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CMH vs. LED Lighting

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

Finding the right lighting system for your cannabis cultivation setup isn’t always easy. Before purchasing, you always have to consider factors like cost, functionality, reliability, and success rate of your light types, otherwise, you may be left with a subpar product for your precious plants.

Today, we’re focusing entirely on comparing two of the most used lighting options for cannabis cultivation: CMH and LED. By directly comparing them, we’re able to show you which option may be best for your specific growing needs.

Comparing CMH to LED's

Before we analyze the specifications of these lights with each other, we need to distinguish what these light types are. Without this information, understanding your light system setup is nearly impossible.

CMH lights stand for Ceramic Metal Halide and are most widely known for their high color rendering index. Having a higher CRI is wonderful for the healthy growth of your cannabis plants, as they’re able to easily benefit from the different colors on the color spectrum depending on their growth stage.

LED lights, on the other hand, stand for Light Emitting Diodes and they’re notable for their customizable wavelengths and color projections. You can adjust your LED lights to produce practically any color on the color spectrum depending on what your plants need most, and this is quite attractive for most growers. Not to mention, they have an incredible success rate.

The Cost

Now, let’s talk about the specifications of these types of lights and how they compare in the following categories: cost, functionality, and overall result.

Starting with cost, it’s going to be much more affordable to start your grow with CMH lights. In general, CMH lights are quite affordable, especially for new growers, offering a wonderful option to help you get started in the world of cannabis cultivation. However, just because they have a lower start-up cost doesn’t mean CMHs produce the most result value; on the contrary, that’s the case with LEDs.

LED lights are known for their extremely expensive start-up costs. To craft your lighting system with LED lights, it’s going to cost you quite a bit of money simply because of how much power these types of lights can produce. In general, LEDs are much stronger than CMHs, and, thus, cost a significant amount more money to utilize throughout a whole grow facility. That being said, LEDs do tend to pay for themselves after cultivation, as they’ll help produce large, potent yields of cannabis, too.

So, the choice is yours: inexpensive yet slightly ineffective, or expensive and efficient?

The Functionality and Reliability

As we mentioned, CMH lights do have a wonderful CRI value, one that’s quite similar to the sun. Having this wide range of light colors helps to grow strong, healthy plants just as they would with the nutrients from the real sun. Along with the high CRI value, these lights are also highly intense.

In general, CMH lights tend to be much stronger than your average LED, producing excessive amounts of light for your cannabis. This can be good if you’re extra careful and experienced with growing weed; however, if you’re new to cannabis cultivation, this can be quite a detriment. Too strong of lights can result in damaging your plants if you’re not careful enough.

Intense heat and temperature can quickly yellow your flowers, wilting them and damaging them permanently. Not only that, but this may also degrade your cannabis’s terpenes and THC percentage, ruining the potency you once had. That being said, growers utilizing these super-strong CMH lights have to be extra cautious not to let the extreme heat affect the growth of the plants.

On the flip side, LED lights will not produce nearly as much light intensity as CMH ones will, but they will last much longer. Because CMH lights are so strong, they tend to burn out quicker than LEDs. LEDs, while more costly, are going to last longer and be more energy-efficient overall.

There is little to no worry about light damage from LED bulbs. Unlike CMHs, they simply do not get hot enough to cause problems such as those, unless you place your LEDs way too close to your plants. Along with being a bit more gentle to your cannabis, people frequently turn to LEDs because of their ability to mimic practically any color on the light spectrum. This can do wonders for your plants during different stages of their growth, helping to either boost flowering or overall plant growth.

The End Result

When it comes to the yield of the cannabis plant with these lights, both do produce a picturesque result when done correctly. Typically, people rave about the success of large yields with LED lights, as they’re known for aiding in the growth of powerful strains.

However, CMHs also have wonderful results. Because this type of lighting so closely resembles the acts of the sun, you’re typically able to produce robust, healthy cannabis plants with this type of lighting system. The yields produced with these specific lights may not be as big as those with LEDs, but your plants will sure be happy and healthy.

So, the only question that’s left to ask is: which plant option is right for you?

Which one is the Best?

When it comes down to determining which cannabis lighting system is best, it’s all about what’s best for you. Luna Cultivation suggests always considering factors like cost, functionality, ease, and experience before making a decision. With so many different lighting options to choose from, it’s all about what makes you most comfortable. Cannabis cultivation is tricky enough; the last thing we want you to worry about is your lighting situation.

Whether you choose LEDs, CMHs, or even something completely different, the choice is yours. Take the time to research what’s best for your grow operation and keep a close eye on your precious green plants, from seed to flower.

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