Grow room setup with multiple LED grow lights.Having trouble deciding which direction to go when it comes to choosing the right grow lights for your grow room? You’re not alone — there are seemingly endless amounts of grow lights to choose from on the market.

Luckily, though, we’re here to give you a little bit of guidance so that you can narrow down the results and pick the best grow light for your grow tent or grow room.

When it comes to finding a good grow light, HID and LED lights are two of the most popular choices among indoor gardeners. In this article we’ll compare them by looking at the ways they differ in their structure and highlighting their unique benefits so that you can make a more informed decision for your grow room.

We’ll even give you a list of some of the best HID and LED grow lights out there to make the choice even easier for you.

HPS grow lights for growing tomates.Table of Contents

  1. How Do LED Grow Lights Work?
    1. Why Grow with LED Lights?
  2. Types of LED Grow Lights
  3. What Are the Advantages of LED Grow Lights?
  4. How Do HID Grow Lights Work?
    1. Why Grow with HID Lights?
  5. Types of HID Grow Lights
  6. What Are the Advantages of HID Grow Lights?
  7. How Do Wavelengths and Lumen Output Compare?
  8. LEDs or HIDs?
  9. The Best HID and LED Lights for Your Grow Room
    1. Editor’s Choice HID Grow Light
    2. Editor’s Choice LED Grow Light
    3. Great for Compact Growing Areas
    4. Perfect for Growers on a Budget
    5. Best for Advanced Growers
  10. Should I Use and HID or LED Grow Light in My Grow Room?

Let’s get to it then! We’ll start by talking about exactly how grow lights work.

How Do LED Grow Lights Work?

LED grow lamps for indoor houseplants.LEDs, or light emitting diode grow lights, are powered electronically.

LED grow lights are made up of LED chips made using semiconductor materials called electrons and holes. This is how they function to provide optimal lighting conditions for your plants:

  • Electrons have a negative charge, and holes have a positive charge.
  • These electrons and holes collide when voltage is applied to an LED light, causing a current to flow through it — this collision is what releases energy in the form of light.
  • The LED chips are covered by lenses, which help to direct the light emitting from the chips to where it needs to go.
    • Lenses may also be tinted in order to control the amounts of which colors pass through and change the overall color of the light.
    • Together, a chip and a lens creates what is called a diode.

Now that you know how LED grow lights work, let's talk a bit about why that's important to the health and growth of your plants.

Why Grow with LED Lights?

Greens growing under LED lights.The use of chips, lenses, and diodes in LED grow lights means you have the most control over the light your plants receive.

  • Flexibility: LEDs are customizable, allowing you to provide diverse wavelengths of light for your plants.
  • Full Spectrum of Light: You'll find that full-spectrum LEDs are among the most versatile for your plants. With these, you could even provide ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) wavelengths, which promote flavors, photosynthesis, and root growth.
  • Great for All Stages of Growth: LEDs are an efficient option for growers because their wide spectrum is perfect for all stages of plant growth. Whether you're cultivating seedlings and clones, plants in the vegging stage, or plants in the flowering stage, you'll be good to go with a single LED grow light as opposed to HIDs, which require you to switch between bulbs.

Types of LED Grow Lights

Grow tent with multiple plants under an LED grow light.As we mentioned earlier, LEDs are some of the most flexible, tailorable options out there when it comes to grow lights for your grow room. In terms of power, the wattages you’ll typically find LED lights in ranges from 25w to 1000w. This is thanks in large part to their chip-based makeup.

There’s also a wide variety of LED grow light styles. You can find traditional panel style LEDs, spread lights, and COB (chip on board) lights.

  • Traditional panel LED lights are the most compact LEDs. They’re usually made up of small-to-medium wattage diodes that are equipped with 1 to 2 lenses each. This helps spread light out and focus it down onto your plants.
  • Spread style LED lights tend to be a larger option. They’re made up of a lot of tiny chips that are spread out over a wide area. This design allows spread style LEDs to give off all the lumens of light your plants need to thrive.
  • COB grow lights are made up of a small amount of chip on board bulbs — in some cases, they’re made with just one of these. COB lights utilize a bunch of tiny chips in one diode in order to create a super-powered diode. A few of these super high strength diodes will give you large amounts of power, light, and intensity for you grow room.

What Are the Advantages of LED Grow Lights?

LED grow lights used in indoor lettuce growing operation.If it’s not already clear, the biggest plus of using LED grow lights is probably the amount of flexibility they offer.

  • LEDs Can Out-Intensify HIDs: Because LEDs can target multiple wavelengths and strengths, they can give your plants great light intensity. The lens makeup and chip strength of an LED means you have plenty of different options for your grow room needs — whereas HIDs are pretty basic and target only specific wavelengths.
  • LEDs Give Your Plants a More Dialed-In Spectrum: HIDs will give you some wavelengths that your plants will unfortunately waste. LEDs, however, provide more diverse wavelengths. They can also be programmed to offer other wavelengths like IR and UV.
  • LEDs Run Cooler Than HIDs: Though some heat is beneficial to plants, too much heat can cause problems in the grow environment. LEDs keep temperatures lower than HIDs, which also means you’ll save on cooling equipment that you’d need to get rid of excess heat from HIDs.

LEDs make awesome grow lights for your plants, but they still have their share of challenges.

  • LEDs Cost More Than HIDs: Though you’ll save in the long run, LEDs are usually pretty expensive upfront compared to HIDs. Typically, you’re looking at spending around twice as much on an LED grow light than you would on an HID.
  • Finding the Right LED Can Be Tricky: With so many types of LEDs and chip combinations, it can be difficult figuring out which LED grow light is best for your plants.

How Do HID Grow Lights Work?

High-pressure sodium bulb (HPS grow bulb).HIDs, or high-intensity discharge grow lights, are powered by gas. There are two main types of HID grow lights: high-pressure sodium lights (HPS) and metal halide lights (MH).

  • HPS grow lights hold their chemicals (like sodium, mercury, and xenon) in a narrow arc tube containing a lot of high pressure. The arc tube is typically made out of aluminum oxide ceramic, making it resistant to corrosion from all the sodium.
  • MH grow lights use bulbs that typically have a quartz arc tube which contains metal halide, like the name suggests.
  • With these grow bulbs, light is created when a ballast is heated and an electric arc is sent between two electrodes within the arc tube, which is filled with the bulb's gases and metal salts.

So why does this all matter with regard to your grow room and plants?

Why Grow with HID Lights?

Metal halide bulb (MH grow bulb).HPS and MH grow lights work in slightly different ways and give off different wavelengths, since the grow bulbs contain different gases and chemicals.

  • HPS Light Spectrum: HPS bulbs provide a lot of yellow, red, and far-red in their spectrum — this makes them ideal for flowering plants.
  • MH Light Spectrum: MH grow bulbs give off a cool white light when heated, which gives off a good amount of blue wavelengths in its spectrum. This is why MHs make a better grow light option than HPS lights when it comes to helping plants thrive in the vegetative phase.
  • HIDs Mimic the Sun: Growing indoors, your plants won't be exposed to natural sunlight. That said, HID grow lights mimic the sun closely, which means your plants will get light intensity that's close to what they'd receive if they were growing outside.
  • HIDs Give Off Heat Energy: Some warmth is actually really good for your plants. HID grow lights generate heat, and this heat is able to provide more energy for your plants, which stimulates growth.

Types of HID Grow Lights

Indoor tomato grow using an HPS grow light and umbrella reflector.Although they may not be as customizable as LED lights, you do have a few options when it comes to choosing HID grow lights.

  • HID Grow Light Wattages: Aside from the two different types of bulbs (HPS and MH), which we touched on before, HIDs are also all available in three different wattages: 400w, 600w, and 1000w. This gives you some flexibility when it comes to the amount of lumens you need to provide for your plants.
  • Single-Ended and Double-Ended Lights: HID bulbs are also available in both single-ended and double-ended varieties.
    • Single-ended grow lights have one socket that. A long, wide bulb that contains the arc tube and has a base that’s held up on each end by a frame wire is screwed into this socket.
    • Double-ended grow lights have no frame wire and work instead like fluorescent tube bulbs: Two small wires support each end of the arc tube and fasten back into the reflector sockets. These double-ended bulbs are much thinner than single-ended ones, and they’re filled with different gases and chemicals.
      • Double-ended grow lights really pack a punch in terms of lumens compared to single-ended lights. They’ll give you at least 15 to 20 percent more lumens. So you’ll definitely be able to get some intense light from these HID grow lamps if that’s what your plants need.

What Are the Advantages of HID Grow Lights?

Grow lights for vegetables - HID grow lights.

HID grow lights offer some unique benefits that you don’t typically get with LEDs. This comes in the form of their heat and light intensity.

  • HIDs Generate Useful Light and Heat Energy: Heat isn’t necessarily a bad thing. HIDs give off both light energy and heat energy, which have been proven to help plant and flower growth. In fact, a lot of plants that don’t get enough heat energy won’t experience optimal growth.
  • HID Wavelengths Mimic the Sun: Typically, you’d grow your plants outdoors. In an indoor grow room, your plants aren’t exposed to natural sunlight. HIDs’ wavelengths mimic those that come from the sun, which is what helps plants thrive.
  • HIDs Are Less Expensive Than HIDs: Even at their most intense, HID grow lights are more affordable to buy than LEDs. The Yield Lab Pro Series 120/220V 1000W Double Ended Complete Grow Light Kit, for example, will run you less than $300. Alternatively, a 600w LED grow light, will cost you about twice as much.

As great as an HID grow light’s heat may be for your plants, you’ll also want to keep an eye so that temperatures don’t reach extremes.

  • Too Much Heat Can Harm Your Plants: HIDs run really hot, so if they’re too close to your plants — or if they accidentally touch them — your plants will burn. Heat is helpful, but too much of it can be dangerous, and HIDs can reach extremes if you’re not paying close attention to them.
  • High Heat = More Cooling Equipment: If your grow room already has enough heat that’s good for your plants, you’re going to be spending more energy (and money) on cooling equipment to get rid of excess heat.

How Do Wavelengths and Lumen Output Compare?

Grow light spectrum -- nanometer (nm) chart.Since HID and LED grow lights operate in different ways, this affects both their wavelengths and the way their lumen output works.

LEDs are versatile because they’re able to pinpoint specific wavelengths of light with each diode. These diodes can then be supercharged depending on their makeup — lens, chip wattage, number of chips, number of diodes.

This ability to be supercharged and target specific wavelengths is what makes LEDs an optimal choice for successful harvests, regardless of what type of plant you're growing. That means better yields for your indoor garden.

HIDs, on the other hand, have a more limited spectrum to work with that’s not customizable. That said, these types of lights offer their own benefits for plants in terms of intensity.

Specifically, HIDs are able to generate plenty of energy and heat, and as such, they can stimulate plants a bit better. This is because HIDs provide both light and heat energy that’s beneficial for plants.

To recap:

  • If you want a grow light that’s strong, flexible, and customizable, LEDs have the edge there.
  • If you’re looking for something with a good amount of beneficial heat and light energy, HIDs are the better choice.

For more on wavelengths and lumens, see our guides to ultraviolet light, infrared light, and grow lights with the best lumen output.

LEDs or HIDs?

LED grow lights for lettuce.When it comes to your indoor garden, both LED and HID grow lights would make excellent options.

Finding the best grow light isn’t just about a single factor, but rather multiple considerations including light intensity, wavelengths, ease of use, and, of course, your budget.

Why you should consider LED grow lights:

  • LEDs have huge capabilities thanks to their diverse wavelengths, diodes, and chip strength.
  • LEDs don’t generate a lot of heat, so you’ll save on cooling equipment for your grow room.HID grow light with hydroponic system
  • You get a great amount of intensity with LEDs.

Why you should consider HID grow lights:

  • HIDs offer a natural, warm, sun-like quality that has the potential to outperform pinpointed wavelengths.
  • HID lights are much more affordable at checkout than LEDs.
  • HIDs are much easier to use, making them an excellent choice for growers of all skill levels.

The Best HID and LED Lights for Your Grow Room

You should have a pretty good idea of whether HID or LED grow lights are better suited for your grow room, your plants, and your grow goals. So with that, let's take a look at some of the best HIDs and LEDs for any grower.

Editor’s Choice HID Grow Light: Yield Lab 1000w HPS+MH Cool Hood Reflector Digital Grow Light Kit

Yield Lab 1000W HPS+MH Cool Hood Reflector Grow Light Kit for indoor grow rooms and grow tents.The Yield Lab 1000W HPS+MH Cool Hood Reflector Grow Light Kit has all the perks you could want from an HID: great light intensity, a wide footprint, and an affordable price.

The HPS grow bulb offers flowering plants 130,000 lumens, while the MH bulb gives off 110,000 lumens for vegging plants. Add to that an intense 5x5 light footprint, and it’s easy to say that this HID cool hood reflector grow light kit is the total package — and all for less than $250, which is a steal compared to LED lights!

Aside from the HPS and MH grow bulbs, this HID grow light also includes a dimmable ballast and a cool hood reflector. This makes it perfect for spreading light evenly onto your plants and keeping your grow room temperatures manageable.

This grow light is perfect for growing at least 3 to 4 flowering plants. It’s also simple to use, and it won’t break the bank. That’s why it’s our editor’s choice pick!

HID Grow Light Specs

Our Price: $239.95 | Click Here to Buy This HID Grow Light

Editor’s Choice LED Grow Light: 600 Watt Advance Spectrum MAX LED Grow Light Bar

600w LED grow light bar for indoor grow tents and grow rooms.Have your heart set on an LED grow light? In that case, we recommend the 600 Watt Advance Spectrum MAX LED Grow Light Bar.

This 600w spread style LED is the equivalent of a 1000w HID grow light, and it will grow plants just as, if not more, effectively. Not to mention, thanks to its lower wattage, this LED grow light will save huge amounts of energy in comparison.

This LED provides a large 4x4 coverage area for flowering plants and 5x5 coverage for vegging plants. As such, it has the ability to sustain your plants through their entire growth cycle.

With a lifespan of over 50,000 hours, this LED grow light can hold its own against any HPS or MH bulb.

LED Grow Light Specs

  • Wattage: 600w
  • HID Equivalent: 1000w
  • Lumen Output: ~85,000 lumens
  • Coverage: 5x5 vegging; 4x4 flowering

Our Price: $779.95 | Click Here to Buy This LED Grow Light

Great for Compact Growing Areas: Yield Lab 600w HPS+MH Air Cool Tube Digital Dimming Grow Light Kit

Yield Lab 600W HPS+MH Air Cool Tube Reflector Digital Grow Light Kit for indoor grow tents or grow rooms.When it comes to a strong light for a small grow space, the Yield Lab 600W HPS+MH Air Cool Tube Reflector Digital Grow Light Kit is the way to go.

The HPS grow light will give you 90,000 lumens of light, and the MH bulb will give 61,000 lumens. This will allow your plants to thrive in small spaces like 2x4 grow tents and even closets.

The cool tube reflector is perfect for tight spaces because it has no side shields to direct light down. That means all of that unblocked light can be reflected off of the walls and onto your plants with large doses of intensity.

Overall, this grow light kit is ideal for anyone looking to make the most out of a compact grow space.

HID Grow Light Specs

Our Price: $199.95 | Click Here to Buy This HID Grow Light

Perfect for Growers on a Budget: Yield Lab 600w HPS+MH Wing Reflector Digital Dimming Grow Light Kit

Yield Lab 600W HPS+MH Wing Reflector Digital Grow Light Kit for indoor grow rooms and grow tents.Don’t want to break the bank for your grow room? Look no further than the Yield Lab 600W HPS+MH Wing Reflector Digital Grow Light Kit.

This HID grow light is the perfect option for any grower on a budget. The kit has everything you need to get your grow tent or grow room setup where you need it to be: an extra large wing reflector that’s super easy to assemble, dimmable ballast, and HPS and MH bulbs that will give you more than enough light to help your plants thrive.

At under $170, this grow light kit will easily pay for itself in just 2 to 3 harvests.

HID Grow Light Specs

  • Wattage: 600w
  • Lumen Output: 90,000 lumens (HPS bulb); 61,000 lumens (MH bulb)
  • Color Temperature: 2100k (HPS bulb); 5500k (MH bulb)
  • Coverage: 4x4 grow tent or grow room

Our Price: $ 169.95 | Click Here to Buy This HID Grow Light

Best for Advanced Growers: California Light Works SolarSystem 550 with UVB Kit LED Grow Light

California Light Works SolarSystem 550 with UVB Kit LED Grow Light for indoor grow rooms and grow tents.The California Light Works SolarSystem 550 with UVB Kit LED Grow Light is perfect for growers who want a lot of wavelength diversity and options for their grow room.

If you’re an advanced grower looking to test the waters of LEDs or just make the switch from HIDs, this is the grow light for you. It will outperform nearly any light in its path.

Though it’s equivalent to a 600w HPS grow light, this LED light consumes 40 percent less energy. It’s complete with a programmable wavelength that’s applicable at any stage of growth and UVB bulbs that will give your plants a boost of strength they can’t get from any other wavelength. As such, this LED grow light is truly one of the best you’ll find.

LED Grow Light Specs

  • Wattage: 400w
  • HID Equivalent: 600w
  • Lumen Output: ~35,000 lumens
  • Coverage: 6x6 vegging; 4x4 flowering

Our Price: $1,049.95 | Click Here to Buy this LED Grow Light

Should I Use an HID or LED Grow Light in My Grow Room?

Indoor grow tent with wing reflector HID grow light.Whether you’re looking for an HID grow lamp or LED grow light, there are tons of great options out there for you to choose from.

The good news is that you really can’t go wrong with either type of light!

At the end of the day, you’re the only one who knows what will work best for your grow room and your plants.

Just keep in mind:

  • If you need unique spectrums and lots of flexibility, LED lights are probably the way to go.
  • If, on the other hand, you just want a good amount of lumens and the ability to grow healthy plants without breaking the bank, you’re better off saving your money and going the HID route.

Now you’re ready to choose the perfect light for your grow room goals. Whatever option you go with, here’s to some great yields!

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