High-pressure sodium (HID) grow lights were the industry standard for nearly 50 years, but over the last decade, we’ve seen a major shift towards light-emitting diode (LED) systems, plus ongoing debates over whether LEDs are truly the better option.

Here, we go over the top pros and cons of each lighting system so you can choose what’s best for your grow operation.

HID Grow Lights

The pros

They’re optimal for flowering

HID lights are known for their effectiveness, especially during flowering stages. Although they provide the full light spectrum, HID systems emit stronger red light, which is considered best at encouraging photosynthesis.

They’re reliable

There’s a reason HID lights were the standard. Because of their intensity, these systems have consistently produced large yields. Additionally, the maturity of HID technology means there’s plenty of information available on how to grow successfully with HID lights.

They have lower upfront costs

Though long-term costs can be high, especially in large cultivation facilities, HID lights are much cheaper upfront as the fixtures themselves are relatively inexpensive compared to LEDs

The cons

They’re not very energy efficient

One of the biggest downsides of HID lights is their energy consumption. They need to consume much more wattage than LEDs to produce the same amount of light, and they also produce a lot of excess heat. To keep the heat under control, growers often need to spend extra on cooling.

They give off too much light

Depending on the growth stage or grow lamp height, HID lights may be too intense for your plants, interfering with the growth process or, in some cases, causing your leaves and flowers to burn.

They don’t integrate with vertical racks

Vertical racks allow for minimal space between the plants and the ceiling of the grow tray above. With their excess heat and bulky design, HID lights don’t lend themselves well to this type of setup.

They have a higher operating expense cost

HID fixtures need to have their bulbs replaced every 6 to 12 months or the operator will suffer reductions in yield and quality of product. This is especially expensive in larger facilities that have numerous fixtures.

LED Grow Lights

The pros

They’re efficient

Compared to HID and many other lighting systems, LEDs consume significantly less energy and create less heat, which means growers can save big on long-term energy costs and worry less about controlling temperatures.

They provide full-spectrum light

Like HID lights, LEDs provide full-spectrum light. What’s more, many systems allow complete spectrum control, so growers can target specific plants with the specific wavelengths they need to thrive.

They easily integrate with vertical racks

LED systems are usually compact in design, and they emit low amounts of heat. This can help minimize burning and temperature control concerns often involved in vertical cultivation.

The cons

Upfront costs are higher

From their efficiency to their 50,000-hour average lifespan, LEDs outperform HID lights in many ways, which means they’re also more expensive. These costs are typically offset by long-term energy savings, but not all cultivators may have room in their budget for the initial purchase price.

Their light intensity is lower

While advanced LED systems can now compete with HID lights in terms of output, many lower-quality LEDs cannot. This means you may need to adjust the lamp height throughout the growth cycle to ensure your plants receive sufficient light.

Which Is Better for Your Grow Op?

Many cultivators would argue that LEDs are the clear winner, but in reality, both HID and LED lights can be effective options. It all depends on a number of different factors, such as your budget, your plants’ growth stage, your grow room design, and more.

We designed our racking and airflow solutions to seamlessly integrate with whichever lighting system you choose, be it HID, LED, or anything in between. Contact us today to learn more about how our products help you elevate your cultivation by adapting to your way of growing.