It is the debate that has been raging in grower communities for the past decade: LED or HPS - which are the best lights for the grow room? As with all things cannabis cultivation related, everyone has an opinion on this, but it does seem that the tide is turning in favour of LEDs as the technology improves and the prices reduce. Nevertheless, HPS lighting systems still have their advantages too and many growers are resisting the change... for now anyway.
LED vs HPS: The History
HPS (High Pressure Sodium) grow lights were for many years the industry standard in the cultivation of cannabis seeds. Developed in the 1970s for street light use, Paradise Seeds company founder, Luc Paradise, was not the only breeder who saw their potential for use as an indoor cultivation aid back in the early 1990s (‘acquiring’ some to run early breeding experiments with!).
For almost 50 years, HPS were the only way to grow. However, the past ten years have seen the new kid on the block in the form of LED lights. As they came on to the market there was a lot of hype and a lot of products promising results that were perhaps too good to be true. Just six years ago, Paradise Seeds’ conducted a comparison LED test grow and concluded that ‘Finding a reliable source is of the utmost importance. You’ll have to do a lot of homework to find out which brands are worth your hard earned money.’
Well that was then and this is now and the market has changed considerably thanks to huge advantages in technology. So simple question, which is the best lighting system for your grow room in 2021?
HPS or LEDs - Which is the cheapest lighting system ?
If a grower is thinking about price only, then HPS still remains the cheapest option based on set up cost, and due to competition from LEDs good quality HPS lights (and supporting equipment, such as digital ballasts, are cheaper than ever before. Yes, they’re big and basic and the technology hasn’t changed much over the years but HPS will still do a great job and its capacity to grow big, beautiful buds is not in doubt. The other pro of buying HPS is the modular nature of the system – parts can be replaced individually.
For those cannabis growers looking to invest in LEDs, then the old Paradise warning still rings true. With LEDs you get what you pay for, and doing your research is still crucial. Yes, there are cheap lights (and prices have halved over the past five years), but the market is flooded with second rate products too. The best LED lights require investment. Much of the early hype about LEDs focused on the potential to save on electricity bills, but this can be misleading. A 600W light is still 600W, no matter whether it is LED or HPS!
Light quality comparisons, HPS and LEDs
This is where we see the major differences LED lights used for growing cannabis seeds into big healthy plants. HPS lights will blast cannabis plants like the sun, but good LEDs maximize light intensity and efficiency and also provide a light spectrum which gives next level control over how cultivators can grow cannabis plants by changing the morphology of the plants. Whereas HPS light systems tend to produce big Hollywood style top buds, the deeper penetration of light cast by LEDs leads to better all over bud development on plants.
Cannabis Crop differences between HPS and LED lights
This is the big question that every cannabis seeds grower wants t an answer to. On this point, there really is no competition, according to conversations with numerous Paradise Seeds customers including experienced pros who’ve been in the game for a while.
After all the promise, LED technology is finally fulfilling its potential. Several times we have heard mention of the phrase ‘connoisseur’s choice’ associated with LEDS. Consistently we hear the same things from experienced cannabis growers who have made the switch to LEDs – better crop weight and bud density and improved aesthetics in the form of more trichome crystal cover.
Also it goes without saying that what you put into your grow room to start with will have a big impact on your harvest yield. Always invest in high quality cannabis seeds from a company with a reputation for great genetics. That’s the best way to guarantee the best start in a plant’s life and a fine finish, whichever light system is used!