Types of Grow Lighting Systems

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Every indoor grow from a small residential grow in a closet to large scale greenhouse operations all need grow lights. Grow lights provide all or supplement lighting needs of the plants. The main types used to LED, HID (MH & HPS), and Compact Fluorescent lighting. They all have their advantages and disadvantages.   

LED Grow Lights

LED Grow light spectrum

LED Lighting systems have been around for along time. But in the pass they were much more expensive for the same light intensity as other solutions such as HID or Sodium lighting. This has recently changed so LED Grow Light Systems are becoming the most popular grow light solution for both residential and commercial growing operations. 


  • Lowest energy user
  • Lowest heat production
  • No bulbs to replace on regular basis
  • Most LED systems are full spectrum instead of needing two different bulbs and/or systems for veg and flower stages


  • Generally do not have as good as “light pentration” as other systems so lighting height needs to be monitored and adjusted more. 
  • Most system once they start failing need to be completely replaced instead of just changing a bulb.

Hydro-Unlimited's offering

We highly believe in LED lighting due to its many different advantages that used to be somewhat canceled out due to higher cost. Now with technology and manufacturing improvements of LED, pricing is “in-line” with other solutions making LED grow lighting my #1 suggestion for any grow needing all its light or supplemental lighting. We have partnered with Mars Hydro which has become a leader in quality but affording LED Grow Light Solutions. CHECK OUT OUR ONLINE STORE!

HID (High Intensity Discharge) Grow Lighting System

High Intensity Discharge Grow Light
High Intensity Discharge Grow Light Reflector
High Intensity Discharge Grow Light Ballast
High Intensity Discharge Grow Light Ballast

HID Grow Lights have been the main commercial grow light for years. The bulbs are built like traditional gas bulbs where the bulb is filled with certain gas with two electrodes for charge. HID Lighting has held its position as main grow light due to their ability to produce high light output and brightness dependably. Depending on the type of bulb used, the light spectrum will vary. The two most popular HID bulbs for growing is MH (Metal Halide) and HPS (High Pressure Sodium). The difference is mainly what gas is in the bulb and they create different light spectrums. HID Systems generally consist of Grow Light deflector, bulb, ballast, and power cord. Large systems can also include air cooling and ducting due to the large amount of heat they can put off. Many people get ballasts capable of running both types of bulbs to save on cost. 

MH (Metal Halide) Bulb

Metal Halide Grow Bulb
Metal Halide (MH) Grow Bulb

Metal Halide bulbs are filled with gas that creates mainly Blue light spectrum. These are usually used for the “vegetative” stage of growth. 

HPS (High Pressure Sodium) Bulb

HID High Pressure Sodium Grow Light Bulb
High Pressure Sodium Grow Light Bulb (HPS)

High Pressure Sodium bulbs are filled with gas that creates mainly Red and Orange light spectrum. HPS is mainly used for the “Flowering” stage of growth. 


  • Good light penetration over other types of grow lights
  • Dependable “time tested” system of grow lights
  • Large selection of reflector, ballast, and bulb combinations available


  • Generates the most heat while in use to the point of larger ones needing air cooling.
  • Bulbs have to replaced regularly to keep light lumens up.
  • Need different bulbs for growing stages.
  • Uses of the most electricity of all the lighting system types by far. 

Compact Fluorescent Grow Lighting

Compact Fluorescent grow light bulb
Compact Fluorescent grow light bulb

Compact Fluorescent grow light bulbs used to be very popular in small scale grows as they were affordable, low energy use, and created way less heat than HID Lights. They have lowered in popularity with the pricing of LED grow lights coming so far down. People that use them now mostly do for “supplemental” light such as “side lights” instead of primary lighting system. 


  • Low cost 
  • Does not require a ballast like HID
  • Low energy use


  • Limited light penetration ability
  • Requires different bulbs for different growth stages due to not being full spectrum like LED
  • Bulbs need to be replaced regularly for quality of light produced. 

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