When building an ideal indoor grow environment, the goal is to replicate sunlight utilizing grow lighting equipment. Surprisingly, technology has come quite far in allowing us to mimic the photosynthesis process typically provided by the sun. However, not all artificial lighting systems are created equal.
Types of Grow Lights
Regardless of which type of grow light you choose, none are truly comparable to a sunny day. Indoor lighting is, however, a fantastic way to extend your growing season.
Below you will find the various options available to you, as well as their benefits and pitfalls. We hope this helps you in your journey to building to perfect grow room setup.
Fluorescent lights are a long-time favorite of indoor home gardeners. However, most cannabis growers will only use these to keep clones under for short periods of time before
Most fluorescent bulbs only produce a limited range of light, which typically doesn’t allow for plant flowering. Generally, fluorescent lights are best suited for germination and vegetative growth. However, some of the newest “T5 Lighting Systems” produce a wider light spectrum for all-purpose use! Many favor fluorescent lights because they have a lower risk of heat damage to plants. Additionally, they are generally safer, more versatile and more effective than incandescent bulbs while still managing to remain cost-effective.
High-Intensity Discharge Lamps
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights are some of the best options on the market.
HID Lights come in four types. However, only two of these apply to indoor growing, which include:
- High-Pressure Sodium (HPS),
- and Metal Halide (MH)
Both of these types typically come in two sizes of:
- 400 watt: recommended for an area of approximately 15 sq. ft.
- 1000 watt: recommended for an area of approximately 50 sq. ft.
For fastest growth, it is recommended to use approximately 25 watts of HID light per square foot of garden.
Metal Halide bulbs produce light on the blue spectrum, which enhances growth but does not help with plant flowering. Metal Halide lamps will provide optimal blue-white color for approximately 10,000 hours. The lamp will likely still provide light beyond 10,000 hours, but the quality of the light will be diminished so it is recommended to replace the lamp at this time.
MH bulbs provide an excellent primary light source which will help keep plants compact while still promoting leafy growth.
Along with Metal Halide, a High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) light may be a good addition to your indoor garden, as the red-orange light produced by these bulbs is much more effective than MH at producing buds and flowers.
As a note, an HPS lamp also has roughly twice the lifespan of an MH lamp.
When discussing HID lighting, the ideal solution is to invest in both metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs and to use both in tandem. The MH lights will be used first, to promote leafy growth – then the HPS lights can be swapped in to encourage plants to flower.
Light Emitting Diode (LED)
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights are the newest technology on the market for indoor grow lights. The bonus of these lamps is that they create almost no heat. Therefore, eliminating the risk of plant and property damage or personal injury.
In addition to this, they are also the most energy efficient type of lighting available. LED lights are often programmable, and can most-closely replicate not only the temperature of sunlight but also both the red and blue color band spectrums needed for vegetative growth and flowering. However, LED grow lights are currently the most costly lighting option, but prices are expected to fall as this new technology ages.
How to Measure Lighting Costs
Measuring kilowatts hours is the method used to determine the efficiency of the plant’s yield. Regardless of what type of lighting system you choose, this is the formula for computing operational costs:
- Begin by taking the combined wattage of all the lights you will use and divide it by 1,000 to get the kilowatts used.
- Multiply the kilowatts figure by the amount your electric company charges per kilowatt hour (kWh).
- Once you get the operating cost per hour, you can multiply that by hours used per month to get your monthly operational costs.
To learn more about the lighting schedule cannabis follows from start to finish, check out our comprehensive cannabis grow guide here.
We really hope this has helped you consider all of your lighting options prior to making your final decisions and as always, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and we will respond as soon as possible.