Many cannabis growers are switching to LED lights for the sake of increased efficiency, among other benefits. But choosing the best LED lights for cannabis isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds. There are lots of options for LED lights out there, and some will help produce better quality cannabis than others.
According to Anthony Domangue, Cannabis Cultivator and Social Media Coordinator at Fohse, older high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting systems made it easy to switch out bulbs and increase intensity — which is great for cannabis growth — but only while also increasing heat.
Now, with LED technology developing, growers are able to use higher light intensities at cooler temperatures, resulting in higher cannabis yields than ever before. Choosing the best LED lights for your grow, then, directly impacts not only the health of your plants but also the potential of your entire facility.
Read on to learn more about how lighting affects cannabis and how to choose the best LED lights for cannabis growth.
How Lights Affect Cannabis Growth
According to Domangue, the top two critical factors that affect cannabis growth are genetics and light. “Light is such an integral part of the process,” he says. “It drives how fast or slow photosynthesis is happening. So whenever you’re dialing the lights upward or downward, you’re […] controlling the speed at which the car is driving.”
In Domangue’s experience, higher light intensity enables plants to take up moisture faster and absorb higher concentrations of nutrients. Recent studies have also shown that higher light intensity correlates with a linear increase in both yield and terpene potency.
Additionally, lighting affects the grow space itself. Leaf temperature plays a huge role in photosynthesis, and the old HID lighting systems produced a lot of ambient heat. As a result, AC systems had to work on overdrive to compensate for the extra heat, producing more energy waste.
With LED lights, however, the other systems don’t have to work as hard to control the environment. While Domangue notes that increased photosynthesis may require additional dehumidification to supplement, overall, the best LED lights for cannabis place less strain on the facility’s infrastructure and utilities.
Qualities of the Best LED Lights for Cannabis
When it comes to actually choosing the best LED lights for cannabis growth, there are several important features to consider. According to Domangue, these include:
- Power output and intensity. Cannabis plants require different amounts of light throughout their lifecycle, so it’s important to have the right level of power for your plants’ current stage of growth.
- Ceiling height. Certain light fixtures must be hung at a specific distance from the plants. The height of your facility ceiling will determine whether you can maintain that distance or whether you need to purchase light fixtures that can hang closer to the plants.
- Spectrum. The color spectrum of lights can either help or harm your cannabis plants. Domangue recommends choosing either balanced spectrum fixtures or fixtures with spectral tunability so you can adjust the spectrum according to the plants’ growth stages.
- Efficiency. One of the main reasons people switch to LED lights in the first place is for the sake of efficiency, but even some LED lights aren’t as efficient as others. For the best LED lights for cannabis, Domangue suggests choosing ones that are as close to 3.0 photosynthetic photon efficacy as possible.
- Integration. Not all LED lights can integrate with third-party controllers. Choosing LED lights that are compatible with the controller you already have can save you from having to buy a new, expensive controller right away.
- Durability. You’ll want to choose lights that are long-lasting, are reliable, and have high IP ratings (which indicate the fixture’s ability to protect against things like dust or bugs and to withstand water or water pressure).
In general, LED lights are much better than HID lights, but not all LED lights perform the same. Make sure that the LED lights you choose for your grow are the best ones for your specific needs.
Choosing the Right Lights for Your Grow
The best LED lights for cannabis will depend on your facility and goals. “Certain LEDs are made for certain applications,” Domangue explains. That’s why Fohse classes its LEDs based on how and where they’ll be used.
For spaces with high ceilings, Fohse’s flagship 1500w A3i provides the most power and can be hung high without losing intensity, increasing uniformity over the entire space. Low-ceiling systems, on the other hand, pair better with the F1V series, which function as vertical rack lights and can be set up within a foot of the plants.
Greenhouse growers benefit the most from either the 1200w O6i — the most powerful Fohse greenhouse light in terms of IP rating — or the 320w Pleiades for a smaller, supplemental fixture that casts minimal shadows onto the canopy.
Finally, for home growers, Domangue recommends either the budget-friendly fixed spectrum Pisces (700w and 900w) or the more expensive 640w Aries with all the bells and whistles — including spectral tunability and the ability to rotate bars and concentrate the light wherever you want it.
Only the Best LED Lights for Cannabis Growth
The lighting you choose for your cultivation facility impacts the final product in many important ways, so you can’t afford to settle for lights that are “good enough.” To produce top-quality cannabis, you need top-quality LED lights.
Contact us today to get a custom grow design or lighting plan.
Do you want to learn more? Check out this blog on: 7 Tips for Using High Intensity LEDs