lights used to grow cannabis. There is the CFLs (Compact Fluorescent lights) and the T5 grow lights. The fluorescent lights are popular because they use less electricity and their light is pleasant to humans. They are also great for growing all kinds of herbs.
Pros of Fluorescent Cannabis Grow Lights
- They are affordable.
- You can install them closer to young crops without burning the crops.
- They produce a wide spectrum of light since they give out white light.
- If you need to grow seedling, clone your crops or just grow young plants, they are the best. That is because you can install them closer to the crops without generating excessive heat that can burn the young crops.
- They do not use lots of electricity but they produce sufficient growing light.
Cons of Fluorescent Cannabis Grow Lights
- They give smaller yields per watts compared to LEDs or Halide lights.
- You can expect that from each watt of light to get a bud yield of 0.25 grams. LEDs may give over two times that yield.
- These lights do not penetrate into the lower section of the plant’s leaves. They are therefore only suited to growing plants that are shorter or “trained” to receive light from fluorescent lights.
CFL Cannabis Grow Lights
These are small twist-like lights that are very compact and therefore suitable for growing crops in small spaces. To get high yields, the CFL grow lights need to be placed closer to the plants to deliver as much light as possible. That means you have to give at least each small cannabis plant its own light. At best, each plant should have two or three lights.
T5 Cannabis Grow Lights
These are the older florescent lights that are commonly used in public rooms such as schools and hospitals. You can install them a few inches from the plants to maximize the amount of light photons falling on the cannabis plants. They run cooler and there is no risk of burning the plants. Since they come in several tubes installed close to each other to form a panel. They give more uniform lighting when compared to CFLs.
Overall, the flowering and budding stages of cannabis may need that you install and bigger light. That will allow you to get more yields than you would have with the fluorescent lights.
Metal Halide Grow Lights
These are best suited for vegetative growth because they produce the blue wavelength that suitable for the photosynthesis process. However, they can be used all the way to the harvest stage. If you notice the cannabis has reached the vegetative stage, then it is time to turn the MH on. You will be pleased to see the cannabis plants increase the number of leaves and branches.
- They are very efficient and are the best lights for the budding stage.
- You can place them a little far from the plants without affecting yields.
- They are simple and easy to use.
- You will also find that they last longer.
- They get hotter than LED lights.
- A cooling fan system and hood for the lamp is necessary to manage the heat.
- They are expensive to install because of the additional heat management accessories.
Ceramic Metal Halide grow lights (CMH, HPS – High-pressure Sodium Lights, LEC – Light Emitting Ceramic)
Ceramic Metal Halide grow lights are a hybrid of MH lights and HPS lights. The ceramic metal Halide lights are a type of pressure lights that produce light through an electrochemical reaction. They do that by combining the chemical properties of ceramic and halogen gasses when exposed to heat and pressure. CMH produce yellow light that is great for growing cannabis herb when it’s budding. Using this type of light will increase yields especially during the budding stage. Their performance during other times is equivalent to that of CFC lamps.
- They are highly efficient; they deliver more lumen per watt.
- CMH are easy to use.
- You do not need to hang them closer to the cannabis plant.
- They are the best lights for use during the flowering stage.
- On average, yields can be as high as 1 gram per watt.
- They are easy to use after the initial setup is complete.
- They generate lots of heat.
- Many cannabis growers add a fan and vent system to help dissipate the extra heat.
- The initial setup cost is higher compared to that of LEDs.
- They beam their heat onto the plants.
Best Grow Light Overall Verdict
Overall, each growing light has its advantages and disadvantages. If you need a growing light that does not require continuous adjustment, is efficient, and is easy to install, choose LED-growing lights. If you are very specific about the quality of your cannabis plants, then you need to combine several lights. You can, for example, use the CMH grow lights during the flowering stage, and then change to MH during the budding stage. You may use the LEDs lights if you need resinous bud yields and in-between the different the growing phases. Therefore, what determines the type of artificial light you use to grow your cannabis is the quality and quantity of cannabis yield you want to harvest.