HID Lighting is the most common type of light to grow cannabis indoors. It has been around for a long time, and growers have always produced great results when using HID lighting for growing cannabis. This keeps HID’s at the top of the list for favourites amongst growers.
The term HID stands for High Intensity Discharge lighting. An electrical current is passed between 2 electrodes, which heats up a gas inside the bulb. The gas then evaporates certain particles, giving the bulb its intense bright light.
The bulbs can be found in street lights, and car headlights, warehouses, sports halls, stadiums, and many other places, not just a grow room.
If you have any questions about HID Lighting, then feel free to ask for help in our cannabis growers forum
Ballasts for HID lighting for growing cannabis
Because of the amount of energy a HID bulb needs, a ballast is needed to step up the voltage, safely. Without a Ballast, too much power can be drawn to the bulb, causing it to overheat and explode. It will also help prevent short circuiting in the mains. There are 2 different kinds of ballast for HID lighting for growing cannabis, magnetic, and digital.
What are Magnetic Ballasts.
Magnetic ballasts are old technology that have been out dated by their new counterparts. They are still great, and will still run all HID bulbs, but not as efficiently.
These ballasts are also bulky, and can get very hot during operation. You will also have to buy a ballast for each bulb you intend to use, if they differ in wattage. For example, a 250w ballast for a 250w bulbs, and a 600w ballast for a 600w bulb. It is more cost effective to buy a digital ballast straight away.
What are Digital Ballasts.
Digital ballasts are far more efficient than magnetic Ballasts. Not only do they run cooler, and draw in power slowly to increase the life of your bulbs, but they are dimmable.
This means that with the flick of a switch, you can run a 250w bulb, or a 600w bulb. Some ballasts will even come with a “super lumens” switch that will push the power an extra 10%. More wattage is equal to more buds.
These ballasts for HID lighting for growing cannabis, also come pretty cheap, and will only be around 10% more than a magnetic one.
What is HPS and MH?
Depending on what gas is heated inside your HID bulb, you will have a blue, or orange glow to your light. The Blue one, is called a Metal Halide Bulb. The orange, is called a High Pressure Sodium Bulb.
Metal Halide Bulbs for growing Cannabis.
A Metal halide bulb will glow blue, in colour. In a metal-halide bulb, there is a mixture of argon or xenon, mercury, and a variety of metal halides, such as sodium iodide and scandium iodide.
Metal Halide Bulbs are used during the vegetative growth cycle of a cannabis plant. The plants work better with the blue spectrum, as it is said to simulate, spring time daylight.
Because MH bulbs are used throughout veg, they do not need to be as powerful as your final HPS bulb. In a 1m grow space, a grower would usually start their plant under a 250w MH light, and head onto a 400w MH during later veg. Having HID lighting for growing cannabis at different wattage, and a digital ballast, will help keep the energy costs down, and stop you from overpowering a young plant with too much light.
Changing back to your metal halide bulb in the last week of growth is said to simulate winter sun, and will fool your plant into thinking winter approaches. She will then push out extra resins to try and attract some pollinating insects to the smell. This will increase flavour and potency of your final product.
High Pressure Sodium Lights for Growing Cannabis
HPS is the most commonly known of the HID bulbs. They work in the same way as MH bulbs, but they evaporate sodium metals. The lights give off an orange/ red glow, and can simulate the sunlight of summer. This is the spectrum of light the plant sprefer when growing flowers.
Because the plants prefer this spectrum of light during flower, the HPS light is used throughout the flowering phase of a cannabis plant life cycle. Most growers would grow in a 1m x 1m grow tent, with a 600w HPS for flowering.
Out of all of the new technology that has been released in the last ten years, HPS still hold the top spot for flower producing. If you want to grow big, dense buds, then the HPS bulb is what you will grow under. LED is catching up, but it still doesn’t perform as well as a HPS does.
What HID Lighting to use for a 60cm x 60cm Grow Tent.
Given the square footage of your grow space, 250w, will be enough for your whole grow cycle. You can grow 2 plants, and yield around 5-6 ounces. You will need:
You get a HPS with most kits, and it is up to your whether you would like to buy a MH bulb to go with this kit. Or maybe a T5 Fluorescent might be a better option for your needs.
HID lighting for growing cannabis in a 1m x 1m Grow Tent?
For a 1m x 1m x 2m grow tent, it is best to buy a digital ballast with a range of HID bulbs. For your early veg, you can use either a T5 fluorescent, or a 250w MH. But once your plants are a little older, you will need a 400w MH. The 600w HPS will be used when you go into flower.
Best Light Kits for a 1.2 x 1.2 m Grow tent.
You can easily use a 600w light kit for a 1.2 x 1.2 x 2m grow tent. You can add extra lights if you wish, but 600w is sufficient. Some growers like to push that bit extra and would go with a 1k watt grow kit for their grow.
For this you would need a 1k watt ballast, with a 1k watt HPS, and a 600w MH. But again, the 600w light kit for a 1m tent is good enough! If you want to increase wattage, increase your floor space to a bigger tent.
What HID Lighting should I use in a 2.4 x 1.2m Grow Tent?
When you extend your floor space you will need more light to cover your grow area. A 2.4 x 1.2 x 2m grow tent is essentially 2 1.2 x 1.2m meter tent combined.
To cover this kind of footprint, you will need twice as many lights as you would for a 1.2m tent. 2 x 600w Light kits will do the job, but adding some supplement lighting in the middle of the grow tent is always a good idea. Along with your 2 600w light kits, add a 250 HPS or MH into the middle. This will improve the amount of light the plants can get in the middle of the tent, where the footprint of the 600w lights gets weaker.
You could also consider running 2 x 1000w bulbs in a 2.4 x 1.2 M tent as well, but you will need powerful extraction to keep temperatures under control.
Final notes on growing cannabis with HID Lighting
HID lights will use the most amount of electricity to run compared to other Grow lights. But these lights will bring you the biggest yields, and fattest buds. They run hot, and will increase the temperatures of the Grow Room, so bigger extraction will also be needed than when using Led lights or CMH.
Some think the LED is more efficient. But with the lack of heat provided by led lights, you will need to supplement heating. This can mean that the actual cost of running an LED over a HID, are not very different.
Choose wisely, I would always advise new growers work with HID lights. As your grow skill increases, so will your yield, and you will be able to use lower powered lighting, and still pull off good yields.
Thanks for reading! You can find more information on anything related to growing in our cannabis grow guides. All of our guides are written by experienced growers, and members of our cannabis growers forum. If you have any questions, sign up. It is free, and we are always happy to help!