Last updated: April 13, 2021
Ceramic metal halide lights are the ideal way to vegetate while using an HPS system, but finding a product that works well for you and your needs can be a bit confusing. Reviews across the web vary pretty greatly on individual products.
Power drain compared to the size of the grow and the room is the biggest concern when dealing with any kind of HPS system, so we need to factor this in when determining the best products for a grow. However, unlike a lot of HPS systems, a CMH doesn’t produce very much heat, so it does open up the option of spending more on lighting and less on ventilation.
Mostly, HPS systems are best for medium-sized grows where ventilation and other heating issues are accounted for within the setup. With this in mind let’s take a look at what we think are the best products on the market at the moment for CMH grow lights.
|Best Overall||Growers Choice GC-315 CMH Lights||
|Best Value||TopoLite CMH 315W Grow Light||
|Eye Hortilux CMH 315 Grow Light||
|VIVOSUN 5-Mode-Adjust 315W CMH Grow Light||
|TopoGrow 315W CMH Grow Light||
The Growers Choice CMH Lights are an easily adjustable option that can fit most medium-sized grow and perform very well all the way into flowering. Minor issues may crop up with the reflector, as it seems a bit dim than a top of the line dish.
Still, it’s a very nice CMH for a pretty decent price that can fit most HPS grow budgets. This will handle quite a few plants all the way into their later stages. The ballast adjusts simply with a twist of a dial, to allow for a cooler room that uses up less electricity for smaller grows.
This is a premium product, but the price doesn’t hit the crazy numbers that you see in other ballast combos of this quality. Easily the recommendation for any grower ready to throw a bit of money down on a product that will help create some massive yields.
A very basic offering for a really nice price by TopoLite that will work for at least a grow, but has a flimsy reflector and the ballast may need to be upgraded in the future.
This is one the best ceramic metal halide grow lights for the money, as it is priced quite a bit lower than other options out there. This budget price does cause a few problems, though. Namely, the reflector hood is quite flimsy and should be handled with care.
A bent reflector hood will cause issues aiming for the intense light being produced by these types of bulbs and can cause problems with growth. Furthermore, the ballast itself – though safe – seems to cause a bit of burnout on these bulbs quicker than more expensive options.
However, for the price, there really isn’t a better way to get this kind of brightness out of a CMH, and as long as a bit of caution is taken handling the reflector, this is an amazing product.
The Eye Horilux CMH is a high-quality grow light that will last for a long time into the future and creates a very bright environment with a super reflective hood, however, the price puts it out of the reach of budget growers.
We really like the uniform light spread with this reflector. It makes the whole room incredibly bright and can handle quite a few plants very well. The whole thing is fairly heavy, which could be seen as a negative, but that’s the trade-off for how sturdy this lamp is.
This will last for quite a while and is an investment for a grower that is looking to make cannabis grows a regular thing in their life. Definitely recommended if you can swing the price.
An efficient ballast grow light combo that is actually fairly low priced as well, it loses some points due to the light spread being a bit less stellar than advertised, but is a solid choice for those working within a budget.
Vivosun’s product is slightly more expensive than the previous Topolite listing and doesn’t really offer a lot more despite fancy advertising that claims so. This is a decently designed ballast and reflector combo, but there is a bit loss of build quality due to the cheaper price.
The reflector is somewhat flimsy, and it covers a few plants well but not the massive area claimed in their image advertising. It will hit about 3-4 plants fairly well though, so for medium-sized grows it is still a good product.
It’s a budget CMH set up with fancy packaging, but if you can throw the money down, there are better options.
A long-lasting CMH set up that provides consistent light for multiple grow cycles, but is a bit dull compared to other products. With that efficiency comes a bit of sacrifice to output, though it still works well for grows of 3-4 plants.
We like our CMH bulbs to produce a lot of light. That’s the whole reason to choose them over LEDs and although this performs well with the longevity of the bulb, it is a bit strange to have a CMH that isn’t as bright as it could be.
There’s a use for this in small to medium grows; the whole set up is fairly inexpensive as well, but for most growers considering a CMH, there may be better options.
The Hydro Crunch CMH Grow Light system is a solid budget pick for a really basic ballast and reflector that will do the job for a grow or two, but completely lacks the inclusion of a bulb, which throws off the budget value somewhat.
The reflectors themselves are somewhat flimsy but seem to be structurally sound enough to be used over again, while the ballast offers nothing but a base to power your bulb. However, CMH bulbs are fairly expensive, so the budget value here loses something since you’ll have to purchase that yourself.
For growers who are looking for just the ballast, hangars, and reflecto,r this isn’t really a bad choice. Just a basic one. If you need the bulb as well, though, you may be better off looking elsewhere.
The Grow Co. CMH System is a fairly solid, basic CMH build that doesn’t offer a lot of extras, but is sturdy enough and will last if you want to keep a simple system around for a while.
This hits the bottom of the list because it is nestled somewhere between and expensive system and a budget build. In that, it is a very well-built rig that doesn’t offer the benefits of a premium ballast or reflector but is higher in price than a simple budget one.
The reflector itself works well enough, nothing spectacular, but it isn’t flimsy by any means. The ballast does its job as well but doesn’t offer a ton of different modes or dimming.
It’s ideal for someone who isn’t looking to upgrade into a premium lamp but wants something that will last for quite a few grows into the future.
CMH rigs are a great choice for those looking to advance past the heat of an old school HPS system without giving up the brightness. However, there’s quite a few things to consider before jumping into a major purchase like this.
Let’s go over a couple of the things we consider the CMH rigs.
A CMH bulb without a reflector will still produce the same amount of light, but it won’t spread to where you want it to well and mostly go to waste. Reflector designs vary when combatting this, but we look for the ones that have a limited amount of leakage.
We want a reflector that aims the light directly downwards, towards the plants. A good reflector will cover multiple plants, even up to 4-5 when made correctly. We look for systems that have a well-made reflector due to this, as a single CMH system should be able to handle a medium-sized grow easily with massive yields as a result.
Different ballasts ask for more power versus lifespan out of a bulb. Depending on the size of your grow you should go for one that emphasizes brightness versus one that allows for adjustability in the wattage being produced by the bulb.
There’s a diminishing return with brightness where the size of the plant might not be worth the power drain. Generally, smaller grows of 3 plants don’t need the full brightness these lamps can produce.
In those cases, it’s good to look into a system that allows for dimming, as you’ll save money in the long run on purchasing a replacement. Furthermore, seedling and smaller vegetating plants don’t need or even want the full power of these bulbs.
In these cases, the lamp has to either be dimmed or moved away. Dimming being preferable as the electrical cost and lifespan of the bulb can be spared.
For a system that doesn’t break the budget entirely and still produces a lot of bright light, while also allowing for adjustments the first item on this list, the Growers Choice GC-315 CMH Lights seems to be one of the best on the market.
It’s not exceedingly expensive, produces a lot of light, can be customized to your needs, and has a decent enough reflector. It could be better, but it’s difficult to find something better in the price range.
Beyond that, when aiming for lower-priced systems the TopoLite CMH 315W Grow Light seems to be better than most we have seen. It is bright, the reflector works well, and the price is one of the best around. It is somewhat flimsy, but the ballast itself is at least safe and reliable.
We hoped this helped you get through the world of reviews out there for these new CMH lights. It’s difficult to figure all this out on your own, and we hope to be able to help slightly relieve that burden.
Featured Image Credit: TopoLite, Amazon
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