How to Compare Greenhouse Lighting Options

What is the best greenhouse lighting system for you?

Quick Tips for Greenhouse Lighting Options

  • Most Energy Efficient Greenhouse Grow Light
  • Most Popular Greenhouse Grow Light
  • Best Supplemental Lighting Option
  • Common Lighting For Greenhouse Nurseries: Fluorescent tube lighting
  • Best Daylight Extension Light Option
  • Lighting Suggestions For Night Interruption Lighting

Types of Greenhouse Lighting

Whether you are looking for supplemental lighting, or are aiming to keep plants in vegetative growth, there are five main types of greenhouse lighting options to compare. The best grow lights for crop development will be HID lamps or LED grow lights. For other greenhouse lighting needs or for nurseries, other types of bulbs may be better options that draw less energy.

Type of Light Features
Fluorescent Tube Lighting 
  • Available in a variety of color spectrums
  • Not generally used for photoperiod control
  • Do not emit much heat, good for germination
Incandescent Bulbs
  • Commonly used for photoperiod control
  • Lifespan will not be reduced by being turned on and off frequently
  • Will not reduce the lifespan of the ballast with frequent on/off switching
  • Emit a broad range of wavelengths and create a lot of heat
Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Bulbs
  • More energy-efficient option than incandescent bulbs for supplemental lighting
  • Not as effective for controlling the long day photoperiod effect
  • May not be good for photoperiod (flowering) control due to color of light
  • Some growers alternate incandescent and CFL bulbs
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps
  • Includes high-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) lamps
  • Provide photoperiod control and supplemental lighting
  • Can create heat inside the greenhouse
  • Provides plants with energy for growth
Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
  • More expensive, but high efficiency and have a long lifespan
  • Variety of light wavelengths and intensities available
  • LED grow lights are effective in controlling photoperiod
  • Provides plants with energy for growth
  • Does not heat up the growing area like HID lamps

Types of Lighting Color and Lifespan

Bulb Type Light Color Use Lifespan
Metal Halide Blue, 450-470 nm Primary Lighting, Leafy Plants ~10,000 hours
High Pressure Sodium Orange-Red, 590-650 nm Full Spectrum Available Secondary Lighting, Budding and Flowering ~18,000 hours
Fluorescent (CFL or T5) 2700k-3000k: High Red5000k: Full Spectrum6500k: Blue Vegetative or Flowering (depending on type), Low Heat ~20,000 hours
Incandescent White Light/Daylight, Some Red Inefficient, Supplement Lighting ~750-2500 hours
LED Customizable Primary Lighting, High Efficiency, Low Heat, Dimmable ~50,000 hours
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