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best light for growing weed indoors

The Best Grow Lights for Indoor Weed [Review]

Indoor cannabis growing operations are becoming increasingly popular. One reason for this is widespread legalization. Another is the comparative ease of growing and tending to the cannabis plant with modern, state-of-the-art equipment.

Cannabis is useful even for aspiring gardeners looking for a single plant to raise. The species is versatile, resilient, and relatively resistant to damage and infestation. For the aspiring marijuana user, growing weed at home can potentially save you a fortune. You can cut out the middleman and cultivate the herb from seed to flower, and ultimately to joint.

However, if you’re looking to start growing marijuana plants indoors, you need to choose the right grow lights. Without adequate light, you won’t get a decent harvest. The best lighting usually equals the highest quality THC, so it’s essential to get the best ones you can afford. There are so many different types of grow lights available that finding the ideal ones for your needs is challenging.

In this article, we provide a handy list of some of the best lights for indoor weed currently available on the market. Some of them are cheap; others are a little pricier. Regardless, if you use them correctly, they’ll get the job done.

The Best Grow Lights for Indoor Marijuana: What Types Are There?

There are a variety of different light types, with various pros and cons depending on what you’re looking for. We offer a rundown of the most common options below. Stuck for time? Check out the pros and cons of each at a glance.

● Creates less heat compared to other lights.

● Incredibly energy efficient, which means a lower energy bill.

● You can purchase them from a variety of locations.

● No learning curve for beginners.

● High initial cost.

● They can require large boards of LEDs due to their relatively low power.

● Some manufacturers make dubious claims as to the strength of their lighting.

● They’re typically the choice of professionals.

● They are the most intense light option available, ensuring your plants get all the light they need.

● Lower initial cost than LED.

● You need multiple types of HID grow lights for different stages of growth.

● HID lights require additional investment in protective hoods and reflectors.

● You need to replace the bulbs regularly.

● They run extremely hot and consume a lot of power.

● Low electricity usage.

● Low heat output means you can place them close to plants.

● You can use them in a small grow space.

● Only useful for small grows.

● Reduced efficiency and low yields.

● Every bulb needs a socket.

LED Grow Lights – The Modern, Efficient Solution

Short for light-emitting diode, an LED is a simple form of light with an efficient energy signature. Due to how the light is generated within an LED, they use a meager amount of electricity for the same amount of light compared to other sources.

However, LEDs have a pricing problem. The inexpensive ones are the type you don’t want. The lights you need for cultivating cannabis are costly.

If you try and use the cheap, Christmas-style lights, your weed harvest is going to be smaller than the LED’s carbon footprint. If you want to invest in your bud correctly, prepare to spend a substantial amount of money.

One great benefit of LED grow lights is that they create comparatively little heat when compared to other types of light.

This ensures you don’t overheat your grow room. Marijuana plants like a warm environment. However, excessive heat damages them, and may also cause a fire in your grow room.

LED grow lights can also distribute a fuller spectrum of light due to how the light is created through electroluminescence. This can result in a better, higher quality yield from your bud.

This benefit is somewhat counteracted by the fact that the average LED light board is quite low powered. As a result, you either require multiple boards or a huge, single one. Also, you only get the best results with LEDs that offer a full spectrum of light.

HID Grow Lights – The Traditional, Energy Hungry Choice

HID grow lights, short for High-Intensity Discharge, are large light bulbs that emit a tremendous amount of heat and light. They usually require a full exhaust fan to remove the excess heat, and electricity consumption is enormous. Also, they generally need a decent amount of time and space to set up a properly working system.

HID Lights are typically divided into a few different varieties or sub-categories:

Metal Halide Grow Lights

Metal Halide or MH grow lights are primarily used during the vegetative stage. This is the part of the cannabis plant’s life where growth takes off, and leaves begin to flourish. MH lights produce a strongly blue-tinged light, which the plants prefer at this stage of growth.

It might sound strange that a plant prefers a type of light. However, different colored lights are mostly just different wavelengths and intensities. Due to this difference in wavelength, the plant prefers stronger or weaker lights at various stages of its development.

For the early vegetative stage, the blue glow from the metal halide lights is best.

High-Pressure Sodium Grow Lights

High-Pressure Sodium, or HPS, grow lights are far more efficient than other forms of HID. They emit a gentler, yellow light that cannabis prefers when it is in the flowering stage. This yellow light helps encourage intense bud production. It allows you to configure the eventual size of your harvest more precisely.

You can buy HPS lighting in a variety of strengths, but don’t use 1000w. It is far too powerful, and is only suitable if you have created a vast underground field of weed! A pair of 400w or 600w HPS lights should suffice.

Light Emitting Ceramic Grow Lights

Also known as ceramic metal halide lights, this type of lighting features a collection of ceramic heating elements inside the lamp. Manufacturers use ceramic because it has a higher arc tube temperature. Arc tubes help create the lighting within MH lights. The result is enhanced efficiency and color rendering.

The choice of whether to use LEC over the standard MH grow light is a personal preference. However, it’s also tied to cost. LEC grow lights represent a higher initial investment. Yet they also are more efficient over the long haul, lowering your overall electricity bill.

HID grow lights are old school, and can produce a vast harvest but use a considerable amount of electricity. However, they’re still widely considered the standard for indoor marijuana cultivation due to their output of efficiency and power. They are also cheaper to buy before electricity costs enter the equation.

Fluorescent Grow Lights – Best Used for Small Grows

The two types of fluorescent lights are T5 and CFLs. The former is long and narrow, while the latter are twisted into the shape. They have cool, warm, or full-spectrum colors. Growers sometimes use them because they are cheap to buy, and have a low energy consumption which saves money on energy bills. They also provide a pleasant color for an indoor growing site.

Fluorescent lights also don’t require a ridiculous variety of different lights like HID lights.

Furthermore, fluorescent lights don’t need the investment of an additional setup like with HID. You also don’t need to include a particular ventilation system to keep the room’s temperature down.

However, fluorescent lighting provides lower yields than its rivals. You must also position them close to your plants to derive any benefit. This means you can use them in a small room, but they are ineffective if you plan to grow several plants.

Final Thoughts on the Best Grow Lights for Indoor Marijuana

When growing marijuana indoors, you have to decide what takes top priority. Do you care about your energy bills, the environment, secrecy, or efficiency?

If you’re looking for discretion, LED grow lights and fluorescent grow lights are the likeliest options. If it is efficiency you’re after, HID is probably the best grow light for marijuana available. That is, as long as you don’t mind the increase in your electricity bill.

Then again, if you have a grow space of less than five square feet, fluorescent light is enough when your plants are small. You can upgrade to a 250w HPS as the plants get larger. If you have space, an MH light for plants in the vegetative stage, and HPS for the blooming phase works well. Using MH lighting throughout is fine, but will have fewer flowers, more foliage, and a lower yield.

Different options work best for different solutions, so pick the one that’s right for you and work to its advantages. Once you have selected the right light for your needs, you can start growing cannabis. After you have chosen the soil type, your fertilizer preferences, and a few other things, of course!

Choosing the best grow lights for indoor marijuana cultivation setup is no small decision – it will determine the quality and the potency of your buds.

How To Select the Best Grow Lights for Your Marijuana Grow

Throughout our articles we have discussed several success factors of an indoor production. Here is a short summary: Growing indoor will provide you with the opportunity to influence all environmental factors. This way you can optimize soil, air, water and grow light to create the perfect conditions for your plants. The more you take care of them, the better your yield. And with light it is easy. Always remember: More light = bigger yields!

Lights are essential because they largely determine your plants’ grow cycles, their photosynthesis and therefore their health and their buds. Lighting is the food of your marijuana plants. When first creating your grow room make a blue print to decide what system for water management, light and air flow you want to use. In this piece we will discuss the details about lighting.

Which Lighting is Best for Growing Weed?

There are 4 main types of lamps that you can use for growing cannabis:

Fluorescent grow lights (T5 and CFL)

Metal Halide grow lights

High Pressure Sodium grow lights

While each of these options has pros and cons, as well as different stages of growing cycle and different sizes of operation they work best for, in this article we’ll focus more on the types that will be your bread-and-butter for a commercial-scale grow operation.

Pro Tip 1

Normal light bulbs won’t work for your plants 🙂

LED Grow Lights

LEDs are super easy to set up. Small ones are literally plug and play. Once you have plugged them into a wall you may just hang them above your plants. They are the way to go for an easy setup that still grows great yield.

They don’t run very hot but for a professional production you still will have to set up exhaust fans and organize airflow and temperature throughout your growing facility.

Make sure to keep enough distance to your plants with LEDs to avoid light burn. Also, be sure to get a light that includes green and white light for full spectrum. Only red or blue light will not be enough for your plants.

LEDs are the way to go for small production up to 1 ounce of cannabis per month, but produce slightly lower yield per watt than HPS and Metal Halide lamps, and are generally less optimal for professional grows.

Fluorescent Grow Lights for Cloning Young Plants

Fluorescent lights will be your go-to for the very first stages of your plants’ lives. They don’t use much electricity, they’re cheap, and they’re also very popular with many hobby gardeners and so are very easy to find.

Compact bulbs (CFL) that you can find in any hardware store can great for small or narrow areas, or grow tent set ups for beginner grows. For your professional production, however, you are going to want to look for T5 Grow Lights (the long tube-like ones) which can be found in a home and garden center.

Those lamps are best used for cloning, seeding and young plants. Without burning the plants you are able to place them close to the plants and save electricity. Also, they do not produce a lot of heat, and the purple-white spectrum is ideal for seedling plants.

However in the vegetative and flowering stages, keep in mind that fluorescents will lead to smaller yields. While T5 lights are great for small plants, in the later stages you will want to use a higher powered light like HPS or Metal Halide.

Pro Tip 2

Use T5 flourescent grow lights for cloning, propagation, and seedling stages

Metal Halide Grow Lights for Vegetative Stage

These lights are one of two types of High Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights, and are incredibly efficient. Metal Halide (MH) lights typically come in an integrated fixture with an external ballast and reflector hood, and will need proper ventilation due to high heat output.

These bulbs, along with High Pressure Sodium (HPS), the other type of HID grow light, produce the highest yields per watt of electricity out of any grow lights available. For this reason, they are the go-to for professional growers in the later stages of plant development.

Metal Halide produces a bluish spectrum which is ideal for the vegetative stage.

Pro Tip 3

In the vegetive stage switch from T5 fluorescents to HIDs. Use a ratio of 2 Metal Halide lights to 1 HPS light for maximum yield.

HPS Grow Lights for Flowering Stage

Simlar to Metal Halide, HPS grow lights must be used with reflector hoods and ventilation. The fixtures used for Metal Halide bulbs and HPS are typically the same, so you can use the same fixture for both vegetative and flowering stages, and simply swap out the bulbs.

HPS produces a more yellowish/full spectrum that promotes budding and is ideal for the flowing stage. These bulbs are an absolute must-have for a professional grow.

Pro Tip 4

In the flowering stage, switch to using only HPS bulbs to promote budding and maximize yield.

Pro Tip 5

HPS and Metal Halide lights will get very hot and you want to use them with an exhaust fan to not burn your plants.

To understand the climate and temperature that your plants need, check our article on air flow and ventilation which will teach you how to keep the right temperature in your sealed room.

The lamps are well suited for growing marijuana and if you are looking for the highest yield HPS/Metal Halide is the way to go. Just consider the extra amount of work and cost for setting them up including cables, exhaust fan and fixture. Make sure to get a digital ballast. They use less electricity and bulbs will live longer.

Pro Tip 6

High quality HPS and Metal Halide grow lights will typically create 2 to 4 times more yield than fluorescents.

Why Your Plants Love Light

Your plants ability to perform photosynthesis is the key to your commercial success. Make sure to put some thought into your lighting before getting started. Shining just about any light on your plants is not going to do the trick.

Light waves come in a colour spectrum. The sun is a full spectrum light. A low light intensity might lead so long plants because they stretch to receive enough light. When having high intensity your plants may turn our shorter. You can adjust the light intensity by choosing the distance from your plant.

In the vegetative stage your plants will want up to 18 hours of light. In the flower stage they grow best in 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. Your ability to choose the rhythm of lighting lets you create the perfect light timing for your plants.

Make sure you provide a minimum of 6 hours of darkness for your plants. The 12/12 hours flowering cycle will make your plant believe it is late summer which is their time to develop buds. You want to start this after 2 to 4 weeks of growth in the vegetative phase. This is the time where you can switch from fluorescents to HPS grow lights.

Pro Tip 7

Gently switch from one cycle of light to the other. Take a couple of days to switch from 18/6 to 16/8 to 14/10 to 12/12 hours.

Pro Tip 8

Use a timer to do the switching. This way your lights are always on schedule and you do not have to worry about it. Timers can be easily shopped online or in any store that has electronics for home improvement.

Grow lights are the heart and soul of your plants’ health. If you are small or on a budget you might start out with fluorescent lights but keep in mind that this will affect your yield. Use a mix of fluorescents and LED grow lights for vegetative phase and HPS for flowering stage for professional purposes.

Updated: December 17, 2019

Lights determine your marijuana plants' grow cycles, photosynthesis, health, and the quality of their buds. Which Lights are Best for Growing Weed? There are 4 main types of lamps that you can use for growing cannabis: LED grow lights, Fluorescent grow lights (T5 and CFL), Metal Halide grow lights, and High Pressure Sodium grow lights.