by Nebula Haze
Table of Contents
Indoor cannabis growers are always looking for the best way to increase their yields without having to increase the money spent on the grow. And tuning into the perfect cannabis grow lights for your setup is one of the best ways to maximize your yields.
But which grow light do you choose? How do you deal with heat or ventilation? What will make it easiest for you to grow? It can be tough to control heat and electricity use with many grow lights, and it’s tempting to listen to marketers that claim to have all the answers for you.
And in recent years there has been a lot of marketing for magnetic induction & plasma grow lights for growing cannabis.
Are induction grow lights the answer to bigger yields with less heat and electricity?
Are these results typical for induction grow lights?
Induction grow lights go by a lot of names, so you may have heard about them without even realizing it.
Some names for induction lighting include…
induction grow lights
plasma grow lights
full spectrum plasma lights
sulphur plasma grow lights
MPS grow lights
High Efficiency Plasma lamps
magnetic induction grow lights
electrodeless vacuum tube
fluorescent induction lamps
and probably others I don’t know about…
These all use a similar type of technology to produce light.
But do these lights live up to the marketing hype?
There are a few different induction grow light models appearing on the market today. These “new” grow lights are supposedly longer-lasting and more efficient than any other grow light.
Supposedly induction lights
- get bigger yields than MH/HPS
- use less electricity
- produce almost no heat
…ultimately they’re supposed to give you better results and bigger yields when growing cannabis.
The first induction-based lighting was demonstrated by the famous inventor Nikola Tesla in the late 1800s. Learn a little more about the history of induction lighting. The technology was basically the same then as it is now – a way to make lights using induction or electromagnetic fields to transfer power instead of an electrical connection or electrodes. That’s why induction lights are sometimes called “electrodeless lights.”
So in other words, induction lights are a lot like regular lights, but they do not use electrodes or filaments to get power to the light. Since those are the parts of light bulbs that tend to break first, induction lights have a much longer lifespan than pretty much any other kind of light on the market today.
So does this translate into bigger yields for cannabis growers?
When it comes down to it, from a cannabis grower’s perspective there are two types of induction lighting you need to familiarize yourself with:
- Plasma Grow Lights
- Magnetic Induction Grow Lights
Plasma grow lights generate light by exciting sulfur plasma with microwave radiation. The color produced looks beautiful, almost like sunlight… But just because it looks like sunlight to humans doesn’t mean it looks like sunlight to plants.
The huge problem with sulfur plasma grow lights is they are missing important parts of the light spectrum that are important to plant growth. What that means is when your cannabis plants are under just plasma grow lights, they aren’t getting as much of the type of light they want. Plasma grow lights also may cause electromagnetic interference, which can interfere with Wi-Fi, cordless phones and satellite radio.
I first covered plasma grow lights in 2010. Read my full 2010 review on plasma sulfur grow lights, which is still surprisingly relevant today. In the last several years, there has been essentially no improvement in the induction lighting technology. How could there be? You can’t change the type of light produced by excited sulfur.
I Highly Recommend You Don’t get a Plasma Grow Light!
Right now a 300W plasma grow light goes for about $800+, but these lights aren’t even as effective for growing marijuana as a $99 230W T5 Grow Light (which also uses less electricity).
There have supposedly been some improvements to plasma sulfur grow lights, in an attempt to generate more light that is useful for growing plants, but there’s no evidence that the technology has significantly changed. Saying it’s now “improved” without any facts to back it up sounds a lot like more marketing speak.
The truth is, plasma grow lights are not ready for primetime, and honestly it looks like they may never be a good choice for cannabis growers.
There are not many pictures showing happy cannabis plants under Plasma Grow Lights, and many of the growers growing under them have since switched to more effective grow lights due to poor yields and performance
Just because this plant looks ok doesn’t mean that other grow lights aren’t better!
No one seems to want to use plasma grow lights for long, and there also aren’t many new vendors jumping on board with this technology to sell new models.
In fact, I believe (hope?) that plasma induction grow lights have fallen off the growing marijuana market for good, now that the initial hype has died away. Unless someone comes up with a major breakthrough in the technology, it seems like plasma grow lights are not going to work for marijuana growers.
However, a different type of induction lighting, “magnetic induction grow lights,” are starting to pop up everywhere.
Unlike sulfur plasma grow lights, these magnetic induction lights are based on current grow light technology (they are essentially an electrodeless fluorescent light), and these grow lights have proven to be much more effective for growing marijuana.
Magnetic Induction grow lights seem to be the “hot” type of cannabis induction grow lights on the market today. They give off a wonderful spectrum of light for growing cannabis, and they look like something out of a science fiction movie.
And the current magnetic induction grow lights work great in situations where fluorescent lights do well.
This is because magnetic induction lights are basically the same thing as a fluorescent light, only without a filament. That’s why these lights are sometimes called fluorescent induction lights, or electrodeless fluorescent lights.
In other words, magnetic induction grow lights are made with similar technology as regular fluorescent lights (like CFLs or a T5), except these lights use induction instead of electrodes to supply energy to the bulb.
Because the filament is usually the first thing to break in a fluorescent bulb, magnetic induction lights last much longer than regular fluorescent grow lights, and stay at their initial brightness for thousands of hours longer. They also come in unique form factors (different sizes and shapes) and are available in much bigger sizes than regular fluorescent lights.
What’s the difference between magnetic induction lights and fluorescent lights?
- Magnetic induction lights are made in different shapes and are available in much bigger sizes than your standard fluorescent
- Magnetic induction bulbs last much, much longer than regular fluorescent lights
Magnetic induction bulbs are often round or rectangular, with one side blue and the other side red. While these bulbs produce a great light spectrum for growing cannabis, they aren’t magical! It’s important to manage expectations if you’re considering a magnetic induction grow light.
Be wary of too-good-to-be-true claims when it comes to magnetic induction grow lights! Even though they are good lights, some unethical sellers will lie to you!
As far as magnetic induction lights, I think of them like big, odd-shaped fluorescent lights. If the price, shape, and brightness are good for your setup then you’ll be happy with these.
I’d consider getting a high-power magnetic induction grow light like this if it were a quarter of the price! And the price is sort of the biggest problem with magnetic induction grow lights…
Even though magnetic induction grow lights can produce nice plants, they cost an arm and a leg!
It’s possible that magnetic induction grow lights could be a nice option in the future for those who want longer-lasting fluorescent grow lights… But only after the price comes down.
Benefits of Magnetic Induction Lighting
- Great light spectrum that works great for growing cannabis (just like fluorescent lights)
- Replace them far less often: no electrodes or filaments means a longer life, and magnetic induction grow lights can be run for up to 100,000 hours
- Magnetic induction lights don’t lose light intensity nearly as fast as MH or HPS grow lights; they stay close to their full initial brightness even after running for tens of thousands of hours. Because these lights stay bright for so long, they are popular for stadium lighting and other types of lighting where bulbs are difficult or expensive to replace
- Instant-On – induction lights turn on instantly and don’t need time to warm up like MH/HPS bulbs
- The bigger size and unique form factor of induction lights can make them a great choice for supplemental or side-lighting, for example in a not-quite-bright-enough greenhouse, since they last a long time and are easy to install
- Deeper penetration into the plant canopy than CFLs or T5 grow lights
Cons of Induction Lighting
- Poor light penetration into the plant canopy compared to MH/HPS lights – never use an induction light to actually replace an MH/HPS setup!
- Expensive to buy compared to other grow lights
- Doesn’t have built-in cooling options – you may need to point a fan at the bulb to disperse heat if you’re using big bulbs
- Produces far less lumens/watt than its major competitor, the HPS. In other words, with a magnetic induction lamp you’re getting less light for the same amount of electricity compared to an HPS. More light = more energy = bigger buds.
- Lots of fake claims by sellers – buyer beware!
Magnetic induction grow lights work well as a supplemental grow light. They can also be used by themselves, as demonstrated here, and get similar results to the same wattage of other types of fluorescent lights.
Some greenhouse growers with limited light (including the world-famous grower Ed Rosenthal) have reported positive results from using magnetic induction grow lights in a greenhouse. A greenhouse might be a great choice for induction lights since it can be difficult to change lights, and induction bulbs will likely never need to be replaced. They also might be a good choice for short spaces where an MH/HPS light would not work.
However, in a sealed room with plenty of height, where the magnetic induction grow lights are the only source of light, the results are less remarkable. As a primary source of light when growing indoors, magnetic induction lights seem to perform about as well as really big fluorescent lights.
Should You Go Out and Invest In Magnetic Induction Grow Lights?
Remember, magnetic induction grow lights are basically just big fluorescent lights without electrodes or filaments. No matter what the vendors try to say otherwise, don’t fall for some of the outrageous marketing claims!
If you’re looking for a magical grow light that doesn’t produce any heat, uses next to no electricity, and produces humongous yields compared to LEDs, MH, or HPS grow lights, then you’re kidding yourself. Magnetic induction grow lights just aren’t what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a type of grow light that is low heat, uses a relatively low amount of electricity, has a good form factor for your grow area and you hate replacing your fluorescent bulbs, then magnetic induction grow lights may be the right choice for you.
This is a 400W magnetic induction fixture that plugs right into the wall
What about claims that induction lights are better than HPS grow lights? Do they get bigger yields for less electricity? Do they run cooler?
Well… the truth is there’s pretty much zero evidence that any of these bold claims are true.
In fact, if you simply look at the specifications of each light, you can see exactly how much light (lumens) each light gives off per the amount of electricity (watts). Now lumens isn’t the perfect measure of how much light is getting to your plants, but it’s a good starting estimate.
Note: The amount of light produced by each type varies depending on the bulb size and model. The way you position your plants compared to the light makes a big difference in how much light they’ll receive. Leaves close to the bulb get more light than leaves further away.
HPS – 85-150 lumens/watt
Metal Halide – 65-115 lumens/watt
LEDs – up to 105 lumens/watt
T5s – 70-105 lumens/watt
Plasma Induction – up to 100 lumens/watt (but not in the right spectrum of light for optimal plant growth)
Magnetic Induction – up to 80 lumens/watt
CFLs – up to 85 lumens/watt
It’s easy to see that HPS grow lights beats all the others by a landslide!
Plasma induction grow lights don’t work well for growing cannabis and get poor results for the amount of electricity they take. Even though they produce a nice amount of light, the light isn’t great for growing cannabis. I highly recommend against getting a plasma grow light – they’re expensive!
Magnetic induction lights can definitely grow some amazing plants, but no more than you could achieve with a similar brightness made from fluorescent lights. Magnetic induction lights won’t produce more light or less heat than MH/HPS grow lights using the same amount of electricity. And considering that we’re talking the difference between HPS lights and a type of fluorescent light, that actually makes a lot of sense.
No, the induction grow light scene isn’t like LEDs where they are actually improving the technology every year. With induction itself, the technology has not changed much since it was first demonstrated in the 1800s.
Occasionally a new company will try to re-ignite the fire about induction grow lights, claiming they’re better than MH/HPS or LED grow lights. Companies that lie about these lights are preying on new growers who get taken in by the science-y sounding terms and incredible claims, without realizing what they’re actually getting.
Ultimately, when someone is saying that induction lights will give you better yields (for the same amount of electricity) than HPS lights, it’s a bunch of marketing speak because no one has been able to demonstrate that’s true! Not in over half a decade!
If you search out videos and grow journals, you’ll see that cannabis growers who’ve tried induction lighting have generally not been that impressed. Especially if they tried to switch over from MH/HPS or LEDs thinking they were getting something stronger. People who go in with the wrong expectations are sure to be disappointed!
Should you get induction lights?
First off, I personally recommend you never get a plasma grow light. But there are times when magnetic induction grow lights might be a good choice. If you’re looking for supplemental side lighting that puts out a great spectrum and lasts forever than magnetic induction grow lights could be perfect for you. If you’ve got a short grow space to work with, but want something stronger/more compact than a T5, than these can be just the ticket.
I believe HPS lights are a really great choice for both big and small gardens! There’s this idea that HPS lights are incredibly hot, and that’s definitely true for the bigger models. But with a small 250W HPS like the one above, you may not even need to vent the heat (don’t tell on me, but that’s what I’ve been doing…). With cheap startup costs and the best light efficiency on the market today, HPS grow lights are hard to beat!
Wanna see more pictures of cannabis plants growing under Magnetic Induction Grow Lights?
One of our readers, deesnuts, has been growing marijuana with magnetic induction grow lights since 2011, and he has some pictures he’d like to share showing his results.
Scroll down to see more pics by deesnuts of marijuana grown completely under just magnetic induction lighting!
Hello, deesnuts here. I wanted to share you what I’ve learned about growing marijuana with magnetic induction lighting over the last few years. And don’t hesitate to check out my videos of marijuana growing under magnetic induction grow lights!
These lights come in all sizes to meet any need, from 40 – 400 watt bulbs.
My main room has five (5) 300W bulbs. I’ve used retrofit kits. These bulbs have it all, low power use & low heat output. In addition to my regular grow room, I have a small starter box with two 40W bulbs (color: one 2700K & one 6500K) plus one small CFL.
These lights have worked well for me, as you can see from the pictures below. All these marijuana plants have been grown completely under magnetic induction lighting.
Magnetic induction bulbs last forever. You don’t see them in stores, but grow stores can’t make money if a bulb lasts 20+ years.
Think about that.
Grow room: 6ft X 6ft X 10ft
Five (5) 300W magnetic induction bulbs
3 lights @ 2700k
2 lights @ 6500K
A 400W Magnetic Induction Fixture
The idea of electrodeless artificial lights (induction lighting) was first demonstrated over 100 years ago in the 19th century.
Induction lighting is unique because these lights use induction or electromagnetic fields to transfer power instead of filaments or electrodes. Since these parts wear out first, induction light bulbs last much longer than other types of artificial lights. This makes it a great choice for situations where it can be difficult to change bulbs, like stadium lighting.
In fact, all modern electrodeless lights are closely related to induction techniques that were demonstrated in the 1890s by Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), a world-famous inventor, physicist and electrical engineer.
Despite the benefits (long life, low electricity use, bright light) of Tesla’s induction lighting, a different type of light, incandescent bulbs, became the most popular artificial lighting for the next 100 years. Incandescent bulbs produce less light, use more electricity and generate more heat than induction lights, yet they became the most widely-used light bulbs in the world for most of the 20th century.
Tesla wrote in 1929 about induction-based lighting that “my system is more important than the incandescent lamp, which is but one of the known electric illuminating devices and admittedly not the best.”
Tesla believed that induction lighting was superior in every way to incandescent lights, and in most respects he was right. It’s only recently that incandescent lights are being gradually replaced by other, more efficient lighting, mostly fluorescent or LED lights.
It wasn’t until the last 1960s that the first electrodeless lamp was patented by General Electric, who recognized that these lights would stay bright for longer, and need to be replaced less often. But since then, it’s taken a backseat to fluorescents and LEDS for home or garden lighting. Instead, induction lighting has been mostly used for things like stadium lighting and factory lights.
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About the Author: Nebula Haze
In response to the need for more tutorials aimed at new growers, Nebula co-founded GrowWeedEasy.com in 2010 with fellow grower Sirius Fourside.
Since then, Nebula has published dozens of growing articles in print and online, stars in online video lessons, and continues to dedicate herself to serving the needs of the medical marijuana growing community.
“My mission is to show other medical marijuana patients how easy and fun it can be to grow pounds of killer weed out of your closet.”