Lighting your professional indoor cannabis grow can be done in a variety of ways. And you have many more choices now than you did just a few years ago.
To produce the intense light to mimic the power of the sun and the required number of lumens, growers often use high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. Each HID bulb is a combination of gases, metal salts and electrical arc tubes to create light. For many years, growers were limited to using metal halide or fluorescent bulbs for vegetative growth and high pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs for flowering. Recently, with the addition of high output double ended light systems and LEDs, growers now have more choices meet their exact needs.
High pressure sodium (HPS): The majority of growers still use HPS lighting in their flowering room. HPS bulbs come in various outputs (from 50 to 1000 watts), with 600 or 1000 watt bulbs more common in larger grow spaces. Also, adjustable ballasts put the grower in command of the bulbs’ intensity and power consumption. But the equipment runs hot and requires venting and cooling to maintain proper room temperature.
Double-ended (DE): The last few years have seen double-ended HID lamps, in both HPS and metal halide styles, rise in popularity. DE systems can increase your yields and density. The lamps work with a specialized socket, which is much like a fluorescent light socket and uses a thinner bulb. This shape provides a wider light footprint and canopy coverage. With lower temperatures and longer bulb life, DE lights offer an intense output with reduced maintenance. Ballasts are often adjustable, so you can use a variety of settings for light intensity.
Light-emitting diode (LED): LED bulbs are not in the HID category, but they work well in many grow spaces. Combining small diodes on a light board creates a full spectrum. These little bulbs run cool because they don’t burn filaments like other bulbs; they can be placed much closer to the plants. This helps the grow room keep many bulbs running without additional air circulation.
LED technology is advancing at a rapid rate to fit the needs of indoor grows. They’re an excellent addition to a vegetative room. LEDs can also work well in smaller flowering rooms, but in large-scale professional applications they wouldn’t be practical due to lumen loss at a distance.
Whether setting up a new grow room or considering a lighting change in an existing room, you should consider several factors, including electrical use and cost. HID lamps have a high power consumption and can cost quite a bit of money. Dissipating the heat buildup from ballasts and bulbs is also important.
For the vegetative stage, many producers use a combination of metal halide and fluorescents. This provides a maximum of coverage with a minimum of electrical use. Other benefits to this approach include low heat and rapid positive growth.
For the flowering stage, growers can complement their HID systems with LED lamps to bring cool light to lower branches. This approach puts you in control of the light range, since using a wide spectrum for flowering plants increases terpene production.
No matter what option you choose, maintenance is critical. Always use safety-first procedures when dealing with electricity, especially around water. When in doubt, bring an electrician to inspect your work.
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