Choosing the Best Grow Light for Marijuana (Or Other Plants) In 2018
Choosing the best grow light for your needs can seem overwhelming. There are so many options to choose from and the differences between them are often minuscule.
But choosing the the right plant light doesn't have to be complicated. This simple guide makes it easy.
If you already know which type of light you want to use, but need some help selecting a specific unit, skip this page and head straight to our popular buying guides:
Enough introduction. Let's get to it.
To use this guide, simply browse through the points below and find the ones that best describe your situation. That's the best type of light for you. The table at the end summarizes the pros and cons of each type.
We'll begin with fluorescent lights.
Choose Fluorescent Grow Lights if...
1 ...you're on a budget and only growing a plant or two
Fluorescent lights are cheap, but they're less efficient than other forms. For small grows, this does not make much of a difference
The main drawback of fluorescents is their low output. The simply aren't powerful enough to maximize yields during flowering, so your harvest will suffer a bit
2 ...you're only vegging and/or cloning
Fuorescents work very well for vegging and cloning, but they are not generally powerful enough to maximize yields during flowering
3 ...you're setting up a clone room
Fluorescent lights output much less heat and can hang very close to your plants. This is ideal for a cloning room and allows you to keep your nursery in a compact space with a low ceiling
4 ...you are using them as supplemental lighting
fluorescent bulbs make excellent supplemental lighting for a HPS or LED system, especially if you need blue-spectrum light
Choose HID Grow Lights if...
1 ...you're on a budget
A complete HID grow light kit including the reflector, the ballast, an HPS bulb, an MH bulb, hangers and a timer still costs far less than a good quality LED grow light
2 ...you're able to deal with the heat
The main drawback of an HID system is the heat. Both high-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) bulbs produce a ton of heat and you'll need to setup a system to keep that heat out of your grow room. This will require additional cooling equipment and cost more money.
3 ...you want maximum yields above all else
Despite all the advances in LED technology, experienced growers are still getting slightly higher yields with HID lighting. On the other hand, the buds produced under LED lights are more potent.
4 ...you've been using HID lights and are familiar with them
Growing with LED lights is different from HID lights and it'll take you a grow or two to get used to those differences. If you're already having success with HID lighting, I see no reason to switch at the moment, unless you're looking to reduce operating costs and/or heat.
Check out our HID buyer's guide for help in choosing the right HID grow light system for your needs.
Choose LED Grow Lights if...
1 ...you can afford them
While prices have dropped a lot, high-quality LED light flixtures still cost much more than comparable HID systems
2 ...you want to minimize operating costs
The costs to operate LED lights are much lower than HID. They consume far less power for the same output and also generate far less heat, which means less power required to cool your grow space
LED bulbs also last much longer, with a lifespan of 50,000+ hours, compared to 6,000 to 12,000 for HID bulbs. The cost of having to replace bulbs every few grow cycles adds up.
3 ...you want to minimize heat
LED lights run much cooler than HID lights. This means you don't need nearly as much cooling equipment. On the flip side, you may have to spend more to heat your grow space if you live in an area with a cold winter.
4 ...you don't have experience growing with HID lights
If you've never used HID lights before, you might as well start with LED (assuming you have the budget). Growing with LED is different from growing with HID. You face two learning curves if you end up switching down the road.
Check out our LED buyer's guide for help in choosing the right LED grow light for your needs.
Pros and Cons of Each Type
This table summarizes the pros and cons of each type of lighting: