How to Hang Grow Lights for Cannabis

Regardless of how much space you have for your grow room, the number of plants, or the specific strain that you plan to grow, lighting will always be a key component to the entire build. Whether you plan to implement LEDs, fluorescent, or the more powerful HID lights, finding the right positioning and method for hanging your lights will not only simplify the growth process but also provide effective and consistent exposure for healthier and more potent plants.

We’ll break down how the different types of lights will affect your grow and the best procedures and orientations for efficiency and effectiveness.

How to Hang Your Grow Lights

Depending on the type of bulb, the distance you place your lamp will be an important factor in properly exposing your plants. Generally, the higher the intesity of photon ouput of your bulb the further you are able to hang the light from your plant.

For instance, LED lamps will have more of a buffer zone between the lamp and the plant than fluorescents which will need to be placed much closer. While this may be straight forward, always keep in mind the heat output of your specific bulb.

Rope isolated on the white background

If you bulbs are placed too closely to your plant you run the risk of burning or drying out the plant, which can kill or significantly impact your yield when it comes time to harvest.

Rope Ratchets

A popular method for hanging large lamps such as LEDs or HIDs, rope ratchets are a simple pully system making use of rope, a ratchet tie down, and oftentimes a caribiner. With the rope hung around a support beam or pole, these are simply hooked to the lamp shade on each side and adjusted for height via the ratchet system.

This will allow for easy raising and lowering depending on the needs of your plant, giving you as much flexibility as the rope and height of the room will allow.

Yo Yo Hangers

Similar to the rope ratchet, yo yo hangers will provide two points of support for your lamps with two hooks supporting each side. However, instead of having two points of contact with the support beam, the hooks each originate from a circular coil system in a “yo yo” form factor.

These will recoil depending on how much slack and height you choose for your lamp. These are best implemented with lighter lamps, as there is a singular hanging point for the system.

Deciding on the Right Distance

Being measure in photon density or PPFD, the light intensity of your lamp will dictate the distance you decide on for your particular plant. Depending on the strain, most cannabis plants will require 600-800 PPFD for growth, being measured with a quantum sensor.

The further your light from the plant the lower the effective PPFD will be. There will be some deviation depending on the bulbs, with some having a different spread of photons and direction of output.

Indoor marijauna facility growing sea of cannabis plants in the background with texture nug in the foreground

While this may be slightly overkill when it comes to positioning your lamps, there are some simple methods and best practices to adhere to:

  • The larger the number of plants in your grow room, the further you lamps should be for optimal light spread
  • The stronger the light source, the further your light should be from the plants
  • If you have a singular plant, a less powerful and more direct source of light will keep photon dissipation and effective exposure

Obviously many of these factors will depend on the enviroment and room you choose to grow in. If you have a drier environment, keeping your lights further will obviously prevent plant “burn” while sacrificing some exposure.

This is a balancing act with plenty of variables, so always monitor and adjust your lighting system throughout the grow cycle to ensure your plants remain healthy.

Additional Methods for Light Exposure

As you might notice on some lamp hoods, using highly reflective surfaces will garner a higher light spread and subsequently dissipation, allowing for higher efficiency with less light. This is also the case with many all-in-one grow tents, with the interior of the enclosure being lined with a reflective material for higher light spread.

This serves to not only spread the light evenly across your plants, but will allow for a less intense method of applying a light source without additional lamps or heat.

Medical legal cannabis plant under lamp. Marijuana garden indoor - stock image

Implementing relectors on the walls of the room or enclosure will not only save on electrical costs, but it will allow for fewer lamps subsequently saving the cost on bulb replacement as well. Keep in mind, however, the light exposure off a reflective surface is substantially weaker than the bulb itself.

It is also somewhat unpredictable as for the direction of the light output, so it should be treated as a supplemental source instead of a direct source of light.

What are Grow Lights?

As you would expect for any plant life, light exposure (with the right duration and cycle) is one of the pillars of healthy growth. While sunlight is oftentimes the most effective method, if you are growing your own cannabis indoors or in an enclosure such as a grow tent, artificially replacing the lighting exposure with lamps will allow for a customized lighting experience for more control while allowing you to grow in any environment.

The most common indoor lights include:

Fluorescent

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Standard sockets
  • Various color temperatures

Cons

  • Low light output
  • Will require more lamps
  • May fall short when lighting multiple plants

HID (high-intensity discharge)

Pros

  • Easy operation
  • Flexibility with bulb power and color
  • Good ratio of light output and cost of running

Cons

  • Relatively high heat output
  • Non-standard socket
  • Shorter bulb lifespan

LED

Pros

  • Energy efficient
  • Low heat output

Cons

  • High startup cost

As you can see, the various options will accommodate different types of grows and setups. While HID lights may be the benchmark for most high-end grow rooms, if you are simply growing one plant in an enclosure such as a space bucket you may find fluorescent bulbs to be the best option.

Final Tips

The adjustment of your lights should always be one of the main priorities along side proper watering when it comes time to grow your own cannabis. Unfortunately, proper exposure isn’t a one size fits all method, with a lot of play and experimentation for the best results.

Always keep in mind how you plan to expand your grow room from the early onset, as you may find some limitation if you plan on adding in additional plants or strains further down the road.

Efficient light sources on white

Diagraming the layout of your plants and light sources, determining the spread of light and exposure in various parts of the room or enclosure, and planning your heat exhausts and fans should all be steps to take before purchasing equipment and seeds. As long as you have consistent light exposure to each plant and monitor the health of the plant throughout the growth cycle, you will have a potent and considerable yield when it comes down to to harvesting your buds.