LED vs HPS: Understanding Grow Lights 

By  Mitch Mandell

When it comes to the topic of grow lights, the question always comes up LED vs HPS?

 This was not the case even just a few years back, HPS (high pressure sodium) lights were the only lights that would give you big dense buds. Not so anymore!

What are the best grow lights for beginners? New growers need to make their decisions based on the type of setup they have and the amount of light needed for that setup.  If you use the setup we recommend, the decision is made for you.  It's that easy. 

And, If you're impatient like me and don't want to read the whole post, I'll give you a hint, It's LED's. Don't believe me, read on.

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HPS vs LED Grow Lights

CAN LED REPLACE HPS?

A majority of indoor farmers prefer LED grow lights because they outperform HPS bulbs by at least 50%. On the other hand, HPS grow lights are a feasible option for crops that require little variation in UltraViolet (UV) light to perform photosynthesis or nurture flowering. But as a new grower this detail is not important, so yes LED's can replace HPS lamps.

WHAT LED GROW LIGHT IS EQUIVALENT TO 600W HPS?

A new grower considering growing with LED's should purchase a 120-watt panel or a 600-watt HPS grow light. LED panels produce 90,000 lumens just like the 600W HPS bulb while reducing electricity usage by 50 percent. A new grower stands to save a ton of money in electrical bills using an LED grow light vs HPS. 

LED VS HPS GROW LIGHTS: OPERATION COSTS

Cost Of Purchase

Today, High-Pressure Sodium lights are not much less expensive compared to LED grow lights. On average,  a 100-watt LED panel costs around $150 while an HPS bulb with similar output ranges from $110.  Not much of a difference when you consider the lifespan of an LED is roughly 10 years

Electricity Consumption

Horticultural companies gravitated towards LED grow lights since the panels consumed only a third of the electrical energy used by HPS bulbs. In addition to lower power consumption, LEDs generate a higher return on investment because they stimulate a higher rate of photosynthesis for crops, leading to better harvests than HPS grow lights.

Heat Regulation

HPS grow lights are hot, very hot.  LED's are not. This difference in temperature compounds when several crops are grown under HPS bulbs. With HPS bulbs you need a way to cool down the grow room. The crops also face a higher risk of dehydration during hot summers.

LED grow lights emit less heat and this is why most grow rooms and tents use a set of fans to provide air circulation and regulate temperature. The low heat emission makes LEDs safe for nurturing clones and seedlings.

PROS OF HPS GROW LIGHTS

1. Affordable Source of Full Spectrum Ultraviolet Light

High-Pressure Sodium bulbs have built a strong reputation among horticultural farmers since the 50s. Its ability to provide powerful full-spectrum UV light makes it more reliable than fluorescent and metal halide bulbs. Some grow kits even come with HPS grow lights as an alternative to costly LED panels.

2. Provide Deep Penetration Of Light

Crops need sufficient UV light covering top to bottom to maximize yield production. HPS grow lights are reliable for growing plants that reach up to six feet tall since the bulbs emit powerful omnidirectional wavelengths. Foliage located at the bottom of the canopy benefits from such light and this results in a healthy plant.

3. Improves Microbial Activity in The Soil

Microbes reside in the soil and are beneficial to farmers because these tiny organisms break down manure into nutrients that are easily absorbed by plant roots. Optimum warmth inside the soil stimulates microbes to perform their role more efficiently. The heat emitted by HPS bulbs enables the soil to retain warmth consistently.

CONS OF HPS GROW LIGHTS

I'm not going to do into negatives of HPS lights, because of new growers it's not important but here' s short list

1. HPS Use More Growing Space Than LEDs

2. Large Grows Require Extensive Cooling

3. Requires Experienced Cultivators For Confined Grow Spaces

PROS OF LED GROW LIGHTS

1. Enables Cultivators To Optimize On Vertical Space

LED grow lights suspended above crops require a distance of two feet to protect the canopies from excess heat. The reduced heat compared to HPS bulbs, allows plants to grow much taller and produce higher yields. It’s one of the reasons why LED growers enjoy harvests that exceed HPS production by at least 50 percent.

2. Maximizes Space and Light Usage

Cultivators using LED grow panels switch from broad-spectrum white UV to deep purple light to promote flowering. This is based on scientific research that explains how plants utilize different wavelengths of light as they transition from vegetatave  to mature crops. Stimulating the rate of photosynthesis enables the crops to direct energy and nutrients toward bud sites and this contributes to impressive harvests.

3. LED Grow Lights Are Compatible With Remote Control

Technology has made indoor cultivation much easier thanks to grow apps that enable cultivators to remotely control certain variables. This innovation leans heavily towards grow tents or rooms that use LED grow lights. It makes it easier for first-time growers to understand how crops respond to various wavelengths and enables them to set light cycles through the phone or an iPad.

CONS OF LED GROW LIGHTS

1. High Performance LED's Can Be Expensive For Bigger Growers

You're a new grower, not a commercial grower, so this really does not affect you.  But if you love growing as much as I do, you'll want to graduate up to higher performance lights.   While it’s true that LED grow lights require only one-third of the power used by HPS bulbs, the purchase costs are expensive. A broad spectrum 720-watt commercial LED grow panel costs from $600 yet the grower needs about three to four panels to replace an HPS system.

2. High Volume Of Counterfeits In The Market

There’s hardly any barrier to entry for manufacturers or retail sellers when it comes to grow lights. Dishonest dealers publish fake product reviews online and use cheap-pricing strategies to con new growers by selling them inferior-quality LEDs.  This is why here, at cannabischeri.com, we recommend the the lights in the kit's from Budgrower.com as they use high quality LED's and stand behind their products.

WHAT YIELDS MORE, HPS OR LED?

Looking back at the pros and cons of each device, the LED's clearly emerge on top as far as LED Grow Lights vs HPS goes. Excessive heat, which, unfortunately, plagues HPS lights, affects yields because it limits the crop’s vertical growth.  In the beginner grow kits we recommend, LED's are really the best solution.

The ability to provide a combination of light spectrums promotes bud growth at a higher rate than HPS grow lights. Despite the recent upgrades implemented by High-Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs manufacturers, the LED’s grip on the market remains untouchable. This ability to promote photosynthesis at the highest level motivates customers to pay top dollar for LED grow lights.

LEDs maximize ROI by enabling each plant to produce a higher yield per square foot compared to HPS grow lights emitting similar lumens. When you consider the low energy consumption, and not needing to buy replacement bulbs for years, it makes financial sense for new growers to use LED grow lights.

We really love LED Grow lights and recommend them when growing.  We have a video review of a complete grow kit with everything you need, including a top of the line LED light, to start growing

BudGrower COMPLETE Indoor Grow Kits

indoor grow tent kit

Enter coupon code 10CC at checkout for 10% off

grow like a pro even if you are a beginner

  • Complete Grow Kit with EVERYTHING you need to grow.*
  • Learn how to grow with our step-by-step grow guide.
  • HAVE QUESTIONS?
    Our experts are ready to help.

* Except seeds

About the author

Mitch Mandell started growing cannabis as a teenager after he and a friend built a small greenhouse. He's been cultivating cannabis ever since. Mitch has grown indoors and outdoors, hydroponically and in soil. He's done extensive experiments using both organic and chemical fertilizers, as well as no fertilizer at all (he doesn't recommend this). We are thrilled to add Mitch's decades of cultivation experience to cannabischeri.com.

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