However, LED technology has come a long way in recent years. Modern LED grow lights with more lumens per watt and modern COBs (“Chips on Board”) technology can now provide adequate light intensity and penetration for even the most demanding grows. Today, LEDs can rival or even surpass other types of grow lighting including HID lights - though you need to get the right ones. LEDs are the most energy-efficient type of grow light. This means they can provide the most light compared to their running costs.
Another advantage of LED lights is that they run much cooler compared to HID lighting - barely producing any heat at all. This, in turn, means there is less risk of “burning” your plants from too much heat plus it helps to keep temperatures in your grow room down. LEDs also don’t need a ballast to work like HIDs do, you can simply plug them into a standard outlet. When compared to other types of lighting, the initial costs for LED grow lights can be steep. High-end grow LED fixtures with modern LED modules can easily set you back thousands of Euros. On the other hand, if you plan to grow a lot, the lower running costs of LEDs, and lower temperatures can make good for your initial investment over time. It is also worth noting that unlike HID and CFL lights, there is no industry standardisation.
As such, the current LED grow light market is flooded with retailers that try to sell poorly designed LED lights by often making outrageous and false claims. You get what you pay for when it comes to LEDs, and it always worth doing your research and paying extra for a reputable brand. This is a decision that will depend on various factors, including the size of your growing area, the light’s running costs over time and last but not least how much you can or are willing to spend. If you have very high light requirements, such as if you want to max out your yields during flowering you will not get around needing a powerful light such as a 600W or better HID light or LED equivalent. On the other hand, if you only want to grow one or two small plants, or are looking after clones and seedlings, a less powerful light will do. In some situations, regular HID lights, or LEDs, are either too expensive, or burn too hot for a small space. Growing cannabis with CFLs, is a great way to provide your plants with enough light to grow, but keep heat and energy consumption low. CFL stands for compact fluorescent lighting, and though they are not high intensity lights, they can still produce quality cannabis. Though, you will getter a better yield with LED or HID lighting, sometimes CFL is your only option. If you are growing cannabis with CFL, or think it is your best option, then feel free to ask for help in our cannabis growers forum. CFL’s will run cooler than most forms of grow lighting. Because of this, you can place them as close as 2-3cm from the top of the plants. Also, because they do not burn so hot, they require far less extraction to keep the room cool. You will still need extraction to remove stale air from the grow room. But you have the option of using smaller extraction, or a dimmer switch to slow the fans speed down. Growing cannabis with CFL’s will also use less electricity. It is not a huge difference, as you have to use many bulbs to meet the lumen needs. Plus, with HID lights, a lot less energy is wasted as heat. CFL’s are best used for grow rooms under 1m squared. They can also be used by growers on a budget as these lights are reasonably cheap to buy, or you may already have some around your house that you could use. Your CFL grow can be up and running for under the price of a few grams of cannabis from the black market. Growers can use a few 20w CFL’s and a couple of PC fans to grow cannabis in a small box or cupboard! If you would like to grow cannabis, but have no space for it, you could grow using CFLs, in an old PC tower, with a few PC fans. See our guide on stealth growing for more information. CFL’s can also be used as source of supplemental lighting.
By adding a few into the canopy of a HID/ LED grow, they can provide the plants with additional lighting, where the bigger lights can’t reach. Also, because of the low heat output, these lights can be hung in between flowering plants. This will increase yield and improve the overall quality of your cannabis. You can grow good quality cannabis using CFL’s, you just need to know how, and follow some simple rules to offer the best light you can to your plants.
Keep the bulbs as close to the foliage as possible. 20w CFL’s can be as close as 1-2cm, but 250W CFL’s need to be between 2-5 inches from the canopy. Due to the inverse square law, your plants get alot more lumens from the bulb when it is closer to them. This is another reason why CFL’s can be used to grow cannabis.