Part 5: Lights

Our latest publications on actionable growth advice for the home grower.

Working With Lights

If environment is the most difficult to look after, then it is lights that is most confusing.

Well right off the bat we are going to say the most important thing. We like Ceramic Metal Hallide (CMH) lights. Now that isn’t to say High Pressure Sodium (HPS) is not really good, because it is, but the CMH just has a boost in quality. The Spectrum in CMH is more complete than HPS. Both produce the best quantity you can get. We just get wicked quality form the CMH. Appears to give a better cannabinoid and terpene profiles, just stronger.

These two kind of lights are just recognized in the big grow areas of North America as just the best, so we wonder?, why would anyone use anything but these?

That brings use to LED lights where the marketing information seems to be a bit out of step with what is really happening. Now all of use at BRG have tried a variety of LED lights, we really want them to work. But inevitably we got less product than for CMH and HPS and are left disappointed.

Here is where some of the LED light manufactures really confuse things. The claim is they produce less heat. That is just false. All lights produce the same amount of hear per watt, always. So with LED lights pay no attention to the “theoretical wattage” that the manufacturers claim, but instead look for the actual wattage being drawn from the wall. This dictates the heat produced by the lamp.

Technology is always advancing and we remain hopeful that LED lights can get there but so far we have not seen it. So for BRG will not recommend any LED lights until we would have one into one of our gardens to evaluate the companies claims.

Metall Haliide (MH, Not to be confused with Ceramic Metal Hallide CMH) is a great vegging light as would a CMH light with a “blue spectrum”

A caution with the CMH lights. At the moment we have not seen a bulb that is as good as the original Phillips bulb, although several manufactures are close. Be careful buying discount bulbs, there spectrum is often not optimal and you get less product of poorer quality. The CMH bulbs last twice as long(2 years) or more than an HPS. So get a good quality bulb.

The best CMH lights also have what is called a square wave ballast, now you don’t need to know what that means, but it has a great effect on the plant quality and quantity. Make sure you get one of these that is compatible with a CMH light.

Sizing Lights

The second decision a grower has when deciding on lights is , how big a light do I need, what wattage. We can go all over the watts per square foot required for different species or quality but it is much easier to use some rules of thumb.

In a Home Grow our biggest challenge is we have not a lot of ceiling height, we are lucky if we have 8’, that means we need to find a light that we can get close to the canopy. We want big plants, right!

So bigger lights need to be farther away from the plants. For a 315 CMH I can get my canopy to about 14” of the light and the closest bud about 8”. For 600 W HPS it s more like 20” and closes bud about 14”. By the time we get to a double ended 1000 watt HPS we need to be over 30” from the light. That is going to make for one really tiny plant. Not good.

Putting in more smaller lights has an advantage in a low ceiling application. We really like the 315’s CMH’s for this.

We then can choose the correct light for how much canopy (table size) we want to cover.

315 watt CMH – 3.2’ X 3.2’
600 watt HPS – 3.8’ X 3.8’
800 Watt HPS – 4.3’ X 4.3’
1000 Watt HPS – 5.0’ X 5.0’

These figures are approximate as the light reflector will affect amount of canopy covered. We like the reflectors that tend to concentrate the light in a smaller area, bat wings etc are design to take a lot of light and spread over a bigger area. This is not as effective.

Take you time buying you lights and remember you may need less lights to get the quantity you need when growing with the BRG system. We can get over a pound of cannabis for every 315 watt CMH light.

Whichever light you choose you will get more quantity with less growing issues when you match any light up with the BRG system.

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