LED vs HPS Grow Lights: Which is better?

LED vs HPS Grow Lights: Which is Better?

Are you wondering what kind of grow light is best for your indoor garden? Trying to figure out which is better, HPS or LED grow lights? You are not alone. The question of LED vs HPS and which is “better” for an indoor garden has been asked since the first LED grow lights hit the market years ago. LED grow lights have improved dramatically since they were first introduced, but can they compete with the work horses of the indoor garden world, the HPS grow light?

After years of firsthand user experience, the experts at Rightbud recommend that you use LED grow lights for your indoor garden or indoor grow operation. We know that over the last couple of decades technology has changed dramatically so we understand there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about what type of lights you should buy. It was only a few years ago that growers were unsure if LED lights were the best choice for their plants over HPS since the more established HPS technology was the go-to for grow lights.

However, over the last few years LED technology has improved, the quality of components has increased, and LED grow lights have become much more sophisticated. Today, LED grow lights are not just commonplace, but are becoming standard equipment in indoor grow spaces around the world. Growers who have traditionally used HPS are switching to LED in droves and today’s LED lighting systems are considered to be a perfect solution for any grower who wants to have a successful grow with the best yields possible from their plants.

But how did LED grow lights suddenly become so popular with indoor growers over the past few years? Many growers report a major factor was the sudden price drop LED grow lights have experienced over the last few years. Some HPS grow light users resisting the switch because believed LED lights were more costly to use. But as we’ll see below in more detail, the users who switched to LEDs experienced reduced power bills with less maintenance as well as enjoying no drop in light intensity towards the end of the life cycle (additionally, LEDs have an incredible lifespan of 50K-100K hours).

Let’s look closer at why we believe that in the LED vs HPS grow light contest, LED grow lights are the clear winner. Along the way we’ll see specifically what HPS and Led grow lights are, the advantages of LED vs HPS grow lights, and the main reasons why LED grow lights are more efficient and effective to use than HPS for a grow space of any size. If you’re still an HPS user considering a switch to LED grow lights, then this article should help give you all the information you need to see which type of grow light is better for you – LED vs HPS.


What is HPS?

To properly understand High Pressure Sodium, or HPS lights, we first need to look at HID lights. HID stands for High Intensity Discharge, which is a tube-shaped type of light bulb filled with gas that’s ignited similar to traditional home light bulbs. HID bulbs are categorized based on the type of gas used, metal halide (MH) and high pressure sodium (HPS) being the most common. Metal halide’s blueish light is chosen for plants’ vegetative stage, while HPS’s red and orange hued spectrum is considered more useful for the flowering stage of growth.

HPS grow lights are capable of producing a massive amount of light, which is especially good for flowering, however they also produce a great deal of heat and much of the actual type of light produced is of lower value when it comes to plant growth.

The high intensity light produced by HPS lighting can be good during the flowering stage, but that high-intensity light creates a lot of heat which means you have to add extra ventilation for sufficient airflow and to prevent excessive heat buildup, resulting in increased energy costs.

What is LED?

LED grow lights produce light differently very differently than HID type bulbs. The core of an LED bulb consists of a chip that directly transforms electricity into light, yielding far better results than the old gas based HPS models.

Because of this innovative design, LED grow lights can differ dramatically in shape and size, presenting the grower with options to fit every grow space and circumstance. Most high-end models are shaped as panels, but there are also models shaped like saucers, bars and even custom shapes.

One of the biggest advantages of LED grow lights over HPS and MH lights is the ability to adjust the light’s spectrum. Some LED models feature a fully adjustable color spectrum for each phase of the plant`s growth so you don`t have to go through the expense and hassle of switching bulbs or moving your plants as they go from one growth phase to another.

LED grow lights are by far the most energy efficient type of indoor grow lighting available. LED grow lights use advanced optics and precisely engineered thermal management along with exacting spectral outputs to convert upwards of 100% of their consumed power into light energy that’s targeted directly to plant growth. This is how LED grow lights produce such extraordinary yields while consuming much less energy than HPS lights, making them the preferred grow light for many of the world’s leading commercial grow operations.



Pros of LED

More energy efficient

Less heat, avoiding the need for additional ventilation or airflow systems

Features an impressive life span

Runs much cooler

LED directional lighting requires no reflectors

 Energy savings range from 50%-70% over HID lights

Come as all-in-one fixtures, which are easier to work with in tight spaces

 They can also be placed closer to plants in confined areas with very little risk of heat damage

Discretion assured — no thermal footprint.

Cons of LED

✘ Higher upfront cost 

Not standardized across manufacturers making comparison-shopping more difficult

Since LED Grow lights produce very little heat, so supplemental heat may be needed in colder environments

Pros of HPS

More standardized across manufacturers so it’s a little easier to comparison shop

Lower initial start-up cost

Produce a large amount of raw light intensity for good yields, especially for very large plants

Cons of HPS

✘ Less energy efficient

Higher airflow and ventilation requirements

 Shorter life span

Higher power requirements

Makes regulating proper grow room temperature more difficult

Must be replaced every 12-18 months due to significantly decreased light intensity over time


Lower energy costs

Unlike HPS fixtures that produce more heat and intensity, LED lights are more energy efficient and do not need to be replaced as often. HPS lights begin to lose their brightness over time and have to be replaced even before they burn out completely. LED’s however, maintain a constant level of luminosity for as long as they`re functional.  LED grow lights also produce the exact type and amount of light your plants need so you only pay for the light that your plants want and need!

Bigger Yields

It’s been said for years that HPS lights are known for producing high yields, but times have changed and there’s good reason why many of the world’s largest commercial indoor grow operations have switched to LED. Take a look at this example. A 600w HPS light can produce up to 150 to 300 grams of harvest when used in an optimal grow environment – about 0.5 grams or less per watt. LEDs, however, can produce as much as 1 to 1.5 grams per watt, all while using less energy!

Because light is one of the two things necessary for a plant to thrive, naturally it has an enormous impact on your final yields. Most annual, flowering species follow very well defined patterns of temperature, daylight hours, and light spectrum. As seasons change, the light spectrum changes, as well as the other factors that affect growth and flowering. To produce the best yields possible, annual flowering plants need to be exposed to different lights at different stages during their growth cycle, making LEDs the perfect choice for every stage of growth.

Longer Life

Good quality LED grow lights have an average lifespan of around 50,000 to 100,000 hours. By comparison, a high quality HPS light has a lifespan of close to 10,000 hours. It`s pretty easy to see how LEDs are a much better investment in the long run and will need to be replaced much less often, giving you peace of mind and relief that that you won`t have to worry about changing the lights for years to come.

Heat Efficiency

LED grow lights are extremely efficient in terms of heat management and can be placed much closer to the plants, in contrast to HID lights that are known for the large amounts of heat they produce. The fact that LEDs produce so little heat saves you, the grower, from incurring the additional costs involved in setting up a sophisticated ventilation system. Larger LED models that feature bigger panels and dozens of diodes will be warm to the touch, but will get nowhere near as hot as comparable HPS lights.

Easy to Use

LED grow lights are easy to use, even for someone who’s never used an LED grow light before. Simply find the right spot, hang it, plug it in, and you`re ready to grow. You don’t need any special tools, no drilling is required, they are very intuitive and simple to set up and use as opposed to HPS lights that require endless adjustments and preparation in order to be properly and efficiently used in your grow space.

Upscale or convert production

LED grow lights can easily adapt if you want to upscale your production facilities or add new plants to your crop. LED light’s are so flexible, easy to adjust and control it makes it much simpler to change and grow with your business when needed.

Adjustable Spectrum and Spectral Distribution

One of the greatest advantages of using LED grow lights for your indoor garden or grow operation is that you can adjust the light’s spectrum. Different stages of a plant’s growth benefit from different light spectrums so having one light that can provide all your plants light needs is a great feature. No need to switch out the bulb, fixture, or grow space to get the light spectrum you need. 

Additionally, many LED grow lights give you the option you to customize and adjust its spectral distribution to provide optimal conditions for your crops. The optimal spectral distribution and light intensity depend on your specific crop, making it virtually impossible for fixed-spectrum lights to meet the needs of different plants and crops.



At the end of the day, whether you use LED grow lights or HPS is up to you and what’s best for your plants and indoor garden. But, the experts here at Rightbud believe that the energy efficient, easy to use, environmentally friendly, and high yield producing features of LED grow lights make them the best choice for almost every garden or commercial grow operation. For the best long-term savings and highest quality plants, invest in a well-made LED light or lighting system.

When it comes time to buy your new LED grow light, remember that Rightbud is America's most trusted garden store. We'll always have the perfect grow light for you regardless if you are looking for an LED grow light for a small home garden or a big commercial operation. We've got you covered.

Questions? Chat with an expert: +1 (800) 856-7140


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