Grow Light Economics – Heat, Cost, and Yields

The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor growing is the light source. With outdoor growing, you get to harness the power of the sun to cultivate your plants. However, growing indoors typically involves grow lights that are specially made for different stages of the plant’s life. At the end of the day, light is essentially food for your plants, and without large amounts of bright light a plant can be healthy but it won’t produce as much bud as it could.

In terms of grow lights, there are all sorts of options on the market, but in the end, it all boils down to these 3 types:

  1. High Intensity Discharge Grow Lights (HID)
  • Metal Halide (MH)
  • High Pressure Sodium (HPS)
  • Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH or LEC, Light Emitting Ceramic)
  1. Fluorescent Grow Lights
  • Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)
  • T5 grow lights (and other fluorescent tube lights)
  1. LED Grow Lights
  • LEDs come in a vast array of sizes and styles. While there isn’t quite a standard yet for these types of lights, some lamps do get better results than others.

The Pros and Cons of Different Grow Room Lights

  1. HID Grow Lights

HID grow lights are known for being much more efficient than fluorescent lights. HID light set ups usually consist of a strange-looking bulb and a reflector or hood, which is used to reflect back to the plants. HIDs are wonderful for growing plants, but usually require a ventilation system in tandem because the light gets too hot.

If your main goal is to yield as much as possible, then HID lights are the way to go. For example, a 600 watt light can yield around 4 oz a month, while costing about $120 a month in electricity fees.

  • MH Grow Lights

Metal Halide lights are used mainly for the vegging state because of the blue light that it produces – vegetative plants just can’t get enough of it!

  • HPS Grow Lights

Typically used for the flowering stage, a high pressure sodium grow light emits a yellow light that is perfect for stimulating bud production. HPS lights have gained massive popularity because they get better yields per watt of electricity than any other light.

  1. Fluorescent Grow Lights

From long tubes to little twisty bulbs, fluorescent lights come in various shapes and sizes. These lights are commonly used because it puts out a soft light and is overall very efficient. Fluorescent lights work fine for small herb gardens and other low-profile growing, and won’t cost you much either.

However, when it comes specifically to the budding stage of the plant, if you have the room to fit some LED or HID lights then you will definitely yield much more in the end.

  • CFL Grow Lights

Compact fluorescent lights are the little bulbs that are all twisted up and are available pretty much anywhere that you can buy light bulbs. They put out a decent spectrum of light that is suitable for growing small plants in tiny areas where a larger light set up wouldn’t fit, like inside of a cabinet or a 4×4 grow tent.

  • T5 Grow Lights

T5 grow lights are also widely available at various gardening and home improvement stores. T5 lights are basically just longer/wider CFLs and are usually built as a whole panel that you buy. Despite it being a big panel of lights, it’s still possible to put the lights right next to the plants without risk of burning them.

  1. LED Grow Lights

LED lights have become one of the most popular alternatives to growing plants with HPS lights. This is because they tend to run at cool temperatures and even come with built-in heat sinks to lower the heat emissions even more. When compared to HID lights, LED lights are easier to set up and require less maintenance and adjusting.

For growers only aiming to harvest around 1 ounce per month, LED lights might actually be your best choice out of all light types.

Take note: when shopping for LED lights, make sure that it puts out at least some green or white light. Ideally, you want a light that puts out the full spectrum of light, but at least stay away from the older models that only have red and blue light.

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