JULY 15, 2018
Cannabis Comparison: LED vs HPS Greenhouse Lighting
As commercial cannabis enterprises begin implementing newer and better technologies in their cultivation operations, using LEDs has triggered a lengthy and heated debate in the cannabis cultivation industry. Answering the question of LED vs HPS varies on the grower, the grow, and the medium. Delve into the debate with Solaris Farms.
When LED grow lights were first on the market, their cost was between five and ten times as much as their fluorescent and HID alternatives. Fortunately, LED technology has developed at lightning speed and LED grow lights are now considered by many as the best way, dollar for dollar, to light a successful grow with consistent yields. Nevertheless, HPS lighting has been used for decades in the cannabis industry and are a staple for most commercial cannabis greenhouses and grows for a number of reasons.
Benefits of using HPS lighting in commercial grow:
- They cost less than LEDs, at least initially
- HPS lighting technology is well-documented, widely-standardized, and predictable
- HPS lights are easier to work with when growing to scale
- HPS cannabis grow lights are effective at producing “photosynthetically active radiation” (PAR), which is simply the amount of light that’s usable to cannabis plants
While the upfront cost for LED lighting is still higher than HPS grow lights, LED grow lights cost less to operate over time thanks to reduced power consumption and the elimination of traditional maintenance. Though less costly, HPS grow lights significantly lose brilliance over time, in addition to requiring more power and maintenance. Alternately, LED grow lights don’t lose intensity over time and retain their brilliance until the end of their 50,000-100,000 hour lifespan. Nevertheless, LEDs still can’t quite compete with the sheer power of HPS lights.
Why cannabis growers opt for HPS lighting
High-Pressure Sodium lights are one of the most common and turned to grow lights on the market. Key to the popularity of HPS grow lights, is their raw light output. Because of the unique light demands of the cannabis plant, the ability of these lights to produce a large amount of light is incredibly desirable. However, HPS grow lights also produce a significant amount of heat and the light they produce often requires enhancement by Metal Halide lighting for vegetative growth. This also means that many growers opting for HID lighting require separate veg and flowering lights or at least multiple bulbs, adding to the overall expenses of maintaining an HID setup.
- HPS bulbs provide an incredible amount of intense, raw light which lends itself to producing great yields.
- Because they’re older, HPS lights are more standardized among different manufacturers, making it a bit easier for growers to compare bulbs and set-ups.
- HPS lights have a lower start-up cost than LEDs. It is worth noting, however, that the price gap between comparable HPS and LED grow has become exponentially smaller each year
The downside of opting for HPS lights
- HPS grow lights generate an incredible amount of heat, requiring additional ventilation and monitoring equipment to ensure a proper grow room temperature is maintained.
- HPS lights are less efficient over time than comparable LED lights, not only using much more electricity but also requiring more maintenance over time.
- HPS grow bulbs significantly diminish in intensity over time and require replacement every 12-18 months.
Why cannabis growers are using LED lights in their cannabis greenhouses
With their minimal use of power and long lifespan, LED grow lights are quickly becoming the most efficient kind of lighting available to modern cultivars. Already implemented in some of today’s most cutting-edge commercial grow operations LED grow lights combine thermal management engineering, precise spectral outputs, and advanced optics to convert nearly 100% of consumed power into targeted light energy directed at your grow.
Because of the technology that enables growers to control every nuance of their lighting, LED grow lights are able to produce great yields while consuming a fraction of energy that their HPS counterpart use. In addition to requiring minimal maintenance, growers are often able to use just one LED grow light system at every stage of growth. This is because most LED’s have been developed with spectrums optimized for the entire growth cycle. Some LED grow lights designs also allow growers to adjust the emitted spectrums for the different phases of growth.
Benefits of LED grow lights
- Current LED grow lights rival the production of HPS lights that use nearly two times the wattage.
- LED grow light units generally come as all-in-one fixtures that are easier to work with in smaller spaces. Because of their lower-temperatures, LED grow lights can also be placed closer to cannabis plants without risking heath damage.
- LED grow lights temperatures also make it easier for growers to maintain ideal heat levels, especially in extreme or desert climates.
Negatives of LED grow lights
- LED grow lights still cost more upfront than comparable HID options on the market. Nevertheless, data has shown that the long-term savings in energy and operational costs may mitigate this.
- LED grow lights aren’t standardized between manufacturers, making it difficult to compare and contrast bulbs or lighting systems.
- While the limited heat produced by LED grow lights is considered by many an advantage, growing cannabis with LED’s in cold, indoor areas may require that the grower supplement heat with an HID light.
Why choose between LED and HPS lights?
As LED lighting technology continues to develop, the longterm savings of incorporating LEDs into the grow process have become impossible to ignore. In fact, according to some reports, using a combination of LED and HPS lighting can not only increase your yields, it can also significantly decrease your energy use by as much as 80%.
Trust in Science and Solaris When it Comes to Your Cannabis Greenhouse Cultivation
Though the debate between LED and HPS lighting will continue to rage on as cannabis greenhouse technologies develop at a break-necked pace. At Solaris Farms, our science-backed and data-driven approach to cannabis cultivation has resulted in a model for consistent, potent, and pure cannabis remedies. To learn more about our story, connect with our executive team today.