Grow Your Own: Lighting Options 101

Worries over pesticides, strain mislabelling, and quality mean that more folks in legal states are looking into growing their own cannabis.

While growing is a lot of work, and not to be undertaken lightly if you want to do it right, it's within reach for those willing to do their homework. Here's a basic guide to the types of lights often used by novice growers. Note: in addition to whichever option you choose, you'll need to invest in a surge protector and a timer.

1. T5s

T5s, so named because they're tubular and measure 5/8" in diameter, are known for running at cooler temperatures. This means you can keep them closer to the plants to maximize their power. T5s, with their low impact on your energy bill, let you grow small amounts without exhausting heat.

The downsides: you need to check in on the plants more often, since they're growing closer to the light source. They also require a fixture in which to hang the bulbs, so figure that into your expenses.

2. CFLs

Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs, come in an array of strengths: as little as 12 watts, or as much as 125 watts, and can work for growing cannabis, depending on the setup. Since each bulb requires a regular light socket, they need to be arranged separately unless you are using a panel.

You can get CFLs anywhere, from Home Depot to Wal-Mart. You may even have some at home already. They can be positioned to deliver light to parts of the plant that are normally shaded, and, like T5s, have a low impact on your energy bill. Just make sure to regularly readjust them as the plants grow to keep the delicate leaves from getting burned.

3. LED

LEDs consume as much as 70 percent less electricity as other lighting options with almost zero heat signature (good news for those of us who are hyper-vigilant about fire safety). They last about 100 times longer than light bulbs, up to seven times as long as compact fluorescent lights. And hey, they also look super cool, since they employ only the specific wavelengths of the light necessary for plant photosynthesis. These happen to be disco-worthy reds, oranges and blues.

4. HID

High Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights are popular among novice growers due to their low initial cost to set up. They're cheaper than LED lights (although, it must be said, less effective overall.) Two types of HID grow lights - High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH) - can be used for growing cannabis.

A lot of people alternate the lights at different stages of plant maturation, taking advantage of the strengths of each type to maximize growth/yield.

Want to learn more about lighting, and growing cannabis in general? Check out the basics here.

h/t Grow Weed Easy, How to Grow Marijuana, PlantZoid


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