There are 3 main types of grow lights for hydroponic farmers or indoor gardeners: HID, CFL and LED lights. Their commonality lies in their production of light that provides a spectrum similar to that of the sun, their tailored output of varying colours, temperatures and intensity, and their 3 letter acronym names!
All 3 grow lights have pros and cons, and at the end of the day, it simply depends on what best fits your needs. Read on to learn more about grow lights, and if you have any questions, hit us up!
High Intensity Diode lights can be used with either a HPS or MH bulb. High Pressure Sodium bulbs emit a wavelength that’s ideal for plants in their flowering cycle, and Metal Halide bulbs emit a wavelength that’s best for plants in their vegetative cycle. Many growers tend to use MH bulbs early in their plants’ growing cycle, to focus on growing the body and foliage of the plant, and then they switch to a HPS bulb when the flowering process begins.
HID lights are popular amongst growers because they’ve been around for a long time and they produce a lot of useable light for plants, and therefore produce the highest yield and fastest growth rates. However, they’re the most costly of grow lights and they produce a lot of heat, so you need to have good ventilation and extraction systems in place. HID bulbs also degrade over time and need to be replaced every 3-5 grows, and due to the power of these lights, a separate lighting ballast is required to power the bulbs.
Compact Fluorescent Lamp bulbs come in a range of types, with the most popular being the spiral CFLs and T5 fluorescent tube lighting. CFLs produce less heat, which makes them a good choice for baby plants that need help sprouting seeds and growing clones.
CFLs are less powerful than other grow lights but they also cost less, making them a good choice for growers who have a limited space to work with, have a strict budget, or who want to grow a small amount without investing too much in other equipment. On the other hand, the limited heat means mature plants will have a much slower growth rate. Some growers begin with a CFL grow light and then switch to a more powerful HID or LED light once their plants begin to mature.
Light-Emitting Diode lights have recently progressed enough to become a popular choice for both professional and hobbyist growers. LED lights are more efficient than HIDs, in that they create more usable lights for plants while producing less heat, and therefore use less electricity. This makes it more cost-effective and the temperature is easier to control. LED lights will generally produce less yield than an HID, but more than a CFL.
In short, choose a grow light that best suits your plants’ stage in growth, your budget, your growing environment, and your crop goals. Happy growing!