CFL Grow Lights Buyers Guide
CFL grow lights have been around for many years and offer great value for money – with cooler running temperatures, high efficiency and low start up cost they can be used as a complete light source in smaller growing areas, in propagation and in adding blue light into HPS dominated grow lighting setups.
CFL lamps and power output
Our CFL grow light systems are supplied with either 125W or 250W grow lamps – the two most common power outputs on the market. 125W lights are primarily used for propagation and in smaller set-ups for the vegetative stages of plant development. However, they can also be used for flowering / fruiting, but they will give smaller yields than plants flowering / fruiting under HIDs.
Both the 125W and 250W lamps have a cool running temperatures which make them an ideal solution in smaller growing environments where excessive heat is an issue. This is also why CFLs are so effective lighting for propagation – they can be used very close your plants without burning them.
Budget and high output systems
We offer both a budget and high output CFL grow light system. The only difference between these two systems is the reflector – with the budget system you get an open ended Euro reflector. These are great value reflectors and offer a fair amount of light dispersion, but due to the open ended design some light is wasted and not focused on your plants.
The high output system uses a much more efficient closed end Sunmate reflector. These really are the best reflectors to use as they are designed solely with CFL lamps in mind (most other reflectors are designed for HID lights and as such are always a bit of a compromise). The closed ended design of the Sunmate reflector directs more light directly downwards onto your plants, ensuring all the light is fully utilised.
As a complete light source
CFLs have been used successfully by many growers as a complete light source for their plants. Although the limited power output of these grow lights can restrict their effectiveness in larger growing environments, they are well proven in smaller growing areas (1m x 1m or less), especially during the vegetative stage of plant growth.
There are several benefits to using CFLs over HIDs in small or confined growing areas:
- Less heat output makes for easier environmental control
- Less power consumption makes for cheaper energy bills
- Can be placed closer to plants giving extra space in confined environments
It is worth noting however that if you have sufficient heat control in your grow room then for the flowering / fruiting stages we recommend using a HPS grow light for optimum results.
As a supplementary light source
CFL grow lights also work extremely well as a supplementary light source, especially for adding blue spectrum for extra plant health. Most HID lights offer impressive levels of penetration, but some light will be lost and will fail to reach the lower areas of your plants, especially if those plants have fairly thick vegetation on top.
In these circumstances, the low heat output of a 125W grow light allows for them to be easily hung in a grow room at a low height, directly amongst your plants. Any shortage of light from HIDs will be compensated for by your CFLs, providing the extra light needed to ensure healthy growth.
CFL vs HID
In terms of performance, there is a noticeable difference between HIDs and CFLs. HID grow lights will offer greater performance and better yields because they produce higher intensity light that prmotes and boosts plant growth. However, here are a few other key differences between the two:
- Unlike HIDs, CFLs can be used effectively for propagation
- CFLs can be hung as supplementary lights amidst your plants
- Low running temps of CFLs can be advantageous in smaller growing areas
- Powerful HIDs are suitable for use in larger growing areas, CFLs aren’t
- HIDs will produce higher yields in the flowering / fruiting stage
Overall CFLs are a useful addition to the grow lighting market – allot of growers prefer them to HIDs because of their cooler running temperatures, flexibility and low entry cost.
However, any professional grower will tell you that HIDs are the grow lights to use if you want to get the most out of your plants, and due to their availability at higher wattages, are the recommended lights to use if you’re using a grow tent or grow room with an area that’s greater than 1m x 1m.
In our experience, CFLs can work very well when they are used for propagation, in smaller grow rooms, or when they are used alongside HIDs to provide extra blue light to the leaves and flowers near the base of your plants.
Need more info?
Still not sure if these grow lights are right for you? Give us a call on 0117 971 3000 and a member of our team will do their best to answer your questions.