LED vs Traditional Grow Lighting - Looking for input or case studies

On a call this week with a @mastergrowers and the @growopowners in Eagle, CO, we heard similar reservations that we have heard before about using LED lights over traditional grow lights. Our team at Independence LED Lighting dug in and did some research. We welcome your feedback.

Comparison Analysis for HPS and LEDs: https://independenceled.com/pdfs/Comparison-Analysis-Cannabis-for-Grow-Lights-HPS-and-LED-by-Independence-LED-Lighting-2018.07.18.xlsx

Case Study and White Paper: https://independenceled.com/pdfs/Independence-LED-Grow-Light-Solutions-for-Cannabis-with-Case-Study-and-White-Paper-2018.07.18.pdf


Glad to see you guys doing your research and being open about your results.

I’m curious, what exactly were those reservations that was preventing people from converting to LED from HPS.


From my personal experience and communications with multiple breeders and growers, the resistance lays in the finished product. To be fair, I have seen a few LED set ups that were dialed in correctly and their product almost (almost) turned out exactly the same as if it had come from a traditional grow. But as of yet, myself personally, am yet to see a finished flower with the girth and density of one grown via hps/mh. Thats not taking C0 additions into place. Everyone ive spoken to, always come back to that exact point. If someone out there running a dialed in facility can prove me or this point wrong, i would be very happy to admit my ignorance. But im still waiting to see it and have been for years. Basically, it comes down to the proof is in the pudding.
As mentioned, PLEASE someone prove this wrong because i use the LED methods now and am very happy with our facility’s areas, but always feel like we can do better. Maybe from using traditional for so many years has jaded me. shrugs shoulders


I think you bring up a good point here, a point I have also heard repeatedly. And personally that make sense to me for back in the days of underground growing where having the “biggest, baddest buds” is what really sold product.
That being said though, from a business standpoint it makes absolutely zero sense to me, unless being used as supplemental in a greenhouse.

When you look at the overall operating cost savings of 50% or more (when HVAC and bulb replacement are factored in), it only makes sense. Am I going to get 4lbs per 16sq ft? Nope. But with the right environment you betcha you can get 2.5-3lbs and the white papers are there to support those numbers (fluence reports 80+g/sq ft in some facilities as an example off the top of my head). While also creating a more colourful and more potent flower, which creates value.

Long story short, from purely a numbers and business perspective, LED=$ which is why we have decided to build our facility exclusively with LED grow lights, and will continue to support the research and innovation going into these products in any way we can.

This really brings up one of my favourite things about this site and this industry. There is no one right way to do things. Everybody has a method that works best for them and their business and I really enjoy hearing how other people have come to the business decisions. What other opinions are out there?


I made my own calculation, one cycle is 2 pounds on one plant. 16sf is around for 1.5 plant,
so 16 sf generate 3 pounds. but that is under HPS. I just share my own knowledge anyone can share your experience


U hit the mark with that comment sir. From a business perspective, my facility is all LED for the exact reasons u state. So the problem im left with, being a breeder/genetics junkie, is how can I product the same product as MH/HPS without increasing my costs via c02 and nutrient regiments. I keep coming full circle and ending up looking at the genetics. Currently, im 2.5 years into a “Strain crusade”. We decided it was time to hunt down the specific strains that respond better to LED vs HP/HM. Its been a very interesting run, to say the least. Some strains that you would assume would work more or less the same under both conditions, completely shock the shit out of you when the only thing changing is how the light is delievered. Pardon the choice of wording but that truly expresses how massive of a change that some strains can produce. Ive seen the same clone from the same genetics x10 in a 5v5 scenario totally fall off the HP/MH at an overwhelming 5:0 but then to run again with exactly the same variables in place but diffrent genetics and it will reverse 0:5 for the LED. It has been one of the most exciting projects ive ever spearheaded. Just when you think your getting a grasp on the patterns, she throws in curve balls as faster as you can say, I think i have it. And as you stated, no one is right and everyone has their own way, so if we can eliminate those variables by producing a product manufactured for its environment, we may have a grandslam. IF we can crack the code. Haha. But for now its about the strength and bag appeal that wins. The consumers really dont care in any way at all, how that beautiful flower found its way into their lives. And unfortunately that leaves us with the most effed up business plan ever created, but seems to be the win. Im sticking to the crusade. I am starting to see a pattern developing, and its amazing, but its geographical. Ill lyk more as i figure it out. :call_me_hand:


Great case study @mschaaf. Great to see solid data! One thing that you may want to add is a umol/J efficiency rating so you can do a photon vs photon comparison rather than watt vs watt since different LED systems are different efficiency levels.

@MISCHIEF We hear the same thing too regarding girth/weight with flowers. In my opinion, traditional LED systems (heavy red/blue or white systems) don’t provide the full spectrum of yellow/green/far red/infrared that penetrate the canopy or bud sites to get the girth and density that growers expect from HPS/CMH. Usually there are gaps in the spectrum unlike HPS/CMH. Generally these LED systems provide a totally different growing experience with a new learning curve and a different end product (not to mention, every LED spectrum is way different). All plants care about is intensity, heat, and wavelengths from lighting – regardless of the bulb or LED chip. If you want to see a dialed-in setup that got some huge flowers, watch a video I shot here under a heavy red/infrared LED spectrum: BIG BUDS under Electric Sky LED on Vimeo We were seeing yields about the same as HPS in that room with ~40% less from the wall for lighting. Still doing more and more testing on our end in more facilities, hopefully with white papers soon!


Our client is looking for any data that compares LED to HPS. Concerns are on the Bud weight yield and the THC levels. The client is less concerned it seems on energy conservation and more on getting equal or better yields with LEDs. Any white papers or videos would be helpful and any input from the community is always welcomed.


Comparing “traditional lighting” to LED is like comparing a horse to a car. The first cars were slow, expensive, inefficient, and dangerous. Over time, automotive technology improved and came down in price, while the capabilities of a horse remained the same. So which is better, a horse or a car? It depends on which car and your intended goal.

I see a lot of people describe horticultural LED lighting with broad strokes, assuming all products are the same. This isn’t even true on a watt-to-watt basis. It’s important to know electrical efficiency, spectrum, beam angle, life rating, etc. when discussing LED lighting.


Hi @mschaaf,

I am sorry but I have to oppose your calculation!!!

  • First of all your comparison should be based on µmol/m²/s! Based on your calculation the HPS delivers 55% more photons and the Fluence fixtures deliver 29% more photons per s per sqf… Assuming that you are not a Voodoo priest I am very keen to understand how you will outperform your competitors in terms of yield, etc.
  • At the moment you reach an average level of 475 µmol/m²/s. The minimum in flowering should be around 600 µmol/m²/s.
  • But thats not the biggest problem!!! Your calculation is based on 100,000h. Assuming that an exchange of LED fixtures is not nessecary within 20 years :face_with_raised_eyebrow: Even if that would be possible that would not be reasonable because of the rapid technical development. Consider you would have bought LED technology 20 years ago… A reasonable calculation of TCO would be based on 5 -6 years…

I have altered your calculation based on 30,000h lifespann and suprise, suprise your fixtures are the most expansive solution :pensive: (see: Comparison-Analysis-Cannabis-for-Grow-Lights-HPS-and-LED-by-Independence-LED-Lighting-2018.07.24.xlsx (805.2 KB))


  • Your have a 5 year warranty but you talk about 20 years. WHY???
  • Your compare different lighting levels!!!
  • Your approach has not enought µmol/m²/s in order to compete in the flowering stage

I would be very interested what @Fluence and GAVITA (@Theo) will say about your calculation…




Hi Jeff,

I totaly agree with your point on genetics. Of course most of the genetics, out there, have been selected and breeded based on their performance under HPS. But that is changing now…

Could you DM me to talk about your project regarding genetics and LED. Especially if fertilisation and tunable spectras are considered too the whole story will become much more interesting…




So what is the CAR and what is the horse? Many of the LED systems out there are more like expansive donkey since they still cannot compete with HPS… :wink:


The point is that HPS technology isn’t making big improvements anymore. Look at the efficiency gains of LED in just the last 5 years. By all means cling to that horse though if it suits your style :wink:


Don’t get me wrong, we have been developing tunable LED technology for Cannabis cultivation for almost 10 years now…

But what I don’t like is HPS bashing since that technology still has advantages like NIR radiation, etc. (if it is used properly…) So in the end “motorized horse transporters” could be another future… :wink:


Hi @cschubert

I want to thank you for your feedback and I have passed along your input to the team (including the ones that made the report). I will share findings and or answers to your questions and concerns as soon as possible.


Hi @mschaaf,

I have evaluated your .xlsx file again and I found a mistake in C56 to F56. Based on the .xlsx without that mistakes your devices is still the winner of your comparison of TCO so I have to appologize since I have not checked whether your .xlsx file works accurately…

But still the problem with the lightoutput…

comparison based on 5 years shows

  • you will allow to save $620 per year in TCO be you will deliver 55% less light compared to a HPS… So saving $620 costs per year could be compensated with 155g more yield per year per 60 sqf … and I am quite confident that a @mastergrowers will handle that with 55% more light :slight_smile:

  • Same with @Fluence saving $485 per year but having 29% less light per 60 sqf

Please find enclosed the revised calculation file Comparison-Analysis-Cannabis-for-Grow-Lights-HPS-and-LED-by-Independence-LED-Lighting-2018.07.24.xlsx (805.6 KB)

cheers Christoph


Hello again @cschubert Your updated calculation file was a big help. Please see the notes below and this excel that we updated (green text) on top of your update to show the lift in
µmol/m²/s to 600 for “apples to apples” comparison. As you will see, the elevated output increases the fixture system watts from 1250 to 1580 and increases the cost as well. Even with the elevated cost, the calculations still place Independence LED as a more cost-effective solutions than HPS and Fluence.


*You wrote, that “You have a 5 year warranty but you talk about 20 years. WHY???”
-Our LED fixtures are rated for 100,000 hour life. At 13.2 hours per day, 365 days per year the annual hours of operation = 4,818
100,000 / 4,818 = 20.75 years. We totally appreciate your point about TCO analysis over 5 years, but we added the 20 year TCO to show the long play. If you or other growers would like us to extend the warranty past the typical 5 year level for grow lights, we are absolutely open to the extension.

You also commented, “At the moment you reach an average level of 475 µmol/m²/s. The minimum in flowering should be around 600 µmol/m²/s,” Thank you for the note. Our linear system is modular and we can increase the
µmol/m²/s up 600 or higher for flowering.
The calculations in the updated excel illustrate the impact. As a manufacturer, over the past decade we have built custom fixtures for customers, and we welcome this level of insight from you.

Please note that your comments are incredibly helpful. We see growers in this “gold rush” of Cannabis production as the gold miners, and we are just providing the shovels. Think of us as an extension of your operation vs a company that is trying to sell a specific product.
Imagine that we are your employees, and you own a factory that makes LED lights. If you have something that you would like us to build, we are all ears!

Your feedback on this video and article included below are also welcomed.

LED Grow Lights Boost Cannabis Quality and Yields at Silver State Relief

THC Testing Levels: “Higher than anyone in the state (Nevada)” Terpene Testing Levels: “Higher than anyone in the state (Nevada)”

LED Grow Lights Boost Cannabis Quality and Yields at Silver State Relief - YouTube

HPS vs. LED for Cannabis Cultivation: http://www.valoya.com/hps-vs-led-cannabis-cultivation

"In the rounds of the research the amount of THC produced under LEDs ranged from 26-38% more than compared to the HPS treatment.”


Awesome perspective! You can lead the industry with these initiatives!


Lucky for you the guy who sold the shovels made more money than any miner.
See a need, fill a need.


Yes but shovels aren’t such a complex thing as horticulture lighting is :wink:

And thats the problem… “Shovels” should work too, so just selling “shovels” is not enought. It is also important to help using them…