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Are HPS Grow Lights Better Than LED Grow Lights To Grow Cannabis?

Added 5 July 2023

We’ve said it, and many others have said it: LED grow lights are the future when it comes to growing cannabis, and even today, LED grow lights are becoming the go-to solution for many growers. But are they everything you expect from your grow lights?

Not really. No matter how good LED grow lights get, they still have to compete with the current industry standard: HPS grow lights. While LED lights are better than HPS grow lights in many regards, they still fall short in some regards. 

It is crucial that you decide well between the two. And there are many instances where it makes more sense to pick HPS grow lights over LED grow lights. In this article, look at some of the ways HPS grow lights are better than LED grow lights and how to pick the best HPS grow lights for your cannabis plant. Read on to know more. 

HPS Grow Lights vs. LED Grow Lights for Cannabis

LED lights seem like they are the best types of grow lights for growing cannabis since they are energy-efficient, don’t heat up the space, and are customizable. And if you research anything about cannabis grow lights, LED lights are often the most recommended product for most growers. 

Advantages of LED Grow lights

Advantages of LED Grow lights

1. Customization

Since most LEDs give you the option to customize the light spectrum, you can use it from start to finish. For example, you can use the lights meant for the vegetative (bluish-white) phase when the plants are growing and then switch to the flowering phase (red) when you’re ready. By controlling the spectrum, you can ensure that the plants have the exact wavelengths necessary to develop thick foliage and potent buds as well. 

2. Reduced heat output

Fortunately, LEDs throw much less heat compared to other grow lights like HPS. Not only do you reduce the risk of heat stress significantly, but it also eliminates the necessity of using air coolers or air conditioners. For this reason, many growers tend to place their lights close to the plants; however, make sure you follow the instructions of the manufacturer and maintain an appropriate distance or the plants may burn. 

3. Long lifespan

Most LED lights last longer than traditional lighting options. A single grow light can last for several growing projects, thereby giving you a handsome return on your investment. This means that you don’t need to replace the light frequently. Plus, this longevity also ensures consistent light quality and intensity over an extended period, promoting stable and healthy plant growth.

4. Reduced operational costs

While LED lights may have a higher upfront cost compared to some traditional lighting options, the long-term cost savings in energy consumption, maintenance, and bulb replacements make them economically advantageous. The energy efficiency and long lifespan of LED lights contribute to lower operational costs over the life cycle of the lighting system.

But despite the terrific benefits, LED grow lights have a few downsides that you must be aware of. While these downsides are not often deal breakers for most growers, some growers may find them problematic for their operation. 

In fact, for some growers, LED lights can do more harm than good. For such growers, it is ideal to choose HPS grow lights. They may be old-fashioned and not so efficient, but for what they are worth, HPS grow lights can still give LED lights a run for their money. 

Does this mean we are against LED grow lights? Not at all. LED lights are superior to HPS lights in many ways and should be the go-to choice for many growers. But for others, they may not make the most sense. 

Here are the most common problems with LED grow lights and how HPS lights can come in handy. 

Disadvantages of LED Grow Lights

Disadvantages of LED Grow Lights

1. LED grow lights can burn the plants

In the cannabis circle, there’s a common myth that since LED grow lights aren’t as bright or intense as other types of grow lights, you can place them much closer to the plant’s canopy. However, this can be quite harmful to your cannabis plants if you place the LED lights too close.

You need to place the lights far from the plant so your plant doesn’t experience a light burn. Otherwise, LED grow lights’ powerful throw can deliver too much light that can burn the leaves and buds even if the lights may not be heating up too much. 

What’s worse about LED lights is that if they are situated too close to the plant, the symptoms of light stress occur slowly and not immediately. You may start noticing some yellow leaves on the canopy and a few leaves dying slowly over time, which may not look like a big deal at first. But come the flowering season, the symptoms will accelerate and start showing up on the buds, too. 

The biggest sign that your LED lights are burning your cannabis plant is when the leaves directly under the light start turning yellow or showing other signs of light burn. This is especially true if the rest of the plant looks relatively healthy. 

You’ll find that most manufacturers recommend placing the grow lights around 12 to 18 inches from the top of the canopy. Some powerful models even need as much as 30 inches of distance from the plant to avoid light burn. And many growers ignore this and use other traditional methods of testing the distance without realizing LED lights are different. 

You must’ve been annoyed by the recent trend of extremely bright headlights on modern cars, right? That’s because of LED lights. Manufacturers of LED lights have started using powerful lenses to improve the focus of their grow lights for better penetration within the canopy. This means that even an LED light with low wattage can be incredibly bright for your cannabis plant. 

Compare LED lights to HPS lights and you’ll find that some LED lights need more clearance, by up to a foot, than even a 600W HPS grow light, which is already a powerful light. High-powered LED lights need to be kept at a distance of 3 feet. 

The workaround for this problem is that you find an LED grow light with the right ratio of intensity and penetration. 

2. There isn’t an industry standard for LED lights to grow cannabis

Imagine if you get a 400W LED grow light that’s similar to your friend’s grow lights, but there’s a high chance your grow lights may perform drastically different from the other. That’s because LED lights, even though they may come with the same specifications, perform very differently since there are no industry standards that dictate their performance. 

For LED grow lights, every model from different manufacturers is different since they use a unique blend of diodes, lenses, colors, and other components. So, even though two LED light panels may appear the same in terms of their wattage and light production, they will likely not produce the same results. 

The reason this becomes a problem for you is that it gets extremely difficult to know whether the light you are looking at is right for your cannabis plant or not. You will get frustrated, especially if you have to order the lights online without checking them out in action. 

On the other hand, HPS grow lights are consistent across brands. Thanks to industry standards and regulations, HPS grow lights use almost the same components to produce almost the same light. The variation is few and far between. For example, a generic 600W HPS light will produce the same light as an expensive 600W HPS light, the only difference will be the quality of components and other features. 

3. LED lights can be difficult to repair 

LED diodes can run for over a decade, but that doesn’t mean every other component on an LED light panel also has a long life. They still come with various components that can malfunction or stop working unexpectedly. When this happens, good luck trying to fix the light. 

In most cases, especially if you have a cheaper LED light panel, your only solution would be to replace the entire unit with a new one. This goes back to the lack of industry standards; you can find the same part from a different manufacturer but there’s no guarantee that it will work the same. 

Another reason is that LED lights are often high-tech, especially the more expensive ones. So fixing them is a hassle for most growers unless you send them back to the manufacturer, which may not always be ideal. 

And even though some reputable manufacturers offer spare parts, it’s difficult to get your hands on them and fix them. For the most part, if your LED light panel stops working or malfunctions and is out of warranty, tossing it in the bin is often the best option. 

That’s not the case with HPS grow lights. HPS grow lights not only come with standardized spare parts that are easy to replace across brands, but the parts are also quite cheap. So, if your HPS grow light malfunctions, you can fix it at home for cheap without worrying about the manufacturer’s warranty or expensive repair bills. Here, the rudimentary nature of grow lights works in your favor. 

4. LED grow lights can be super expensive

One of the biggest problems with LED grow lights for cannabis growers is that they can be expensive compared to other types of lights like HPS or CMH lights. In fact, LED lights can cost up to 10x more than regular lights that produce similar levels of output. 

For example, a high-quality 600W HPS will cost around $150, but to get a similar performance in LED grow lights, you’d have to pay upwards of $700! Isn’t that a lot? For the same price, you can get a dedicated grow light setup of HPS lights along with fans, tents, and other peripherals. 

No doubt, the prices of LED lights have come down in recent years, but they are still expensive, especially high-quality ones. You can still find cheaper LED lights, but they come with a variety of problems and consistency issues, and they don’t make sense for most growers except hobby growers who grow just a couple of plants. 

On the other hand, HPS lights are cheap and worth the investment. Yes, they do come with a shorter lifespan and create heat, but many growers may not mind that, depending on their climatic conditions and budget. 

5. LED grow lights come with a lot of marketing jargon

This is a problem with the LED grow light industry, not the lights themselves, and it relates back to the lack of standards in the industry. Yes, the manufacturers give you all the information you need for the grow light, but they use their own standards, specifications, or words to describe the light. 

As a customer, it’s hard to discern what all these terms mean for your cannabis plant or how the lights are going to perform for your cannabis plant. This lack of information may lead many growers to purchase the wrong grow lights. 

There are some reputable brands that don’t use much marketing jargon, but still, there are many manufacturers that intentionally try to confuse their buyers with numbers to boost their bottom line. This is predatory for unsuspecting buyers who simply want the right set of grow lights for their cannabis plants.

But look at HPS lights and you won’t question their performance. If your HPS light is 300W, you can expect the same results as any other HPS grow lights in the market. Plus, reputable HPS grow light brands use the same terminology and metrics to denote their light’s performance and expected results. 

Using HPS Lights to Grow Cannabis

HPS or High Pressure Sodium grow lights are HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights that emit light when xenon and a gaseous mixture of mercury vapor and sodium are heated with an electrical current. They produce bright light that’s slightly warm in nature, and for many cannabis growers, HPS lights have been the go-to choice for years. 

Advantages of HPS Grow Lights

Advantages of HPS Grow Lights

While we discussed various ways HPS lights are better than LED lights above, let’s take a look at some other benefits of HPS grow lights. 

1. High Intensity

The biggest advantage of HPS grow lights is that they produce intense light that is perfect for growing marijuana plants. In addition, they throw a lot of usable light that boosts the buds significantly. Needless to say, the intense light is enough to penetrate the canopy and take care of the lower branches as well. Cannabis plants love HPS lights, especially during the flowering stage. For a single Watt, HPS lights can produce over 140 lumens, which is a lot of light for the cannabis plant. So, if you’re growing a few cannabis plants, you don’t have to invest in a comprehensive setup; a couple of HPS grow light works best. Also, high intensity equals high yields. HPS lights are absolutely best if your goal to is to get more yields. 

2. Best spectrum for the flowering stage

HPS lights emit the ideal spectrum of light for a flowering cannabis plant. They produce an orange/red spectrum of light of around 2200K, which your plant requires the most during bloom for the best bud development. These wavelengths are perfect for stimulating bud development and also increase the production of resin, which is what we all want. Ultimately, it’s safe to say that HPS lights produce dense buds dripping in resin that’s high in cannabinoid content. 

3. Cost-effective

HPS grow lights are cheap. So, even new hobby growers can get their hands on a set of high-quality lights without breaking the bank. And since these lights are consistent across brands, you are not sacrificing much if you choose a cheaper brand except for a few fancy features.

4. Availability

And did we mention just how easy it is to purchase HPS grow lights almost anywhere on Earth? They can be found in numerous online and local stores, and you can pick the proper configuration based on your requirements. 

In fact, you don’t even need dedicated HPS grow lights; even regular HPS bulbs can work wonders for your cannabis plant if you choose the right one. You can buy HPS lights in almost all hardware stores since they are used in arenas, car parks, street lamps, sports halls, etc. 

5. Reputation

Growers have been using HPS grow lights for decades now, thanks to the technology’s extensive background in producing good cannabis yields. The plus point is that they have been well-researched, and even commercial cannabis growers swear by the lights. There’s also a plethora of information specifically for HPS lights, simply because of their popularity, so you can continue using them if you have prior experience growing with them. 

6. Great for cold environments

The warmth produced by HPS lights can be helpful in cooler environments when it’s difficult to maintain ideal temperatures. Most growers use heaters and other devices to increase the temperatures in colder climates. But, as you already know, HPS lights generate considerable heat, and this very heat can help you increase the temperature of your grow tent. Fortunately, you won’t have to use heating devices, helping you save a little. 

7. Efficient for bigger grow tents

HPS lights are specifically ideal for bigger grow tents or rooms, thanks to their high light intensity and vast coverage, making them ideal for commercial farmers with large spaces. They can successfully brighten a huge space and are particularly efficient if you pair them with MH lights during the vegetative phase. 

Disadvantages of HPS Grow Lights

Disadvantages of HPS Grow Lights

Not all is bright and sunny with HPS grow lights since they do have some downsides. So, even though HPS grow lights may be a better option than LED grow lights for some users, these downsides can be a dealbreaker for others.

1. Heat output

The biggest downside of HPS grow lights is that it produces a lot of heat. This is because they convert a lot of electrical energy to heat instead of light. As a result, you will notice a temperature spike, especially if you’re growing cannabis in a small tent or grow room. Sudden spikes can shock or stress the plants and impact the yields negatively. So, to prevent these issues, you may have to use additional cooling systems like air conditioners and coolers that will add to the electricity bill in the long run. In addition, HPS lights require a ballast for electrical regulation, which can be heavy and cumbersome to manage. Plus, HPS lights consume a lot of water, and so will the ballast. So, while a couple of HPS bulbs won’t harm you, using an array of HPS bulbs can burn a hole in your wallet. 

2. Expensive in the long run

Wait didn’t we just say that HPS lights are cheap? Well, they are. Compared to LEDs, for instance, the initial costs are undoubtedly cheaper; however, as mentioned already, although they produce a lot of high-intensity light, much of it is wasted as heat, translating into higher electrical costs, not to mention a large carbon footprint. Therefore, although you will save some money at the beginning with HPS Lights, they will be more expensive long-term. 

3. Limited spectrum

HPS Lights typically produce yellow and orange lights, which is great for the plants during the flowering phase, but not so much during the vegetative phase. When the plants grow, they need bluish-white light, similar to cool daylight. So, unless you pair your HPS lights with MH lights for the vegetative phase, you can’t expect your plants to perform well by producing dense foliage. 

Also, cannabis plants require different spectrums, depending on the stage of their growth. Many LEDs come with customizable light spectrums, allowing you to use one light for the entire growth cycle. This gives you more control over the spectrum and the yields ultimately. Unfortunately, it can be more challenging to have such precise control with HPS lights, thereby hindering your ability to produce plants with larger yields. 

4. Shorter life expectancy

HPS light bulbs have a minimal lifespan. Plus, the bulbs deteriorate gradually as you use them every day. Not only does the intensity decrease, but it may produce more heat as well. Thus, keep an eye on the bulbs and remember the life expectancy advertised by the manufacturer. As soon as you see the bulbs degrading, replace them as they will have a negative impact on the plant. 

Choosing the Right Wattage HPS Grow Lights

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face while choosing HPS grow lights is figuring out the best wattage. Unlike LED lights, you can’t tune HPS grow light’s intensity, so choosing the right wattage matters since it dictates how much light the bulb will produce. 

HPS grow lights come in a standardized range, where the most popular wattages are 250W, 400W, 600W, and 1000W. The wattage you choose depends on the number of plants you grow and sometimes the training technique you use. 

For regular cannabis plants, use the following guide:

  • 250W for 3 to 5 plants
  • 400W for 6 to 9 plants
  • 600W for 9 to 12 plants
  • 1000W for 12 to 16 plants 

Remember to increase the distance from the canopy as you increase the wattage; you need a wider spread for more plants but not at the expense of burning the plant in the middle. 

Keeping Your Grow Room Cool

Once you have invested in the right set of HPS grow lights for your cannabis plant, you’ll need to also invest in other peripherals to manage the heat produced by your grow lights. HPS grow lights heat up a lot and you must remove the heat efficiently to keep your grow room’s temperature in check. 

The best temperature for growing cannabis indoors is between 70°F to 75°F (21°C to 24°C) during the day and 60°F to 70°F (16°C to 21°C) during the night. So, during the day, you need to check how much your grow lights heat up your room; generally, it can be anywhere from 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Then, depending on that, you need to take certain measures to keep your room cool. One of the first things you need to do is install fans or oscillating fans in your grow room to keep the air circulating. Next, install the intake and exhaust vents with negative air pressure to keep pulling fresh, cool air into your grow room. In some cases where you use multiple HPS grow lights, you may also have to get an air conditioner to keep the grow room cool.

If your HPS lights don’t have one already, consider getting a cool tube for your grow light. It is a tube that sits over your HPS light, running cool air over the bulb to keep it cool. This is one of the best ways of keeping your grow room cool while using HPS grow lights. 

Lastly, remember that as soon as you switch off the lights during the night, the temperatures will dip immediately. So, tune your ventilation and air conditioner in a way that it compensates for this drop and works less during the night, otherwise, your plants may experience cold stress if the temperatures drop too much. 

Advancements in HPS Grow Lights

Advancements in HPS Grow Lights

It’s best to purchase grow lights that have a lot of room to grow in terms of technology. While HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) lighting technology has been well-established for many years, there have been limited advancements specific to HPS technology itself. However, there have been some developments aimed at improving certain aspects. Here are a few advancements that have been made:

1. Enhanced bulb designs 

Manufacturers have made improvements to HPS bulbs to increase their efficiency and lifespan. These advancements include using higher-quality materials, improved gas fillings, and optimized electrode designs. These enhancements can result in bulbs that offer improved performance and longevity compared to older HPS bulbs.

2. Digital ballasts

Digital ballasts have been introduced to replace traditional magnetic ballasts commonly used with HPS lights. Digital ballasts offer more precise control over electrical current and can help extend the lifespan of HPS bulbs. They also provide features such as dimming options and improved efficiency.

3. Reflector designs

Reflectors used in HPS lighting setups have undergone improvements to enhance light distribution and minimize hot spots. Advanced reflector designs can help maximize the coverage and efficiency of HPS lights, resulting in better light penetration and more uniform plant growth.

Advancements in LED Grow Lights

Advancements in LED Grow Lights

LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology has seen significant advancements in recent years, especially in the context of cannabis cultivation. These advancements have led to improved LED grow lights with enhanced features and performance. Here are some notable advancements in LED technology for growing cannabis:

1. Increased efficiency

LED lights have become more energy-efficient, with advancements in chip design, heat dissipation, and driver technology. Modern LEDs can convert a higher percentage of electrical energy into usable light, resulting in significant energy savings compared to traditional lighting options. Higher efficiency means reduced energy costs and a lower carbon footprint for cannabis cultivation.

2. Enhanced spectrum control

LED technology allows for precise control over the emitted light spectrum. Manufacturers can design LED grow lights with specific combinations of wavelengths tailored to the different growth stages of cannabis. This customization enables growers to optimize plant development and achieve desired growth characteristics. 

3. Improved light intensity and uniformity

LED lights have seen advancements in chip technology, resulting in higher light output per watt. This means that modern LED grow lights can provide higher light intensities while using less energy. Additionally, advancements in optical design and light distribution systems have improved the uniformity of light coverage across the canopy, ensuring consistent growth and yield throughout the plant.

4. Longer lifespan

LED lights now have longer lifespans compared to older LED models and other traditional lighting options. High-quality LEDs can last thousands of hours, reducing the frequency of bulb replacements and lowering maintenance costs. Also, the light output remains consistent over an extended period, contributing to stable and predictable plant growth.

5. Smart controls and automation

Many LED grow lights come with built-in smart controls and programmable features. These allow growers to automate lighting schedules, adjust intensity, and fine-tune spectrum settings. Smart controls provide convenience and flexibility, enabling growers to create customized lighting programs and monitor their plants remotely.

With these advancements, LED lights have become a popular choice for cannabis growers due to their energy efficiency, customizable spectrum, long lifespan, and precise control over light intensity and timing. Many growers are transitioning from traditional lighting options to LED lighting systems to optimize their yields, improve quality, and reduce operational costs.

HPS Vs. LED: What To Choose?

So, are HPS grow lights better than LED grow lights? No, but they aren't behind either.

We have presented the advantages and disadvantages of both LEDs and HPS lights. Indeed, LEDs are forging ahead of HID lights in terms of longevity and precise control while lowering electrical costs. However, make note that only LEDs from branded companies will work as expected. There are way too many cheap LEDs advertising high yields but they may not work as advertised. If you don’t have the budget to shell out more money initially, you can go for HID lights to gain some experience and then move on to other lights in the long term. But, if you plan to grow cannabis for a long time, LEDs are the best choice.

Best Brands for HPS Grow Lights

HPS grow lights have been the industry standard for a while, so they come in a vast variety from a ton of manufacturers. If you decide to go with HPS Lights, we have compiled a list of some of the best HPS grow light brands you can consider for your first grow lights:

  • iPower: Known for producing basic yet high-quality row lights along with digital ballasts, reflectors, and cool tubes.
  • Lumatek: One of the leading brands that are known for its quality, high PAR values, and a wide range of ballasts and reflectors that come standard in many grow tents.
  • Philips: This brand needs no introduction; it is one of the big players in the light industry and you can’t complain about the quality of their lights.
  • Hortilux: This Dutch company offers high-quality commercial-grade HPS grow lights, so it’s recommended for bigger cannabis operations.
  • Solaar: This brand is known for producing high-quality grow lights at a decent price; strongly recommended.
  • Osram: Another big player in the industry is Osra, which is known for producing some of the best lights in the world.

Summary: Are HPS Grow Lights Better Than LED Grow Lights To Grow Cannabis?

When choosing grow lights for your cannabis plant, the choice between LED and HPS lights may seem confusing for some growers. LED lights make the most sense in most cases, but will they make sense for you?

Some of the ways HPS grow lights outshine LED ones are as follows:

  • HPS grow lights are made with industry standards in mind, so you know exactly what to expect from them
  • HPS grow lights are easier to repair than LED grow lights
  • They don’t put a hole in your wallet as they are quite cheap to purchase

But, you need to keep in mind that as energy consumption and environmental sustainability become important considerations in modern cannabis cultivation, HPS lights pose certain environmental concerns. Their lower efficiency, high heat output, and shorter lifespan contribute to increased energy consumption and carbon emissions. In contrast, LED lights offer a more energy-efficient alternative, reducing the carbon footprint and providing a more sustainable option for indoor cannabis cultivation. So, LEDs are far better in our opinion. 

However, you may have to spend quite a bit on LED lights at the very beginning, which can be daunting if you just want to grow a plant or two and see how it goes. In addition, if you’ve been using HPS lights and producing a lot of yields with an electricity bill that doesn’t force you to sell your house, you’re probably better off with HPS lights. In the end, it comes down to personal choice as many growers continue to use HPS lights. 

So, if you are on the lookout for grow lights, consider these points before choosing between LED and HPS grow lights. You don’t want to choose the wrong light and run into problems in the future, especially after you’ve invested so much.




You've forgotten what I think is the most important point: In my experience, it's impossible to achieve the same yields with an LED in a grow tent of around 1m² as with a 400-600W HPS. I experimented a lot with high end LEDs from renowned European manufacturers and I got good results in terms of quality, but not of quantity. The yield when using an LED providing the maximum amount of light that the plants can process in my tent (~250W) was at best around 250 to 300g. I've made various runs with different genetics and different pot sizes etc. to reach this conclusion.

It's obviously a good result if you relate the weight to the wattage used, but if you aim for maximum yield, then you should use a 400W or 600W HPS to be able to harvest between 400g and 600g in an otherwise identical setup, because as far as I know there's no LED solution which can provide such yields, unless you work with CO2 fumigation maybe, which tends not to be a thing for most hobby growers though.

Considering average cannabis prices to evaluate the additional yield when using HPS, the bottom line is that you're much more efficient with HPS, because higher electricity bills and occasional bulb replacement are negligible cost factors when you consider that you can harvest up to 200g more bud per run, which corresponds to a theoretical value between €1,600 and €2,000 while your electricity bill will only increase by €50 to €100 per month...


@ShitPreacher, the electricity provider and landlord as well. I'm not into crypto mining or anything that increases the bills, except growing. Idk if others were suspicious but I was going mad about how I would explain my bills being 3x more than others lol.


@CannaScience, you mean your electricity provider? Or is there someone else who can see your electricity bill? Obviously it might seem strange when one person has the consumption of a four-person household, but there's a lot of legal activities that involve above-average power consumption... (crypto mining, keeping exotic animals in climatised terrariums...). In my experience, there are no further questions as long as you pay the bills. And if so, you can come up with a suitable explanation. But well, I can only speak for my country (Germany). The situation may be different elsewhere.


@ShitPreacher, all good points, but individually, I found that HPS spiked the bills so much that I was afraid of others being suspicious. I guess to each his own. Current LEDs are actually good although I do agree that HPS is very very close. And, I have mentioned that they produce high intensity light, which is simply perfect for cannabis. Added more points regarding the yields. Thanks :)