Last updated: May 30, 2020
CFL lights are everywhere, so it seems a bit obvious to use them as grow lights. They’re cheap, low power, run fairly cool, and are capable of producing light of all kinds of colors.
CFL’s are the popular entry-point into indoor growing, both with cannabis and other plants as well. However, finding the right CFL for growing cannabis can be a bit trying. There is a massive market and a plethora of reviews to go over, and it’s hard to tell what is best to use for any given situation without first-hand experience.
Light spectrums can be an issue with these, as the popularity of CFLs has lent itself to misconceptions on the ideal spectrums to purchase, as not all plants grow the same as cannabis. Let’s take a look at some of the better CFL lights we’ve come across.
|Emart Full Spectrum|
Emart is offering two full-spectrum daylight bulbs here, for a pretty great price. Two of these will easily handle the growth of a single small to medium-sized cannabis plant, and the price and quality here is good to boot. This won’t be enough for multiple large plants, but using this as something to get into the game is not a bad plan at all.
Emarts are our go-to’s for CFLs as the life expectancy is quite good for the price being put into them. These plus a good reflective holder will go a long way to producing some respectable plant.
This is a four-pack of day-light spectrum CFL bulbs for an absurdly good price that, combined, will be plenty to grow cannabis into maturity. The Philips T2 Spirals will not last as long as the aforementioned Emart brand product; however, if a single grow is all you’re after, look no further.
The 6500K spectrum isn’t ideal for blooming plants, but it does work. If you get the idea of an absolutely massive grow out of your head and aim for a low budget one, then this is a great choice. Four of these around a plant will work very well for a single small grow, at a very low price.
Hydrofarm’s Agrobite is a powerful bulb capable of producing large yields of cannabis through sheer light penetration alone but, unfortunately, is only good for one or two grows.
This is the rub of a lot of powerful CFL lights, they tend to burn themselves out and don’t last like LEDs. That being said, this is a very powerful light that will give plenty of power to a medium-sized grow all the way to harvest. The reflectors here are sturdy and well built, they do a good job reflecting that light where it needs to go. The Agrobrite is a good middle ground between the likes of more expensive LED and HPS systems, without shelling out the cash needed for those.
Sunblaster lamps are great for a small growth but lack some of the power of previous entries to the list, however, they do tend to last for a long time. The 6400K spectrum is just a tad off where we like to land for CFL grows, but it does provide a sufficient amount of light needed for a small cannabis plant to grow to its entirety.
A set of SunBlasters, which come in a 4-pack, can almost certainly have some fairly nice results. However, when compared to the likes of the Emart 4332004402, there’s a lack of power, which will result in a somewhat stunted plant at the end of the process.
It’s still a solid product, just not the best around.
Alzo‘s full-spectrum light works well if going for a cheaper solution but isn’t ideal for plant growth even when considering that it’s a CFL. The spectrum it’s using looks great visually, but lacks in non-visible spectrum light which the plants need for good growth.
This is another light that will indeed work when surrounding a plant, but the results will be less than stellar at the end of the day. Recommended if this is what is available, however, there are better purchases to be made even on this list.
On the bright side, pun-intended, these are bright lights, which come in a 4-pack, and will provide plants with enough light to survive and grow, but at a slow rate.
As honorable mentions, we’re including this Satco bulb that produces in a lower spectrum than the rest on this list. It’s quite bright, which is good, and lasts for a decent while compared to other lower spectrum bulbs that we’ve tested in the past.
Still, it won’t last more than a grow or two and doesn’t work well for seedling or vegetative phases of growth. This is ideal to swap in right as a plant is going to into bloom to get slightly better results, but the extra money paid and effort could probably be spent elsewhere.
It’s still one of the better 2700K bulbs on the market, though, so if you’re determined in using one this is a solid pick.
Choosing a CFL to grow with is a perfectly legitimate choice, but there are some factors to be aware of when using them. We’ll go over a few of those here:
They’re the ideal entry point into indoor growing. They work well enough, though not optimal, and produce consistently worthwhile results. They give off very little heat, what is there can be easily remedied with the slightest bit of ventilation, and work well in small, low-budget spaces.
They’re also a good choice as a supplementary light that can be aimed easily due to them fitting into easily moved light sockets. Aim some of these to the side or underneath a plant that is already doing well via a different type of light and it will add a lot to the growth below the light-blocking canopy on top.
The effect on the electrical bill, and the lack of needed external cooling, make them great for stealth and low-impact builds as well. They are not ideal for the best growth possible, LEDs and HPS system hold this spot, but they do work and they are great at their specific niche.
The spectrum of light that a CFL gives off is measured with kelvin, or “K”. The day-light spectrum, which is best for everything but flowering, is between 5500K and 6500K, with 6500K being the bluest and best for vegetative and seedling growth stages.
We look for CFLs in this range due to their ability to grow cannabis successfully, and we leave the flowering stages to the more powerful lights that can dive deeper into the lower, red spectrums. There are 2700K CFLs available, but they don’t do a much better job than the daylight spectrum does at the end of the process.
There are minor benefits to swapping to one of these bulbs during flowering, as a supplemental, but the extra growth versus effort and expenses isn’t that much. Sticking with the best day-light bulbs throughout the grow is the best way to go about this type of project.
These work by dipping a bit further into the red spectrum than daylight CFLs, and work slightly better on blooming plants due to this. 2700K bulbs have their place, but we tend to avoid recommending them. This is because it’s additional equipment that isn’t going towards the budget of things in your grow that can make a large difference.
They don’t produce enough light in the non-visible spectrums to satisfy what blooming plants are craving and only marginally produce better results. Beyond that, they are worthless for seedlings and vegetating plants, which is where your plant spends most of its life.
Lastly, they just don’t tend to last for a long time. Lower light-spectrum CFLs burn out at a very fast rate compared to daylight bulbs. Stick to daylight spectrum bulbs and spend your budget and effort elsewhere.
The amount of wattage these bulbs use is almost negligible for most grower’s power bills. Compared to other ways to grow indoors, the amount of energy saved is worth noticing.
The amount of heat these give off is so limited that forgoing to use of large ventilation systems is doable, as long as odors aren’t a concern. Put a CFL in a closet with a small reflect and some mylar around the room, and you’ll be surprised by the amount of light they can produce for such a small purchase.
These will never match the light-giving powerhouses that are LEDs and HPS systems, but a well-cared for plant underneath a good CFL system will indeed bear fruit.
CFL bulbs are a great introduction to the indoor cannabis growing arts and should be seen as a perfectly respectful way of going about things.
Aim to keep the budget low, since if you’re spending more money you should just go for HPS or LED systems, and get some quality day-light spectrum bulbs like Emart 4332004402 Full Spectrum Light Bulb.
You can also spend a bit more and get the Hydrofarm Agrobrite FLCDG125D CFL System for multiple plants.
All of these are great options for a lower price CFL grow that won’t require a lot of specialized gear to get completed. We hope this helps out some figuring the best out there for CFLs, they’re a great choice for anyone looking to start with indoor cannabis growing.
Featured Image Credit By: Emart Full Spectrum Light Bulb, amazon
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