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.

LED-marijuana-grow-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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