Through continued progressive legalization, cannabis is becoming more of a hot and normalized commodity in today’s society. As a result, there has been a rising trend in growing marijuana at-home with LED lights. Whether individuals are tired of making weekly dispensary runs, or are more comfortable smoking cannabis they have personally grown, at-home growing is becoming an excellent alternative. Picking out the best grow lights for weed can be a daunting task, below you will find all the information needed to make an educated choice for your home grow.
Introduction to Grow Lights
In California, growing cannabis outdoors is not only restricted but also quite tricky (stable weather is necessary). One of the most critical factors in growing quality cannabis plants is the light source. It is imperative marijuana plants receive enough light to develop to its full potential. Growing cannabis indoors is quite different and more limited than outdoor, sun-grown vegetation. The sun produces an unbelievably strong spectrum of light, so it is typical to see remarkable results in areas that have an ideal climate for cannabis cultivation.
That said, growing cannabis indoors requires a controlled environment. As well as, a planned growth strategies, such as choosing the correct growth light for your plants. LED grow lights produce much smaller yields than outdoor, sun-grown cannabis; yet, they are the best light source to keep your buds big, healthy, and green!
Types of Grow Lights
Most people who are newly exposed to growing weed indoors have little to no education on the availability of different grow lights. In fact, the majority of individuals are only familiar with LED grow lights. Or they believe that LED grow lights are the only option that exists. Well, it may come as a surprise that there are actually six different types of bulbs: LED, CFL, HID, MH, HPS, and T5.
It is crucial to recognize the difference between the different light sources so you can settle on one that is the best fit for your needs.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) Grow Lights
An LED (Light-Emitting Diode) is an electronic technology that deploys light as electrical currents flow through it. LED lights are one of the most preferred grow lights among the bunch in terms of life span and efficiency. Roughly 95% of the energy found in LED lights is transferred into light while just 5% is thrown to waste. According to Energy Saver, LEDs emit very little heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat. Since there is little light escaped from LED beams, LED grow lights tend to be the best option for small grow operations (perfect for at-home growing). On top of that, LED grow lights are found to maintain a stable life cycle of more than 50,000 hours. The only downside is they can be a bit more pricey than some of the other grow lights.
Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Grow Lights
CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) grow lights are another excellent option for consumers who want to grow their plants indoors. Although LED lights may be more powerful and energy-efficient, CFL bulbs are hugely attractive to new growers due to their significantly low cost. Moreover, it is the cheapest type of grow light on the market. However, since CFL bulbs put out less heat, individuals will notice the growth rate of their weed plants to be slower and yield fewer results. The trade-off of a lower bulb cost is the inability of being able to generate maximum growth results. So, the choice is really up to the person depending on how much money they are willing to spend and how much weed they want to grow.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights
HID stands for High-Intensity Discharge and is considered to be the main form of light used by experienced growers. This type of light is filled with gas. It releases light when gas is ignited within the sealed tube or light bulb. HID lights exude more significant amounts of power and heat compared to other grow lights.
For instance, LED grow lights may be more appealing to growers due to the fact the lights exert little to no extra heat. However, growers set up in a cooler indoor environment will most likely have to install HID lights, such as HPS or MH, as an additional heat source for the plant to ensure successful results. Ultimately, HID lights provide the highest yield and growth performance among its relative grow lights. Not to mention, HID lights are the most familiar and comfortable to use for growers since they have been around the longest.
HID: HPS and MH
There are two different types of HID bulbs one can use for growing weed indoors: High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH). The significant difference between HPS and MH light bulbs is the type of gas within the bulb, consequently affecting the kind of light spectrum (or color) it gives off. As the cannabis plant grows and matures over time, it also goes through different stages of development.
For example, the plant undergoes four different cycles of maturation: seed germination, seedling stage, vegetative stage, and the flowering stage. Each stage of development within the cannabis plants’ life cycle requires specific care instructions, including the type of grow light. Growers primarily use HPS in the flowering stage of the plant. This is because they give off a red or orange shade of color. On the other hand, individuals implement MH bulbs in the vegetative growth stage where it produces more of a blue spectrum color.
T5 Grow Lights
The last type of grow light option that consumers can use in indoor growing is a T5. The T5 grow light is, it is merely a tube-shaped fluorescent light with a diameter of 5/8-inch. Indoor growers recognize T5 grow lights as one of the best lights to produce any form of vegetation. That said, fluorescent T5 lights are most famous for growers who are focusing on young seedlings. When the time comes, the cannabis plant will require a stronger source of light to progress in its development stages.
How Much Light do Cannabis Plants Need?
One key focal point that indoor cannabis growers must pay attention to is the volume of light cannabis plants need. As previously mentioned, each stage (seedling, vegetative, or flowering) in the plants’ life cycle requires a specific light source. The same rules apply for the grow lights duration, or light period, on the plants each day. During the vegetative stage, indoor cannabis plants will develop their stems and leaves. They need approximately 18-24 hours of light a day. As the flowering stage begins, cannabis plants should experience 12 hours of continuous darkness each day to start growing buds.
Consumer electricity costs may vary depending on what type of indoor grow light they are using. Additionally, cost vary on how many watts it uses to run properly. Running LED bulbs for 14 hours a day during the cannabis plants’ growth cycle will cost the individual about $8.00 a month. Meanwhile, HID with a 600-watt bulb will require the individual about $30.00 a month for the same period of 14 hours a day.
Thanks to newly advanced leading technologies in the cannabis industry, consumers now have the option to purchase a home grow machine instead of raising the plants themselves. The purpose of these machines is to grow legal cannabis successfully and quickly; perhaps 1/2 lb. in 75-90 days. Additionally, home grow machines come with all of the necessary tools needed to grow marijuana (besides the consumables). The tools include a proprietary LED light system with a timer, a temperature regulating fan, as well as a thermometer. During the growth stages, a home grow machine will average about 150 watts, 18 hours a day; ultimately costing the consumer about $7 per month.