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Just How Good Are LED Lights for Growing Cannabis?

July 20, 2017
Just How Good Are LED Lights for Growing Cannabis?(Yarygin/iStock)
Over the last decade, LED lighting has gained quite a bit of popularity among indoor cannabis growers. Though LEDs (light emitting diodes) have been around since the early 1960s, they were not able to produce the wide spectrum of color they’re now known for until later on. LEDs were also very expensive, making them an unreasonable option for grow lights compared to HID (high intensity discharge).

With today’s demand for energy-efficient lighting, however, LEDs have dropped in price and increased in quality. Now you might be wondering if LEDs are right for your indoor grow; here are some of the benefits to consider.

Browse Cannabis Grow Lights

What’s Changed in LED Light Technology

Up until the past few years, LEDs have had some major drawbacks. As the market develops for both energy-efficient lighting and lighting for cannabis cultivation, we’ve seen some major developments occur. (It’s important to note that not all LED systems are equal and that the improvements we are discussing come from the high-end products on the market.)


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1. Energy Efficiency

Up until even a few years ago, most LEDs were found to be using nearly the same amount of energy to generate light as HID lighting systems. Since then, LEDs have become extremely energy efficient, using about half the energy of HID systems.

2. Coverage

Like HID lighting, LED lighting systems used to produce hot spots. A hot spot is where the light is strongest on your canopy, causing rapid growth or stretching to occur to one part of the canopy while the outer edges received significantly less light. A good LED system can direct an even light source over the canopy, helping to avoid hot spots and dead zones and giving you an even canopy.


Stages of the cannabis plant growth cycle

3. Color Spectrum

While LEDs can offer a full spectrum of light, it’s not necessary to properly cultivate cannabis. Today’s LED systems now target the portions of the light spectrum that have proved most beneficial to cultivation, which saves energy and increases the quality of the cannabis in your garden.

Do you use LED lights in your indoor cannabis grows? Let us know what you think of them!

Trevor Hennings's Bio Image

Trevor Hennings

Trevor is a freelance writer and photographer. He has spent years in California working in the cannabis industry.

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  • Dustin C (DSRX7)

    I’ve been using a Mars Hydro Pro Cree 256 light for a few harvest cycles now. The buds are very very dense, very good quality-taste and smell. Great coverage. Seems much cooler than my 600w hps/mh system-but is still warm/hot and needs correct ventilation. The buds seem much denser compared to the HPS buds which seemed “air-y” but that could also be because of the small space and the temperature. Either way, uses less power and has produced much “heavier” yields for me.

  • David

    I built my own cob led system and would say hands down is the most efgiciant system. It out produces my hps sytem by more than 25%.

  • les

    Boy are you ever uninformed! Maybe you should write about something you’ve actually researched, considering there is absolutely no content in this story outside of your assumptions……
    Best examples of whats up in LED grow lights is to take a look at the DIY builders. They taught the industry a thing or two! How about COB lighting capable of up to 60% efficient. The days of “burple” cheapy lights is dead, at least to those whop have wised up. If you had done you homework, you’d have looked on forums, such as rollitup and autoflower network, you’d see lights such a Horticultural Lighting Group’s Quantum board, which is smashing preconceived notions about LED lighting. If you can’t pull way more than 1/gpw with these, you need to quit growing!

    HPS/MH is dead technology. It will linger a while but it is at the end of its road. No? then why is Gavita selling its HPS business to go all LED?

    If you worked for me, I’d fire you for such a crappy article!


      Forget it they wont let me post smh


      My meds stay in CO btw. I go back n forth n dont smoke mine out here btw lol

    • Anomalocaris of the North

      Maybe I’m naive, but I only see him praising LED here, not putting them down…

  • FlunkedAgain

    Lights are only part of the solution.

    I’ve used “red Lights” similar to the light in the photo, and 7 band lights that appeared to be White.

    Coco coir was the best medium I’ve used. Coco coir in the Phat Sacks worked better than I expected; even though I used Miracle Grow with a Calcium, and Magnesium supplement.

    I’ve had good luck at: HTG Supply Hydroponics & Grow Lights.
    (Don’t tell them you use Miracle Grow, because they might become catatonic.)

  • Keith E Herzog

    4. Heat. LEDs produce much less heat than HID lighting, eliminating the need for fans and duct work to cool the lamp.

  • Lancaster2020

    My indoor LEDs produce large plants over 8 feet in veg stage if left untrained. Buds are many, potent and thick. I tried various LED lights, some with full spectrum 380-780nm, infrared to UV and everything in between. Strips of LED grow lights are great for under the canopy lighting if the plants are packed close together.

    • michael grosser

      nobody grows 8 ft plants indoors and no artificial lighting can supply light that far away from source. That’s my story based on yrs of experience and I will put my money where my mouth is…..will you?

  • Navi

    Here are some of the best grow lights –

  • Karl Hosch

    The only drawback to LED’s in the beginning was the price because they were so expensive. The other thing is that some LED manufacturers put lenses on their LED’s to raise the PAR measurement so it looks good on paper but in reality it creates a hotspot like you say. It’s better to get a wider angle lens (90° should be fine) but the wider the better in my opinion especially if you have reflective mylar around your plants. HID is old news however there is a newish technology that’s available that is almost as efficient as LED. Unlike MH and HPS, the CMH or ceramic metal halide light runs off a low frequency ballast making it more efficient. And the color spectrum more closely resembles the sun’s light better than LED. They are still somewhat expensive which will deter some people but they are an option for the best growth that we all are looking for. For more information on LED’s visit my site.

  • COD

    California Lightworks 440W is my favorite. A little pricy but worth it

  • Rübën Łöpëż

    Hello I’m new to this I’m growing my personal plant, I’m not really using any market supplies. Its a regular plant no big strain. I’m using L.E.D since thats what I had available but I’m also using 2 night stands with a regular bulb and another that shines light blue. She’s pretty tall for being like 3 months 22 1/2 inches. I have no idea on how to top or whatever that is I’ve gone thru several pages reading but I just get more confused. So I decided to practice since its a pretty big plant, I tried almost everything I read on several branches or the things sticking out. Its been like almost 2 weeks and nothing has happened. the biggest nug is on top its like a 1 gram size, it really didn’t grown much In those 2 weeks and has only stretched a little bit.

    Can anyone give me an advise on what I can do with out having to buy market material?