LED -  Trending to #1 in the marijuana grow business.

LED lights are the future


"Prediction: LED lighting will soon be the hands down favorite of marijuana growers."  


A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor light source which emits light when a voltage is applied to the leads. In this process, electrons flow into electron holes within the device, efficiently releasing energy in the form of photons (light) with little heat (waste).. Before we get into the science of lighting and LEDs, let's start with the takeaways.  The why you should definitely go with LED.


"The market value is STILL 50% less for outdoors, and the ONLY difference is that Sunlight has a significantly higher ratio of Blue to Red when compared with optimal LED. "


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  • LED lights consume more than three times less power than the industry standard HPS lighting.

  • Changing to LED lighting, a power bill using other forms of lighting goes down from $1000 per month to about $250 or less.

  • The light of some LED light types is more usable and acceptable to plants (and humans) than all popular commercial lighting.

  • LED bulbs last more or less - forever.

  • LED lighting does not get hot and will not start a fire.

  • LED lighting, in most instances, does not require electrical upgrades, bigger wiring, change in breakers, etc. because power consumption if so low.

  • LED lighting is more expensive to purchase, but gains in power savings and improved yields offset this cost, probably after the first paycheck for the maiden crop.

  • LED lighting can deliver a wide variety of colors and wavelengths while the competition delivers limited colors, especially greens and yellows ,that are particularly useless to plants.

  • LED just now coming onto the market, rich in blue and red with little yellow and green, deliver about triple the usable light (plants) compared to sodium lighting.  

  • LED lighting optimized is more than 10x more plant-useful light per $ compared to High Pressure Sodium Lamps

  • LED lights properly chosen are much more human friendly, less headaches, annoying flicker among many other issues.

  • Bud size, appearance, THC, CBD,  terpene, and resin content can be greatly increased by using different blue or red dominant LED arrangements in various growth phases.

  • Several growers believe LEDs produce higher quality buds (more trichomes, higher potency, and bring out the natural taste and smell of buds). They also tend to bring out the colors.

  • Air conditioning cost and equipment is radically reduced using LED lighting systems.

  • LED grow lights need to be kept at least 12-18" away to prevent light burn.

  • Yields are about 2 oz. per 100W (power consumption).

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LED light sources come in all shapes and sizes.  Not all LED types are suitable for growing plants.  For example, you can buy green LED lighting, which is the worst possible choice to grow plants because most of this light is reflected and is not usable for photosynthesis.  Other LED sources contain a mixture of spectrum colors and the best as far as yields go are sources that contain mostly blues violets and reds.  

There are many kinds of lighting made by man.  Of course the sun itself is the best all round source of rays, simply because life is entirely adapted to utilize the many its wavelengths, or colors under the rainbow.  But there are a number of practical issues using sunlight.  


"Roughly 75% of all the energy consumed by an HID lamp is emitted as heat, and most of that heat is in the form of Infra-Red (IR) radiation, so systems require significant air-conditioning. "


In northern climes, there is simply a lack of sunlight in the winter months that makes plant growth impossible.  So too, the human population suffers from depression, suicide, mold growth, vitamin D related deficiencies and above all, a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables that are necessary to maintain health and well being.



High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights dominate horticultural lighting right now. Before LED lights came onto the scene, HID produces the most bang for your buck.  While the light spectrum is anything but perfect, they generate more plant-usable light than most other commercially available light.  It is amazing to think that more than half of HID light is unusable to the plant.  

In fact, the spectrum maxes out at exactly the wrong place for plant growth.  Still, these lights are better than the the old fashioned and very inefficient incandescent bulbs, which generate most of their light in the infrared part of the spectrum.  It should be mentioned however that incandescent bulbs are the healthiest choice (with LED) because the don't usually contain toxic metals like mercury and halogens or give off radio frequency and microwave radiation.



A pigment is a molecule that absorbs certain wavelengths of light and reflects or transmits others. Objects or organisms vary in color because of their specific combination of pigments.  Light is absorbed by the pigment and transferred in a complicated set of reactions to split water into O2, H3O+, H+. The ions are used in the photosynthesis reaction where CO2 and the ionic water combines to form a simple sugar, the building block of plant constituents.

LED grow lights are fairly new to the growing scene, but are becoming wildly popular over the past few years because of their ability to produce larger yields while using a much smaller amount of electricity.  Growers are finding that quality LED grow light  deliver yields og 0.5 g / watt for an average-to-good grow.  Yields can go up substantially if you're an expert growing an elite strain.


For example, a 200W LED (equivalent) should yield about 100 grams or 3.5 ounces, on average.


It is important to use a wider spectrum LED lighting with a lot of blues and reds and a bit of green.   Older LED types without a wide assortment of tones will compromise yields and bud quality.


While quality LED's are the obvious best all round choice, other types of lighting can be used in conjunction to produce over the top results.

High quality, high pressure vapor sodium lighting can be used in combination to good effect.  If a grower wants to ramp up red, infrared and far infrared, the healthy incandescent bulb can be used to supplement LED reds.  This option is especially recommended for northern climes where the hot incandescent bulbs assist in generating heat.  In warm to hot climes we'd suggest an alternate solution.  Ultra-violet lighting at select parts of the growth phase can substantially elevate THC and perhaps other cannabinoid values.

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"Many city and county safety codes are beginning to prohibit the use of HID systems in residential indoor grows due to the dramatic increase in “closet fires.”



Lumen is a measurement of the quantity of light produced by a source; a lamp, the sun, etc.  A watt is an amount of electrical energy.  When looking at the efficiency of a light source, the measurement you need is not watts, or lumens, it's lumens per watt.  Unfortunately, many manufacturers don't make it clear what this number really is.   

Right now, the best LEDs have a rating of about 300 lumens per watt, while high pressure sodium lamps (HPS) are around 100 lumens/watt, and everything else if further down the ladders. LEDs retain their efficiency of output for years, while HPS drop in efficiency.  If the LED lights are chosen for an optimal spectral output (more reds and blues than yellows and greens) then there is an additional 40% boost in plant friendly radiation (light).  After all is said and done, a grow operation with a $1000 bill can be cut down to $250 per month, not to mention an improvement in bud quality.


efficiency rating of different kinds of lights used in marijuana grows



You don't have to be a rocket scientist to get this one.  White and shiny surfaces reflect light.  Dark surfaces do not.  Red surfaces reflect red.  Blue surfaces reflect blue.  A portion of your lights, whatever the source,obviously light up the floor, ceiling and walls of the grow facility.  You want to position lights so that most of the light hits the leaves of the plant.  And the walls, floor and ceiling should be reflective so the light bounces back to the plant.  


"LEDs are rated several years continual use, and often last more than ten years, with a maximum 10% drop in output with little or no shift in the spectrum."


LED lights are directional, meaning you can direct the light to a specific area, light waste can be minimized, as compared to a lamp set on the ceiling. By optimising your lighting position in combination with reflection can boost your efficiency (and lower costs) by 30% or more.  In the case of strong LED lighting, placing lights closer than 2 feet away can 'burn' the leaves and compromise growth.  


"Most professional growers replace their HID lamps a minimum of once every year and many even replace them every 2 harvests, with significant ongoing lamp ($50-$70) and labor (the most commonly overlooked) expense.

chlorophyll absorbance spectrum



Without going to deep into the science,  plant pigments absorbed light that sets in motion the synthesis of carbon dioxide and water to form a sugar.  That is why they call sugars carbohydrates, they are only water and carbon dioxide.  Several sugars stuck (bonded) together are called a starch.  A long chain of sugar is called cellulose.  After the creation of plant sugars, the plant goes to town, creating the wondrous variety of phytochemicals found in plants, and perhaps none of the variety found in the cannabis plant.


Chlorophylls come in several forms, all shades of green, while the other major pigments, carotenoids (like in a carrot) are yellow /orange.  The colors that you see represent the UNUSED light by the plant.  This is why, generally speaking that green and yellow light is generally undesirable in growth phases.  With that said, green and yellows introduce stress to the plant, which can be useful earlier on to make plants more hardy, or to produce more phytochemicals that are produced from stress.  The mysteries of cannabis light sciences are only now beginning to unfold.


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LED CHIPS produce very narrow spectrum bands of a variety of colors.  An assortment of chips is mixed to deliver an optimized spectrum - maximum plant absorption and utilization.

White LED are a mixture of several LED kinds, red, green, and blue or are a hybrid system with a blue LED chip phosphors lense. White LED’s are quite efficient  even though there are conversion losses when using phosphors. White LEDs falls right in the middle between the blue (most efficient) and red LEDs (lease efficient. That said, red LEDs are still much more efficient than other commercially available forms of lighting.   


TAKEAWAY - White LEDs - in general - are best suited for vegetation phases of growth than for Flowering, which favors Red spectrums for optimal yields.


HYBRID SPECTRUM LEDs - Generally speaking, the best LED lights for flowering are Hybrid Spectrum. The majority of the lighting is generated in 4 spectrum bands aligning with chlorophyll peaks.

Example high efficiency LEDs:  

  • Deep Blue (Blue chlorophyll A peak),

  • Blue (Blue chlorophyll B peak),

  • White (RGB),

  • Red (Red chlorophyll B peak) and

  • Far Red (FR chlorophyll A Peak).


The plant genetics and environment affect the way the plant develops. Environmental factors can produce a midget or a giant from the same seed.  Yes, environmental factors have that dramatic of an impact.  Different intensities of light (and darkness) play a key role in plant morphesis (from seedling to mature plant).  Messing up the lighting can easily reduce yields by 50% or more like 80%+ if you have a random approach.  



Plants sense when they are in the shade, when there a higher proportion of Far Red (indirect light) than Red as is found in direct sunlight. If the ratio of Far Red to Red is above a certain value, many varieties begin to grow up above the other plants to get to the direct sunlight. In another response, cutting lighting from "full sunlight days" (12-16 hours) down to 6-8 hours with correspondingly more red light triggers flowering (fall), in an effort to deliver seeds before the winter.  Growers have found that:


A higher ratio (>60%)of Red in the spectrum mix promotes stem, and flower production in Cannabis among other plants.   A higher ratio (>40%) of Blue light promotes leaf, resin, and terpene (fragrance) production, and stimulates non-chlorophyll pigment synthesis - which can bring out more pronounced colors in the flowers.



While we definitely support the use of LED lights, it is a sad state of affairs when indoor bud fetches on average double the price to outdoor, sungrown weed.  By controlling the conditions and lighting with precision, the choice indoor strains look fat, juicy and plump, while the el-natural bud tends to be more plain, less of a beauty queen.  

With that said, there is little scientific evidence that says indoor is more potent or medicinal than indoor, that is for the same strain.  Given this price discrepancy, we'ed (pun intended) choose outdoor weed if it was lab tested and had the same potency.  That said, if you're into cosmetics and profits, this is yet another reason to grow indoors with LED lighting.


"Indoor (HPS) flower tends to be denser, with less flower (sugar) leaves. The flower's leaves are literally just little tips extending from the flowers. Outdoor or Greenhouse flower tends to be less dense, and has significantly more and larger flower leaves. This effect has literally resulted in a differential of 2x in the value of the end product, with top-tier indoor flower in Colorado, California"

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The fragrance and resin production in outdoor are good, but the shelf appeal is dramatically lacking. Many people will think outdoor is better, but the general public is willing to pay substantially more for COSMETICALLY better flower.  Blue-rich metal halide lamps or equivalent can be effective during the last 2 weeks of flowering or ripening.  This technique significantly stimulates resin and terpene production to deliver a more desirable, elite product.  Programmable LED systems are now available to deliver red, customized assortments of red, blue, green lighting at various stages of the growth cycle.


"The plants at Equatorial sun level UVB measured 33% THC. That’s over a 30% increase in THC levels by just supplementing UVB light throughout the growth cycle (CBD levels did not change). " Study Potency of THC vs UV  


Newbies should beware that some LED manufacturers advertise UV capability, but in reality, they deliver negligible tanning rays which affect the plant to produce more THC.


"This strain usually flowers 9 weeks. so roughly 790 watts and got 728 grams (almost 26 ounces!) after curing. Lights were expensive, but I LOVE them. No more a/c and elec (all) went from 350 mo. to 250 mo. and I thank you for this site. Taught me a lot." ~Jetta


light intensity meter

A handy little meter to measure Lumens. the overall intensity of your lighting.  


light colors that plants like

The absorption of different colors by chlorophyll, a rough measure of usable light.  The higher the graph point, the more that color can be used in the plant.


the science of light and plants


Chlorophyll reflects green and yellow big time.  

    the industry standard lighting ain't so great.


A typical HPS spectrum. Crazy, but this is your current industry standard lighting.  In other words, this lighting is the best of the worst. The majority of the HPS spectrum falls in the region of lowest plant absorption.  However, new double-ended (DE) HPS lamps run at higher pressures to produce a little more of the reds.  The overall photosynthetic utilization is still much inferior to a well chosen array of LEDs.....


Metal Halide (MH, CMH) Spectrum


Grow Your Own Blue Dream - 6 plants for 30 oz


sunlight vs high power LED


High Powered LED lights resemble sunlight more than almost all commercially available light sources.  Used in combination with an incandescent source can beef up the red end of the spectrum to deliver nearly truly full spectrum lighting. Note that it is rare that full spectrum lighting advertisements reflect reality, very unfortunate......

MMJDoctorOnline Notes: To grow up to 99 plants for medical purposes in many regions of California and Nevada, grower's need a permit.  Thanks to the Medical Board of California, Telemedicine applies to medical marijuana.  Our compliant 100% online process takes only a few minutes for 420 recommendations, Cannabis ID cards, and grow permits.  Documents are usable in cannabis clinics, delivery services, dispensaries, marijuana cooperatives, law enforcement, and special event smoking areas.  A licensed medical doctor is standing by from 9 am to 10 pm 7 days per week.  Patients and growers do not pay unless they've been approved.....




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Grow Lighting: LED vs. HPS – High Times

A study published this June concluded that “the most efficient HPS and LED fixtures have equal efficiencies, but the initial capital cost per photon delivered from LED fixtures is five to ten times higher than HPS fixtures.” Yes that’s right, they measured light by the photon; pretty intense right? Another interesting finding in the study is that light quality is much less important than light quantity.....



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