There are a number of reasons why you might want to grow your Marijuana plants indoors. For a start, you may not have enough space outside your home, you might want to maximize your yield or you might just want to stay discreet. Whatever your reason for growing indoors, you’re going to need some grow lights for your operation.
Grow lights are necessary to replace the sun and to power your plant growth. Light is food for plants, and therefore without good quality grow lights, you’re not going to be able to produce a decent harvest.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the types of grow lights, how to choose the right ones for you and how to set them up so you can get your grow off to the best start.
Types of Marijuana grow lights
There are several options when it comes to grow lights for your Marijuana plants. However, if we narrow it down, there are just three major types.
- Fluorescent lights – these include T5 and CFLs
- HID lights (High Intesity Discharge) – these include HPS (high pressure sodium), MH (metal halide), LEC (light emitting ceramic) and CMH (ceramic metal halide) lights
- LED lights
Fluorescent grow lights
Fluorescent lights are available in numerous sizes and shapes. They don’t use excessive amounts of electricity which makes them a popular choice. CFL lights produce the right light spectrum to grow Marijuana. They are ideal for use in very small spaces since when they are close to the plants they produce the best growth and yield. T5 fluorescent lights are widely available. They are also wider and bigger than CFLs, generally coming in a panel format however they won’t burn your plants, so they can be kept close to the canopy without problems.
- Use minimal electricity
- Generate minimal heat
- The right spectrum to grow Marijuana
- Can be kept close to the plants so ideal for small spaces
- Ideal for use with seedlings, young plants and clones
- Smaller yields per watt compared to other forms of lighting (only around 0.25g (0.008oz) per watt)
- Not powerful enough to support taller plants during the flowering stage
More efficient than fluorescent lighting, HID lights are typically screwed into a hood or reflector so extra light can be reflecting onto your plants. These lights become very hot during use and therefore usually require an exhaust to vent the heat. MH lights are ideal for the plants’ vegetative stage since they emit a blue light which vegetative plants thrive on. HPS lights are ideal for the flowering stage since they’re extremely efficient while the yellow light they produce stimulates the bud production. Plants grown with HPS lights in their flowering stage produce higher yields per watt. LEC and CMH lights are more efficient than a standard MH light but less efficient than an HPS bulb.
- HID lights are more efficient than other forms of grow light with HPS being the best of all. HPS lights during the plants’ flowering stage produce around 0.5-1g (0.017-0.035oz) per watt
- Easy to use with no need for constant distance adjustments
- Generate lots of heat – this means cooling will be necessary
- Dealing with a fan and ducting can be difficult and off-putting
- Additional parts like external ballasts and additional cabling
LED lights are extremely popular these days because they not only run cooler but also feature inbuilt cooling. They’re easy to plug in and can just be hung over the plants for convenience. As they offer excellent penetration they also won’t have to be frequently moved around.
- Inbuilt cooling so no need for venting
- Small size
- Easy to install
- Some people say that LED lights can produce extra resinous bud
- Although these lamps are cooler they still emit heat. Larger sizes therefore may require venting
- Slightly lower yields per watt than an HPS light (around 0.5g (0.017oz) per watt)
- A lot of space is needed between the plants and the lamp, therefore a taller growing space is necessary.
If you’re planning to harvest between 14-28g (0.5-1oz) of marijuana per month, LEDs are often the best choice, since at this size they run cool, require virtually no setup and use very little electricity.
One note about buying LED lights – always ensure they have some white or green (full spectrum) light. Some older models only have diodes for blue and red light and this will mean your plants will have nutrient deficiencies which will stop them from growing properly.
How to choose the right Marijuana grow lights
There are a number of things you should be aware of before purchasing grow lights.
If plants are to photosynthesize properly, they need different light waves. The majority of plants are capable of growing so long as they’re exposed to light of some type, however they always grow best if they can access the full spectrum of wave lengths.
Cultivating Marijuana plants indoors can be quite a learning curve and you’ll need to pay close attention to many aspects of growing. Lighting is just one of the aspects of growing indoors which can be difficult to manage. If you choose LED lights, you might find that a lot of the complexity is removed from the equation. You can simply plug them in and use them rather than having to deal with extra cables and ballast. This is a lot more convenient for new growers.
Also, you can fine tune your LED lights to your chosen spectrum or wave length so you can have full coverage through visible, ultraviolet and infrared light. This allows you to have a single light for your entire grow cycle.
You can set up a wall timer to further automate your grow setup. This will reduce the hassle of dealing with your plants. You can simply select the light cycle that’s best for your plants and let it just get on with it.
In many ways, LEDs are the most convenient option since all other grow light types produce more heat while their banded spectrum won’t cover everything the plants require to grow to their best advantage. LEDs also offer the easiest setup and are quite economic to run, a perfect method for starters.
You’ll need to keep whichever grow lights you choose operating for as long as twelve hours per day. This means that energy bills could go up considerably. You can, however, reduce the financial burden by choosing lights which have a lower energy consumption. LED lights are known to have low power requirements while also producing a very bright light. They are also an eco-friendly choice which is making them very popular among growers who want to cut their costs.
If you use an LED light for 12 hours per day all year round, it can still last for as long as ten years. This represents a great value for the money, and makes them around 70% more efficient than a similar HPS grow light based on initial costs and energy cost.
Some types of grow light can be high maintenance, meaning you need to move them around your grow operation. LED lights can simply be plugged in and left to work. There’s no ongoing maintenance since no replacement bulbs will be necessary as they would be for MH or HPS lights. Since LED lights won’t dim during their lifetime, they’ll continue to produce consistent light levels for years. All you need to do when installing your LED grow lights is to make sure they’re properly mounted and to move them up as your plants grow, which is easy to accomplish.
Choosing the right grow lights for your setup may seem like a challenging task, however with the information provided here you should be able to make the right decision for you. LED lights often represent the best solution for convenience, but if you’re keen to maximize your crop, using HPS lights during the flowering stage could be considered.
Over time, you may want to experiment with your grow set up and try different types of lighting to find out which ones work best for you.