Picking the right lights for your grow environment is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make if you want to grow cannabis indoors.
In principle, there are three major types of grow lights out there – fluorescent grow lights (CFLs and T5), high intensity discharge (HID) lights, and LEDs.
In this article, we’ll run you through a few basic considerations when it comes to making your choice between these different kinds of light.
Check your buying budget
First off, set yourself a realistic buying budget for your grow environment. Naturally, this limits the range and type of grow lights you can get.
Generally, HID lights are cheapest in terms of initial investment. You can get a decent HID system for around $80. CFLs are slightly more expensive, with solid systems starting at around $120.
In contrast, LEDs are less budget-friendly – at least initially. For quality LED grow lights, you have to pay around $400. Far cheaper versions exist, but they’re often low-quality knock-offs that won’t provide the right wavelengths for your plants to grow strong and healthy.
Keep electricity bills in mind
When it comes to your growing budget, initial investment isn’t everything.
HID lights are cheap but have the highest operating costs. Their energy requirements are far higher than CFLs or LEDs.
In addition, you might need to invest into additional equipment with different types of grow lights. For instance, HIDs produce a lot of heat. Consequently, you could end up needing an additional ventilation or AC unit to avoid overheating your plants.
Electricity is a hidden cost when setting up your environment, but you’ll quickly see the additional energy consumption reflected in your power bill.
Scale to your needs
What type of lights are right for you also depends on what scale you want to grow, and how many harvests per year you’re aiming for.
In many US states, the legal limit for personal consumption is 6-12 plants. In that case, you can get away with 1-2 relatively small lights.
If you want to take it to a larger scale, you could consider setting up two separate rooms – one for growing plants, one for flowering ones. In this case, you might want to opt for specialized lights. LEDs, for instance, come in different varieties that provide the perfect wavelength for either vegetative or flowering growth.
Consider your growing space
A final consideration when it comes to picking the right type of grow light are space constraints. Are you setting up your growing environment in a wide open basement? Or are you operating in a grow tent – or a closet?
This will put some major restrictions on what sort of lights you can use. The smaller your environment, for example, the more important it is to invest in low-heat lights. Otherwise, you might damage your plants, especially the delicate seedlings.
Also keep safety in mind. Make sure you have enough power outlets in your grow space to comfortably accommodate your lights and potential ventilation equipment.
When it comes to picking the right grow lights for your needs, there are three major factors: your budget (both short- and long-term), the constraints of your growing space, and the scale at which you want to grow.
By taking these issues into account, you’ll be able to pinpoint the perfect systems to help your marijuana plants flourish.