What Is The Best HID Grow Light For Weed In 2017? – Grow Light Central

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Having trouble choosing a grow light? Check out our article - What is the best grow light for your needs? It covers all the main factors you need to consider.

Choosing The Best HID Grow Light For Marijuana (Or Other Plants) In 2017

choosing the best hid grow light buying guide

Buying the best HID grow light system for your needs can seem overwhelming. The options are endless and the differences between them tiny.

But when you break it down, there are really only a few key decisions to make.

We'll look at those decisions one by one and at the end of it, you'll know which indoor lighting option is best for you.

 

HPS or MH Grow Bulbs?

The short answer: get both!

High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs emit a yellow-orange-red light, which is ideal for maximizing yields during the flowering cycle, but results in weaker plants if used during vegging.

Metal Halide (MH) bulbs emit a bluer light that makes for strong plant growth during vegging, but produces lower yields during flowering.

It is possible to use either of these bulbs on their own throughout the full grow cycle, but your results will be better if you combine the two.

Here are the different options, from best to worst:

BEST RESULTS: use MH and HPS bulbs at the same time

Plants grow best when they get both red and blue spectrum light through all growth stages.

We recommend using HPS bubs overhead as the primary light source and supplementing them with MH bulbs (or blue-spectrum fluorescent bulbs) hanging naked (without a reflector) between the plants.

Alternatively, you could use MH bulbs as the primary lighting throughout the grow and add in HPS light during flowering to boost yields. This would be a bit cheaper to run, but plants would grow faster and stronger with the previous method.

GREAT RESULTS: use MH during vegging and HPS during flowering

This is the most popular combination, because modern digital ballasts allow you to use the same reflector and ballast to run both HPS and MH bulbs. All you have to do is switch out the bulb and keep growing.

All the grow light kits on this site can be purchased with both an MH and an HPS bulb (or just an HPS bulb).

DECENT RESULTS: Use only HPS bulbs throughout the grow

If you're going to use only one bulb for the whoe grow cycle, HPS bulbs are better. They might not be great during veg, but they produce by far the best yields during flowering.

WORST OPTION: Use only MH bulbs throughout the grow

Using metal halide bulbs during flowering will not result in great yields, making this the worst option.

 

What wattage do I need?

We'll limit this discussion to bulbs between 250 watts and 1000 watts. Anything outside of that range is too inefficient to make sense for most people.

For most growers, we recommend 400 watt or 600 watt bulbs. 1000 watt bulbs run extremely hot. Unless you've got experience managing heat, it's generally better to use several weaker bulbs instead of one stronger one. It's more efficient, too.

Wattage Number of Plants Distance from Canopy
250 watts 3 - 5 6” – 8”
400 watts 6 – 9 9” – 12”
600 watts 9 – 12 12” – 18”
1000 watts 12 – 16+ 18” – 26”

 

Single ended or double ended bulbs?

Double-ended bulbs are 25-30% more efficient than single ended bulbs, meaning they produce higher PAR ratings for the same wattage. They also last longer, retaining 90% of their output after 10,000 hours of use.

So why doesn't everyone use double-ended bulbs?

They're more expensive for one. The bulbs generally cost about 50% more and the reflectors cost up to twice as much. They also produce more heat. Finally, reflector options are more limited, with only a few styles available for double-ended bulbs.

If you have the budget and the ability to eliminate the excess heat, go with double-ended bulbs, as the increased efficiency and longer life will make up for the increase in cost after a few grows.

Most home growers are probably better off sticking with single-ended bulbs for now, especially if your grow area is on the smaller side.

 

What Reflector Style Is Best?

With so many different styles of reflectors, choosing one can be a daunting task. But the truth is, most reflectors will do a good job and the differences in light coverage and intensity are not really that large.

Example: A large reflector has a large coverage area, but the light is less intense. This means you need to hang it closer to the plants if you want more intense light, which reduces the coverage area. Thus, the large reflector ends up having a similar coverage and intensity as a smaller reflector hanging further away.

So why are there so many different types of reflectors?

Each one specializes in a certain situation. The key is finding the reflector best suited for your grow space.

A quick note on air-cooled reflectors

Air-cooled reflectors are sealed off with glass and have vents through which you duct air to remove the heat before it gets a chance to enter your grow room.

Air-cooled reflectors are great for smaller grows, especially those in an enclosed space like a grow tent. They allow you to remove the heat directly from the reflector, without it escaping into the grow space. This is extra beneficial if you use supplemental CO2.

They are not very efficient in a larger space, though. The glass reduces the light output by 5-7% and it also removes come of the UV-A and UV-B light. Additionally, heat from the ducting will escape into your grow room if you have a lot of it.

Due to the above-mentioned inefficiencies, we only recommend air-cooled reflectors if you are growing in a grow tent or similar enclosed space.

If you have a large grow area with more than 10 lights, don't use air-cooled reflectors.

Think about it: how many photos have you seen of large grow operations with ducting running through them? Probably none, right?

Instead, use open reflectors and ventilate the room as a whole. It is much more efficient for large grows.

 

Alright, let's go through the different styles and figure out which reflector is best for you.

 

Single-Ended Reflectors

Mogul Socket

hippy hanger mogul socket

I know it's not a reflector per se, but it does function to hold a bulb, so we've included it here. These are dirt cheap (you will need to purchase a separate ballast to run HID bulbs) and very easy to install.

Don't use them to hold your main bulbs. Mogul sockets come in handy as supplementary lighting.

They allow you to hang bulbs in between your plants below the canopy, so you can get light to the lower portions of your plants. This has a large positive effect on plant growth during vegging and on yields during flowering.

 

Wing Reflectors

wing reflector HID grow light
Pros
  • cheapest reflector available
  • good coverage
  • intense light with great canopy penetration
Cons
  • reflector only on the sides of the bulb, not the ends: results in loss of light on either end of reflector
  • not air-cooled (only a con for small, enclosed grow spaces)
Best for

Growers on a budget with a well-ventilated grow space.

 

Umbrella Reflectors

umbrella reflector HID grow light
Pros
  • very large coverage area
  • even light distribution
Cons
  • very low intensity and penetration
  • not air-cooled (again, only a con for small, enclosed grow spaces)
Best for

Growers trying to light a large area with a small number of lights. Best used with powerful bulbs (600 or 1000 watt), to get sufficient intensity with such a large coverage area. Great as a vegging-only light.

 

Air Cooled Tube Reflectors

air cool tube reflector
Pros
  • small size
  • the cheapest air-cooled reflector
Cons
  • small reflector means large loss of light
  • small coverage area
Best for

Growers on a budget, who are lighting a small, enclosed space. More so if they use supplemental CO2.

 

Air Cooled Hood Reflectors

air cool hood reflector
Pros
  • large coverage area
  • intense light with deep penetration
Cons
  • most expensive reflector
Best for

Smaller grow spaces, especially enclosed and using supplemental CO2. This is the reflector we recommend for most home indoor growers.

 

Air Cooled Tube Hood Reflectors

air cool tube hood reflector
Pros
  • very large coverage area
Cons
  • low intensity and penetration
  • a bit on the expensive side
Best for

Growers trying to light an enclosed grow area with a small number of lights. Best used with powerful bulbs (600 or 1000 watt), to get sufficient intensity with such a large coverage area.

 

Comparison Table

The following table lists the different reflector types and includes prices for the reflector only as well as complete kits that come with everything you need (reflector + ballast + bulb(s) + timer + hangers).

Click on the prices to go to the corresponding product pages where you can get more info.

Reflector Type Coverage Intensity & Penetration Air Cooled Price  (click for more info)
Reflector Only HPS Kit HPS & MH Kit
400w 600w 1000w 400w 600w 1000w
Wing large high no $39.95 $149.67 $189.67 $259.67 $159.67 $199.67 $279.67
Umbrella very large low no $89.95 $179.67 $229.67 $279.67 $189.67 $239.67 $299.67
Cool Tube small medium yes $99.95 $179.67 $229.67 $279.67 $189.67 $239.67 $299.67
Cool Tube Hood very large medium yes $109.95 $199.67 $249.67 $299.67 $209.67 $259.67 $319.67
Cool Hood medium very high yes $119.95 $209.67 $259.67 $309.67 $219.67 $269.67 $329.67

 

 

Double-Ended Reflectors

 Let's look at the different types of double-ended reflectors:

 

Double-Ended Wing Reflectors

double ended wing reflector
Pros
  • the cheapest double-ended reflector
  • pretty large coverage
  • good canopy penetration
Cons
  • reflector only on the sides of the bulb, not the ends: results in loss of light on either end of reflector
  • not air-cooled (only a con for small, enclosed grow spaces)
Best for

Growers on a budget with a well-ventilated grow space.

 

Double Ended Air Cooled Hood Reflectors

double ended air cool hood reflector
Pros
  • large coverage area
  • intense light with deep penetration
Cons
  • most expensive reflector
Best for

Smaller grow spaces, especially enclosed and using supplemental CO2. This is the double-ended reflector we recommend for most home indoor growers.

 

Double Ended XXL Hood Reflectors

double ended xxl hood reflector
Pros
  • very large coverage area
Cons
  • low intensity and penetration
  • a bit on the expensive side
  • not air-cooled (only a con for small, enclosed grow spaces)
Best for

Growers trying to light a large grow area with a small number of lights. Best used with powerful bulbs (600 or 1000 watt), to get sufficient intensity with such a large coverage area.

 

Comparison Table

The following table lists the different reflector types and includes prices for the reflector only as well as complete kits that come with everything you need (reflector + ballast + MH bulb + HPS bulb + timer + hangers).

Click on the prices to go to the corresponding product pages where you can get more info.

Reflector Type Coverage Intensity & Penetration Air Cooled Price  (click for more info)
Reflector Only 600w kit 1000w kit
DE Wing large high no $64.67 $249.67 $299.67
DE XXL Hood very large medium no $134.67 $269.67 $319.67
DE Cool Hood medium very high yes $144.67 $309.67 $349.67

 

 

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