So you’ve heard great things about HID lights for growing cannabis, but you’re not quite sure you know all the details? We’ve got you covered when it comes to the most popular kind of grow lights on the market.
Why HID lights?
Let’s start with a quick explanation of why HID Lights (or High Intensity Discharge Lights) work well for cannabis growing. Because most people grow their plants indoors in order to better control all of the elements involved in cannabis production, you need a light that will provide intense light that mimics sunlight.
There are plenty of kinds of lights which are good for this, but HID lights are a popular choice because they are relatively easy to set up and operate, they are initially cheaper than the alternatives, and because their full spectrum light is strong enough to get through the plants’ canopy, meaning that your plants will grow larger and produce more. Who doesn’t like that?
Number 1: HID Lights are cheaper
First of all, HID lights are also some of the cheaper light set-ups on the market, which is why they are some of the most commonly used grow lights across the world. There are two types of light bulbs that can be used with an HID light system: Metal Halide (or MH) bulbs and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs.
An MH bulb generates light by arcing electric current through a mixture of gases. The particular cocktail of gases determines the temperature, color, and intensity of the light the bulb produces. Most MH bulbs generate a bluer, more powerful light, that encourages photosynthesis. This makes them a good choice to use during your plants’ vegetative phase, or the earlier stages of your plants’ growth, when the roots, stems, and leaves are still developing. A typical 600 watt MH bulb only costs around $20, and for most home growing purposes, can last about a year (although with significant light degradation).
An HPS bulb generates a more orange-red light, and with that a LOT of heat. This is important during the flowering phase because lower frequency light like this helps boost your plants’ hormone production, which encourages flowering. HPS lights are what really increase your plants’ overall productivity, and when used in combination with MH lights, make your plants grow healthy and strong. A typical 600 watt HPS bulb costs around $15, and can last even longer than an MH bulb, around 2 years (although with significant light degradation). However, they also consume more energy than MH bulbs do, making them a little pricier in the long run.
Number 2: HID Lights are easy to set up and operate
One of the most popular reasons that growers favor HID lights is that, while HID lights have a lot of different components, they are relatively simple to set up and operate. Most grow supply stores sell basic HID light kits, like this one, which come with all the components you’ll need to get started: a ballast, a reflector, and a light bulb. You screw the bulb into the socket attached to the reflector, connect the reflector to the ballast, and then plug in the ballast.
How you set up the reflector is up to you, but if you’re using a standard 600 watt bulb, you’ll want to leave about a foot or a foot and a half of room between the light and your plants.
You can easily customize your HID light kit set up by adding timers, vents, and resistors, all of which help control the heat and the amount of light that HID lights produce. There are also convertible or switchable HID systems, which means you won’t have to manually change out the bulbs between your plants’ vegetative and flowering phases.
Number 3: HID Lights have a proven ability to increase plant production
Because so many states have laws limiting the number of cannabis plants that can be grown in a household, HID lights are popular because the combination of MH and HPS bulbs has been proven to boost productivity and plant growth. HID lights have a well-established reputation for creating monster plants, which of course means more bang for your buck. Something to be aware of, though, is that the efficacy of HID lamps decreases rapidly over time, by as much as 70% over the course of 10,000 hours.
Big results, substantial drawbacks
In conclusion, though HID lights are proven to boost productivity and help grow gigantic plants, they have a few notable drawbacks as compared to other grow light systems. While setting up HID lights is pretty simple, they require more attention than LED systems, which are more of a set-it and forget-it kind of light system. HID lights are initially very cheap compared to other lighting alternatives, but because of the high energy use associated with the ballasts and vents needed to make HID lighting systems run effectively, they can cause your electric bill to grow almost as much as your plants do. Not to mention that all of that energy expenditure isn’t exactly environmentally friendly. But if you’re someone who’s looking for guaranteed results, no matter what the time commitment or energy costs, HID lights are the way to go.
Happy growing, friends, and as always, if there’s something you think we should cover, drop us a line.