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What are LEC Grow Lights? Can You Use Them To Grow Cannabis?

Added 21 August 2023

Growing cannabis has never been more accessible, with the array of options at a grower’s disposal. Whether you’re a hobby grower or a commercial one, you have too many options to choose from, especially when it comes to grow lights. You have classic options like HPS or CFL lights, or high-fi LED lights. 

But these options may not always work for everyone. Some growers prefer taking the middle ground with their setup, in which case HPS lights can be too complicated to maintain, CFLs may fail to sustain the plant, and LED lights can be too expensive. 

Or, you may simply want to try something new. And, this is where LEC lights come into action. Learn all about LEC grow lights in this article below.

What are LEC Grow Lights?

What are LEC Grow Lights?

LEC stands for light-emitting ceramic, but the name is a victim of trademark erosion, like Xerox. The name LEC is a trademark owned by Sun System, a grow light company, for its CMH lights. Still, since these lights have become so popular, the term has become generic and is often used interchangeably with CMH or ceramic metal halide lights. 

Essentially, these light-emitting ceramic lights work like regular metal halide lights, but instead of using quartz, LEC lights use a ceramic arc tube, which is quite similar to the one used in HPS lights. This ceramic arc tube is what gives them the name ceramic metal halides, and they come with many unique benefits.

The most significant benefit of LEC grow lights is the type of light they produce. These bulbs are powerful per watt, produce a natural spectrum of light, and tend to last a lot longer than MH bulbs. 

Benefits of LEC Grow Lights for Cannabis Plants

Benefits of LEC Grow Lights for Cannabis Plants

Image Credit - Growbarato

LEC grow lights have excellent advantages that set them apart from other grow lights, making them ideal for many cannabis growers. Here are some of the ways LEC grow lights for cannabis can help you and your plants. 

1. LEC Lights Produce UV-B Lights

One of the most significant advantages of LEC grow lights is that they provide UV-B light, and while we do not see ultraviolet light, your cannabis plant can. Outdoor cannabis plants get their dosage of UV-B light from the sun, which benefits the plant in many ways — it enhances the photosynthetic process. It encourages the plant to grow better, and can even improve the production of trichomes and terpenes. 

So, if you want the best results from your cannabis plant, it’s worth using lights that produce UV-B lights, and not all grow lights do that. One of the best UV-B producers is LEC lights. Remember that UV-B light can harm you, so use the right precautions when using them in your grow room. 

2. Their Color Spectrum is Natural and Similar to Sunlight

Color rendering is nothing but the ability of a light source to display the true colors of the objects it illuminates. If you’ve used HPS lights, you’ll see that the color is yellow while LED lights produce almost purple or reddish light. Although this isn’t a hindrance, it can be difficult to ascertain the colors of the plants, preventing you from determining any problems. For example, the leaves turn yellow when there’s a nitrogen deficiency, but it can be hard to detect under HPS and LED lights if you aren’t paying close attention. 

In this aspect, using LEC Lights can have an advantage as they have a higher CRI or Color Rendering Index, which means that the colors are more vivid and natural. This way, you’ll be able to see the true colors of the plants easily, enabling you to determine any problems with the plants quickly. 

3. Ceramic Arc Tube and Heat Management

The ceramic arc tube is very crucial — the component that gives LEC lights an edge over other lights. Made of specialized ceramic material, LEC lights have the ability to withstand high pressure and temperature in comparison to other lights like MH and HPS as their arc tubes are made of quartz. Due to this, LEC Lights are known to be more durable and efficient than HPS lights. 

Since the arc tube can operate even at high temperatures, you’ll notice that it impacts heat management. Although all grow lights produce heat in varying degrees, LEC lights that also produce heat will disperse it in a uniform manner. Thus, there’s less heat than HPS lights that can produce significant amounts of heat. 

Note that although LEC lights are somewhat cooler, you may still have to use air conditioners or other devices if you notice that the temperatures are increasing as it all depends on the number of lights and the space you have. 

4. You’ll Save Up on Energy Bills

HPS lights are pretty common in cannabis gardens, and for many growers, they’re the go-to choice for many cannabis growers, but they have a few downsides. One of their most significant disadvantages is that they consume a lot of energy. While they are efficient, running HPS lights can be expensive since you have to spend a lot of money on energy bills, cooling systems, and ventilation. 

On the other hand, LEC lights are a much better alternative. They balance the benefits of HPS lights and LED lights — sort of like a midway point between the two — by being reasonably easy to use, cheap to maintain, far more efficient than HPS lights, and produce similar results. LEC lights do heat up a bit, but the heat is easy to manage. 

5. They Aren’t So Expensive to Buy

Apart from being cheap to run, LEC lights are also relatively affordable, especially compared to LED lights. Unlike LED lights, you don’t have to deal with ridiculously high upfront costs. 

6. They are Easier to Use

LEC lights are straightforward to use since they don’t require ballast or other fixtures, which can make the setup process confusing and complicated. LEC light panels, while significant, often come with built-in ballasts, so you simply have to plug them in the socket and place them at the right height.

Disadvantages of LEC Grow Lights for Cannabis

Disadvantages of LEC Grow Lights for Cannabis

LEC grow lights offer excellent benefits, but they are not perfect. Here are some of the downsides of LEC grow lights. 

1. You May Not See Any Significant Improvement in Yield

LED grow lights have proven that they can significantly improve the yield of cannabis plants, but the same can’t be said for LEC grow lights. Some cannabis growers have found LEC grow lights to enhance the yield, whereas others have not, so it’s up for debate about the actual truth. 

2. They are More Expensive Than MH and HPS Lights

While LEC grow lights are affordable, they aren’t as cheap as MH or HPS lights. Depending on the brand and model you choose, you will still have to spend a little money to procure them, and they may not always make the most sense for new cannabis growers. 

3. LEC Lights Can Burn Your Plants

LEC grow lights produce UV-B lights, and they burn bright, so if you mess up the height, they can burn your plants. It’s essential to ensure there’s enough space between the canopy and the light to avoid light burns or stress on your cannabis plant. 

At the same time, LEC lights can burn you if you don’t protect yourself. So, if you use LEC lights in your grow room, you must use eye protection. 

4. You’ll Have to Change the Light Bulbs 

Another drawback of LEC grow lights is that you’ll have to change the bulbs depending on your cannabis plant’s growth stage. Since cannabis prefers different light spectrums based on the growth stages, a single bulb isn’t enough for the entire growth period. So, you’ll have to factor in the cost of extra bulbs when purchasing LEC grow lights. 

5. They Don’t Last Very Long 

LEC bulbs last long but don’t expect them to last as long as LED lights. Generally, LEC grow lights last for up to 20,000 hours, and sometimes they start losing their luminosity over time as they reach closer to their end of life. 

How to Use LEC Grow Lights to Grow Cannabis Plants?

How to Use LEC Grow Lights to Grow Cannabis Plants?

If you’ve ever used HPS or MH grow lights, using LEC grow lights will be super easy — you need to use more or less the same process to set them up in your grow room. The process starts by setting the panels at the right height, depending on their luminosity ratings. 

Remember, LEC grow lights produce bright light, so you need to keep them farther away from your cannabis plants compared to HPS or MH grow lights. Generally, if you use 315W lights, you’ll have to place them 18 to 20 inches from the canopy, and if you’re using 630W ones, you’ll have to place them around 24 to 26 inches from the plant. 

Again, this is just a general guideline, so always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when setting up LEC grow lights. It’s best to place the grow lights an extra half a foot away when your cannabis plant is still young, and you should move them further up if your plant exhibits any signs of light stress. 

You should also conduct the good ol’ hand test to check whether the lights are placed at the right height. Place your hand under the light just above your canopy; if your hand feels hot, the lights are too close for your plant’s comfort. 

Once you’ve set up the lights, you must also ensure they don’t heat the grow room too much. LEC lights do not heat up as much as HPS lights, but they can still heat up a little, and depending on your room, it may be a problem. So, if you notice they heat up, use a small fan to keep the air circulating and cool. 

Summary: What are LEC Grow Lights? Can You Use Them To Grow Cannabis?

LEC grow lights — do not confuse them for LED lights — are an ideal option for growers who want good performance, low heating, and affordability from their grow lights. LEC grow lights are versatile as they can work for both new and commercial growers, and what makes them even better is how easy they are to use. 

For any new cannabis grower, LEC grow lights are worth a try. They aren’t as cumbersome as HPS lights and don’t heat a lot, and aren’t as expensive as LED lights. Plus, they offer various benefits like producing natural and UV-B lights, being energy efficient and affordable to run, and they are plug-and-play in most cases. 

Yes, they have some downsides, but they have a place in many cannabis gardens. If you think LEC lights are suitable for your cannabis gardens, use this guide as a starting point and consider giving them a shot. They will not disappoint.