Even though it comes with tons of perks, growing weed indoors does have a few disadvantages to outdoor growing. The main one is that your plants aren’t exposed to natural sunlight, but this isn’t so much of a problem thanks to the best HPS grow lights.
HPS lights, short for high pressure sodium, are capable of delivering the intense light that cannabis plants need to produce healthy and hearty buds.
They’re ideal for the flowering stage, so don’t be surprised if your plants yield more than ever after installing HPS bulbs. For tips on HPS growing and recommendations for the best HPS grow light systems on the market, keep reading.
How to Choose Your HPS Grow Lights
The main downsides to HPS lights are that they use a lot of energy and produce a lot of heat. Because of this, you’ll want to consider your grow room logistics before choosing HPS lights.
If you’re a seasoned grower with an ACMPR license who’s working with a decent-sized space (the key here is high ceilings) with good ventilation, go right ahead and purchase one of the HPS lights below.
But, if you’re a beginner who has a very small space and you don’t know much about properly ventilating your grow room just yet, think before you buy. LEDs may be the better choice for you.
Once you’ve decided that HPS grow lights are indeed the right choice for you, the first step is to think about the system that you need. Are you simply looking for HPS bulbs, or do you need the whole shebang with ballasts, reflector hoods, cords, and plugs?
Things to Consider When Buying HPS Grow Lights
First off, you’ll want to consider whether you have enough ceiling space to handle HPS lights. If you look at any distance-from-foliage chart for HPS grow lights, you’ll see that 1000W bulbs need to be hung at least 24″ from the top of the plant canopy.
If you’ve got the space, here are a few more things to consider:
Like all types of grow light bulbs, HPSs come in a range of sizes and wattages. The size and wattage value you choose determines the light’s coverage area (and the hanging distance from the plant canopy).
The higher the wattage, the greater the coverage area and the more distance required from bulb to canopy. The most common wattages for HPS lights are 150, 250, 400, 600, and 1000. A 150W bulb can handle a 1.5’x1.5’ space while 1000W can handle 6’x6’.
Single or Double-Ended
Single-ended HPS bulbs look like a traditional incandescent lightbulb that is screwed in on just one side. Double-ended bulbs look more like fluorescents since they screw into the system on both sides. So which one is better, single or double-ended?
Double-ended HPSgrow lights are pricier, but they also come with a lot of advantages. Both the pros and weed-growing hobbyists are using double-ended HPS systems for maximum yields and more even distribution of light.
But if you’re a beginner, it’s completely understandable to start with a more basic (not to mention more affordable) single-ended HPS.
So you already know that one of the drawbacks to using HPS grow lights is the high heat output, but there’s a solution: the air-cooled design. Air-cooled lights work to eliminate excess heat from the garden. Here’s how…
The heat from the bulb is contained within a chamber (there’s a sheet of glass keeping the heat from escaping over the plant canopy). There’s a venting hole in the light’s hood for ducting (usually 4 or 6”), allowing you to pump the heat from the light chamber out of the grow room.
If you’ve got the money to spend, we recommend buying an air-cooled HPS. But since this is more advanced technology, low-scale ACMPR growers with strict budgets often think of other ways to cool down the room or tent.
- Read our article on renewing your ACMPR license here.
Cost & Warranty
Cost is an obvious buying factor, but the good news is that the average price of HPS grow lights is less than LEDs. Just try to avoid anything that’s suspiciously cheap – it’s probably cheap for a reason.
Best Overall HPS Grow Light (600 Watts)
More and more ACMPR growers are choosing 600-watt HPS grow lights since 600W seems to be the perfect balance of light intensity and power output. Plus, a 600W light produces less heat than 1000 and 1200W systems, so you run less of a risk of scorching your plants.
SunStream 600W HPS
Our favourite 600W HPS light is the SunStream, which can also be used with metal halide bulbs. With the SunStream, you never have to worry about your plants getting enough natural sunlight to grow. It gives off 85,000 lumens and has a bulb lifespan of 32,000 hours.
The kit includes an air-cooled hood reflector, a high-efficiency ballast, one HPS bulb and one MH bulb, hanging accessories, and a timer. You literally don’t need anything else to get this light up-and-running.
Best Cheap 1000W HPS Grow Lights
For large grow spaces and high ceiling heights, you might want to go a step up by investing in 1000 HPS grow lights. 1000W HPS bulbs can cover up to 36 square feet of space, so they’re a perfect choice high ACMPR plant counts (we’re talkin’ 70, 80, and 90 grams per day licenses).
iPower 1000 Watt HPS
The iPower HPS comes with a dimmable ballast that supports both 120V and 240V input with dimming options for 50, 75, and 100%. It’s ultra-bright and highly-intense, but the good news is that the price tag doesn’t reflect that.
The only thing we’re not loving about the iPower cheap HPS grow lights is that they’re not designed with air-cooling features. But as long as you hang the lights high enough from the plant canopy and your grow room has proper ventilation, you should be good.
Best Double Ended HPS Grow Lights
DE HPS lights are an advanced solution for growers who want to go all-out to increase yields. We’re not saying that double-ended lights are for everyone (beginners will benefit more from single-ended), but they do tend to increase yields for medical growers in Canada.
SunStream 1000 Watt DE
The SunStream closed-style DE light system has a lot going for it. It’s powerful with its 1000W output, it’s easy to use with its adjustable dimmer, and it’s constructed from only the highest quality materials to improve durability and safety.
On top of that, the SunStream comes with self-protection features to prevent overheating and ensure a long grow room lifespan. If the system gets too hot, it will automatically cool down, protecting not only the light system but also your plants.
SunStream says that “When the grow HPS system is at a dangerous input or output voltage, the protection mechanism is activated, and the machine is automatically stopped to avoid damage to the machine or pose a threat to the human body.”
This DE system is on the pricey side, but you’re paying for power, quality, and ease of use.
Best Air Cooled HPS Grow Lights
Air-cooled HPS grow lights are all the rage, especially since HID bulbs give off a lot of heat compared to other bulb types. If you’re worried about your grow room temperatures rising too high from running your HPS lights for 12 a day, go with an air-cooled system.
VIVOSUN Hydroponic 1000 Watt HPS
Our top pick for air-cooled HPS lights is the Vivosun Hydroponic 1000W system. The triangular design of the hood allows for easy handling, hanging, and adjustments. Like any Vivosun light, this one provides consistent, stable power to the lamp for ultra-bright, high-intensity quality spectrum.
If you like the air-cooled model but don’t need such high wattage, this system also comes in 400 and 600W. No matter which one you choose, you’ll get a 24-hour mechanical timer, a pair of rope hangers, and two bulbs (one MH and one HPS) with your purchase.
Best 150W HPS Grow Lights
If you’re growing in a closet or small tent, using 150W HPS grow lights might be your best bet. Even in a small space, you can get a pretty decent yield with each harvest when you use a low-wattage HPS.
Sun System Power and Lamp Cord HPS
The SunSystem HPS is small yet powerful. It’s easy to use with its plug-and-play design and it comes in a variety of sizes for use in greenhouse and hydroponic settings. It’s extremely lightweight, so you can easily hang it from your tent’s rods without worrying.
According to SunSystem reviewers, this is the most powerful compact HPS light system on the market. One reviewer says that “if you are just getting into indoor gardening this light is for you, great little light for flower, yields well compared to a 600W HPS…”
Best HPS Grow Light for 4 Plants
Many of you reading this have ACMPR licenses for hundreds of plants, but some of you are probably looking for a more small-scale solution. The SunSystem is a great option for anyone with 1 or 2 plants but for HPS grow lights for 4 plants, you’ll want to go with the Vivo 400W.
VIVOSUN Hydroponic 400 Watt HPS
400 W HPS grow lights are perfect for a small recreational or medical grow op. If you’re a beginner, the Vivosun 400W is an affordable, easy to use HPS/MH system. Even with a small plant count, this light system works to give you maximum yields.
The winged reflector design can be adjusted for better control of light distribution and the included ballast has dimming options (150W, 250W, and 400W). Vivosun always takes care of its customers by including additional tools, like the 24-hour timer, bulb set, and rope hangers.
What are HPS grow lights?
An HPS grow light is a high-intensity light that is composed of a narrow arc tube held in place by a wireframe. The light itself contains xenon gas, mercury, and high-pressure solid sodium, hence the name HPS.
HPS bulbs produce a red spectrum light the flowering stage of the grow. However, the lack of the blue color spectrum isn’t ideal for the early plant phases. This is why a lot of growers start out with LEDs or MH lights and then switch over to HPS bulbs for flowering.
How does an HPS light work?
Here’s what Edison Tech Center says about HPS light operation:
“The HPS lamp consists of a narrow arc tube supported by a frame in a bulb. The arc tube has a high pressure inside for higher efficiency. Sodium, mercury, and xenon are usually used inside the arc tube… The most common way to start the lamp is with a pulse start. There is an ignitor built into the ballast which sends a pulse of high voltage energy through the arc tube.”
Single-Ended vs Double Ended HPS Lights
If you’re wondering “are there differences in HPS grow lights?”, the answer is yes. The most common differences are between single and double-ended bulbs. Another difference is between bulb size and wattage, so choose your HPS carefully.
Pros and Cons of HPS Lights
The main advantage of going with an HPS lighting system in your grow room is that it’s ideal for the flowering stage. It emits the red light of the color spectrum, which leads to higher yields and fat buds to harvest.
Another advantage is that HPS lights cost less per watt, especially when comparing LED vs HPS grow lights. Another perk is that advanced HPS systems offer dimmable features, giving you complete control of the light intensity.
The main disadvantage is that HPS bulbs produce a lot of heat (which is why we suggest an air-cooled hood design). You’ve got to be extra careful with your grow room temperatures if you choose an high-intensity bulb, including HPS or CMH.
A lot of growers opt for mixing LED and HPS grow lights and making adjustments throughout the grow. During the early stages, your plants might benefit more from LEDs, and then when you switch over to flowering you can change to an HPS light system.
We can’t tell you which of these HPS grow lights to buy, mainly because it depends on your grow room size, ventilation system, and budget. 600W HPS systems are becoming the trend since they offer great coverage but less heat than 1000+ wattage models.
But that doesn’t automatically mean that a 600W system is right for you. Do your research and come up with a grow room layout before buying. And try not to rule out the option for CMH or LED bulbs – HPS is great for so many reasons (like high yields and beefy buds), but each bulb type has pros and cons.