CMH Grow Lights vs HPS

CMH Grow Lights vs HPS

Growing plants indoors poses all kinds of problems, but thankfully, modern technology has the solutions that readers are looking for.  Arguably the best of these available on today's markets is the ceramic metal halide, or CMH, grow light.  Whether readers are looking into indoor growing for the first time or they're just looking to upgrade from less efficient and less effective lights, they can read on to find out about a few of the advantages of investing in this impressive, thoroughly modern technology.

Longer Lasting

CMH lights feature ceramic arc tubes, which are known to be far more resistant than traditional lights to premature breakdown.  CHM grow lights can last for more than 24,000 hours and maintain over 80% of their intensity for up to 20,000 hours.  Compare this with the 10,000-hour life expectancy for high-pressure sodium (HPS) and traditional metal halide (MP) bulbs and it's easy to see why CMH lights are well worth the investment.

More Efficient

In addition to lasting as long as three years without needing to be changed, CMH bulbs are also able to convert electricity into usable light better than most other bulbs.  CMH lights are up to 20 percent more efficient than traditional metal halide bulbs and feature a higher yield per watt than this antiquated alternative.

This increased efficiency over HPS and MH lights contributes to monetary savings over time, helping to offset the initial investment cost of making the switch.  Not only will readers appreciate lower monthly utility bills, but they'll also be able to rest a little bit easier knowing that they've also purchased lights that use less of the planet's valuable natural resources.

Balanced Spectrum

With CMH lights, indoor growers can expect a balanced light spectrum that offers everything their plants need to facilitate optimal rates of photosynthesis.  HPS and MH lights tend to waste electricity by converting it into light that is not optimized for plant photosynthesis, which requires a fairly narrow range of light.   Their comparatively low photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) efficiency means that they have to work much harder to produce enough light to facilitate the conversion of light into nutrients, helping to explain their lower power efficiency and shorter lifespans.

Neither MH nor HPS grow lights offer a full-spectrum of PAR.  MH bulbs have a tendency to be heavy on blue light, while HPS tend to be heavier on red light.  The spectrum of usable light ranges from 400 to 700 nanometers, though, which is why it can be beneficial for growers to choose bulbs that offer a broader, more balanced spectrum.  Those who want the added boost on the red spectrum that flowering crops need to grow at optimum efficiency should note that CMH lights can also be combined with HPS lights for maximum benefit.

Improved Color Rendering Index

The color rendering index, or CRI, is used to describe how a light source's color changes how objects appear to the human eye.  It can cause subtle variations in color that make it difficult to tell how plants are actually faring in an indoor environment.  Thankfully, the CRI for CMH grow lights is usually rated between 80 and 96, meaning that they are great at allowing the true colors of plants to shine through without the unnatural-looking color variation caused by MH and HPS lights.

Color Stability

In addition to offering a higher CRI, CMH grow lights provide consistent color rendering.  Many grow lights tend to experience decreased CRI over time, decreasing their effectiveness in subtle ways and often leaving growers wondering why their plants aren't performing at peak levels.  CMH lights, on the other hand, provide consistent light quality and maintain their wide light spectrum throughout the duration of their use.

UV Radiation

UV radiation may not be visible to the human eye, as it falls outside the range of light that people are able to perceive, but it is essential for plant growth.  It's important to note that there are several types of UV light, known as UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C.  UV-C is considered harmful to the human eye, which is why CMH grow lights block it out using a high-quality glass filter that does not effect UV-A or UV-B light transmission.

Thanks primarily to their balanced light spectrum, CMH grow lights provide more UV-A and UV-B light than many of their alternatives.  This is essential for producing a healthy crop, as most plants require a good deal of UV light during their vegetative stages to support the development of strong, healthy branches.

Low Heat Production

It's important to purchase grow lights that operate at reasonably low temperatures, as excessively high temperatures can wind up damaging crops and negatively impacting their ability to produce optimum yields.  CMH bulbs operate at lower temperatures than many of their alternatives.  This allows them to produce sufficient light without overheating even smaller grow rooms and lets growers place them closer to their plants, helping to reduce the chances of burning the leaves.

No Electromagnetic Interference

Some grow lights and electronic ballasts can interfere with electronics like cell phones and television signals.  This can be a major inconvenience for in-home growers.  CMH grow lights don't produce electromagnetic interference, though, which means that they won't affect nearby electronics.

Falling Cost

The primary down-side of purchasing CMH lights has historically been their cost.  Admittedly, they are more expensive than many cheaper grow lights.  Continued advances in associated technologies and increases in consumer interest have recently been leading to falling prices, though, as CMH bulbs are produced in larger quantities by a wider variety of manufacturers.

The Take-Away

If readers are looking for the cheapest possible way to grow an unimpressive crop indoors, CMH lights may not be for them as they do require a substantial upfront investment.  Those who are serious about indoor gardening and growing, on the other hand, will find that the benefits of making the switch by far outweigh the cost of making the switch.  CMH grow lights offer a more balanced light spectrum, a higher CRI, improved PAR efficiency, lower heat output per watt, safe UV light supplementation, and increased longevity, making them some of the best lights available on today's markets.

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