Cannabis Cultivation 101: The Best Grow Lights for Indoor Weed

Indoor cannabis grow operations are becoming increasingly popular thanks to more widespread legalization and the comparative ease of growing and tending the cannabis plant with modern, state-of-the-art equipment.

Cannabis is useful even just for aspiring gardeners looking for a single plant to raise, as the species is versatile, resilient, and relatively resistant to damage and infestation. And for the aspiring toker, it can be incredibly efficient to grow your own weed; you can cut out the middleman and make your own product, growing it from seed to flower, and ultimately to joint. After all, who doesn’t enjoy the satisfaction of making something themselves?

However, if you’re looking to start growing your own plants and making your own consumables, it’s important to invest in one of the most crucial components needed to acquire any variety of healthy nuggets — light.

Without light, you won’t get any kind of a decent harvest, simply put. The best grow lights equal the highest quality THC (as far as you’re concerned), so it’s important to get the best ones you can afford. Of course, there are so many different types of grow lights available, how are you to know which are the best for you?

In this article, we provide a handy list of some of the best grow lights for indoor weed that are currently available on the market. Some of them are cheap, others are a little pricier, but if used properly, they’ll all get the job done.

The Best Grow Lights for Indoor Marijuana: What Types are There?

You’d think that, when considering lights for your grow operation, finding a good set would be pretty simple. After all, it’s just a light, right? How difficult could it really be?

Well, it turns out that there are a variety of different light types, with various pros and cons depending on what you’re looking for. Here is a rundown of the most common types of radiation sources that the best grow lights employ:

LED Grow Lights – The Modern, Efficient Solution

LED lights are the same things you see gracing your neighbor’s house at Christmas. Short for light-emitting diode, an LED is a simple form of light with an efficient energy signature. Due to the way in which the light is generated within an LED, they use a very low amount of electricity for the same amount of light compared to other sources.

However, LEDs have a problem of price extremity – they are generally either incredibly cheap (i.e. the ones you don’t want) or incredibly expensive (i.e. the ones you do want).

If you try and use the cheap, Christmas-style lights that are so frequently bought, then your weed harvest is going to be smaller than the LED’s carbon footprint. In other words, very minimal.

If you want to properly invest in your bud, however, you’re going to need to spend a lot of money to get a powerful LED setup.

An excellent benefit of LED grow lights is the fact that they create comparatively little heat when compared to other types of light. This ensures you don’t overheat your grow room – cannabis may like it warm, but if you make it too hot, you might end up with some wilted plants or worse, unwanted fires.

LED grow lights can also distribute a fuller spectrum of light thanks to the way in which the light is created through electroluminescence. This can result in a better, higher quality yield from your bud.

This is however counteracted by the fact that the average LED light board is quite low powered, resulting in the necessity of either multiple boards or an extremely large, single board.

Pros of LED Grow lights:

  • Creates less heat compared to other lights.
  • Incredibly energy efficient, to the point wherein you might not notice the increased electricity bill.
  • Able to be purchased from a variety of locations due to its prevalence in a lot of stores.

Cons of LED grow lights:

  • Either very cheap or very expensive. You either need to spend a large amount of money, or you end up with an inferior product.
  • Can require quite large boards of LEDs, due to their relative low power.

HID Grow Lights – The Traditional, Energy Hungry Choice

HID grow lights, short for High Intensity Discharge, are large light bulbs that emit a tremendous amount of heat and light, so much so that they usually require a full exhaust fan so as to remove the excess heat. Their electricity consumption is monstrous, and they generally need a decent amount of time and space in order to set up a properly working system.

HID Lights are typically divided into a few different varieties or sub-categories:

Metal Halide Grow Lights

Metal Halide, or MH grow lights are primarily used within the vegetative stage, the part of the cannabis plant’s life in which the seeds are sprouting growths and leaves are beginning to flourish.

The reason for this is because MH lights produce a strongly blue-tinged light, which the plants prefer at this stage of growth.

Although it might sound strange that a plant prefers a type of light, different colored lights are essentially just different wavelengths and intensities. Due to this difference in wavelength, the plant prefers stronger or weaker lights at different stages of its development.

For the early vegetative stage, the blue glow from the metal halide lights is best.

High Pressure Sodium Grow Lights

High Pressure Sodium, or HPS, grow lights are far more efficient than other forms of HID because they emit a gentler, yellow light that cannabis prefers when it is in the flowering stage.

This yellow light helps encourage intense bud production, allowing you to more precisely configure the eventual rate of your harvest due to using correct lights.

Light Emitting Ceramic Grow Lights

Light Emitting Ceramic grow lights, or ceramic metal halide (they both refer to the same thing) are so called because they feature a collection of ceramic heating elements inside the lamp.

Ceramic is used because, when you make the arc tubes that help create the light within metal halide lights out of ceramic, it has higher arc tube temperatures, meaning enhanced efficiency and color rendering.

The choice of whether to use LEC over the standard MH grow light is somewhat of a personal preference, but it’s also tied to cost; LEC grow lights cost more in an initial investment, but they also are more efficient over the long haul, lowering your overall electricity bill.

All in all, HID grow lights are somewhat old school, able to produce a huge harvest but using a huge amount of electricity. However, they’re still largely considered the standard for DIY’ers due to their output of efficiency and power, as well as the fact that they’re cheap to buy (even if you pay more for electricity over time).

Pros of HID Grow Lights:

  • They’re typically the choice of the professionals.
  • Most intense light option available, ensuring your plants get all the light they need.

Cons of HID Grow Lights:

  • You will end up needing multiple types of HID grow lights for different stages of growth if you want to be fully efficient.
  • HID lights require an investment into protective hoods and reflectors, forcing you to spend even more money.

CFL Grow Lights – For When You Want Your Cannabis to Be Like Office Workers

CFL grow lights, short for Compact Fluorescent Lamp, are the smaller version of those fluorescent lights you find in virtually every office that has ever existed since Thomas Edison invented the bulb.

These dreary lights work through a simple process, hence why they are so ubiquitously used throughout the office buildings of the world.

Fluorescent lights are also extremely energy efficient, allowing you to save a huge amount of money on your energy bills.

They also don’t require a ridiculous variety of different lights like HID lights, and they don’t require the investment of an additional setup like with HID, as the ballast and reflectors usually come bundled with the lights when you purchase them. Even better, they don’t require a heat removal (ventilation) system.

However, fluorescent lights are monstrous in size. If you’ve ever stared upwards in forlorn misery at your dreary office work, then you’ll notice they are long and large, taking up a massive amount of space. Alongside this, due to the nature of the light generated by the fluorescent process the light doesn’t tend to reach extremely far into the plants, only really benefiting those plants that grow short and fat, rather than tall and thin.

Pros of CFL Grow Lights for marijuana

  • Cheap and low of electricity and heat costs.
  • Due to their low heat, they can be used quite close to the plants. Excellent for young seedlings and recently growing plants.

Cons of CFL Grow Lights for marijuana

  • Extremely large in size.
  • Can unfortunately tend to be inefficient at reaching the entire plant due to the method in which light is created in the bulb.

Final Thoughts on the Best Grow Lights for Indoor Marijuana

As with everything, when deciding to get into a new hobby there is a barrier of entry that requires untold amounts of research, monetary investment and care so as to be able to properly understand it.

In growing cannabis, what you end up using as your light source says as much about you as your cannabis choice to begin with. Do you care about your electricity bills, or about saving the environment Do you value secrecy, or efficiency?

Ultimately, if you’re looking for discretion, LED grow lights and fluorescent grow lights are the likeliest options. Consequently, if you’re the ambitious sort who wants to cultivate as much bud as possible in as efficient manner as possible, then HID is probably the best grow light for marijuana available (this assumes that money is not an issue, of course).

The decision isn’t easy, nor is it meant to be – different options work best for different solutions, so pick the one that’s right for you and work to its advantages.

Unfortunately, in addition to selecting the best grow lights for indoor marijuana, you also need to decide on your soil type, your fertilizer preferences, and what type of dehydrator to get… the choice never ends.