LED vs HPS cost differential


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I have looked at and trialed LED lights for 9 months and I haven't been able to justify the 2x price differential or the power savings. Has anyone else crunched numbers? Can you help solve the riddle?

Here is the context:

Bulb, ballast, hood, ducting, electrical parts costs, etc. are ~$1000
7,000 watts gives me 168 ounces on average per harvest
It costs $1100 per month in electricity to run the entire room (lights, HVAC, ventilation) on average

The lights we have had sent to trial them in the lab are lower watts (that's a given) at $2,000 each. The bud output was 1/2 of what we got with HPS starting in veg. We worked to get the height dialed in and optimize things. So the lights themselves are 2x the price and gave us half the bud output. So the math doesn't work.

The counter point is always 'you'll save money on your power bill' but if the lights cost twice as much and give me half as much per harvest it's 4x the cost with everything being equal to get to the same production. It will take 7+ years to break even on switching the lights out on the alleged power cost savings, and I would have to have 4x the growing area (and that many more lights) to make up the difference.

Has anyone doubled yield switching from HPS to LED to offset the price difference?

The grow area is 280 square feet, the average is 24 ounces/light if that helps your calculations.

Solving this riddle would be epic. Thanks in advance for the help.
I have been having the same thought as well, if your using a 1000 watt hps, that alone cost $36/month. An equivalent led would be at least a 600 watt which would be $21.6/month(based on $.10 per KW), but "the savings on fans and AC"? Well, you will still need a fan and filter for the smell, which most hook that up at to run through the lights anyways. I have a 2x4 tent in a basement with a mars hydro 140 watt and it's still 81 F. It's hard to justify the start up cost of a good LED. Also you add the cost of bulbs every 6-12 months at some at $100-150. LED you have to have an extra whole light for when something goes wrong, with HPS it's going to be 1 piece to replace (lot cheaper and can get it a lot faster than waiting on slow ass customer service to repair the light). Maybe if you are just starting out and haven't already bought the HID set up, it might be better to go with LED, but who that is just starting out wants to spend that much $ for something that might question if they can grow ?
I've been keeping on top of developments, and I think the best lighting source - highest value - is currently the double ended HPS. I haven't run the numbers lately, but I believe the efficiency is comparable to LEDs, and the cost is far lower. I've used a 600 watt HPS, and a variety of LED panels, and my next improvement will be white COBs for their efficiency and spectrum.

But I'm a hobby grower, with a 4x4 bloom room. :cheesygrinsmiley: For my purposes, one big hot lamp in the middle of the space doesn't get me much spread. I'd rather have the light distributed across the sky in such a small room, and small HPS are terribly inefficient. LEDs and COBs serve that purpose, and even at 2-3 times the cost of HPS, as a hobby grower I can justify it.

If I had a larger space and/or was growing commercially, I'd definitely go with the double ended HPS - it's a nobrainer . :thumb:

Having said that, there are small improvements in bud shape and density under LED spectra, but usually yield is smaller. So it's hobby boutique quality vs business realities. If all your customers are rich pot snobs, then LED might be worth it. :laugh:
For my purposes, one big hot lamp in the middle of the space doesn't get me much spread.

How about two?


small HPS are terribly inefficient.

What do you consider to be "small HPS"? You've got a 4x4 growroom, anything below 600W in that space I consider inadequate.

Is 150W small? Well, 150W HID leaves its LED counterpart in the dust, as demonstrated above. If that's terribly inefficient, then the other one is not even worth mentioning :)

but usually yield is smaller.

All things being equal, yield is always smaller under LED's.

No two ways about it.

That's all I have to say about it :)
At one time I considered running a 600 watt HPS and a 400 watt CMH in a double tube like that - I still have 'em - just need the tube. :thumb:
You mean like this?


On the left - MH, on the right - HPS, both 400W. I was rotating bulbs every week in order to expose the plants evenly to both spectrums. But I had two cool tubes so changing the bulbs was a 10-minute affair.

With this one (dual cool tube), it would take me over an hour for the same job so I've decided to go dual-spectrum.

There's nothing like mixing both spectrums :)
I spent around, well let's just say too much to convert from HPS to LED. At first, when it was cooler outside I was getting stellar results. Now that it's the arm pit of summer and no way to directly exhaust the heat generated from the LED's, I wish I would have gone with some ACDE reflectors. I don't run AC, only active and passive air moving and extraction. Still, at this point I too am disappointed with LEDs.

Added: Wish I had that room there of yours. :thumb:
This is the setup -

The LED lights we have tried just don't compete so far.

The hunt continues I guess.

Nice reflectors! :thumb: I had my eye on one of those for my 400 watt CMH.

You could replace a 1000 watt HPS with 700 watts of Cree COBs and get comparable lumens/ppfd. COB panels are very easy to build yourself, but even then, the cost will be close to $1.50/watt compared to ... 50 cents for the HPS+reflectors+venting? COBs would be $1200-$1500 ... HPS rig ... $500-$600?

The math still doesn't work in 2016, even with 50,000 hours longevity and no bulb replacement cost. Maybe in a few more years ...
I think that the OP is a great post!

I've run the dual HID (CMH and HPS) on my very first few grows too....

Grow 1: 1000w HID (400w CMH + 600w HPS) Total yield 574g or .57 grams/watt

I've run about 12 grows since then with LED and I have not yet gotten the total yield that I got with HID... the closest I got was with approx 750w of LED vs 1000w+ of HID.. and the difference in yield was about 100g saving me only 250w of energy over HID, but yielding 100g less.... now to be fair, the HID grows were scrogs, and the LED grows most were not (only 1 was with economy LEDs and the yield was horrible) To be fair though, the grows all had mostly different strains, nutrients were slightly changed between grows, and I removed the scrog when I went LED, therefore the total yield numbers were not just a factor of light, but many things... but the trend over time is still showing that LED has not yielded as high as HID, but the grams per watt went up...


Grow 10: 750W LED (3x Advanced LED XTE300, 247w draw each, Total yield 475.1g or .63G/Watt

I have been tracking the final harvest weight, total wattage used and gram per watt of all my grows and here is the data. Now keep in mind, this is not a controlled comaparison where plant genetics, nutirents, grow style and other variable have changed so comparison grow to grow is not accurate, however it does show a trend with LED and HID as with higher wattage grows in LED, the gram per watt goes down, yeild goes up, and the lower the wattage LED, the higher the gram per watt but lower the yield, and I still haven't beaten my HID grows in terms of yeild, but also have scrogged and used 1000w of HID either..

Here are my total weights for all of my grows and G/w
Grow 1: 1000w HID (400w CMH + 600w HPS) Total yield 574g or .57 grams/watt
Grow 2: 1000w HID (400w CMH + 600w HPS) Total yield 547g or .55 grams/watt
Grow 3: 1000w HID (400w CMH + 600w HPS) No Yield Data (Powder Mildew took over)
Grow 4: 1000w HID (400w CMH + 600w HPS) Total yield 325g or .33 grams/watt
Grow 5: 580w (400w CMH + Mars II 400w) Total yield 245g or .42 grams/watt
Grow 6: 540w LED (3x Mars II 400/180w models) Total yield 308g or .57 grams/watt
Grow 7:>300w LED (2x Intelligent Gro, GEN1, 180w each on dimmer) Total yield 191g or .63 grams/watt
Grow 8: 540W LED (3x Intelligent Gro, GEN2, 180w draw each) Total yield 367g or .70 grams/watt
Grow 9: 494W LED (2x Advanced LED XTE300, 247w draw each), Total yield 391.4g or .79grams/watt
Grow 10: 750W LED (3x Advanced LED XTE300, 247w draw each, Total yield 475.1g or .63G/Watt
Grow 11 (2x Advanced LED first 30 days of flowering (247w each), 2x Budmaster COB-x-4 at 400w total) Total yield 327.7g or .81g/watt @ 400w, .65g/watt @500w)
Grow 12: 340W (2x Budmaster GOD-4, 170w draw each), Total yield 228g or .67 Grams/watt.
Grow 13 400w (2x Budmaster COB X 4, 200w each) Total yield 204.6g or .51 grams/watt

I have seen a few examples online of side by sides and the best I have seen is 650w of LED vs 1000w of HID, and the yield was only 20g difference.

At max I think that maybe a 10-20% reduction of electricity use is possible but it is very situational as well. For most home growers, the best bang for the buck is still HID lighting. With that being said I have noticed that my LED grow buds are better flavored and seem to pack on more trichomes, and I have seen similar comparisons in actual test results where LED does increase terpene content on lab test comparisons and increase thc by about 3% in some tests I have come across. So for the cash cropper, HID still I think in most situations takes the cake for cost vs yield, but for the connoisseur grower, I do believe LED has the edge producing a slightly better quality final product. Now is saving 10-20% electric worth it in cost... well i would take quite a while for a positive ROI with LED considering this plus bulb replacements but if you are not as concerned with yield and more for quality, I think LED has a slight edge.

Now one thing that LED does have over HID, is the ability to customize LED to the grow area... lets consider a large warehouse grow... lets say 20,000sq foot... with 15' ceilings.... with HID, you would only be able to do a 1 level grow in this square footage as the HID bulbs usually need about 3-4' or more of vertical height above the canopy.... If you were to do a vertical stacked grow with LED, you could actually do a 3 tier vertical grow in racks in that same warehouse, multiplying your canopy space by 3 fold and yield as well. HID would NOT work in this type of grow, and this is where LED would take the cake as it would allow for maximum canopy for the space.

So a 1 tier setup in this area would be about 625 4'x8' trays wall to wall, where as a 3 tier vertical grow would be 1875 4'x8' trays (not including the space for rows between)... I think on average for a 4'x8' the expected yield is somewhere around 3-5lbs on a commercial grow. In this situation, the HID grow per cycle would yield 1875-3125lbs per harvest approx, where as the same room with a 3 tier system using LED would yield around 5625-9375lbs per harvest... now for the HID grow you would be looking at using at least 2000w per tray or a total of 1.25million watts per warehouse, where as the LED would be approx 600w per 4x8 tray, totaling 1.125 million watts... so not only in this example would LED kick HID ass in power savings, maintenance and bulb replacement, but you would be getting tripple the yield per cycle with a vertical rack system and LED. (these figures are based on a real time example that I am a part of, estimated somewhat for the sake of not revealing the company IP or details, but rounded closely for example purposes). So this is just an example of how the flexibility of LED can allow for it to blow HID out of the water, but this is limited to a situation very similar to described, and not usual in most home growers or small commercial grow applications, nor with most of the LED's available on the market not designed for this purpose or use... Ive only seen 2 brands that actually design lights that would work with this vertical rack style grow.

I think in most cases, and especially home growers or small commercial grows, that HID still is the king of yield, so if profit and yield is the drive then in most cases I think HID still is the way to go, however in my personal opinion, I think if quality of harvest is the main factor then despite cost, LED I think may be the better option.

Other considerable mentions:

If you had a large scale commercial grow using 100's of HID lights... cost would be saved with HID in not only bulb replacement, but also the 1x per year labor of replacing hundreds of bulbs... not a huge cost difference but also a mentionable, as with LED they don't have to be replaced for at least 50,000 hours or more... where as HID loses 20% of the light ouput within the first 5,000 hours and should be replaced each year for maximum efficiency.

With HID, personally I always had a fear of fires from the hot ballasts, so LED definitely felt "safer" to me when leaving home for vacations and having my grow unattended.

LED offers more flexibility in light design and uses... where LED can be mounted intracanopy, vertical, horizontal, customized for square footage of the panel vs grow area and such, where HID you are pretty much limited to having additional vertical height over the canopy.

LED does offer more spectrum options to grow your plants with morphology in mind, where as its easier to develop a spectrum to increase stretch, or limit stretch, or increase branching/decrease branching...etc with LED as with HPS and CMH you are pretty much limited to the spectrum within the technology. Now do we as a whole horticulture community really understand how to do this at this current time, not so much, but we are getting there.

I think the LED vs HID is still very debatible, and in most cases for small time home grows and small commercial setups, HID is still the most affordable route at this current time as I haven't yet seen the "HID killer" light on the market yet. I've had some grows were it was really close, and I have noticed an upward trend of Grams/watt with LED vs HID, however the yield has also been on a slightly downward trend in the same grows with LED... so really its still a numbers game based on situation, and I think for yield the industry is almost there, but in most situations HID still rules for yield... not in all scenarios, but in most.

One other thing I wanted to mention, is I have noticed that some of the skewed LED grows that I have seen reported, the LED lights were not used correctly as the growers were still in the HID mindset and not using LED to the full potential, and also many skewed grows were not properly illuminated with LED as the growers were going of incorrect coverage area data without measuring PPFD, so with that being said, there is not much good comparison data to go off that I have come across.

I am currently part of a 10 tray test grow featuring 7 versions of LED prototypes and 1 1000w HPS DE so in a couple months I will have comparible data, as this is in a extremely controlled environment with the only variable changing per tray is the light... so in a couple months I will have data, where LED is designed custom for the grow, maximizing its potential.

Great topic OP!!! I love the conversation and posts here :) I'm still waiting for that HID killer LED too :)
This is the setup -

The LED lights we have tried just don't compete so far.

The hunt continues I guess.

My suggestion would be to utilize that space better, build a 2 tier rack system on one wall of the room lining the wall, you would have to grow slightly smaller plants, but this would cut your cycle time... but also would maximize your canopy area in that room about 2 fold. Then I think you would see the benefits of LED, but you would have to go with a light that is designed for a vertical grow system. A light with hundreds of 1/2w or 1w leds spread evenly over a large surface area, without lenses....

With HPS you lose a lot of room space between your canopy top and the lights... by spreading LED over a large surface area, it will create just as much PPFD, probably a better PPF/Joule efficiency and double your yield out of the space you have :)

Something like this... excuse my microsoft paint drawing..but I think it gets the idea across... the bottom level would be floor level, the 2nd tier about 3-4' off the ground leaving about 3-4 feet each tier for plants, with growdan cubes you could grow about 3' plants, and double your plant count and yield in a tier system..

Icemud, we tried racking, however the issue still remains that its 2x the number of lights and therefore double the cost on top of the double cost difference. That puts things at WAY too expensive.

We have spoken seriously to 3 light manufacturers about building a 'ceiling of white' to use with a sea of green approach and still the cost is too high for less yield. The box is in an uninsulated barn in a hayfield in Maine and the power use for the entire operation is 3,315 KwH per month. It's very very efficient in hot and humid and bone chilling cold which kills the LED efficiency argument too when we factor in cost and yield.

The other variable, per State Statute, is number of plants. In Maine it's 6 plants per patient so it's all about yield per plant. Each Grow House serves 3 patients with the sativas grown so at $60k for the box, ~$1100/month for power, we more than broke even the first year.

I think it's clear that LED's need to bring the cost down tow work, at least in this application.

I am loving the discussion! Crowd sourcing data is pretty damn effective...
I grow 8800 Feet above sea level so yea LED didn't work out for me with young plants.

Plus you have to be an electronic engineer to do any work on your own consumer-grade china based LED product when they fail prematurely.

I've seen good LEDs, but for the hobbyist it is a silly investment.

And I will be arming my own quad CXA2540 cree leds when they arrive in the mail (352W max power)

That is for 12/12

LED vs. HPS cost differential

I grow 8800 Feet above sea level so yea LED didn't work out for me with young plants.

Plus you have to be an electronic engineer to do any work on your own consumer-grade china based LED product when they fail prematurely.


Does living at altitude really affect LED's? I'm at 9200 feet...

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