Can you use regular light bulbs as grow lights? For anyone just setting up an indoor grow room for the first time, this thought has no doubt crossed your mind. Sure regular light bulbs would save you money and hassle, but the short answer is that the best results come from grow light bulbs.
Regular light bulbs produce light suitable for human eyes. Grow light bulbs focus on the needs of the plant for photosynthesis. Based on this simple fact alone, grow light bulbs are worth the investment. But within the grow light category are several options, and below we'll get into the details of each:
- Fluorescent grow light bulbs
- T5 grow light bulbs
- LED grow light bulb
What Kind of Lightbulb do You Need to Grow Plants?
Let's first assume you are growing more than just a houseplant. You'll need more out of your grow lights than what a simple incandescent light bulb can provide.
A regular incandescent light bulb won't cut it for anyone setting up a grow room for veggies or cannabis. Outside, fruit-bearing vegetables and cannabis plants all require full sunlight — a much greater intensity than what a regular light bulb would produce.
Incandescent lights work in lumens and lux ratings, which are designed around the human eye. You'll need to look for Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR), Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF) and Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density ratings to explore light suitable for plants.
To grow healthy and productive fruit-bearing plants inside, you'll need LED Grow Light Bulbs, T5 Fluorescent Grow Light Bulbs or HID Grow Light Bulbs.
What Is the Best Grow Light Bulb?
Out of the three suitable types of grow lights, which one is the best for efficiency, intensity, and yield? The following is a quick highlight reel of the most popular grow light bulb choices.
LED Grow Light Bulbs
LED grow lights are not necessarily bulbs, but instead a collection of light-emitting diodes, ie. LEDs, combined into a larger fixture. Unlike other grow lights, LEDs produce light by sending electricity through tiny semiconductors.
LED fixtures are the most energy-efficient options on the market, all with a low(er) wattage draw. They also helpfully produce much less heat than HID or even fluorescent light bulbs, making them ideal for small, poorly ventilated spaces.
While LED technology has come down in price over the years, it is usually one of the most expensive choices. However, you'll likely only have to replace the LED bulbs after 100,000 hours of use — something far superior to all other bulbs.
Grow light LEDs were built with plants in mind — targeting the PAR spectrum for better vegetative growth and better flower development (blues and reds). For more information on buying LEDs, check out this resource.
- Longest lasting light
- Energy efficient
- Coolest fixture
- More expensive than other options
T5 Fluorescent Grow Light Bulbs
While it is technically possible to nurture both veggies and cannabis under a total T5 fluorescent grow light system, growers tend to use T5s more as supplemental lights. T5 grow light bulbs run cooler than traditional HID fixtures and are more energy-efficient. Light comes from a chemical reaction as an electric charge travels through a tube filled with gas (typically mercury and argon).
When it comes to switching your grow room from veg to flower, generally speaking, you'll need to use two different T5 grow lights: 6400K for veg stage and 2700k for flower. New fixtures may have special bulbs with a coating that helps improve the spectrum, though.
Are you concerned about boosting cannabinoid content with UV light? Be warned, T5s do not output enough UV spectrum to have a substantial effect.
- Cooler than HIDs
- Work best as supplemental lights
- Not enough UV to boost THC content
HID Grow Light Bulbs
The traditional choice for indoor growers has always been HID grow lights, including High-Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide. Even with the advances in LED bulbs, many growers continue using HID grow lights because of the sheer power.
Like fluorescent light bulbs, HIDs work based on a chemical reaction of gas and an electronic charge within a tube. Metal halide bulbs produce a pure white-blue hue, best suited for veg. HPS has a reddish spectrum ideal for flower. You will need both to best support fruiting and flowering plants.
Both HPS and MH lights produce an unrivalled intensity, but they are heat-pumping energy hogs not always suitable for small spaces. HID fixtures produce light (and therefore heat) 360 degrees around the bulb — a waste of energy. Indoor growers must compensate with a higher hanging height and more substantial ventilation than with LEDs of T5 grow light bulbs.
- Intense light for canopy penetration
- Standard in indoor cannabis cultivation
- Short life span
- Produce significant heat
- Not energy efficient
Final Question: Can You Use a Grow Light Bulb in a Regular Lamp?
Why shell out more money on a grow light fixture if you can throw a grow light bulb into a regular lamp? Most, if not all, types of grow light bulbs require unique fixtures.
LEDs come in their board or bar. T5 grow light bulbs and HID grow light bulbs are the long tube-variety, requiring a special fixture. None of these are not going to fit into any lamp you have lying around your house.
But, more importantly, lamps are hard to position in and around your grow room for the necessary canopy penetration. You can easily position grow light fixtures for appropriate (and safe) diffusion into the canopy. You can also easily adjust the hang height.
Instead of jerry-rigging a substandard incandescent light bulb into the grow room, do yourself a favour: buy grow light bulbs and fixtures. Your plants will thank you.