The term “grow light” refers to any type of artificial lighting used in a controlled environment (CE) setting to help sustain plant growth. Grow lights provide the necessary illumination for plants to thrive in a controlled environment. Most indoor growers have some sort of grow light in their setup, whether they realize it or not. There are many different types of grow lights available today, including high-pressure sodium lamps, metal halide lamps, fluorescent tubes, and LED lights. Each type offers its own advantages and disadvantages.
While High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs like HPS and MH bulbs have been the primary source of light for indoor growers since indoor growing became commonplace – they are relatively inexpensive, they are powerful and produce a fair amount of heat, and they produce a reliable spectrum. But more recently growers have been adopting LED grow lights because they last longer, have a better spectral output, and they can be adjustable in various ways.
LED grow lights have a particularly impressive feature that the other lighting systems do not: they can be automated. Automation means an individual can program settings and responses to stimulus to cause reactions in the LED grow light. This includes measuring temperature or humidity and turning on or off to react to the environmental reality. This is an excellent addition to a tent because growers no longer have to be tied to their indoor tent to be able to go grow effectively.
High-Pressure Sodium Lamps (HPS)
HPS lamps are commonly used in hydroponic and dry medium systems due to their long lifespan and low cost. HPS lamps produce a bright white light that is ideal for growing cannabis indoors. However, these lamps are known for being harsh on plants and have been linked to stunted growth. Another drawback of using HPS lamps is that they require frequent replacement. These lamps are also notorious for producing excess heat, which can cause overheating and damage to the plant.
HPS bulbs are widely available and are easy to set up. Every HPS bulb requires a reflector that is made of highly reflective aluminum, usually in a mottled pattern that reflects light in all directions to improve coverage. HPS bulbs also require a ballast, which can be digital or magnetic. A ballast is an electronic device that changes the electrical current of the normal 120V that is common in North America to other voltage needs required to heat the sodium gas inside the HPS tube. These ballasts last a long time – usually between 3 and 10 years depending on the quality of the construction.
Metal Halide Lamp (MH)
Unlike HPS lamps, metal halide bulbs do not emit much heat. Metal halides are often preferred over HPS lamps due to their lower operating costs and longer lifespan. Unfortunately, metal halide bulbs are expensive compared to HPS lamps and are not as effective at providing sufficient light for cannabis growth. However, they are very good at providing a lot of blue light that is excellent for vegetative growth. That said, do not expect to grow an entire plant under MH lamps.
Fluorescent tubes are inexpensive and offer great value for money. Fluorescent tubes are safe for use around cannabis plants; however, they do not last as long as HPS and metal halide bulbs. Additionally, fluorescent tubes are not able to produce the same amount of light as HPS and metal halide bulbs.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lights
LED lights are becoming increasingly popular among indoor growers because of their efficiency and longevity. LEDs are extremely durable and can last anywhere from 10 years to 30+ years. One downside of LED lights is that they produce less light than HPS and metal halides. However, they are still considered to be a good choice for indoor cannabis cultivation. This is because LED grow lights can cover the entire growth cycle – from providing blue light for vegetative growth to red light for flowering growth, and LED grow light does not produce much heat so it is versatile and it is efficient.
How do LEDs work?
The LEDs inside the grow light provide a specific wavelength of light while emitting a full range of wavelengths. This produces a wider range of colors and helps increase the amount of usable light reaching the plant.
Why choose LEDs over HID bulbs?
HID grow lamps have been around for decades, but they are relatively inefficient at producing light compared to their LED counterparts. LEDs allow growers to create custom spectrums of light using different combinations of red, blue, and green light. This increases the yield of cannabis and reduces the chance of photo-toxicity.
What Is a Smart Growing System for LED Lights?
Smart growing systems are digital, programmable devices that can control electronic growing equipment in a grow tent. This includes ventilation fans, oscillation fans, and LED grow lights. Unfortunately, other light types cannot be controlled by these smart systems because they are not digital devices. LED grow lights, however, can be adjusted and controlled by smart growing systems.
These smart systems are extremely powerful. They usually include temperature and humidity probes that measure changes in the environment – these changes are tracked by the smart system, which then sends signals to equipment to turn off or on or adjust operation according to the space’s needs. These smart systems are usually contained within a small control panel and that is made with a computer motherboard that helps measure and react to these changes. Smart systems can control temperature, humidity, timing (or in the growing world called “photoperiod”), spectrum, and can even program specific powerful, unique operations that fit individual needs. These systems are also able to control multiple devices at the same time, improving efficiency and depth of operation.
Where to buy LED grow lights and smart grow systems?
You can find LED grow lights online or at local hardware stores. However, if you are interested in purchasing a smart LED system and a smart grow system, you should rely on a specialized manufacturer of growing equipment like VIVOSUN, which specifically develops everything from fixtures, fans, lights, and other devices required for indoor growing.