Beginner's Section, Grow, HIDs

Differences in Indoor Grow Lights

As the trend continues to grow towards indoor hydroponic gardening, an ongoing conversation about which indoor grow lights are the best and which ones are the worst is up for debate. To discover which indoor lighting type works best for you, start by learning which types are available and the differences between each type.


Also referred to as CFL, T5, T8 orT12 bulbs, fluorescent lighting is a popular choice for plant propagation, early vegetative growth and over-wintering plants. Fluorescent light is perfect for growing right from seed. Available in T5 fluorescents, single daisy-chainable strips or in panel arrays. Some Fluorescent bulbs can be for boom and for grow. Fluorescent grow lamps are used for propagation, vegetative growth and over-wintering. Fluorescent bloom lamps are commonly used as side-lighting for larger plants flowering indoors.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

Also referred to as LED or LED Panels, this type of lighting has come a long way in the plant growing industry. LED lighting is slowing taking over the grow world. Originally, many growers used LEDs to supplement the spectrum colors of their existing grow lights in order to promote the flowering and fruiting stages for the plants. Now company’s like Black Dog LED are producing lights like the PhytoMAX 1000 that will outproduce any other grow light on the market! LED lighting remains cool to the touch when running and won’t increase grow room temperature much.

High Intensity Discharge

Also referred to as HID, high pressure sodium, and Metal Halide. These are the most common type of indoor growing lights for general purpose applications. This lighting type is very efficient and capable of producing intense light indoors that will take garden plants from germination through harvest. HID lights are incredibly affordable to purchase. Most growers change out their bulbs once every six months or every other grow. After time HID bulbs will loose their strength.

The biggest opinion variation about indoor growing lights will be regarding the use of high pressure sodium and Metal Halide lights. HPS bulbs emit more of the yellow and red spectrum colors and the Metal Halide emit more of the blue spectrum colors. HPS lighting simulates the late summer/early fall sun and is prefect for promoting flowering and fruiting of indoor grown plants. The bluish spectrum emitted by the Metal Halide (MH) lamps simulates the mid-summer sun and perfect for promoting vegetative growth in young garden plants.

Some indoor gardeners opt to use only HPS lighting and others choose to grow with LED’s, both have their success stories. Most indoor gardeners find their best results use a combination of HPS and MH lamps to provide a better overall light spectrum for their plants. Trial and error, along with informed choices, will help you discover the right lighting for your indoor gardening endeavors.

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