Do you love growing plants indoors? If you do, then you may have looked at getting an indoor grow light and chances are you have come across both CFL and LED lights. Both of these lights are very popular amongst indoor plant growers, but what works best?
Below we will discuss the advantages of each type of light so that you can make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing your next pivotal piece of growing equipment. Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, we’ll cover everything you need to know.
Types of Grow Lights
Before we can begin these two lights, we first need to look at what they are and how they work. These two types of lights are very different. Not only do they produce light in different ways but they also consume different amounts of electricity.
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are a type of fluorescent light that was invented to try and replace traditional incandescent bulbs. Traditional bulbs, the ones most of us grew up with, might be cheaper than CFLs but they use far more electricity and do not last nearly as long. This makes CFL bulbs the more economical option for households.
CFLs produce light by heating a low-pressure mercury-vapour gas. Mercury is toxic and therefore CFLs should not be disposed of in the regular garbage. They are, however, safe and the amount of mercury that they contain is very little – no need to search for medical aid just yet. These lights are great options to light up your household or to use for indoor plant cultivation.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are the most technologically advanced form of lighting currently available. Not only do they consume the least amount of energy, but they do not contain any harmful chemicals, which makes disposing of them as easy as incandescent light bulbs. To produce light, LEDs use semiconductors.
For a long time, the cost of an LED light bulb was too expensive for regular households to justify the energy saving. However, in recent years, LEDs have become far more affordable and are a viable option for both regular household lighting and to give your plants that necessary boost.
Which Light is Better for Plants? LED vs CFL
When comparing both these types of lights, you need to consider what you are going to use them for. If you are looking for the best light for an indoor grow garden for herbs, lettuce and tomatoes in your apartment , then you should consider the following factors:
Type of Plants
Depending on the type of plant you are growing, CFLs or LEDs will be better suited. Some indoor houseplants do well with very little to no direct sunlight. These plants generally don’t need much supplementary lighting indoors but can benefit from low-powered CFL light bulbs during the darker winter months.
A CFL bulb is also a great option if you just need to provide some extra light for smaller plants or seedlings. During these early phases of life, plants don’t require very strong lighting and a supplementary CFL can do wonders at speeding up its growth.
Other plants might require direct sunlight. So if you are growing some chillies, an Aloe, or even a cannabis plant. Then the LED grow lights in South Africa debate becomes a bit easier since you will be looking for the bulb that produces the most light – which is where LEDs win hands down.
Comparing the cost of a CFL and LED isn’t so easy. Yes, LED lights are more expensive than CFLs, but how much more expensive they are depends on what type of LED bulb you are buying. CFLs for the most part are quite similarly priced, while LEDs vary quite a lot depending on the quality.
You can find cheaper low-power LED lights that can compete in pricing with CFLs. These LEDs are useful for the same lower-light settings as CFLs, but struggle to grow plants that require more lights or even the full light spectrum. In these situations, your best bet is a high-powered LED.
The cost of these LED lightbulbs is considerably higher than a CFL. However, CFLs will need to be replaced sooner. Not only that, but they also produce far less light (lumens) for the same amount of energy. This means that LED bulbs are more energy-efficient than CFLs and, therefore, cost less over time.
You will also need to factor in the next point when comparing the price of an LED vs CFL.
Depending on how in-depth you are getting with your indoor plant cultivation, the spectrum of light is also important. The light spectrum that a bulb produces is basically the colour. This colour is then absorbed by the plant. Most plants require a broad light spectrum to perform well and this is where LEDs are by far superior.
Because LED lights are made up of many tiny LEDs wired together, it is much easier to combine different light spectrums. CFLs on the other hand are generally either red or blue lights. Although this is still adequate for basic growing purposes, if you want to take your houseplants to the next level, a full light spectrum is always recommended.
In Conclusion: The Best Indoor Plant Light
The type of light that you decide on is based on the type of plants you are growing, the initial cost, and the light spectrum that you require. If you only plan on growing a few small plants or are just looking to brighten up your room a bit, then a CFL light should be adequate.
However, if you are growing plants that require more intense lighting, a high-powered LED light will be much better. They might cost more initially, but the cost-saving, increased life span, and overall improvement to your plants will be well worth the extra money.
Choosing the right light isn’t that simple, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated either. So long as you consider what you need and weigh out the pros and cons of these types of lights, your indoor plants will be growing happily in no time. Now that you know what you need, it’s time to get shopping.