LED vs HID Grow Lights: Which is Better?

LED vs HID Grow Lights: Which is Better?

When it comes to selecting grow lights for your crops, you have various options to choose from, such as LEDs and HIDs. Fluorescent lights are also a common option. Click here to learn more about FL.

LED lights use light-emitting diodes to replicate specific wavelengths that promote photosynthesis, while HID lights are more cost-effective and provide sufficient UV light for successful crop growth. Both types of lights have their advantages, and the choice between them often depends on personal preferences, as well as the specific setup and growing conditions of your plants.

To assist you in finding the best lighting for your plants, we have prepared a detailed comparison of LED and HID grow lights.

What Are LED Grow Lights?

What Are LED Grow Lights?

LED grow lights consist of a grid containing numerous individual diodes or chips. These chips have the ability to convert electricity directly into light, making LED lights more energy-efficient compared with other types of bulbs.

What Are the Advantages of Using LED Grow Lights

What Are the Advantages of Using LED Grow Lights

LEDs are preferred by growers for a variety of reasons.


LED bulbs have the advantage of running at lower temperatures compared with HID lights. While HID lights become more efficient as they burn hotter, LEDs are more efficient when they operate at cooler temperatures. Excessive heat in a grow room can lead to increased moisture and condensation, which can hinder airflow to the plants. This concerns home growers who may risk overheating their grow room with HID lights. In contrast, LEDs offer a cooler operating environment, making them easier to manage. Cooler temperatures also contribute to the production of more photons per watt in LED grow lights.

Furthermore, some LED models are equipped with built-in cooling fans. They enhance the energy efficiency of the LED grow light, resulting in reduced operational costs. Additionally, since LEDs deteriorate more quickly in hotter environments, the presence of fans helps extend their lifespan.

More Energy Efficient

Compared with HIDs, LEDs allow for the use of much lower wattages in plant cultivation. The energy savings with LED lights are significant, for instance, a 600-watt HID used for vegetative growth can be replaced with a 300-watt LED. In a grow room operating all year round, this translates to annual savings of 2,600 kilowatt-hours (kWh). Moreover, agricultural sites that transition to LEDs can potentially save an additional 31% to 35% of electricity per square foot of growing area.

The construction of LED grow lights also contributes to their energy efficiency. Unlike HIDs, LEDs do not require a ballast to convert electricity into usable energy. LED grow lights can simply be plugged into a standard outlet. It reduces energy loss during the conversion process. Since LEDs directly convert electricity into light, there is no energy wasted on chemical reactions and heat generation. Furthermore, the cooler operating temperatures of LEDs reduce the need for energy-consuming cooling and ventilation in the grow room.

Easy to Use

LED lights offer a more user-friendly experience for most plant growers since they can be easily plugged into a standard wall socket. Unlike traditional grow lamps, LED lights do not require the purchase or setup of ballasts. They are considered all-in-one packages, eliminating the need for additional components.

Customize the Lighting

LED grow lights incorporate individual diodes that emit single colors of light. The overall color output can be altered by selectively activating or deactivating specific diodes. LED lights often come with spectrum control features, allowing users to switch between full spectrum, purple light, or green light as required. Canopies, for instance, benefit from red and blue light, while the undergrowth requires wavelengths in the green and yellow range. Unfortunately, HID bulbs emit white UV light that covers a broad spectrum. In addition to adjusting the color spectrum, the LEDs can be dimmed or set on timers. Remote control functionality is also available through a dedicated app, enabling users to control the lights from a distance.

Provide Better ROI for Commercial Growers

LED grow lights offer two key advantages to commercial farmers that cannot be matched by HIDs. Firstly, they have the ability to stimulate a higher rate of photosynthesis, thereby enhancing the crop’s potential and significantly increasing overall yields. Secondly, LEDs produce light that can penetrate more effectively compared with HID grow lights, resulting in bountiful yields per season.

What Are the Drawbacks of Using LED Grow Lights?

Exposure to Red and Blue Light Causes Eye Damage

Regular exposure to the red and blue light emitted by LEDs used for growing can have an impact on the functioning of the retina. The retina is responsible for converting light entering through the pupil into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. Extended exposure to this type of light can lead to blurred vision and an increased risk of developing cataracts.

To prevent eye problems associated with LED grow lights, cultivators can wear protective goggles specifically designed for use in grow rooms. These goggles are generally affordable and can often be obtained for free from sellers of grow kits.

What Are HID Grow Lights?

What Are HID Grow Lights?

HID, which stands for high-intensity discharge, refers to a type of lighting technology used in grow lights. These lights consist of elongated tubes containing gas and electrodes at each end. When electricity passes between the electrodes, it interacts with the gas, resulting in the production of intense and luminous light.

Presently, there are various types of HID lights on the market, but two significant ones are Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights.

Metal Halide lights emit a bluish spectrum of light, which is particularly beneficial during the vegetative stage of a plant’s growth cycle. High Pressure Sodium bulbs, on the other hand, produce a yellow-golden hue of light that is ideal for the flowering stage, while still being effective during the vegetative stage.

What Are the Advantages of Using HID Grow Lights?

What Are the Advantages of Using HID Grow Lights?

HIDs have long been the preferred choice for professional indoor growers, and they also offer numerous advantages to plant growers.

They’re More Consistent and Have Better Light Penetration

While LEDs are renowned for their intense light output, HIDs excel in providing consistent and high-quality light, along with better penetration through the canopy. HIDs allow more light to reach the lower leaves and stems of plants below the canopy, ensuring better distribution.

In contrast, LEDs may not project light effectively over long distances, requiring growers to adjust the lights as their plants grow to maintain the appropriate overhead distance for optimal growth. The distance between the plants and LED lights affects light intensity, with the intensity being significantly higher near the diodes compared with a foot or two away. On the other hand, HIDs demonstrate a less significant difference in intensity across distances. HIDs offer sufficient light to plants even when they are positioned farther away from the light source. HIDs have established a reliable track record in the industry, proven to increase plant yield, growth, and productivity in grow rooms.

They’re More Affordable

Growers can purchase a complete HID lighting system, including baffles, reflectors, and bulbs, for a lower cost compared with a high-end, all-in-one LED system. The lower upfront cost of HIDs, combined with their ability to achieve higher yields, makes them an attractive choice for growers.

Recommended For Extremely Cold Climates

Certain geographic regions experience harsher winters than others, which can adversely affect crop growth due to the inhibitory effects of cold temperatures on photosynthesis. To create a more favorable indoor environment for crops, growers can invest in HID lights, which not only provide essential light but also contribute to generating warmth.

In contrast, LED grow lights are sensitive to extreme weather conditions, making them more vulnerable to damage. The high cost of replacing LED lights adds to the risk associated with their use in challenging weather conditions.

Suitable for Plants That Bloom Easily

Vegetable crops like broccoli and kale do not have significant variations in light spectrum requirements between their growth and blooming stages. HID growing lights can adequately provide the necessary light for promoting growth in these crops, and opting for HID lights allows cultivators to save money on equipment compared with purchasing full spectrum LED grow lights.

What Are the Drawbacks of Using HID Grow Lights?

Although HIDs are renowned for their ability to produce high yields and promote healthier plant growth, they also have certain limitations that make them unsuitable for every grow room.

Less Energy-Efficient

Although HID lights may offer an initial cost advantage, the long-term cost of electricity can outweigh this benefit. The process of converting energy into light within an HID tube is inherently less efficient, resulting in energy losses through the chemical reaction and ballast converter. Additionally, the higher heat output of HID lights increases energy costs through the need for additional cooling and ventilation. Furthermore, HIDs tend to lose efficiency as they age, further impacting their overall lifespan efficiency.

Require More Maintenance

Working with HID lighting systems introduces certain complexities to your grow room. Firstly, HID lights have a shorter lifespan compared with LED fixtures, requiring more frequent bulb replacements. Additionally, since HID lights lack customizable light spectra, you must physically change bulbs to achieve specific blue or red light outputs. Moreover, the presence of multiple components in an HID setup increases the risk of component failures, such as ballasts, light bulbs, external timers, and fans, necessitating replacements.

However, when it comes to adjusting the light height, HID systems require less maintenance. As your plants grow, HID lights provide consistent illumination. It reduces the need for frequent adjustments of light placement above the canopy.

More Heat

More Heat

HID lighting systems generate heat as a natural byproduct, as the gas inside the tube needs to be heated to a high temperature to produce light. Although HIDs become more efficient as they warm up, growers are unable to fully utilize the excess heat to enhance energy efficiency. When working with HIDs, it becomes necessary to employ cooling fixtures to prevent overheating in the grow room and maintain optimal conditions.

Furthermore, the heat generated by HID lighting systems is directed downwards toward the crop. This heat negatively affects the climate beneath the canopy of plants. The excessive heat on the tops of plants and the contrasting coolness at the roots can induce stress, weakening the plants. Consequently, this weakened state makes them more vulnerable to pests and diseases, further jeopardizing their health and overall growth.

When to Choose LED Grow Lights

When to Choose LED Grow Lights

Energy Efficiency Is Important to You:

For individuals who prioritize energy efficiency, whether it is to reduce costs or contribute to environmental conservation, many home growers seek ways to minimize their electricity usage. In this regard, LED lights emerge as the most suitable option.

Do not Mind Adjusting the Light

To ensure optimal light penetration and prevent light burn, LED lights typically need to be positioned 6-18 inches above the plant canopy. If you don’t mind regularly monitoring your plants and making necessary adjustments, LEDs may be suitable for you.

You Want to Adjust the Light Spectrum

Growers frequently derive satisfaction from customizing the light temperature and settings to discover the optimal combination for their plants during each growth stage. If you work with a diverse range of plant species or strains, LED lights are the ideal choice for you.

You Want to Plug and Play

LED grow lights provide an all-in-one solution for home growers seeking a straightforward method to cultivate plants. Individuals who prefer a simple approach to growing plants at home will appreciate the convenience of purchasing LEDs. You just need to plug it in, and your plants are ready to start planting without any additional complexity.

When to Choose HID Grow Lights

You Want Better Light Penetration

HID lights are renowned for their reliability and their ability to penetrate light effectively.

Don’t Mind Changing the Bulbs

For home growers with a small number of plants, the task of occasionally changing a bulb does not require significant effort.

Final Thoughts

Both HID and LED lights are capable of generating abundant yields in a garden. Utilizing both types of lighting is widely regarded as the optimal choice for achieving high yields.

Nevertheless, if you only require one type of lighting, it is strongly recommended to opt for LEDs. While HID lamps are still commonly used in commercial growing systems, they are expected to be gradually replaced by more cost-effective LED alternatives in the coming years. It is almost certain that LEDs will soon possess the capabilities to outperform HIDs in every aspect.

If you are looking for the best LED lights for your plant, look no further than us. As a market-leading LED manufacturer, MokoLight is well-equipped with our own factory covering 1,3000 square meters. The LEDs we produce are backed by various certifications, including but not limited to BSCI, UL and ROHS certifications. Don’t hesitate and contact us today!

Written by ——
Sushant Kulkarni
Sushant Kulkarni
9+ years of experience in implementing and debugging elector-mechanical systems, successfully leading multidisciplinary engineering teams and completing projects. Reach Me Now>>
Sushant Kulkarni
Sushant Kulkarni
9+ years of experience in implementing and debugging elector-mechanical systems, successfully leading multidisciplinary engineering teams and completing projects. Reach Me Now>>
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