HPS Vs LED Grow Lights: A Brief of Which One Go with and What You Need to Know

Technology has been changing dramatically over time. There have been a lot of misconceptions over the years as to which option is the RIGHT choice. Are you wondering whether to use HPS or LED lights in your grow? If so, you’re not alone. You’ll find advocates on both sides. Should you use HPS or LED grow lights? There are pros and cons of each, both options have merit. We write this to update the recent progress in grow light industry.


Firstly, there is no solid answer to say which one to go. It is so related with many factors which is even should be decided by your grow strategy.


Secondly, within the last decade, the reality is that LED grow lights technology have improved, so what was true in the past may not be the case today. For example, in the early days back to year 2010 and even today, there were some manufacturers out there who marketing the positives of the technology and offered it at an appealing price point on online stores. Many hobby growers tried these cheap LED grow lights, only come away discouraged by the outcome. This is due to the fact that those LED lights are simply false advertised but with not enough wattage to guarantee the light intensity (PPF/PPFD) which is so basic and critical to grow your plants in a right way. That is why some people lost confidence and say “LED doesn’t work”. Conversely, by the recent industry progress, more and more LED grow light companies offers industrial-proved products with certified or tested public specifications. You need to understand some basic idea of LED to help you to figure it out before any purchase.

Read more about LED technical terms about Lumen, Lux, PPF, PPFD, Efficacy and more here. (Links)


Then let’s talking about cost. It is such an important thing that every grower should bear it in mind. There are many factors which needed to be considered, such as your grow space and working environment, the upfront cost, ventilation system, overall maintenance fee, electricity efficiency, warranty etc., For example, unless you are growing in frigid temperatures, from temperature control perspective, you’re better off using LED lights and do not require much extra equipment. But From cost perspective, the upfront cost of LED lights does tend to be higher than HPS. This is one of the reasons that who have been using HPS lights for years but resist the change to LED grow lights. However, LED grow lights are typically cheaper to operate in the long run thanks to reduced power consumption and elimination of regular maintenance. That’s why more and more commercial growers tend to invest in a quality LED lighting system as the way to go. By the recent progress of LED industry, the pricing of LED grow lights has also dropped substantially over the last few years which makes the argument for LED grow lights stronger.  As forementioned, this debate is not new and has been discussed time and time again in forums.


Part 1: HID/HPS/MH Grow Lights

Firstly, we need to talk about HID, or High Intensity Discharge, which is a type of lightbulb hermetically closed and full of gas. It is capable of producing a huge quantity of light. In fact, a lot of growers preferred HPS lights for years because of this. We all know that light is crucial during the flowering stage and has been known to increase yield at harvest.


HID bulbs are usually categorized by two main types which are HIGH PRESSURE SODIUM (HPS) and METAL HALIDE (MH) lights. It is named by the type of gas used in the bulb which determines the light spectrum (wavelength). Typically, HPS lights are more towards the red and orange hue which are used mostly for indoor grow and flowering stages. Whereas an MH bulb produces more wavelength which drops in blue, that is very useful for the vegetating phase and outdoor as supplement.


Want to know about grow light spectrum just like a PRO? Read this (Link)


Let’s take cannabis industry for example, HID lights are comparatively cheap to set up upfront, and the high intensity (PPFD) of HID grow lights can create an ideal environment with sufficient light just like a pouring light-rain to ensure optimum yield. However, on the flipside, the high intensity output of High-Pressure Sodium lights generates a lot of heat due to the nature of HID bulbs that comes with very low light efficacy, which means the efficiency/ratio of turning electricity to light is low. Most of the electricity you paid turns to heat instead of light that we need for growing. In many cases with limited grow space, using HID grow lights requires additional ventilation for airflow to avoid overheating. This can increase extra costs significantly as well.


Want to know more about how to evaluating light intensity? Read this (Links)


So, Let’s summarize the PROS/CON of HID/HPS/MH Grow Lights:


  • Intense amount of light
  • Lower initial set-up fee for lighting fixture (But not the overall cost)
  • Compared with the trending LED grow light market, HID light is quite matured with standard, straight-forward power/wattage definition. It is relatively easier for the site planning with large commercial growers.


  • More power and are less energy efficient than LED lights
  • Need to change the bulb every 4~6 months
  • Need extra airflow and ventilation particularly in confined spaces


Lumo-X offer 2 industrial-proven HPS grow lights which has been strictly tested in the last decade. Click here to know more about Lumo-X X-Arc™ and X-Square™ Double Ended 1000W HPS grow lights.


Part 2: LED Grow Lights

Talk about LED grow light market of today, the first impression to me is just like the personal computers back to year 2000 if you know what I mean. The biggest problem in my personal opinion is that there is still no any uniformed specification which can dominant the industry standard. So, LED grow lights differ in spectrum, shape, size, wattage, optical lens, smart features which presenting so many options. This could be the reason that the most of the hobby growers would get lost in so many confusing terms and engineering language. And even worse, some LED light manufactures totally false advertising their products in market especially on the online store. For example, I’ve seen some brands advertising their products with wattage of 2000~4000W. Excuse me to say that, it’s just ridiculous! In reality, you could just get 200W output power. So, those wrong marketing behavers just mis-leading the truth of LED grow light and caused misunderstanding.


Now, let’s go back to truth of LED grow lights.


LED or Light-Emitting Diode, it’s a trending technology which have increased in popularity over the years. Fundamentally, LED diodes produce light in a different way. The core of an LED diodes consists of a chip that directly transforms electricity into light. Thanks to the technology development, one of the main advantages of LED over HPS and MH lights is the power efficiency which is can beat HID up to 30-40%, and this number is still under improvement and becomes even more and more efficient.  Secondly, High quality LED grow lights can produce fine-tuned spectrum which is essential to different crops. This is one of the reasons caused the complexity of LED grow lights selection due to its flexibility.


In most cases, LED grow light fixtures also require very little maintenance. It’s life-cycle goes up to 50,000 hours compared with traditional HID bulb which is typical 8,000 hours only and then the light intensity will dramatically drop. Let’s take Lumo-XR XC series LED grow light for example, the LED diodes is from American brand CREER X-Lamp COB chips as one of the best well-known names in the industry with 3 years warranty. It’s light efficiency and unbeatable performance has been tested by hundreds of Lumo-X customers for years.


Without too much details of LED light design and technical terms, let’s summarize the PROS/CON of LED Grow Lights:



  • Energy efficient
  • Adjustable Spectrum for different crops
  • Lower overall maintenance cost
  • Temperature control would be much easier in grow room
  • Potentially, more and more smart features insides


  • Higher upfront investment
  • May not produce enough heat as HPS lights in frigid climates
  • Lacks standardization


Want to learn more about LED grow lights design as a PRO? click here
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