Designing an indoor garden consists of several components coming together to form the ideal environment for your plants. Your crop needs adequate air, water, nutrients, and light to thrive in the garden.
While all four elements are essential for the optimal growth of your plants, light is often the most confusing, with so many options for your garden. HID, LED, CFL, which is the right choice for the garden? How do they affect crop production, and which system gives you’re the heaviest yield?
These are all questions the beginner asks when selecting the right lighting solution for their indoor garden. We decided to save you some research and put everything you need to know about indoor lighting systems into this single post.
LED Grow Lights for All Light Cycles
Light-Emitting Diodes are the new benchmark standard in indoor lighting systems. These lights feature dozens of small LEDs arranged in a fashion to optimize the output of the light. LEDs are the ideal choice for growing in all conditions across both vegetative and flowering light cycles.
Unlike HID systems that usually require two different bulb systems (we’ll get into HID in a minute), LED lights will feature dual lighting modes built into the lamp itself. You flick a switch, and the light moves from vegetative to flowering mode.
As a result of the convenience provided by the LED, many beginner growers prefer this system over HID. Another significant reason to choose LED over HID would be for the cost savings on your energy consumption., HID lights burn through energy like nobody’s business. However, LED lighting systems use a fraction of the power to produce nearly the same results. You can get thick, heavy harvests using LED, provided all the other elements of your garden are in check.
LEDs are the ideal choice for your indoor garden. However, make sure you buy a light with genuine Samsung diodes from the 3030 or the 2835 Series. Unfortunately, these lights come with a high upfront cost. However, you’ll make back your investment many times over with the energy savings over a traditional HID system. LEDs also have a much longer service life, offering you years of powerful, efficient lighting.
Fluorescent Lights for Cloning
Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL) systems are another great choice for stealth growing and use in cloning and mothering setups. They are the better choice for rooms with higher humidity, as there are no fans drawing moisture into the circuitry of an LED or HID light.
While CFLs are more common for the vegetative stage, there are also models available for flowering. They are a good choice for stealth growers using auto-flowering seeds. A CFL setup can fit into a compact space like a small box without producing the heat of HID and LED systems.
T5 Grow Lights are available from nay light manufacturers, and these bulbs are also suitable for flowering. You get a powerful light with low energy consumption and better efficiency than many HID and LED systems. Some die-hard growing enthusiasts swear that CFL and Led can’t produce the same results as HID lighting systems. However, we encourage you to search it on YouTube. You’ll find thousands of success stories of people using CFL technology for flowering their plants, receiving good results with their efforts.
CFL is also an affordable lighting system, with the bulbs providing a good service life. Cost for value, they offer you better efficiency and durability than HID systems, but they don’t have the same power as HPS and MH bulbs, which we’ll cover next.
HID Systems High-Intensity Discharge (HID)
HID or High-Intensity Discharge lighting systems are the gold standards in indoor lighting. While LED lights are fast catching up to the power of HID, they are still a hair behind the performance of HID, especially in the flowering department.
HID lights come in two variants, High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH).
Metal Halide for Vegetative
MH lights offer your plants the blue light spectrum they need for vegetative growth. These lights are effective, but they generate a lot of heat, and they consume a lot of power to light up the garden. MH offers you the fastest growth possible during the early vegetative stage of the plant life cycle.
However, the bulbs connect to a ballast that generates so much heat, it can affect the temperature inside the garden., especially in smaller rooms. As a result., many light manufacturers will offer a two-stage system where the ballast lies outside the tent to reduce heat inside the growing area.
Overall, Metal Halide bulbs are over-rated. Considering the cost and the limited service life of the bulbs, we think you’re better off going with LED or CFL lights for your vegging and cloning needs.
HPS for Flowering
Where HID shines is in the use of High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs for the flowing phase. These lights provide more of the red spectrum of light. As a result, the plant thinks it’s the waning days of the summer, forcing it to change from flowering in the plant life cycle.
Speak to any old-school grower, and they’ll tell you that LED lighting systems can’t hold a candle to HPS bulbs for flowering. While HPS does provide a better result, it’s negligible. Today’s modern LED systems featuring Samsung 3030 Series diodes offer growers almost the same performance levels as they would expect with HPS.
However, regardless of the bias, HPS does produce amazing results for flowering. If you don’t mind adding to your operational costs with the additional energy requirements, HPS is always a good option for your flowering cycle.
Which Lights are the Best Choice for My Indoor Garden?
So, which lighting system deserves to be powering your grow tent this season? We recommend beginners go with a dual-mode LED light offering both flowering and vegetative modes. These lights provide you simple installation and use without the hassle of worrying about additional HID setups.
However, if you’re a seasoned grower with a few harvests under your belt, maybe you’ll get more out of an HID system for your next crop. Check out your HPS bulbs and ballasts options, and select a lighting system to suit your needs.