It’s not a secret that some sort of light is what’s needed to grow your cannabis. Whether it’s sun or artificial light like a strong lamp, lights for indoor growing are very important and the time cycle is just as important. Putting them on the right cycle depending on the stage of the plant is super important. Before you learn what cycle to put them in, you need to first look at what marijuana grow lights you’re going to use.
Choosing the Right Type of Marijuana Grow Lights
One of the biggest decisions to make before investing in an indoor marijuana grow setup is what type of marijuana grow lights to use. Since there are so many different types of marijuana grow lights available, it’s useful to know about the benefits and advantages each can provide for your operation. Read on for pros and cons for each type of indoor marijuana grow light.
One of the most popular types of grow lights for indoor grow operation in the cannabis industry are LEDs. LED grow lights are one of the most energy efficient and customizable types of grow lights on the market.
Pros of LED Lights
LED lights use 75% less energy than other types of grow lights, making them an eco friendly option. The reduced energy usage has the added benefit of lowering your monthly electricity bill.
Another huge benefit of LEDs is their customization abilities. Many LED grow lamps allow you to customize the color spectrum of the lights. This way you can adjust your lighting to encourage your plants at different stages of their growth cycle.
These grow setups are also incredibly compact. LED grow systems are much lighter and thinner than traditional grow set ups. LED grow lamps produce very little heat in comparison to traditional grow lights. The upside of this is that they do not require expensive cooling systems to counteract the heat. The downside is that because they provide such little heat, grow operations in cooler climates may have to purchase heating systems to keep the plants at the ideal temperature.
One of the other major benefits of LED grow lights is their long lifespan. On average, LED lights can last for 50,000 hours worth of use. Some models can even last for up to 100,000 hours depending on usage patterns.
Cons of LED Lights
The primary drawback of LED grow systems is the cost. The initial investment is quite a bit more expensive than traditional indoor grow set ups. However, in the long term, the reduced energy costs may make an LED system the more economical option.
Another potential option for an indoor grow operation is incandescent light. Many people choose them for their operation due to low initial costs.
Cons of Incandescent Lights
Incandescent bulbs are an unpopular choice for grow lights because of their short life span and weak light. An incandescent bulb lasts for only 750 hours, and needs to be replaced much more frequently than LED, plasma, and other alternative grow lights. They are also extraordinarily energy inefficient, resulting in high power bills. They let off a reddish yellow light.
Another problem with incandescent bulbs is that they run incredibly hot. They produce more heat than they do light. This extreme heat can actually be harmful to the plants being cultivated. Grow operations using incandescent lights must invest in a substantial cooling system. Without a proper cooling system, the heat from the incandescent bulbs could actually light your entire grow operation on fire.
Halogen lights are similar to incandescent light bulbs in form, but use halogen gas in order to increase both light output and energy efficiency. A relatively inexpensive in comparison to other grow bulbs, halogen lights are a poor choice for an indoor grow operation.
They are poor at conserving energy and can result in energy bills that will be dramatically more expensive than more energy efficient light bulbs. In addition, the light emitted from both incandescent and halogen bulbs is not ideal for growing cannabis. Grow effectivity of different light sources can be compared by measuring their Photosynthetic Active Radiation. This is the amount of light in a wavelength range between 400 and 700 nanometer that can be used for photosynthesis. By calculating the PAR/Watt, also known as PAReff, you can compare the efficiency of different grow lights at promoting photosynthesis.
A Halogen bulb has a PAReff of only 0.263, in comparison to a high pressure sodium bulb has a PAReff of 1.38. Halogen has a poor spectral output for plant growth, resulting in cannabis with large internode spacing, poor vegetative growth, and weak yields.
High Pressure Sodium Lights (HPS)
HPS grow lights are another option for indoor grow setups. Sodium vapor lamps use sodium in an excited state to emit light. Sodium vapor lamps are relatively energy efficient, but offer a limited spectrum of color.
Pros of Sodium Lights
High pressure sodium lights are one of the cheaper options for grow lights, and last longer than some other low end grow bulbs. On average, high-pressure sodium light bulbs need to be replaced every two years.
Cons of Sodium Lights
High-pressure sodium lights are slightly less energy efficient, but can be used in grow operations. They have a broader spectrum of color than their low-pressure counterparts and high-pressure sodium lights primarily emit reddish yellow light. Most HPSL have an efficiency of 100 lm/W, while some high-powered bulbs may have an efficiency of 150 lm/W.
They also run very hot and will require a cooling system to prevent overheating. High-pressure sodium lights require an electrical ballast to regulate the current and keep the grow set up safe.
A more recent development in the grow light industry is plasma light. Originally invented by Nikola Tesla, plasma lamps are composed of a mixture of noble gases and metals such as sulfur or mercury. The plasma is excited by radio frequency which results in a bright light. These lights do not contain any electrodes or filaments.
Pros of Plasma Lights
The light emitted from plasma grow lights is full spectrum, making it suitable for both the vegetative and the flowering stages of plant growth. Another benefit of plasma lamps is their longevity. Plasma lights have an average of lifespan of 50,000 hours, and do not need to be replaced frequently. They also don’t let off as much heat as many traditional grow light bulbs, therefore require less cooling.
Cons of Plasma Lights
Plasma lights are quite expensive to install and require a substantial upfront investment. A single plasma grow light can cost $3000. In addition, because plasma light technology is still developing, research on cultivation techniques is limited. Growers looking to invest in a plasma grow lamp set-up will need to experiment to find a system most effective for their crops.
When designing your indoor grow operation, light formation is a crucial factor to consider. The formation you choose will most likely be determined by the type of light you have selected.
LED lights are used in a panel formation. The panel provides an even, bright light source for your plants. Because LEDs run cool, the panels can be placed at close proximity to the plants without fear of scorching the leaves.
Other grow operations use log lights. Log lights are primarily used for fluorescent and High Pressure Sodium Bulbs. These lights are relatively inexpensive to set up and provide coverage for a large area.
For large-scale operations looking to harvest large yields, overhead grow lighting can adequately light an entire room. However, because overhead lighting is further from the plants, this formation requires stronger light sources, and more bulbs. This option can be very costly, but will produce large harvests.
Those looking to dip their toes in the world of indoor growing may consider purchasing one or two individual plant grow lamps. Individual lamps are not a particularly efficient use of space for a large grow operations. However, they have a low investment cost and can provide plenty of light for a few plants.
Finding the Right Lighting Setup
Selecting the best grow light for your setup will depend primarily on the scale of your operation and the amount of capital you have for initial investment. A full indoor grow setup is a major commitment, so make sure to choose the best system for your particular situation.
What is Behind The Cannabis Light Cycle
Light cycles and photosensitivity are among the most important factors of growing medical or recreational marijuana. Light cycles depend on the stages of the plants. Therefore, the first most important thing for a newbie grower is to learn the peculiarities of each stage. Learn more about what light should be applied during the vegetative and during the flowering stages, and when does your plant reach each one.
During the vegetative, or the so-known growing stage of the plant, the plants do not produce buds. The cannabis stems and leaves grow bigger and taller. However, their growing in size and shape depends on the quality of factors the grower provides. When the conditions are proper, the plants tend to grow very fast during this stage.
The vegetative stage continues for as long as the plant gets less than 11-12 hours of darkness each day. This leaves at least 13 hours of light minimum for the plant to get. Otherwise, it might start budding before you’d like. Keeping in mind that 13 hours is, as already mentioned, the bare minimum. The plant can receive as much as 24 or 18 hours of light per day. These two options are known as the 18-6 and 24-0 light schedules, and encourage faster vegetative growth. The eighteen hour light duration is closer to the natural light of summer. This schedule is preferred by some growers during the vegetative stage, who argue that plants benefit from rest from a biological point of view. Although plants grow faster under the 24-hour light duration, they might develop some nutrient deficiencies. Outdoor growers must know that as long as the plants are getting plenty of light per day, they will stay in the vegetative stage from late spring until late summer.
Many gardeners don’t realize that the problems they are experiencing in the flowering stage are occurring because the plants didn’t receive a proper dark cycle in the vegetative stage. During the vegetative stage, the time spent in darkness enables marijuana plants to translocate nutrients. This simply means to locate energy stored in the form of sugars and prepare itself for another day of vigorous growth. This is why it is recommended to have an 18 hour lights on and a 6 hour lights off cycle for the vegetative stage.
If you are an outdoor grower, you will notice that outdoor plants start budding in late summer when days are longer. For indoor growing plants, the light schedule should be estimated at 12-12 hours, as mentioned above. What it means is that the indoor grower will need to induce flowering by artificially changing the light schedule to 12 hours of light in a day, and 12 hours of constant darkness. Once the lighting schedule is changed, there is an average of 2.5 months before the plant’s buds will be ready for harvest. Conclusion
It is important to remember – experimenting with the light cycles and not following some gardening tips entirely is okay! Many great techniques that are now commonly used came from experimenting growers. However, if you are a newbie in the growing sphere (especially the indoor one), sticking to certain rules and techniques is recommended. What you need to remember is that marijuana needs at least 12 hours of darkness during the flowering stage, and (preferably) an amount of dark periods during the vegetative stage.