In countries like Canada, where the federal government has legalized recreational cannabis, there is the ability to do more research. The University of Guelph is one organization that is leading the way in this research. As he states in this article from HortiDaily — Michael Dixon, Director of Environmental Control Research at Guelph says: “We have found that the optimal LED spectral recipe changes with every strain of cannabis.” This is a very important statement for growers to consider! Will you be growing just one strain in your grow the entire time? If not, what spectrum do you choose? Yet if the added blue light in flower only increases your THC levels by 4% is there a justifiable ROI in the cost of the added light spectrum?? If so, can you do that by just adding a few MH lamps? Or does the ROI make sense to go all LED? (1000w DE MH lamps are now available with the PL Light NXT 1000w DE fixtures).
When comparing both technologies, always compare light levels of the entire grow and not just fixture to fixture. I cannot stress enough that there is no such thing as a 1-for-1 replacement of HPS by LED! That simply does not exist in the marketplace. Yes, there are LED fixtures that exist when measured directly beneath the fixture. The output looks equal to or even greater than an HPS. But, when you move the PAR sensor any direction from centered beneath the LED the light level decreases much more under the LED than any HPS fixture!
No manufacturer , supplier, or customer can state they know the optimum LED recipe for cannabis (or tomato’s, or cucumbers, or orchids, etc.) as nobody has tested and tried multiple, different spectrums with each one being tuned to a specific strain or cultivar of each plant type to be able to render a quantifiable opinion.
These claims are not totally bogus however. We are now seeing real results that a bit more blue light in flower or at the very end of the flowering stage does increase terpenes/THC levels. Depending on where you search you will find these amounts vary from minimal 3-5% to unreal amounts of 26-38% as in this article from HortiDaily supplied by an LED manufacturer.
What about growing in a greenhouse? From our graph above showing the spectrum of sunlight compared to that used for photosynthesis is there any benefit for using a light source where you can dial in the spectrum to add more blue? The natural light received by your crop in a greenhouse will cover all of your light spectrum needs. So the big question for greenhouse grows should center more around the ROI comparisons between LED and HPS — not about light spectrum needs. This is not something you will hear from light manufacturers of LED lighting. Your LED-only supplier will have you believe you NEED their spectrum specifically!
When it comes to building an ROI comparing LED versus HPS be careful with results that are supplied by manufacturers of only one type of light source. I have seen manufacturers on both sides of the argument manipulate numbers to favor their specific light source. Below is an outline of things to look out for when receiving an ROI comparing lighting technologies:
Consider how often you’ll be growing weed and how long it will take to pay off the initial investment—if you grow once a year, it’ll take a lot longer to pay off an expensive light than if you grow multiple harvests a year.
How many grow lights do I need to grow weed?
One of the crucial elements a cannabis plant needs is light. During photosynthesis, a plant converts light energy into chemical energy, allowing it to grow strong and healthy, and with cannabis in particular, light also fuels bud production.
Factors to consider before buying a grow light
Here are a few different HID grow lights at different price points.