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Marijuana Grow Lights: HPS VS LED

All plants need light and marijuana needs it more than most, which means that grow lights are crucial to successful indoor growing.  These days grow lights come in two main forms HPS and LED. 

What are LED & HPS marijuana grow lights?

The terms LED and HPS simply describe the technology which makes the lights work. LED stands for light-emitting diode.  This form of technology creates light through the use of a solid material, which acts as a semiconductor.  When an electrical current is applied, electrons pass through the semiconductor and are turned into light.  When the electricity is removed, the flow of electrons stops and hence the light goes out.  LED lights are the most energy-efficient lights on the market today.  HPS stands for high-pressure sodium.

This form of technology creates light in the traditional way, namely by passing an electrical current through a vacuum tube to create a series of chemical reactions in which sodium is the key player in that it is the element which creates the actual arc of light which is the whole point of HPS lamps, although other elements also play a part in making the reaction happen as desired.

hps-marijuana-grow-lightsPros and Cons of HPS Marijuana Grow Lights

HPS marijuana grow lights are a convenient growing solution

Even though we may not think about this much in everyday life, there are many different types of light and they can be used for different purposes.  For marijuana grow lights what you want is “photosynthetically active radiation” (PAR), which is the scientific way of saying “the sort of light marijuana plants like”, which actually differs according to their grow stage.  HPS marijuana grow lights are solid, all-round lights, which cover all the necessary bases fairly effectively.

HPS marijuana grow lights are more affordable to buy

For the foreseeable future, at least, HPS marijuana grow lights will probably have a future in the home market, at least for beginners, for the simple reason that they require far less in the form of up-front investment.  If you’re only growing a few plants or are a complete beginner trying to decide if you want to grow your own prescription or just head to the nearest dispensary, then the lower cost of HPS marijuana grow lights is likely to be far more appealing than the higher cost of LED marijuana grow lights.

marijuana-grow-lightsHPS marijuana grow lights create heat

Whether this is a pro or a con will depend on where you live.  If you’re in a cold climate, then you may be quite happy to use HPS marijuana grow lights as a form of heating as well as lighting.  On the other hand, if you’re in a hot climate, then more heat may be the last thing you need.

HPS marijuana grow lights carry the risks associated with heat

Even if you’re in a cold climate, any source of heat carries a risk of fire.  Some sources carry more than others and the the higher energy requirements of HPS marijuana grow lights makes them more of a risk than LED marijuana grow lights, albeit one which can be managed.

HPS marijuana grow lights are more expensive to run

HPS marijuana grow lights require more electricity than LED marijuana grow lights and hence are more expensive to run, particularly in warmer climates where you may need to using cooling systems to deal with the heat they produce.  It’s also worth noting that many electricity companies are moving to “smart metres”, which can give them a very accurate view of exactly what is attached to the mains supply and it is far from out of the question that they will find ways to start clamping down on the use of HPS marijuana grow lights for environmental reasons.

Sustainable growing methods using LED lightsPros and Cons of LED Marijuana Grow Lights

LED marijuana grow lights cover the colour spectrum better

Marijuana plants prefer blue light in the vegetative stage and red light during flowering.  HPS marijuana grow lights produce decent levels of blue light and good levels of red light, so they’re much more beneficial during the flowering stage.  LED marijuana grow lights are good at both blue and red light.

LED marijuana grow lights can be more confusing to buy

One of the key points to understand about LED marijuana grow lights at this point in time is that the quality varies hugely.  The best LED marijuana grow lights are every bit as good as traditional HPS marijuana grow lights, in fact some are now claiming even higher PAR values, but there are still quite a number of LED marijuana grow lights on the market, which just aren’t as good, which means you can’t expect the same level of results from them.  Working out which is which can be a challenge.

LED marijuana grow lights are a substantial upfront investment

Even the lower grade LED marijuana grow lights are generally more expensive than HPS marijuana grow lights and top-quality LED marijuana grow lights carry a significant price premium.

led-marijuana grow-lightsLED marijuana grow lights are massively more energy efficient

In the early days of LED they were used for the smallest displays, such as digital watches, because they had a high up-front costs but required very little power.  Now, LED technology is being rolled out everywhere from little lights to put on your keyring, to lighting up buildings on special occasions.  The reason for this is that they are the most energy-efficient lights there are at this time and so for larger-scale growers such as dispensaries, switching to LED marijuana growing lights is now pretty much a “no brainer” decision.

LED marijuana grow lights generate much less heat

Another reason why LED marijuana grow lights are increasingly preferred for large-scale grows is that they generate much less heat and are therefore pose less of a fire risk.  Even in colder climates, a combination of effective insulation and, if necessary a low-powered heating source plus LED marijuana grow lights can provide all the heat plants need safely and at lower cost than running HPS marijuana grow lights for both light and heating.

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MSNL Team MSNL Team / 19th February 2018

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One thought on “Marijuana Grow Lights: HPS VS LED”

  • EAA907420

    I live in a cold climate, in Western Alaska. I tested out all types of company commercial seeds, auto-flowering, regular seeds, feminized seeds, indica, sativa, hybrid, all from seed form, from commercial seed companies. I have a 4x4x6.5 grow tent. I use maxx yield 7-gallon grow containers that have the holes on the sides for proper water drainage and air flow to roots. I use the Pro-Mix Premium Organic Vegetable and Herb mix, organic soil trusted by pros since 1968. I use the iPower 600-watt HPS grow light set on 11.5on/12.5off because of heating issues. I use 3-12” oscillating fans and they barely help to keep the air flow warm instead of hot, I have no temperature guage to check temperatures. I tried 18on/6off for vegetative, and all plants will always stretch too tall and grow too close to the grow light, eventually killing and wasting all plants. I tried 12/12, plants like to grow both buds and seeds together. Maximum yield from iPower 600-watt HPS on 18on/6off veg for 4 weeks and 12/12 lighting was under 3 oz from 1 Blue Dream plant, but airy and foxtailed buds, and a funny taste from being burned from the light when it grew very close 4” or 5” away from the HPS light. 11on/13off was alright with the heating issues, but very low yield per plant and faster flowering finish compared to the 12/12. 22grams maximum grown from 1 plant, about 15 grams average per plant depending on strain genetics, plants grow that dank fire potent buds from 11on/13off from seed to harvest, compared to vegging on 18/6 before, but with a very odd aroma at the end of flowering from heat stress after switching from 18/6 veg. I recently switched from 11on/13off to 11.5on/12.5off to test if there is any difference in yield? I am thinking of switching to LED grow lights because of very low yields 20grams per plant under a iPower 600-watt HPS grow light, and heating issues. My house gets hot in the summer from the HPS 600-watt grow lights, only in the winter time is best growing time for my iPower 600-watt lights, buds will turn purple from the cold and grow solid dense buds, highest yield was only 22 grams per plant in the winter. Highest yield in the summer is 15-20 grams per plant. Summer time, the top parts of the plants are still sold and dense, but the lower parts of the plant grows small airy buds. Winter time, all buds grow solid from bottom to top, once in a while a few airy buds at the bottom from different strain genetics. They still stretch a lot from 11on/13off from seed to harvest, they don’t grow tall as when they veg on 18/6, they grow about half the size without using the 18/6 veg. The nodes will stretch far from each other, causing low yields and small buds. The buds are dense and solid buds for small tiny buds after they are harvested, trimmed, dried, and cured in jars.

    My question is would the plants grow bigger yields and more potent THC, dank aroma buds if I switched from 600-watt HPS lights to 1000-watt LED grow lights? I read somewhere online that LED lights are not really the wattage they say they are? Like a 1000-watt LED is actually a 600-watt LED or 400-watt LED? Do plants stretch more from HPS or LED lights? Do LED lights grow dank aroma, potent, and high quality buds same or better than the traditional HPS? I want to grow the maximum yield that I can and also grow them strong dank aroma, potent, high quality buds without growing small yields per plant. I’ve been growing since 2013, and I’ve been looking for answers from the good type of people and growers that don’t disrespect another persons growing style and give advice on how to improve a growers yield and THC potency in an all organic environment. I love smoking only organic grown buds for the best dank aroma terpenes, compared to the Hydroponic method, lot of ‘high quality 20% THC’ hydroponic buds i buy from the potshops have no smell, I would rather keep growing my own organic only for best aroma dank terpenes. Thank you for your time.

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