Hydroponics has taken the cannabis growing industry by storm and made many people start to wonder what are some of the most advanced hydroponics lighting systems? The use of hydroponics for cannabis cultivation has many benefits such as plants that grow faster, produce high yields, and have very few pests. However, the crucial factor to any successful indoor grow operation is having advanced lighting that meets your plants light needs for all stages of life.
The Lighting Needs of Hydroponically Grown Marijuana
Marijuana plants must receive adequate light to sustain them through their crucial vegetative and flowering stages. Without enough lighting, the plant will never achieve big buds and high yields. Lacking access to natural sunlight, an indoor grow room must have artificial grow lights to promote the plant’s photosynthesis. When picking the most advanced hydroponic lighting systems you should consider the following factors:
- Color: Various light sources render distinct colors. Each shade has its own energy output and wavelengths. Cannabis plants require substantial amounts of blue lighting during the vegetative state. The shorter bluish wavelengths possess ample energy to spur growth. When the plant enters the flowering stage, it needs an additional red light which has a much greater reach but less energy output. Full spectrum lights appear white, but they effectively produce superior wavelengths in blue and red plus various other lighting spectrums which are comparable to the sun.
- Light Intensity: A light’s intensity is measured in what is referred to as ‘lumen output.’ The light’s brightness is what determines how much energy the cannabis plant can
absorb. Low intensity grow lights will cause the plant to develop a leggy appearance as the plant grows taller to reach the light. High-intensity lights are superior when growing
marijuana because they produce a very dense and compact growth rate that enables the plant to produce a robust yield. You might be tempted to purchase low-intensity lights
which are cheaper and then just try to move your plants closer to the light source but when growing hydroponically this is virtually impossible and you are only setting yourself
up for disaster. Ideally, you should invest in high-intensity lights with broad spectrum colors to guarantee successful growth.
- Grow Light Cycle: Cannabis plants require a longer light duration during the vegetative stage than during the flowering stage. Advanced hydroponic lighting systems come
equipped with built-in timers to create light cycles (they will automatically turn on and off the lights at set times throughout the day). However, you can opt for cheaper and more basic grow lights that do not have a timer, but it is strongly suggested that you install a timer to successfully grow healthy cannabis plants.
- Cannabis Vegetative Stage requires 18 hours of light with six hours of darkness.
- Flowering Stage requires 12 hours of light with 12 hours of darkness.
Fluorescents Lighting: An Inexpensive Lighting Choice
You will find two types of fluorescents for your hydroponic grow operation: CFL and T5 grow lights. CFL lights appear twisted but the T5 grow lights are narrow and long. Fluorescent lights produce warm, cool, and full spectrum colors. The lights are inexpensive when compared to other types. In addition, fluorescent lights work well in standard lighting sockets. The lights produce an acceptable color and have good temperature control. They are also energy efficient with low electricity consumption. Unfortunately, the penetration is poor compared to other lighting options. Cannabis plants grown under fluorescent lighting produce lower yields when compared to HID or LED lights. The buds also develop smaller with fewer trichomes. Also, fluorescent lights do not work well with taller strains of marijuana.
High-Intensity Discharge Lighting Produces Trichome Rich Buds
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights are better than fluorescents and have become a standby for many dedicated growers. Unfortunately, the lights do have an awkward physical
shape so require a reflector hood to direct the light down towards your plants. Also, the lights can become ridiculously hot, so you will need to run exhaust fans in your hydroponic grow room to avoid overheating and burning your plants. As mentioned, HID requires specialized reflectors plus they also need specific light fixtures and ballasts which often become expensive. The lights also burn out frequently, so you will not benefit from longevity if you decide to use HID lighting.
The Three Main Types of HID Lighting
There are three types of high-intensity discharge lighting: high-pressure sodium (HPS), ceramic metal halide (CMH, LEC, and Light Emitting Ceramic), and metal halide (MH). HPS produces yellow lighting which is ideal for the flowering stage of the cannabis plant and renders an outstanding yield per watt. Ceramic metal halide is far more efficient than MH lights. MH lights have good blue colors for vegetative growth. Many growers stand firmly behind HID grow lights and consider them superior hydroponic lighting systems. However, some people simply do not like to deal with the heat problems and the advanced maintenance that the lights require to remain operational.
The Many Benefits of LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights have become the top lighting choice for advanced hydroponics. With LED grow lights you have reduced heat output and lower power consumption than any other lighting types. Most LED grow lights have built-in fans and heat sinks to create optimum energy efficiency. The initial cost of investing in full spectrum LED grow lights may prove higher than other lighting choices but their operation will save you money. LED bulbs also do not require frequent replacement, unlike fluorescent and HID.
Many growers remain dedicated to HID lights because of their ability to render truly outstanding buds. However, LED lights can also partner with HID lights to create outstanding results when growing weed hydroponically.
Undoubtedly, the innumerable benefits of full spectrum LED lights are undeniable. If you want an advanced hydroponics lighting system then look no further than modern, energy-efficient LED lighting. Full spectrum LED lighting is fast becoming the revolutionary future of hydroponic cannabis cultivation. If you want impressive vegetative growth and an outstanding yield, then you should make the financial investment in the advanced lighting system.