No matter how much money you spend, you can’t find a marijuana grow light that’s perfect for your cannabis plants and your needs as a grower.
There are some very useful grow lights made by NextLight, Lush, SANlight, and California Lightworks. These are the best-engineered and most reliabl. The other grow light manufacturers are not good enough to recommend or mention.
Unfortunately, not even the best grow lights have every feature we’d like to see, and most of them have some features we wish weren’t present.
Why is it so hard to make a perfect marijuana grow light? One major reason is that until only a few years ago, nobody was competently, scientifically researching how the electromagnetic spectrum affects cannabis plants.
And even now, when a few researchers are unlocking the mysteries of how lights drive cannabis plants to their highest potential, most grow light manufacturers are still engaging in risky guesswork, old-school engineering, and relying on research done by others, instead of doing it themselves.
For decades, growers from the Growing Marijuana Perfectly team have been querying all major and minor manufacturers of all types of grow lights—high intensity discharge, plasma, fluorescent, LED—and we’re shocked to discover that these manufacturers are not willing to provide honest third-party test data (and in some cases, even coherent explanations) about their lights’ effects on cannabis growth, yield, and potency.
Grow light manufacturers want us to believe their marketing claims so we spend huge amounts of money on their grow lights–but won’t give us authentic third-party verification of their claimed spectral output data, or the proven effects of that spectral output on cannabis growth rate, harvest weight, and potency.
Every year, grow light manufacturers release hype their new lights using terms like “full-spectrum, far-red, ultraviolet,” but offer no proof that they did their own in-house, objectively-verified proprietary research on cannabis plants so we know for sure their lights are maximally energy-efficient and horticulturally effective.
Grow light manufacturers are adding ultraviolet and far-red wavelengths to their lights, without recognizing that these wavelengths are best used in targeted ways, rather than as generic output always included in the their lights’ spectrum.
We tested a grow light that had “added ultraviolet” that was not switchable. The UV radiation was delivered to plants whenever the light was on. The added ultraviolet damaged our plants.
That’s why we’re so glad to know Dr. Bruce Bugbee, the world’s most statured, professional, thorough, innovative, and honest photobiology researcher. What’s “photobiology?” It’s the study of how light affects plants.
Dr. Bugbee is a beloved professor at Utah State University, and also founder of Apogee Instruments, an American company known worldwide for making the widest range of advanced, reliable, accurate horticultural light meters and other types of light meters.
When we started using Apogee light meters in our grow rooms, we realized that all the other brands of meters we’d used before were generically defective, misleading, and a waste of money.
Bugbee’s meters are superior for cannabis growers because he’s doing exclusive research on how the electromagnetic spectrum affects cannabis, and because he insists his gear perform to standards that satisfy demanding clients like NASA.
As you see from the just-released videos embedded in this article, Bugbee’s research is rapidly expanding our understanding of how radiation drives cannabis plants.
The electromagnetic spectrum doesn’t just drive photosynthesis, Bugbee notes. The old, outdated way of looking at light’s effects on cannabis focuses mostly on the visible light spectrum between 400-700 nanometers (nm), and is primarily if not solely concerned with photosynthesis.
Of course, photosynthesis is the crucially important process by which plants “eat photons” and combine them with nutrients, carbon dioxide and oxygen to fuel plant metabolism and tissue growth.
Without sufficient photosynthesis, plants can’t grow and thrive. But Bugbee discovered there’s way more to cannabis growth than just basic photosynthesis driven by the traditionally-accepted photosynthetic light spectrum, referred to horticulturally as “photosynthetically active radiation,” or PAR.
For example, his preliminary research indicates that far‐red photons (701–750 nm) synergistically interact with shorter wavelength photons to increase leaf photochemical efficiency.
Bugbee explains that adding far‐red photons to a background of shorter wavelength photons increases canopy photosynthesis that in some ways mimics an increase 400–700 nm photons.
Far‐red photons by themselves don’t significantly increase photosynthesis, but when they’re added to a pre-existing 400-700 nm spectrum, the combination synergistically creates acceleration of photosynthetic response and other metabolic and morphological changes favorable to cannabis growers.
Although definitive final research isn’t yet complete, Bugbee’s research so far indicates that far red photons, properly combined with other wavelengths, may help cannabis growers reduce bloom phase duration while increasing bloom phase production and profits.
One of the most exciting aspects of Bugbee’s research is we can use light to shape cannabis plants and increase production of cannabinoids and terpenoids. Plant photosynthesis and photomorphogenesis can be manipulated by light wavelengths, intensity, and photoperiod.
If you have a versatile grow light with an adjustable spectrum and are guided by Bugbee’s science videos and data you get from his meters, you can enhance growth rate, plant vigor, harvest weight, plant height, and production of cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Bloom phase internode length, for example, can be shortened by the application of specific light spectra at specific times during flowering.
These days, many growers are hearing that applying ultraviolet light during bloom phase can increase production of cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Unfortunately, some grow light manufacturers have taken this information and applied it in a haphazard manner, causing growers to apply the wrong kind of ultraviolet light, or too much of it at the wrong time—both mistakes can severely damage marijuana plants.
Initial research indicates the possibility that marijuana plants respond to properly-administered ultraviolet by generating more resins!
Bugbee’s latest research provides indicators that targeted use of ultraviolet radiation, especially UV-B (290-320 nm) triggers a plant threat response with benefits including increased pest resistance, flavonoid and THC accumulation, and photosynthetic efficiency. UV-A radiation (320-400nm) also appears to be involved with these benefits.
Along with pioneering scientific research and free YouTube videos you can listen to over and over to get the secrets of photobiology immediately useful in your grow op, Bugbee also gifts growers with his constant push to upgrade the function, accuracy, practicality and usability of his meters.
He just released his 380-760 nm Extended Photosynthetically Active Radiation (ePAR) and 340-1040 nm Extended Photon Flux Density (ePFD) sensors that allow you to make total photon flux intensity measurements of wider ranges than traditional PAR sensors that measure only 400-700 nm.
The ePFD sensor measures total intensity of photons in the 340-1040 nm range. This wide measurement range is useful for applications like studying the photomorphogenic effect of UV, far-red, and even miniscule light sources such as infrared security lights, which can affect marijuana plants during lights-off cycle.
Because of the extra-wide measurement cutoffs of this sensor, it is not recommended for PAR measurements under any light source except LEDs where all wavelengths are known to be within the traditional 400-700 nm PAR or 380-760 nm.
In our grow rooms, we note that Apogee sensors provide exceptionally accurate PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density) readings, and are specific to HID versus LED grow lights.
When you acquire Apogee meters, you get way more control over using light as a nutrient. Instead of flying blind, trusting manufacturer estimates of distance from light to canopy or manufacturer recipes for blue, white and red color bands on controller-driven LED grow lights, you learn exactly how much PPFD your plants are getting.
Apogee meters have greatly increased our ability to arrange grow lights and plant placement to maximize even distribution of PPFD, avoid hot spots and dropouts, and most importantly, to feed plants exactly the right kinds and amounts of photons per day.
Using Bugbee’s incredible meters, we’ve learned that the following PPFD ranges are best for marijuana plants:
- 75-150 PPFD for the earliest seedlings and clones.
- 125-175 PPFD for established seedlings and clones with sufficient roots and leaf sets.
- 175-550 PPFD (applied in an increasing curve as plants get older) during grow phase after seedlings and clones are established.
- 550-1000 PPFD for bloom phase plants (again applied in an increasing curve as your cannabis plants mature).
- Higher PPFD is appropriate when you’re adding C02 to your grow op air, but you have to closely monitor your plants to prevent canopy burn.
Every cannabis strain and grow room is different, so these PPFD guidelines are generic. Closely monitor your leaves and plant performance, keeping records of PPFD intensity and spectral output, and eventually you’ll have precise PPFD readings and other data so you maximize photosynthesis and photomorphology at every stage of your plants’ growth.
When you use Bugbee’s sensors intelligently, the data they provide helps you get the most harvest weight and resin weight per watt, so you’re using your grow light electricity as efficiently as possible.
Unlike other horticultural light meters, Apogee products are made in America at a world-class state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. There are at least 105,000 Apogee meters and sensors in use by professional growers worldwide.
Check out the very informative videos in this article, and contact Apogee to find the best gear for your needs. They offer spectral radiometers, stray-light meters, leaf temperature meters and many other devices to professionalize your marijuana growing and increase your harvest rewards.
Dr. Bugbee is redefining how we use light in marijuana grow rooms, and it’s time you get the benefits of his research right now by watching the videos embedded in this article.