Lighting 101: How to Choose the Best Lights for Growing Weed

One of the most important things you can do for your plants is provide plenty of good light.

There are a wide variety of lighting systems that offer various degrees of benefits.  This guide will explain the differences of various lighting options to help you make a more educated decision when setting up your home garden.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID):

Long known as the “gold standard” of indoor grow ops, HID lights offer incredibly powerful light.

They come in High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Metal Halide (MH) varieties.

MH lights give off an intense bluish white light that spawns vigorous vegetative growth, whereas HPS lights provide yellow-orange spectrum light that encourages flowering.  Lights from different manufacturers may have difference

For those growers looking to set up a large grow room, or at have the ability to scale up to a larger operation, HID lights are the perfect option.  As long as you can afford the equipment and maintenance costs.

Despite the high utility bills, HID lights are actually the most efficient light source in terms of electricity use to light output.


  • Lights up large grow rooms––almost like having the sun in a bottle
  • Stimulates fast growth
  • Produces high yields


  • Relatively expensive equipment
  • Expensive maintenance costs (i.e. electricity bills)
  • Runs hot and loud

Light Emitting Diode (LED):

Growers seeking a more energy efficient lighting system have been increasingly using LED grow lights.

Although fairly expensive still, the technology is relatively new and is rapidly developing, which hopefully will eventually bring the price down.

In terms of energy efficiency, however, LEDs are equal to HID lights.

LEDs produce the same amount of light as HIDs, but tend to run hotter, meaning LED lights need to be further away from your plants.


  • Improved weed quality (better smell, increased trichome development, etc.)
  • Most cutting edge technology
  • Many different options available, making LEDs good for a wider variety of grow rooms


  • Lower yields compared with HID lights
  • Discolors leaves during grow (it doesn’t seem to affect development, however)
  • Less standardization between manufacturers––LED lighting systems can vary widely
  • More expensive that HID

Compact Florescent Lights (CFL):

Despite being marketed for home lighting, CFLs are quickly becoming a popular lighting system for growers, especially those with a small garden.

CFLs produce the least amount of heat of any lighting option, allowing growers to place bulbs close to plants without burning them.

It is also ridiculously easy making your own lighting hood, and CFLs can be adapted to suit your grow room best.

Choosing bulbs can be confusing, as most are not marketed towards indoor cultivation, so a little research in necessary.

23 watt CFL bulbs tend to be the most efficient, but still are not as efficient as HID.  For growers on a budget, CFLs are a great solution.


  • Best lighting solution for small or budget grows
  • Produces very little heat
  • Bulbs come in many different light colors, offering greater light spectrum experimentation


  • CFLs are not good for large grows
  • Higher wattage bulbs are significantly less efficient than HIDs
  • Adjustments will be made daily to keep your plants getting maximum light yield

(Photo courtesy of Lush LED

" Luke Nelson : @greenrushluke Luke is a Green Rush Daily staff writer that graduated from the University of Oregon, he also obtained his Masters of Arts in English Literature. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon and has over a dozen years of experience cultivating cannabis. When it comes to marijuana Luke may just be your father.."