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Using LED Lights for Growing Marijuana Indoors

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LED light
December 18, 2020
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LEDs have been around for a long time. Its use in horticulture, especially for indoor marijuana cultivation, was limited. Mainly, the earlier generations could not provide the full spectrum of light needed by the plants. Not that you couldn’t grow, but the yields cannot match the output of MH/HPS lamps. Those were the old days. Today, rapid advancements in technology and specialized LED horticultural lights have made it an incredibly enticing choice.

There are plenty of reasons to love LED lighting systems. One of these is LEDs long service life. You can also use LEDs to boost growth rate and produce high yields of dense buds. And they are super energy-efficient too – especially when compared to HID setups.

A Primer on the 3 Main Types of LED Grow Lighting Systems

For growing marijuana, there are three main types of LED lights. Each, of course, offers its advantages. But no one is better than the others as each also has disadvantages. Mainly, it comes down to individual preferences or needs.

1. Panel

LED Panel Lights

Most of the horticultural LED systems that you see are the “traditional” panel style. These lamps tend to be compact with small-to-medium wattage diodes. In recent years, manufacturers innovated by introducing unique form factors and mixing different small and large diodes.

2. Spread

These LED light systems typically consist of numerous small diodes spread over the fixture.

Quantum Board

Horticulture Lighting Group created the Quantum Board® – their highest efficiency horticulture light engines. A typical board would have over 200 low wattage diodes plus either 660 nm (deep red) or 470 nm (blue) LEDs. This design has since become so popular that the term “quantum board” is now used loosely to describe similar products from other manufacturers.

Spider LED

These LED lighting types are similar to quantum boards in that it uses multiple small diodes. Instead of a panel, it uses a rectangular panel with several “spider-like arms”. One highly impressive lineup is the SPYDRx series by Fluence. Costly but their customers swear by the high performance of the products.

3. COB

These LED light systems use COB (Chip on Board) LED chips. Each of these LEDs is exceptionally bright. A few pieces in a small area can provide more intense light than other lighting types, although they use more electricity. Cree is the brand that dominates this field, and they have LEDs for horticulture applications.

An advantage of using this type of chip is that you could buy multiple AutoCOBs – each lamp using only a single COB. That makes it possible for you to spread them over the growing area. Thus, you can ensure that there is an even distribution of light over the canopy. Furthermore, because each lamp is a spectrum by itself, you can create a custom spectrum by combining several AutoCOBs.

Why Use LED Grow Lights

There are plenty of reasons why you should use LEDs instead of HID or CFL lamps. Keep in mind that along with benefits, they also have disadvantages. Once you understand the strengths and weaknesses, you can better decide if this is the type of lighting that your plants need.

Pros

Compared to HID of similar output, you save up to 40% on energy consumption. They also do not require a ballast, which would have used another 100 to 150 watts of electricity. Moreover, its lifetime lasts up to 60,000 hours. A typical HID lasts only 2,000 to 3,000 hours.

LED Grow Light On

HID setups are bulky and require a generous space. LED grow lights needs only a small space. Apart from being more shock-resistant, they are also more durable. One reason for that is they have a lower heat output. If you touch the surface of a reputable brand, it would still feel cool even after running for hours. You also do not need a reflector hood because the diodes focus light emitted as opposed to dispersing.

With HID, the bulb needs warming up before becoming fully lit. LEDs, on the contrary, turn on and off instantly. They are also easy to dim.

Cons

LED lights need stable electricity. A voltage regulator solves that. Also, the upfront is more significant as the good brands are more expensive than MH/HPS lights. However, they are only more expensive in terms of upfront costs. You can quickly recover your investment as the cost of electricity is lower. They also have a much longer service life.

LED Grow Light Off

What Are the Best Indoor Marijuana LED Grow Lights?

Presented here are some of the best LED grow lights that marijuana growers have tried and had great results. A couple of things need mention.

  • The prices are from the manufacturer/brand. You might be able to buy them at lower prices from a retailer or distributor.
  • Although there are figures for yields, that is subjective and mostly dependent on the strain and other parameters that affect growth.

The Green Sunshine Company

Compact but highly capable. These marijuana LED grow lights feature a wideband spectrum designed to boost vegetative growth and flowering. It has 2-way linear lenses to reduce the loss of light and focus it into a rectangular space. If needed, you can also daisy chain multiple units to cover large areas. During harvest, you see the benefits of its ability to penetrate dense canopies in the potent, dense buds.

  Electric Sky 180 V2 Electric Sky 300 V2
Recommended Retail Price $420.00 $695.00
Average Yield 3 to 7 oz 5 to 11 oz
Input Power / Voltage 180 W / 100-277 V 300 W / 100-277 V
Amperage 1.5 A @ 120 V / 0.75 A @ 240 V 2.5 A @ 120 V / 1.25 A @ 240 V
Dimming 1-10 V – Dimmer and Daisy Chain Kit Included 1-10 V – Dimmer and Daisy Chain Kit Included
Heat BTU Generated 614 BTU 1,023 BTU
Spectrum GS1 Wideband Spectrum – Continuous 400-780 nm response GS1 Wideband Spectrum – Continuous 400-780 nm response
Human Eye Appearance 2300 K & 91 CRI 2300 K & 91 CRI
LED Diode Count 384 diodes 720 diodes
Photon Efficiency [300-780 nm] 2.3 μmol/J 2.34 μmol/J
Veg Footprint / RMH 2 x 4 to 2.5 x 5 ft / 36 in 3 x 6 to 3.5 x 7 ft / 36 in
Flowering Footprint / RMH 1.5 x 3 to 2 x 4 ft / 18 in 18” / 2’x4’ -2.5’x5′ area
Dimensions / Weight 24.5 x 12 x 2.4 in / 14.5 lbs 36 x 12 x 2.4 in / 22 lbs
Lifespan 70,000 hours 70,000 hours
Warranty 3 years 3 years
Laboratory Tested Certifications ETL, CSA, CE, RoHS, RCM ETL, CSA, CE, RoHS, RCM

Horticulture Lighting Group

The results speak for itself. Horticulture Lighting Group’s Quantum Board is probably the most innovative and powerful LED lighting system for marijuana today. But that does not stop them from continuing on improving upon proven products. These latest offerings feature improved light coverage and better canopy light penetration. The full-spectrum white and 660 nm red are sure to power your plants through all life stages, and reward you with incredibly generous harvests.

  HLG300L V2 R Spec HLG 550 V2 R Spec
Recommended Retail Price $449.00 $799.00
Average Yield 8 to 16 oz 10 to 20 oz
Power 90-270 W 200-480 W
Voltage Range 90-277 V 100-277 V/ 50-60Hz
LED   Samsung LM301H & 660 nm Deep Red
Veg Footprint 4 x 4 ft 6 x 6 ft @ 36 in
Flowering Footprint 2.5 x 2.5 to 3 x 3 4.5 x 4.5 to 4 x 5 ft @ 24 in
System Efficiency 164 Lm/W  
System PPF Efficacy 2.6 μmol/joule 2.65 μmol/joule
Total output 700 PPF 1272 PPF
Recommended Mounting Height 18-24 in 24-32 in
Dimensions 26 x 10 x 3 in 29 x 20 x 4 in
Warranty 3 years 3 years
Laboratory Tested Certifications UL, ETL, CSA UL, ETL, CSA

Kind LED Grow Lights

The new K3 series is better than ever, featuring enhanced UV diodes that improve the production of terpenes. They have recalibrated secondary optical lens focus light intensity, delivering 200% greater canopy penetration, which increases bud density and yields – significantly. Furthermore, Kind LED also optimized the diode distribution to eliminate or minimize hot spots, thus resulting in more even coverage.

  K3 Series2 XL450 K3 Series2 XL600
Recommended Retail Price $495 $595
Average Yield 4 oz 5 oz
Input Voltage 100-240 V 100-240 V
Output Voltage 76 V DC 76 V DC
Max Wattage 227 W (±5%) 288 W (±5%)
Amperage 2.25 A @ 120 V / 1.125 A @ 240 V 2.67 A @ 120 V / 1.33 A @ 240 V
HID Wattage Equivalent 450 W 600 W
Spectrum Full Spectrum 380-730 nm Full Spectrum 380-730 nm
Diodes 120 (3 W, UV, IR) 150 (3 W, UV, IR)
Recommended Mounting Height (RMH) 18 in 30 in
Footprint (RMH) 2 x 3 ft 3 x 4 ft
PPFD Peak (RMH) 579 663
Dimensions / Weight 22 x 13 x 3.25 in / 19.3 lbs 28.4 x 13 x 3.25 in / 24 lbs
Lifespan 50,000 hours 50,000 hours
Warranty 3 years 3 years
Laboratory Tested Certifications CE, RoHS, FCC CE, RoHS, FCC

Platinum LED Lights

A relatively new player in the market, Platinum LED quickly gained recognition for making LED grow lights with the highest PAR per watt and the most complete 12-band spectrum available to ensure maximum yield with minimum power usage and heat. From the depths of UV to the upper IR, your plants receive everything they need. 90-degree secondary focusing lenses penetrate deep within the canopy to further enhance growth and bud production.

  P450 P600
Recommended Retail Price $539.00 $659.00
Average Yield 3 oz 6 oz
Voltage 85-260 V 85-260 V
Bloom Power 255 W 345 W
Veg Power 137 W 184 W
Amperage (Veg + Bloom) 2.3 A @ 110 V / 1.2 A @ 220 V 3.1 A @ 110 V / 1.6 A @ 220 V
Amperage (Veg Switch Only) 1.2 A @ 110 V / 0.6 A @ 220 V 1.7 A @ 110 V / 0.8 A @ 220 V
HID Replacement 600 W HPS 800 W HPS
12-Band LED Spectrum Included Included
Secondary LED Focusing Lens 90° 90°
LED Quantity 150 x 3 W 200 x 3 W
Max Coverage @ 18 in 4.5 x 4 ft 6 x 3.75 ft
Core Coverage @ 18 in 3 x 2.5 ft 5 x 2 ft
Dimensions / Weight 19 x 11 x 3 in / 15 lbs 36 x 8 x 3 in / 24 lbs
Lifespan 50,000 to 100,000 hours 50,000 to 100,000 hours
Warranty 5 years 5 years

ViparSpectra

PAR450 and PAR600 are scientifically engineered to keep the balance of the PAR/Lumen output and coverage. These dimmable LED grow lights offer the full spectrum needed by the plants in all stages of growth. The latest release includes upgraded front fans and big aluminum heat sinks to dissipate heat efficiently.

  PAR450 PAR600
Recommended Retail Price $169.99 $219.99
Average Yield 3.5 to 5 oz 4.5 to 6 oz
Input Voltage AC 100-240 V AC 100-240 V
Input Frequency 50-60 Hz 50-60 Hz
Average Power Draw 213 W ± 3% @ 110 V 274 W ± 3% @ 110 V
Amperage 1.83 A @ 110 V, 0.92 A @ 220 V 2.59 A @ 110 V, 1.30 A @ 220 V
LED Chips 90 pcs high-intensity 5 W Epiled/Bridgelux LEDs 120 pcs high-intensity 5W Epiled/Bridgelux LEDs
Veg Footprint / RMH 2.5 x 2.5 ft / 32 in 3 x 3 ft / 34 in
Flowering Footprint / RMH 2 x 2 ft / 24 in 2.5 x 2.5 ft / 26 in
Dimensions / Weight 14.1 x 11.4 x 3.3 in / 12.1 lbs 14.1 x 11.8 x 3.5 in / 13.7 lbs
Lifespan 100,000 hours 100,000 hours
Warranty 3 years 3 years

Which LED Grow Light Brand Should You Choose?

One thing to keep in mind about these brands is that most of them have more powerful lights. Some also have other lines or series. For large grows, you are better off using multiple smaller light systems than one large one. As for the specific brand or model, it appears that there are two options.

As a beginner, you may want to start with the cheapest choice. ViparSpectra PAR450 or PAR600 costs $169.99 and $219.99 respectively. Depending on where you purchase them, you might even get a discounted pricing. Compared to the others, these are cheaper by some $200 to nearly $600. Once you get the hang of it and decide to keep growing, you may upgrade later.

There is no doubt that the Horticulture Lighting Group has the best LED grow light for marijuana. In comparison with the other brands featured in this article, excluding ViparSpectra, both HLG300L V2 R Spec and HLG 550 V2 R Spec produce significantly higher yields while costing near the same.

At any rate, you should also check for the latest innovations in horticulture LEDs, as this is a highly innovative field. By the time you are ready to buy, someone else may have introduced a new, superior system. You can also watch our Choosing your Lights with Kyle Kushman video for further guidance.

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