Cannabis Grow Lights (Quick Breakdown)

Updated Mar 27, 2021

This article breaks down all the traditional grow lights for cannabis!
Click here to read the complete tutorial on cannabis grow lights!

by Nebula Haze

Traditional Cannabis Grow Lights

Have you ever wanted an ultra-quick breakdown of all modern grow lights that are used for cannabis cultivation? This quick list covers everything from CFLs to LEDs to LECs!

Fluorescent Grow Lights (CFLs & T5s)

This group includes CFLs and T5s and is one of the most common types of grow light for hobbyist marijuana growers for all types of plants. CFLs can be found anywhere, including gas stations, and T5s can be found at most stores with a garden section (like Home Depot or Walmart).

Outside the cannabis world, fluorescents are often used for starting seedlings, as well as for growing various flowers, herbs and vegetables. They are a little underpowered for growing marijuana, but offer a great spectrum and can actually get some pretty decent results when combined with diligent plant training.

Learn more about growing cannabis with CFLs

CFL grow lights are actually pretty effective at growing cannabis if you diligently train your plants!

Learn more about T5 grow lights

T5 grow lights should be kept very close to your marijuana plants

Metal Halide

A metal halide (MH) grow light is great for the cannabis vegetative stageA Metal Halide (MH) is a very powerful grow light that gives off a bluish white light. It is often used for the cannabis vegetative stage and produces fast, healthy green vegetative growth.

The Metal Halide is Part 1 of the “golden standard” of grow lights, and is the most common grow light used by commercial growers in the vegetative stage.

Learn more about Metal Halide grow lights

Example of vegetative cannabis plants growing under a Metal Halide (MH) grow light

High Pressure Sodium (HPS)

An HPS bulb - this type of grow light is probably the best grow light to use in the cannabis flowering stage!A High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamp is a very powerful grow light that gives off a harsh yellow light. It is often used during the cannabis flowering stage because its particular light spectrum stimulates bud production. HPS is also one of the most efficient types of grow lights available on the market, and produces amazing bud growth!

Because of these factors, HPS lights get some of the best cannabis yields of any grow light. That’s why HPS is Part 2 of the “golden standard” of grow lights!

Learn more about High Pressure Sodium grow lights

HPS grow lights are the most common type of grow light for commercial marijuana growers

Example of a room full of cannabis colas growing under an HPS grow light

A combination of Metal Halide and HPS grow lights has been used by commercial growers for decades, and even though new types of light are on the market, MH/HPS are still by far the most common type of grow light for those looking to yield large amounts of bud. But that may change over the next few years as grow light technology improves!​
Light Emitting Ceramic (LEC)

Get an LEC grow light for growing cannabis on Despite the somewhat confusing name, this type of grow light has nothing to do with LEDs!

“LEC” is a brand name (trademark) for a specific model of Ceramic Metal Halide grow light by the company Sun System. So it actually has a lot more common withother HID grow lights like MH/HPS than any other types of light. In fact, it’s basically a hybrid; it’s pretty much a Metal Halide light that uses ceramic like an HPS!

LEC stands for “Light Emitting Ceramic” and is a marketing term, not a new type of technology. That’s why the term “LEC” is often used interchangeably with “CMH” in online grow light listings – they’re pretty much the same thing.

However, the form factor of the 315 LEC model by Sun System (which uses 315W) seems to be particularly effective at growing cannabis. Part of this may be because it was designed to stay cool even without glass, so plants are able to get full access to all the UV-B rays!

In initial testing, the 315 LEC grow light yields about 4-9 ounces per harvest on average, but some growers have written in and reportedly yielded much more! Please contact us if you want to share your results with LEC grow lights and possibly get featured on the website!

Learn More About LEC Grow Lights!

Get an LEC grow light for growing cannabis on

LED Grow Light

You’ve probably seen these before! An LED lamp is basically a panel containing a bunch of tiny LED diodes. Although there are some full spectrum LED grow lights these days, the light from most LED models usually looks purple.

Although the LEDs from 10 years ago weren’t that great for growing marijuana, modern LED grow lights generally get yields almost as good as HPS grow lights!

Learn more about using LED grow lights for growing cannabis

Fat cannabis buds under BlackStar LED grow panels

Quick Summary of Traditional Grow Lights

  • Fluorescents (CFls & T5s) – Cheap to get started, very effective growing spectrum, but a little underpowered
  • Metal Halide (MH) – Powerful light most commonly used for the vegetative stage
  • High Pressure Sodium (HPS) – Powerful light most commonly used for the flowering stage. HPS lights are considered to have some of the best yields of any grow light. Together, MH and HPS are currently the most popular grow lights used by commercial growers.
  • LEC Grow Light – Sort of light a mix between a Metal Halide and an HPS, these lights seem to be consistently beating LEDs for yields, and there’s some evidence they may actually increase overall THC levels of your buds!
  • LED Grow Light – Light panels that use several small LED diodes and usually produce purple light (though some newer LEDs produce white light). The technology for LEDs has been improving quite a bit over the last decade, and they now get yields that are almost as high as HPS grow lights.



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