Indoor Cannabis Grow Lights - A Brief Overview - Happy Hydro

Cannabis is a versatile plant that can be grown indoors or outdoors. However, growing cannabis indoors requires the use of grow lights. Grow lights mimic the sun’s natural light and help the plant to grow healthy and strong. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about indoor cannabis grow lights, including the different types of grow lights and how to choose the right one for your needs. We will also provide tips on how to set up and use your grow light to get the best results.

What are indoor cannabis grow lights?

Indoor cannabis grow lights are artificial lights that mimic the sun’s natural light. They are used to help plants grow healthy and strong when they are not able to get enough sunlight. There are many different types of grow lights available on the market, including fluorescent, LED, and HID lights. Each type of light has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to choose the right one for your needs.

Benefits of using grow lights

There are many benefits to using grow lights, including:

  • Increased yields – Grow lights can help you to produce bigger and better yields by providing your plants with more light than they would receive from natural sunlight alone.
  • Better quality – Grow lights can also help you to produce higher quality buds by increasing the amount of light that your plants receive. This can result in denser buds with more trichomes (the tiny crystals that contain THC).
  • Faster growth – Grow lights can help your plants to grow faster by providing them with more light than they would receive from natural sunlight alone. This can be especially beneficial if you are growing cannabis for medical purposes and need to harvest your crop as quickly as possible.

Types of grow lights:

There are four main types of grow lights: fluorescent, incandescent, high-pressure sodium (HPS), and light-emitting diode (LED). Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks that you should consider when choosing a grow light for your needs.

  • Fluorescent grow lights are the most energy-efficient option and emit very little heat, making them ideal for small spaces or for plants that require low temperatures. However, they do not provide as much light as other types of grow lights, so they may not be suitable for all plants. We tend to use these on leafy greens like lettuce 
  • Incandescent grow lights are less energy-efficient than fluorescent lights but produce more heat. This makes them better suited for larger spaces or for plants that need higher temperatures. They can also be used to supplement other types of grow lights.
  • High-pressure sodium (HPS) grow lights are the most powerful type of grow light and are often used in commercial greenhouses. They are very energy-intensive, so they may not be suitable for home use. They also emit a lot of heat, so they need to be used in well-ventilated areas.
  • Light-emitting diode (LED) grow lights are a newer technology that is becoming more popular due to their energy efficiency and long lifespan. They have both red & blue LEDs, sometimes referred to as blurple lights, and white light LEDs. However, they can be more expensive than other types of grow lights. 

Narrow Band or Broad Spectrum LED Lights

Some LEDs are touted as either a veg(etative) light or a flower/bloom light. If it is being marketed as a veg light, you will see a higher blue spectrum concentration, these usually appear as a white light, but you'll see more blue LEDs on the board/bars of the LED. On the other hand, a flower/bloom light will have a higher concentration of red/far-red LEDs, which again, will likely be a white light but have red LEDs built in. 

Broad Spectrum, aka full-spectrum, have both blue and red LEDs on board and are suitable for the entire plant cycle. The blue LEDs will give the plant what it needs during veg, and the red LEDs will provide what it needs to enhance terpene production and big blooms!

Board vs Bar LEDs

The age-old question is, which is better, board or bar lights? 

Board lights often have increased penetration, reaching deeper past the tops and providing more light to the smaller buds beneath the canopy. They usually run a little warmer and have higher 'distance to canopy' hanging requirements which might make your decision an easy one. 

Bar-style LEDs, are designed for increased coverage, passive cooling, and some of them even fold for stow- and ship-ability.  Distance to canopy can be as low as 6" during flower on many of the lights that we sell. Always refer to the owner's manual if height is predicted to be an issue. 

How to choose the right grow light for your needs:

Different types of plants have different lighting requirements, so the first step in choosing a grow light is deciding what kinds of plants will be grown. Succulents and cacti, for example, generally need less light than other plants. Once the gardener knows what types of plants they will be growing, they can look up how much light those specific plants need and compare that number to the output (measured in lumens) of various grow lights; this will help them choose a grow light that is bright enough for their needs.

The second step is determining where the grow light will be placed; if indoor plants are being grown, the gardener will need to make sure that the chosen light can reach all parts of the room/space where the plants are located (which might mean buying multiple small grow lights or one large grow light with a long cord). 

Last, but not least, gardeners need to consider how much money they want/are able/are willing to spend on a grow light—prices for these devices can range quite a bit (from around $20 up into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars), but it’s important to keep in mind that more expensive doesn’t necessarily equate to “better” quality; oftentimes, lower-priced options work just as well as their pricier counterparts (as long as some basic research has been conducted ahead of time).

How to set up your grow light:

The first step is to figure out how much light your grow room needs by measuring the square footage of the space. Once you know that, you can choose the right size and type of grow light.

Once you’ve chosen a light, you need to set it up so that it’s pointing down at your plants. You can do this with a simple stand or by suspending the light from the ceiling.

Make sure the light is close enough to the plants so that they can benefit from its full intensity, but not so close that it will scorch them. The ideal distance depends on the type of light you’re using, so consult your manufacturer’s instructions.

Do I need a timer with my grow light for the bloom phase?

Yes, you will need a timer with your grow light for the bloom phase. This is because during the bloom phase, your plants will need more light than they do during the vegetative phase. By using a timer, you can ensure that your plants are getting the right amount of light.

How high do I keep my grow light from my plants?

  • LED Grow Lights

    You should keep your LED grow light about 12-24 inches away from the top of your plants. This will give them the right amount of light and won't overheat them. Each owner’s manual should tell you what hanging height for each stage of growth. 

  • HID Grow Lights

    You should keep your HID grow light about 18-24 inches away from the top of your plants. This will give them the right amount of light and won't overheat them.

  • Fluorescent Grow Lights

    You should keep your fluorescent grow light about 6-12 inches away from the top of your plants. This will give them the right amount of light and won't overheat them.

  • CFL Grow Lights

    You should keep your CFL grow light about 6-12 inches away from the top of your plants. This will give them the right amount of light and won't overheat them.


After reading this article, you should be an expert on indoor cannabis grow lights! You now know the different types of lights available, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. You also know how to choose the right light for your needs, and how to set up your grow room to get the most out of your lights. With this knowledge, you can now grow healthy, high-quality cannabis indoors, regardless of the weather outside. 

If you're still reading and need our expertise, figure out your growing space, identify a budget, and get the absolute best light you can within that budget. If you can't get a solid light the first time, plan to come back and upgrade that as soon as you can since that is where you will see the biggest increase in yield and quality. 

Be sure to check for a warranty and what the warranty terms are. Do you have to send in your light to be repaired in the middle of a grow? A lot of LED light manufacturers are offering a 5-year warranty, so aim for that. When spending $500-$1k+ on a light, it's good when companies will essentially guarantee their product for 5 years. 

If you need suggestions with a light, please call/email us today at 716-217-0353 or

Author | Chris McDonald

With two decades of expertise, Chris leads Happy Hydro in redefining sustainable gardening and delights in backpacking adventures, mind-expanding journeys, and creating memories with his loved ones.

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