Grow tents are one of the best developments to ever happen to indoor growing. They act as small, portable greenhouses that let the users control the key aspects of a plant’s growing environment, such as humidity, temperature and lighting. They can be used outdoors in climates that could otherwise be considered too hot or too cold to grow certain types of plants or flowers, but they’re especially suited to indoor environments with insufficient sunlight. However, one of the main drawbacks to commercial grow tents is that the vast majority of them use High-intensity discharge (HID) grow lights.
HID vs. LED grow Lights
High-intensity discharge technology is an umbrella term for various high-brightness bulb solutions, like high-pressure sodium (HPS), compact fluorescent (CF) and metal halide. Most of the HID bulbs used in grow lights are full spectrum. Due to their brilliance to the human eye and their more “natural” light distribution (the sun is a full spectrum light source), HID grow lights are vastly more popular.
Unfortunately, for plant growth, an HID grow light is no match for the best LED grow light—one that employs tri-band LED bulbs that give a higher concentration to the part of the light spectrum known as PAR, or Photosynthetically Active Radiation. PAR is the range to which the chlorophyll in plants is particularly sensitive. More than 90% of the light emitted by a tri-band LED is used for photosynthesis, compared to less than 15% of the light from HID bulbs.
Should You Replace HIDs, or Just Add LEDs?
Finding a grow tent that uses an LED grow light out of the box is difficult, even online. In all likelihood, you’ll have to purchase an LED light kit separately. Many growers report that a 120 watt LED grow light performs comparably to a 600 watt HPS light. Some growers buy LEDs to supplement the HIDs their grow tents already came with rather than replacing them outright. This is probably a wise move, since it boosts PAR while still covering the rest of the light spectrum adequately. Some owners psychologically mistrust LED grow lights due to their dimmer illumination—at least to humans. Ultimately, it’s the light that plants need, not what humans need, that matters.