HID (High Intensity Discharge) Lighting
HID lighting is the most efficient way to convert electricity into light that is available to the consumer. There are two types of HID grow lights used for horticultural lighting:
Metal Halide - MH
Metal halide bulbs produce an abundance of light in the blue spectrum. This color of light promotes cannabis plant growth and is excellent for green leafy growth and keeping cannabis plants compact. It is the best type of light to be used as a primary light source (if no or little natural sunlight is available). The average lifespan is about 10,000 cumulative hours. The bulb will light up beyond this time but due to the gradual decline of light, it is not worth your while to wait for the bulb to finally burn out. If you compare their lumen (brightness) per unit of energy consumed, metal halides produce up to 125 lumens per watt compared to 39 lumens per watt with fluorescent lights and 18 lumens per watt for standard incandescent bulbs.
High Pressure Sodium - HPS
High pressure sodium bulbs emit an orange-red glow. This band of light triggers hormones in cannabis plants to increase flowering/budding in cannabis plants. They are the best lights available for secondary or supplemental lighting (used in conjunction with natural sunlight). This is ideal for greenhouse growing applications.
Not only is this a great flowering light, it has two features that make it a more economical choice. Their average lifespan is twice that of metal halides, but after 18,000 hours of use, they will start to draw more electricity than their rated watts while gradually producing less light. HPS bulbs are very efficient. They produce up to 140 lumens per watt. Their disadvantage is they are deficient in the blue spectrum.
If a gardener were to start a young cannabis plant under a HPS bulb, she/he would see impressive vertical growth. In fact, probably too impressive. Most cannabis plants would grow up thin and lanky and in no time you will have to prune your cannabis plant back before it grows into the light fixture. The exception to this is using a HPS light in a greenhouse. Sunlight is high in the blue spectrum which would offset any stretching caused by HPS bulbs.
Common manufacturers of metal halide and high pressure (HP) sodium lights include Philips, General Electric, Iwasaki, Venture, and Osram/Sylvania. Many of the manufacturers buy and use the same components, often manufactured by competitors. Most often the bulbs have the exact same technical statistics.
This type of light is perfect for starts and seedlings. They are also popular for growing low-light cannabis plants like herbs and African violets. Fluorescent lights are low intensity and need to be placed within 8" (up to 15" for shade loving cannabis plants) of the cannabis plants to be effective. They are a poor light source for flowering and budding primarily because of their low lumen output.
These lights are also good for starts and seedlings and provide an inexpensive alternative to HID lights, because they do not require a ballast. These lights are only good for individual cannabis plants or small groups of cannabis plants because of their low lumen output and limited range.