Throughout our articles we have discussed several success factors of an indoor production. Here is a short summary: Growing indoor will provide you with the opportunity to influence all environmental factors. This way you can optimize soil, air, water and grow light to create the perfect conditions for your plants. The more you take care of them, the better your yield. And with light it is easy. Always remember: More light = bigger yields!
Lights are essential because they largely determine your plants' grow cycles, their photosynthesis and therefore their health and their buds. Lighting is the food of your marijuana plants. When first creating your grow room make a blue print to decide what system for water management, light and air flow you want to use. In this piece we will discuss the details about lighting.
Which Lighting is Best for Growing Weed?
There are 4 main types of lamps that you can use for growing cannabis:
Fluorescent grow lights (T5 and CFL)
Metal Halide grow lights
High Pressure Sodium grow lights
While each of these options has pros and cons, as well as different stages of growing cycle and different sizes of operation they work best for, in this article we'll focus more on the types that will be your bread-and-butter for a commercial-scale grow operation.
Pro Tip 1
Normal light bulbs won't work for your plants :)
LED Grow Lights
LEDs are super easy to set up. Small ones are literally plug and play. Once you have plugged them into a wall you may just hang them above your plants. They are the way to go for an easy setup that still grows great yield.
They don’t run very hot but for a professional production you still will have to set up exhaust fans and organize airflow and temperature throughout your growing facility.
Make sure to keep enough distance to your plants with LEDs to avoid light burn. Also, be sure to get a light that includes green and white light for full spectrum. Only red or blue light will not be enough for your plants.
LEDs are the way to go for small production up to 1 ounce of cannabis per month, but produce slightly lower yield per watt than HPS and Metal Halide lamps, and are generally less optimal for professional grows.
Fluorescent Grow Lights for Cloning Young Plants
Fluorescent lights will be your go-to for the very first stages of your plants' lives. They don't use much electricity, they're cheap, and they're also very popular with many hobby gardeners and so are very easy to find.
Compact bulbs (CFL) that you can find in any hardware store can great for small or narrow areas, or grow tent set ups for beginner grows. For your professional production, however, you are going to want to look for T5 Grow Lights (the long tube-like ones) which can be found in a home and garden center.
Those lamps are best used for cloning, seeding and young plants. Without burning the plants you are able to place them close to the plants and save electricity. Also, they do not produce a lot of heat, and the purple-white spectrum is ideal for seedling plants.
However in the vegetative and flowering stages, keep in mind that fluorescents will lead to smaller yields. While T5 lights are great for small plants, in the later stages you will want to use a higher powered light like HPS or Metal Halide.
Pro Tip 2
Use T5 flourescent grow lights for cloning, propagation, and seedling stages
Metal Halide Grow Lights for Vegetative Stage
These lights are one of two types of High Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights, and are incredibly efficient. Metal Halide (MH) lights typically come in an integrated fixture with an external ballast and reflector hood, and will need proper ventilation due to high heat output.
These bulbs, along with High Pressure Sodium (HPS), the other type of HID grow light, produce the highest yields per watt of electricity out of any grow lights available. For this reason, they are the go-to for professional growers in the later stages of plant development.
Metal Halide produces a bluish spectrum which is ideal for the vegetative stage.
Pro Tip 3
In the vegetive stage switch from T5 fluorescents to HIDs. Use a ratio of 2 Metal Halide lights to 1 HPS light for maximum yield.
HPS Grow Lights for Flowering Stage
Simlar to Metal Halide, HPS grow lights must be used with reflector hoods and ventilation. The fixtures used for Metal Halide bulbs and HPS are typically the same, so you can use the same fixture for both vegetative and flowering stages, and simply swap out the bulbs.
HPS produces a more yellowish/full spectrum that promotes budding and is ideal for the flowing stage. These bulbs are an absolute must-have for a professional grow.
Pro Tip 4
In the flowering stage, switch to using only HPS bulbs to promote budding and maximize yield.
Pro Tip 5
HPS and Metal Halide lights will get very hot and you want to use them with an exhaust fan to not burn your plants.
To understand the climate and temperature that your plants need, check our article on air flow and ventilation which will teach you how to keep the right temperature in your sealed room.
The lamps are well suited for growing marijuana and if you are looking for the highest yield HPS/Metal Halide is the way to go. Just consider the extra amount of work and cost for setting them up including cables, exhaust fan and fixture. Make sure to get a digital ballast. They use less electricity and bulbs will live longer.
Pro Tip 6
High quality HPS and Metal Halide grow lights will typically create 2 to 4 times more yield than fluorescents.
Why Your Plants Love Light
Your plants ability to perform photosynthesis is the key to your commercial success. Make sure to put some thought into your lighting before getting started. Shining just about any light on your plants is not going to do the trick.
Light waves come in a colour spectrum. The sun is a full spectrum light. A low light intensity might lead so long plants because they stretch to receive enough light. When having high intensity your plants may turn our shorter. You can adjust the light intensity by choosing the distance from your plant.
In the vegetative stage your plants will want up to 18 hours of light. In the flower stage they grow best in 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. Your ability to choose the rhythm of lighting lets you create the perfect light timing for your plants.
Make sure you provide a minimum of 6 hours of darkness for your plants. The 12/12 hours flowering cycle will make your plant believe it is late summer which is their time to develop buds. You want to start this after 2 to 4 weeks of growth in the vegetative phase. This is the time where you can switch from fluorescents to HPS grow lights.
Pro Tip 7
Gently switch from one cycle of light to the other. Take a couple of days to switch from 18/6 to 16/8 to 14/10 to 12/12 hours.
Pro Tip 8
Use a timer to do the switching. This way your lights are always on schedule and you do not have to worry about it. Timers can be easily shopped online or in any store that has electronics for home improvement.
Grow lights are the heart and soul of your plants’ health. If you are small or on a budget you might start out with fluorescent lights but keep in mind that this will affect your yield. Use a mix of fluorescents and LED grow lights for vegetative phase and HPS for flowering stage for professional purposes.
You should check out ClearLight CLG-ProV lights. replaces 600W sodium bulb for a third the energy. one light good for up to 35 sq ft.
What’s the best light schedule for a budded plant
Ha, see we have some fellow Okies on here; a couple of Sep 2018’s. Way to go we finally got our rights back in this state. I have used full spectrum Meihzi led’s on a couple of grows and they work great. I use two 600w for veg in a 2×4, and I use two 1200w for bloom in a 4×4. The plants veg nice and squatty, and the flower I have gotten is fat and dense. I recommend these. There are some others out there that my friends have bought that do not create the PAR or spectrum, so definitely do the research. I have heard quite a bit about the new Samsung chips, but I have not tried them yet. I have used t5’s and 1000w hps combos in the past with success, but so far the Meihzi’s are taking the lead. Hope that helps.
After reading this article, can I summary LED is not a good choice for growing?
Ives used purple and quantum boards, but I will never go back after buying cobs I’ve got them in all my tents now , denser buds and more compact plant growth check them out yourself the warranty sells itself Pics for reference.
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I am so happy Norm nailed it!!!! I can’t believe the lady that work for the LED company didn’t know that? yes you can get a much better product with higher performance with the new advances in LED technology. Not only can you get prettier nicer nuggets but you’re getting them at a cheaper cost with life that last longer and produce less heat they are more expensive to buy but in the long run you’re getting a better product if you buy the right LED’s and do your research!! Which it doesn’t look like anybody on this page as except for Norm, way to go Norm!!!
Not saying 18-6 is a bad veg cycle, but why would 6 hours of darkness be a mininum. You can keep the plants under 24hours or 23-1 or whatever u want to. Cannabis flowers because of long nights and 12/12 is known to activate this hormonal response triggered by phytochrome. Doesnt need to be done gradually and theres no minimum night requirement for veg. Sorry.
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Hi. Im just struggling now. If what to use based on my plant. I have a 5th week flower and it was my first trial. I read an article http://kylekushman.com/topic/whats-everyones-favorite-lamps/ about lamps and LED light. and still figuring out what to use. does anyone here help me? thanks
We are finding difficult to calculate the power and cost required for the luminance required for Merijuana cultivation can you help.?
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Your info on LED’s is sadly out of date. High efficient white light COB LED’s (from Citizen, Bridgelux, Cree and Luminus) and Samsung LM531C white LED based boards and strips are far out-yielding HPS watt for watt, with many skilled growers getting upwards of 2 grams per watt.