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Traditionally HPS grow lights have been used in the growing of cannabis, but this is starting to change, as LED lights are coming to the fore more and more. A major part of the impetus for the change has come from the growing strain on power consumption caused by the use of HPS grow lights in cannabis cultivation. Obviously there are other considerations too; such as the need for growers to continue to improve on their growing practices, and produce higher yields of good quality plants.
So exactly how bad is the power consumption situation, and are LED lights the way forward for cannabis growers? The answer to the first part of that question is pretty bad, it’s estimated that one per cent of all power usage from the grid in the US is for cannabis growing. That’s a huge strain on a power grid which could do without it. Obviously, the situation needs to be addressed and LED lights do take a lot less power from the grid than HPS grow lights. We’re going to take a look at the second part of the question, and examine the overall performance of LED lights when compared to HPS grow lights, in order to determine whether an LED grow light is a better investment than an HPS grow light.
The HPS grow lights is still the norm
Currently there are few cannabis growers using LED grow lights, with the HPS grow light still being the favored option. That being said more growers are gradually being tempted by the LED light solution, attempting to adopt new options in order to improve the growing experience, and the overall yield that is produced. As the amount of transition from HPS grow lights to LED lights continues, so the questions concerning the potential benefits are being asked; does the transition really bring enough benefits to make it a worthwhile investment?
You may have seen almost miraculous claims by the manufacturers of LED lights, and if you are a dedicated user of the HPS grow light you may feel that it all seems too good to be true. The truth is that it’s definitely worth taking a look at LED lights, as there is potential not just for having a positive effect on overall power usage, but also on the pocket and plant yield of you, as an individual grower. LED lights don’t perform miracles, but they can make growing cannabis an easier and more productive experience, it seems.
The dilemma of lights in indoor plant growing
There is no doubt that lighting your crop, in order to secure the best growth and yield, can be a complicated and expensive experience. Artificial lighting is not cheap but it is an essential part of the process, and you need to make sure that your money is well spent, and that any investment you make in lighting pays for itself, in helping to produce a good plant yield for you. It’s not easy to replicate the power of the sun indoors, and so far growers have seen the HPS grow light as the best solution. The main problem with these lights is how extremely power hungry they are; and they also don’t always produce the best growing results.
The first diversion from the HPS grow light came with the introduction of electric ballasts which were designed to produce more light while not using any extra wattage. This changed the cannabis growing landscape a little, but it’s set to change even more with the improvements and innovations surrounding LED lights. So why is the HPS grow light still so popular and will growers embrace the benefits of the LED experience? One of the main things in favor of HPS grow lights is that they have been proven to provide decent growing results, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that these growing results can’t be improved on.
What are the results when HPS grow lights are compared with LED lights?
The simple answer to that question is that LED lights provide a much better lighting solution than HPS grow lights; but let’s take a look at the question in more detail and see why this is the case.
Although LED lights may not seem to out-perform HPS grow lights just by looking, tests actually prove that they have the potential to produce greater light intensity and to improve the growth and yield of plants. This will especially be the case as technology leads to the ongoing improvements in LED lights in the coming years. Taking these improvements into account LED lights will definitely out-perform their HPS grow light counterparts. The future will see their performance continue to improve and they may just become the light of choice for the majority of growers, taking over from HPS grow lights.
The problem of heat
Experienced cannabis growers will all know the problems that can be encountered with the heat that is emitted from HPS grow lights. One of the major benefits to be had from using LED lights is that they do not emit the same level of heat, limiting the chances of potential heat damage to plants. If you are a grower who is currently using HPS grow lights you will know that it can be expensive and inconvenient to have to spend time and money on trying to cool and circulate air, in order to prevent any detrimental effect of the heat from the lights on your plants. This whole scenario can be made redundant by using LED lights, which can almost come into contact with your plants and still not cause any damage. This means that growers can save the money, time and effort they have to invest on cooling when HPS grow lights are in use.
You may think that if you are growing plants in cool conditions you benefit from having the heat from the lights. The HPS grow light system still presents the risk of burning plants though, and it’s often a better idea to simply add another heat source to the room, and change to LED lights. You can better control the temperature by using a separate heat source, and you don’t risk causing any damage to your crop of plants. There, is the potential for the heat emitted by LED lights to increase as the lights themselves grow in size, but currently the lights in use are merely warm to the touch and do not present any of the burn danger that can be present with HPS grow lights.
The question of yield
One of the most important considerations for growers, when it comes to lights, is the yield of crop they can help to produce; after all you need to make sure you get a good return on your investment. This yield production has been tested for both HPS grow lights and LED lights, on several occasions. The results of these tests have shown that on average growers that make use of HPS lights benefit from a yield of 0.5 grams per watt. On the other hand, growers that make use of LED lights benefit from a yield of 1 to 1.5 grams per watt. You can see from these results that using LED lights helps to achieve a yield that’s up to three times greater per harvest. This would seem to make the investment required to change from using HPS grow lights to LED lights well worthwhile.
The lifespan of your lighting
Of course, one of the most important considerations, when it comes to lighting your crop, is the length of time your light source will last, without requiring replacement. You don’t want to have to make costly investment in lighting replacement more often than is absolutely necessary. On average an HPS grow light lasts for 10,000 hours. This may seem like a long time, when it comes to the growing of cannabis, but it pales in comparison when you look at the life of an LED light. Each LED light lasts, on average, for 50,000 – 100,000 hours. Overall this means that you can benefit from 15 years of consistently high quality, cheap and easy growing. The benefit of your cannabis growth being guaranteed, from a lighting point of view, for such a long period of time, cannot be underestimated.
How versatile are the grow lights that you’re using?
If you’re growing a cannabis crop you want to be able to adapt your lighting to provide the best possible growing solution; this allows you to help control the growth pattern of your plants, and improve the quality and yield of your crop. The problem with HPS grow lights is that they are very bulky. This means that their versatility is severely restricted, which can be a major handicap for growers. On the other hand, LED lights can be placed closer to your plants, and arranged as you want them. The fact that they don’t emit a lot of heat also makes this possible, as there is no danger of burning the plants. All of this means that LED lights provide the very best versatility and ability to control growing conditions, to provide the optimum environment for your plants.
The benefit of focused lighting
The type of light that it is emitted is very important, if you want to create the best growing environment for your cannabis plants. HPS grow lights emit the entire wavelength, but LED lights emit light that is tailored for producing the best growth and yield from your crop. The LED lights focus on the blue and red spectrums that are best suited to the needs of the plant when it is going through the various stages of growth and blooming. This means that you can focus the right kind of light on your plants, in order to promote the best growth from them throughout the growth cycle.
Overall, what is the best type of light?
If you are currently using HPS grow lights to produce your cannabis crop you may be reluctant to make any changes. You may think that if your growing seems to be working you shouldn’t change it. Of course finance is always a consideration, and you may be reluctant to spend the extra money involved in replacing your HPS grow lights with LED lights. The question is, how do you know that your yield is as good as it can be if you have never tried using LED lights? Just because something works doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work on improving it. Yes, you may be getting a decent yield using your current growing practices, including HPS grow lights, but that doesn’t mean you can’t aim to achieve an even greater yield; you should always be aiming to improve your growing practices. If you can afford to make the investment then changing to LED lights can make for a more efficient and effective growing experience that produces a higher yield.
Finally, a video of HPS VS LED grow light from Greengenes Garden