How to pick the best grow lights for your at-home cannabis crop

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A light (aka lamp) is a critical part of the indoor set-up for at-home cannabis growers.

While many typical houseplants will grow on a window sill with moderate light, the cannabis plant thrives on light consistency to reach its full potential. Artificial light can be beneficial because it offers control over exactly when and how much of what kind of light the plant receives.

So, when choosing a light, there are a few factors it’s best to consider.

First: budget. How much of an investment in the set-up are you willing to make? It’s a good idea to set a budget before going lamp shopping, as the cost of the lights themselves and the electricity to run them can add up quickly.

What light spectrum is best for cannabis growth?

Once the right lights are in hand, it will be important to consider light spectrum. Without getting too deep into the scientific weeds, it’s key to understand how different types of light affect the plant’s development. Simply put, certain light spectrums, like light-emitting diode (LED) promote vegetative growth, (that is, leaves and stems), while others, like HPS (high pressure sodium), promote growth of fruits and flowers (that is, buds). And during indoor cannabis growth, there’s a time and place for both.

What are the main types of at-home grow lights?

There are three main types of lights: LED, high-intensity discharge (HID) and compact fluorescent lights (CFL).

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While many typical houseplants will grow on a window sill with moderate light, the cannabis plant thrives on light consistency to reach its full potential.

HID lights were the gold standard for years as they were known to produce the highest yields. Robert Bergman, who has been growing cannabis in and around Amsterdam for more than two decades, explains that if everything goes according to plan, a person can grow one gram per watt. So, if using a 400-Watt HID light, the harvest could be up to 400 grams of cannabis.

But while HID lights emit a lot of powerful light energy, they also produce a lot of heat and, therefore, draw a lot of electricity, which can be a deal-breaker depending on your grow setting and budget. HID lamps usually come with two separate bulbs, one HPS bulb for the vegetative and one MH (metal halide) bulb for the flowering stage.

LEDs are still relatively new to the market, but are eco-friendly and energy-efficient, lasting as long as 50,000 hours. (HID lamps get about 10,000 to 20,000 hours).

You’ll pay for the longer life expectancy of LEDs, though. One study found that LED lights can cost upwards of 10 times more than HIDs, and those same researches noted the overall cost of LEDs (electricity and the fixture itself) over a five-year period was still two times higher than HIDs.

CFL lights, for their part, seem to be the best bet for those growers working with a confined space or limited budget. They emit less usable light, true, but draw the least amount of power and are the cheapest option compared to LED and HID, making them an affordable solution in both the long- and short-run. Many growers will use CFL lights during the early stages of sprouting or for developing clones, as the plants require less energy at these points.

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There are three main types of lights: LED, high-intensity discharge (HID) and compact fluorescent lights (CFL).

Which grow lamp will light the way?

Now that the basics have been covered, it’s time to pick a product. To get you started, consider these four grow lights for personal use, all of which are available for purchase online and in Canada.

Lumagro 600W Digital Air Cool Tube Grow Light System

If new to growing, it may be worth it to buy a bundle. Lumagro offers pre-packaged kits that come with everything necessary to get started, plus a one-year warranty.
$273.95 + tax and shipping at Lumagro

Unit Farm: UFO Cree Series LED Grow Lights

This LED is a fan favourite. Light wavelengths are expertly directed at cannabis plants thanks to special reflectors and the light has two different modes: veg and flower. Depending on the stage of growth, the light type can be selected and power consumption adjusted accordingly.
$409.99 + tax and shipping at Grow Daddy Canada

Hydrofarm 125-Watt Compact Fluorescent Grow Light with Dew Guard

Here’s a solid CFL option for the amateur grower. For under $100, you get a fully assembled unit complete with a light reflector to maximize the bulb’s output. All that’s needed is to pull it out, plug it in and position it above your crop.
$86.00 + tax and shipping at Amazon

iPower 600 Watt HPS Dimmable Grow Light

Affordable and effective; that’s the name of the game with great HID light setups like this one. The unit comes with an HPS bulb for vegetative growth and a MH bulb for the flowering stage.
$283.87 + tax and shipping at Amazon

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