One of the essential elements a marijuana plant requires is light. During photosynthesis, a plant converts light energy into chemical energy, enabling it to grow strong and healthy, and with cannabis especially, light also fuels bud production.
When growing outdoors you can harness the power of the sun, however in an indoor setting, sunlight is simulated through using grow light bulbs, which aim to display the same spectrum of light as the sun.
Grow lights allow you to control exactly how much light your plants get, ensuring they get the same amount of light every day, without the cultivator having to fix problems with poor weather or cloudy days that occur in an outdoor environment.
Some grow lights are more pricey than others, but also more efficient, saving money over time. Some lights are bulky with many components, some light in weight, and some are better suited for young or mature plants.
There are many different types of lights out there, so it can be intimidating to know where to begin. Right here's a guide to four basic types of grow lights on the market and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Kinds Of Grow Lights
There are several kinds of lights, but below are the four most prevalent ones you'll find in a grow room. There are numerous variations within each of these four types as well, and new lights and technology emerge all the time.
Lights have fixtures and bulbs, and some require a ballast. Depending on the type and model, the bulbs or the components can be more expensive. There are many abbreviations, but do not be alarmed.
HID (high-intensity discharge) is an umbrella term under which MH and HPS bulbs fall, which we'll go over more below. These types of lamps have a hood that reflects light and bulbs that are enclosed capsules containing a gas, as opposed to bulbs you 'd see in your house, which have a filament that heats up.
For HIDs, light occurs as an arc between two nodes inside the bulb. The gas contained in these bulbs is what makes MHs and HPSs different. HID bulbs are usually more expensive than the reflective hoods that hold them.
HIDs have been the standard in indoor weed cultivating for years, but LEDs are quickly catching up to them.
Both types of HIDs are generally inexpensive to purchase but will eat up electricity. HIDs throw off a lot of light and heat, which the plants need to bulk up and become potent. However, they run hot, contain heavy metals, and ballasts can stop working.
However, because of their low price, if you're new to indoor cultivating and not sure how frequently you'll do it, you may want to buy an affordable HID light at first to test the water.
MH (Metal halide)
These bulbs contain mercury and metal halides, produce a bluish light, and are generally utilized for vegetative growth. They need a ballast to regulate the current. In the past, ballasts have been big and bulky, but digital ones are currently available.
HPS (High-pressure sodium)
These HID bulbs usually contain sodium, mercury, and xenon, and generate a yellow/orange light, as well as are typically used for flowering plants. Some growers will start off plants under MH bulbs and switch them to HPSs when plants go into the flowering stage, using the same hood. These lights also need a ballast.
CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) are fluorescent lights similar to what you would see in a school or office building, but smaller. For growing marijuana, they are typically called "T5s"-- the "T" represents "tubular" and the "5" represents its diameter, "⅝".
There are daylight bulbs and warm white bulbs; the former better for vegetative growth, and the latter for flowering.
These fluorescent lights are inexpensive and effective and good for vegetative growth. They're especially great for helping along germinating seeds and tiny seedlings because they do not emit much heat and won't scorch the delicate seeds. They will not increase your electricity costs too much.
The drawback to CFLs is they aren't great for flowering plants, and cultivators will typically use another type of light to finish plants. CFLs just do not produce enough strong light for plants to pile on weight.
Fixtures come in all shapes and sizes and can usually fit 4-12 long fluorescent bulbs; a standard size is 8 bulbs. Components commonly have a reflective material to bounce light in one direction, down on your plants.
LEDs (light emitting diodes) are relatively new to the cannabis growing scene, compared to HPSs, MHs, and CFLs, however they are quickly proving to be the way of the future. LEDs might be more expensive to purchase initially, however they are far more efficient and kinder to the environment and your electricity bill. Some cities even provide tax breaks to commercial cultivators who install or switch to LEDs because they're better for the environment.
LEDs also generally run a lot cooler than HIDs, so you might not need extra equipment to cool your grow area, and one LED can typically be utilized for both vegetative and flowering growth. Some high-end LEDs enable you to change the spectrum for each growth stage.
New LED grow lights appear constantly, however knockoffs abound. There are many inexpensive LEDs that don't produce the right spectrum of light for plants.