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HID vs. LED: The Ultimate Showdown

Discussion in 'Indoor Growing' started by bcnl_joyce, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. bcnl_joyce

    bcnl_joyce Administrator Staff Member

    Light is one of the most important components to any plant, so if you’re growing indoors, obviously lighting is one of the biggest decisions you have to make for your plants.

    The two most common types and also most popular in the green world of growing are HID and LED. Just like with everything else, every person has his or her own opinion on what’s better and the stuff to prove it. BCNL wanted to get to the bottom of this and try to figure it out as definitively as possible, so we asked a professional to put LED against HID lights.

    To do this, BCNL’s grow tester Eldon Perdue used two BC Northern Lights grow boxes to measure efficacy of HID vs. LED lights for vegetation and bloom phases. HID lights in one box, and LED lights were placed in the other.

    To make sure the experiment was legitimate, we had to make sure that both boxes had the exact same variables so that the results were as close to being accurate as possible.

    So, both boxes drew the same amount of power (two light fixtures at 400W, each, with a 800W total), their plants were fed the same amount of nutrients, the boxes stayed at 70°C, and they were treated exactly the same. If HID Box got a bit of water, so did the LED box.

    Eldon’s experiment ran for seven weeks. These weeks do not include planting and harvesting.

    Each box started with 12 plants each, with clones from a mixed quality of plants (Sensi’s Hindu Kush, 90% Indica dominant), but all the clones were split up evenly between the HID and LED boxes. Some had one or two ones, and others had four or five. In the six available columns in each box, the two centre columns were left empty.

    The clones, which were originally in one-inch rockwool cubes, were planted in coco coir, then left under the 125W CFL bulb for a full 24-hour cycle for two weeks. This was done so that the clones could acclimate to their new environment.

    Both were given the same advanced nutrients (pH Perfect Grow Part A&B, pH Perfect Bloom Part A&B, Tarantula, Piranha) and vitamin institutes (superthrive).

    The BCNL boxes used featured a 10 ft. x 10 ft. space, ductless air conditioning, watered through reverse osmosis and CalMag Plus to 200-250 ppm as the base, and the same external light-box exhaust.

    By the third week, both sets of plants were healthy and ready for full vegetation. In the HID box, MH bulbs were added. LEDs were powered on in the (obviously) LED box. Both were started on 18/6 light cycles.

    Though Eldon witnessed differences in the first week of the plants’ bloom phase, these differences were fairly minimal. The HID lit box grew healthy foliage, while that of the LED box just burnt.

    But despite this damage, the nodes of the LED-illuminated plants the nodes grew close together, and their root systems looked pure white and growth was consistently good throughout the box. In the HID box, the health varied across the plants. The stronger plants had healthier roots and the smaller plants and insufficient roots.

    It was during the second week of the bloom phase when Eldon came across significant differences between the HID-lit and LED-lit boxes.

    The HID box plants were in the vegetative state for too long, but grew very fast. Eldon had to tie the taller plants down to prevent them from reaching the top of the box.

    Ultimately, Eldon couldn’t keep the two boxes on the same cycle because of this growth.

    The foliage eventually looked to be heartier, but the health was still inconsistent all across the plants. LED box plants, though, didn’t grow as tall as the HID box plants. In fact, they grew to be short and stocky, but were consistent in terms of height and quality.

    By the fourth week, the plants were completely different. HID-lit plants flowered denser and fatter than those of the LED-lit plants. The entire grow box was filled with plants.

    The LED box plants remained short and stocky, and gained little to no height during the plants’ flower phase, though they were nonetheless healthy. Regardless, these bud clusters were less dense than HID-lit plants.

    By the fifth week, it was obvious that the LED box won’t be making any gains. Still short and stocky, they did manage to gain a little bit of density. In comparison to he HID-lit boxes, though, the growth of the LED-lit plants was essentially negligible.

    Because the LED-lit plants were vertically challenged, they weren’t able to take full advantage of the light intensity in the upper ranges of the grow space, growing only to half the height of the BCNL grow box.

    At the end of the experiment, Eldon harvested 14 ounces of LED plants, and 21 ounces of HID plants, out of a total of 35 ounces between the two boxes. The HID plants produced larger, denser buds from fewer plants.

    Numbers don’t lie. The HID lights yielded more growth.

    So, do you guys have any personal experiences with LED vs. HID? Conducted your experiments? What did you find?
    McLovin and BAYthaGOD like this.
  2. BAYthaGOD

    BAYthaGOD New Member

    I use HIDs, I've used LEDs did a similar test, besides the cost I think HIDs are the way to go.
    bcnl_joyce likes this.
  3. BAYthaGOD

    BAYthaGOD New Member

    Sorry should add the HIDs are HPS... I use a standard T5 for veggies..
  4. mikeycrf

    mikeycrf New Member

    Well there ya go I wounderd this for quite some time and now I'm thinkin I found an unbiased paper on this thanx. Great read
  5. hi4daze

    hi4daze New Member

  6. hi4daze

    hi4daze New Member

    I have had similar results with LEDs. I switched from all HOt5 to all LEDs. The yield and quality with LEDs was pretty good at 2.55 Oz per plant but the plants were only 14 - 16" tall?? I cant help wonder what the yield would have been if the plants reached normal height of about 36". Also, the visible resin was almost nonexistent.
    With my current grow I am going back to my usual HOt5 through veg then switching to LEDs. My hope is that they will be much taller going into bloom and therefore yield will be improved. ???
    BTW, I mentioned that the quality was good even though there was almost no resin production. If any one has any thoughts on this, please share.

  7. Keith_480231

    Keith_480231 New Member

    First time trying some clones. Rooted in solo cups and now transplanted to 2 gallon pots. Using a t-5 to start to veg. Question is how long can I leave these under the t-5 till I have to switch to hps?
    BAYthaGOD likes this.
  8. hi4daze

    hi4daze New Member

    First let me say I like your choices so far......Solo cups (w/drainage, warmth and a TALL humidity dome) is a great start for clones. xplanting to a 2 gal pot from there is my choice as well. Smaller than 2 gal is hardly worth it as they should outgrow the pots VERY quickly, larger than 2 gal makes uniform moisture difficult (the soil on top will dry out while the soil in the bottom becomes water logged.
    How long you leave in veg is not a straight forward answer but some generalities can be made. I typically veg for 4-6 weeks. If I have another grow waiting to move to the Veg room, 4-6 weeks may shift a little sooner. IF this is the only grow scheduled until harvest AND I already have plenty to smoke, I have let them go up to 8 weeks.
    One more note, IF there are ISSUES while in late veg, switch to Bloom ASAP and hope you can harvest before the "ISSUES" become out of control.

  9. Buddy Haze

    Buddy Haze New Member

    what is HPS and T5?
  10. hi4daze

    hi4daze New Member

    HPS = High Pressure Sodium. One of several HID (High Intensity Discharge) type of lights.
    MH = Metal Halide, just another type of HID light

    t5 of a type of fluorescent light. t12, t8 are some others. t12 is the light you typically see in commercial lighting, such as in an office environment
  11. OneKenobi

    OneKenobi Active Member

    Do any of you guys have any experience with Solas Tek lights 400w? Im using a MH 400w (orange spectrum) at the moment with some nice results for bud formation, but I very light vegetive growth after I switched from the HPS 400w (blue spectrum). I was wondering if a more spectrum balanced light would show better results, or whether I should have just left the HPS in for longer?
  12. Buddy Haze

    Buddy Haze New Member

    Thanks hi4daze very much appreciated!!!!
  13. JediPeaceFrog

    JediPeaceFrog New Member

    Well, here's another side of the story...
  14. OneSlayer

    OneSlayer I Have The Munchies

    I have seen and herd many different views on this subject...
    Experimentation and sharing what we learn is the best way to maximize not only our knowledge but also the quality and quantity of the end product...

    Keep sharing
  15. Carrie Lugo

    Carrie Lugo New Member

    Nice Video. Thank you for sharing.
  16. McLovin

    McLovin Free Old Hippie

    This article should be deleted as it no longer applies to the new generation of COB LEDs which BCNL now sells.
    SK Grower, Uncanni and docgreen like this.
  17. Green Doctor

    Green Doctor Retired and lovin' it.

    And dammit, JediPeaceFrog is gone. dammit!
  18. Uncanni

    Uncanni Member

    Hi all, new to the forum; I have two roommates, one LED and one HID. I'm ending week 6 flower in both boxes, and I used my lux meter to compare the two in terms of lux output

    The lux was around 12,000 reaching the lowest buds in the HID box, but it was around 19,000 in the LED box. And I've been observing that the runty plants in the LED box have larger buds than the runty plants in the HID box (I grew the wrong strains together and switched to 12/12 too early). I will post some pictures tomorrow, when I change the reservoirs and give them a 2 day flush.
  19. MidwestFire

    MidwestFire New Member

    Hi McLovin,

    Do you use LED for flowering in your system?

    Really appreciate all of the information you have posted in here over the years. You and a few others are the reason I am purchasing a BloomBox Jan 1, 2020 as that is when Illinois medical card holders are able to begin cultivating.

    Thank you,

    thestonernerd, McLovin and Farmer J like this.
  20. McLovin

    McLovin Free Old Hippie

    Thanks, Chad. We’re still waiting on a commission check. My box is over 5 years old and did not have an LED option because they were all crap as you can see in this dated article. All that changed with the advent of the new COB type LEDs. If I were to buy a new box, I probably would go with the LEDs now being offered. However, I’m reluctant to further invest nor do an upgrade to LEDs because the heat is a non-issue for me and the savings would take a while to recoup due to slightly less yields, albeit more resinous.

    From what I’m seeing and reading, the sweet spot with LEDs are closer to the bottom half of the box which is great for smaller plants vs HID, where the sweet spot is closer to the top half of the box.

    Welcome to the club. There seems to be a few Chads here now!

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