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How to Start Growing Pot Indoors

What Do I Need to Grow Pot Indoors?

Here’s our answer about full spectrum LED grow lights and the other tools you need to start growing.  In this article, we talk a little bit about quantum boards, grow tent kits, and about PAR values. If you’re new to growing, or just want to brush up, enjoy! Also, check out our beginner’s guide to marijuana growing, which covers everything below in greater detail.  Finally, we have MaryJane Farmer’s updated reviews of LED Grow Light.

What is the best light for indoor marijuana?

Choosing the best light for your grow room depends on a few factors. You need a light powerful enough to cover the area where you grow, and that may vary depending on whether you have a dedicated space for seedlings and clones, or if your weed grows to maturity in one place.

Another factor is whether you want an all-purpose light, or if you plan to supplement it with other lamps for veg and flowering.  If you’re especially looking for low running costs or stealth growing, then LED grow lights are very much your friends.

Finally, at least with LED grow lights you don’t have to worry about replacing bulbs, dealing with ballast, or running too hot. All those things were problems with HID HPS/MH lights but they aren’t an issue with LEDs.

Let’s take a closer look at the best LED grow lights—and to help you choose the right light for your grow space we’ll make sure to include details of the coverage area. And if you want to check coverage areas at a glance, take a look at the tables in our current review article.

How to choose the best LED grow light

Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing an LED grow light to grow cannabis:

  • The area you need to cover: The first thing that you should keep in mind is the area that needs to be covered. By knowing this, you can decide how many LED lights you will need, and which type of LEDs will provide you the best coverage. In order to cover more space, more lights can be placed adjacent to each other.
  • The phases of the plant growth: If you need a full growth cycle, you can select a full-spectrum LED grow light to assist in all phases. Or many lights have switches and/or dimmers for each growing stage.
  • The angle of the LED lens: Also look for the angle of dispersion within the LED bulbs. The greater angles mean more coverage while the lesser angles mean less dispersion and more direct light.
  • Your budget: Factor in the features that are necessary for you and the amount of money you are willing to spend—both upfront and on running costs. An LED grow light can be expensive upfront but can save you money long term thanks to the much lower running costs.

What do you need for your grow room?

Some useful gadgets that will be helpful in your grow room.  We have another article about putting your grow room together that goes into more detail on product recommendations as well.

Sunglasses? Yes, we’re serious. You wear them outside, right? Protect your peepers from UV rays indoors too when you’re running a full-spectrum LED light. Remember, these lights are powerful!

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Nutrients, even plants need their vegetables and minerals. The nutrients you give them don’t just affect yield, they affect flavor. Don’t have poop-flavored pot. Choose your plants’ nutrients wisely.

Grow tent. Yes, it’s a good idea even if you’re already growing in a closet or enclosed space. It’s easier to control the climate for your weed with a tent. You can protect them from stray light sources when they are supposed to be in the dark and you protect yourself from their light when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Plus, it keeps humidity under control and smells, too.

Light meter. Maybe you think only advanced growers use them, but you can use one, too. Then when you’re advanced, you’ll already know-how.

Thermometer and hygrometer. Of course, you want to know the ambient conditions in your grow tent. We picked the most kick-ass model on the market to show you. It will last you for years.

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If you’re looking for a complete grow tent kit, including lights and everything else you’ll need to grow, we offer several ideas in MaryJane’s article on grow tents and the article on grow boxes.

If you are into customizing your grow space, you can pick up a custom grow room from Grower’s House.  How does it work? Just select how many plants you want to grow, your preferred lighting (LED, HID, or CMH), and grow style (soil, coco coir, ebb & flow hydro, or flood & drain hydro) and the site will offer you a selection of complete grow room packages ready to have shipped to you. Once assembled, all you’ll need are some seeds!

And if you just want to stop reading and cut to the chase, here is MaryJane’s suggestion for the best complete grow tent kit for beginners, which comes in multiple sizes.


What is an LED Grow Light?

Let’s start with a little intro about LED grow lights.

  • LED: that stands for “light-emitting diode”
  • Grow: it helps plants to grow best when they have been planted indoors
  • Light: it provides light energy that will mimic the way the sunlight would have affected these plants when grown outdoors

It provides various wavelengths of visible and invisible light including UV and IR rays that can directly increase the growth and hence the yield of any plant grown under these lights.

How Do LED Grow Lights Work?

How can these tiny little lights help your plants grow better when there is no sunlight?

Plants have a tendency to absorb more blue light than other colors like white or green; hence, the UV rays are best to induce vigorous plant growth, while the infrared rays are the best catalysts for germination and blooming boost.

The wavelengths can be adjusted according to the requirements of your plants in the grow room. If you have plants to grow that are in their vegetative phase, using UV rays would increase the cell division when the plants absorb the rays. Due to the increase in cell division, the plants grow quickly and result in more yield.

In case you need to treat your plant during the flowering stage, the most effective LED lights are those which provide IR, or infrared, rays. These rays are readily absorbed by the buds and apex of the plant and this causes them to bloom quickly and heavily.

We would recommend an LED grow light that has a wide range of wavelength options available so that you can adjust according to the effects that you need.

The amount of light, type of light emitted, types of plants being grown, Lumen per area, wavelength, and the height between plants and the light can all affect the growth of the plant being treated.

What Are the Benefits of Using LED Grow Lights?

Before the rise of LED grow lights, there were other similar methods in use. These include high-pressure sodium lamps and fluorescent bulbs. These methods were not at all favorable for small grow room owners who need to have a small, compact structure. These lights needed a lot of space to set all the equipment, due to the huge amount of heat being produced and the need to have a proper ventilation system to avoid heat build-up. This mess made that process out of reach for the small grow room owners.

LED lights take up a minimal amount of space, don’t contribute extra heat, don’t need their bulbs replaced, don’t have ballasts to manage, and use half the electricity to run.

  1. Compact and easy to install: These lights come in a very compact structure that is very easy to handle. You will not need any specific knowledge to get them installed. You can just have a proper place to hang them above the plants at the required distance.
  2. No need for separate ventilation set up: These lights don’t emit a lot of heat and there is no need to have a proper ventilation system. They can work without any huge ventilation set up and type of large fans.
  3. Can be installed adjacent to each other: As said earlier they have a compact design and most of them can be installed adjacent to each other in order to give more coverage.
  4. Variety and control: Their wavelengths can be adjusted easily and also the modes for vegetative and blooming phases can be chosen.

All these factors have made us great fans of these LED grow lights because they give us great results with a lot less hassle and cost.

How Many Watts Do You Need?

When it comes to LED grow lights, it’s not really about the wattage.

Firstly, wattage isn’t a measure of brightness or intensity. It’s just a measure of how much power is being drawn at the wall. Yes, if you compare two bulbs of different wattage but exactly the same technology, then the higher wattage will be the brighter bulb.

However, LEDs are much more efficient than HID lights, so an LED that draws the same power as an HID will generally be much brighter.

To complicate things further, there are various competing LED technologies.

And then there’s the matter of secondary optics to intensify brightness even further…

How do you know if your plants are getting enough light?

Well, first it depends on which strain you’re growing. Different strains have different light requirements. So we recommend that you first pick a strain, then start looking at grow lights.

Once you know how much light your chosen strain will need, compare it with the PAR and coverage charts provided by grow light manufacturers. A reputable manufacturer should give you plenty of information about what size of grow area their lights can cover and at what heights, as well as the PAR values across the whole footprint. Naturally, you’ll need a light that can supply at least as much PAR as your chosen strain needs, but for maximum yields the more PAR you can give your plants the better.

What Are PAR Values?

Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) refers to the wavelengths of light that plants can actually use to photosynthesize. The more of these wavelengths your cannabis plants are getting the better.

  • PAR is generally measured in two ways: PPF and PPFD.
  • PPF is Photosynthetic Photon Flux. Which just means how many photons of usable light are being emitted by the light. This is measured in micromoles per second (μmol/s).
  • PPFD, however, stands for Photosynthetic Flux Density. This is an even more important measure, because it specifies not just how much PAR is emitted by your grow light, but how much of that light actually falls on the plant. The numbers you’ll see are in micromoles per square meter per second (μmol/m²/s).

Some manufacturers only give you PPF, and others only give you measures from right in the center of the light’s footprint. Both tactics can allow sub-standard manufacturers to make inflated claims, by only stating their PAR values very selectively! So to be sure you’re getting what you need, always make sure to check for diagrams of PAR values across the whole footprint and at different heights.

Why choose full-spectrum LED grow lights?

The reason is simple.

Full-spectrum LED grow lights are a relatively new product on the market and many growers are not all that familiar with these new lighting systems. Most people believe the giant fluorescent lamps or HPS and Metal Halide lamps are the best grow lights to use over an indoor growing marijuana garden, but they aren’t. Full-spectrum light systems have the advantage, because:

  • They mimic real sunlight
  • Encourage high yields
  • Can increase potency and flavor
  • Cost less to run over time
  • Run cool and don’t need extra fans
  • Don’t flicker or need ballast
  • Their lamps don’t need replacing for 50,000 hours or more—that’s years of trouble-free service
  • They’re safer and more environmentally friendly

Consider updating an outdated system to a full-spectrum LED panel today.

What Are Quantum Boards?

Check out almost any thread about LED grow lights on grower’s forums or Facebook groups and sooner or later someone will usually start praising quantum boards — usually, even more highly than COBs.

I built and customized my own. It cost a fraction of other lights. The results are outstanding. I’d never go back… and so on.

Sounds great, right?

So what exactly are quantum boards? And what’s so amazing about them?

Well, a quantum board is basically clever printed circuit board technology that allows you to pack hundreds of intense, top bin LED diodes onto one board with no extra cooling needed.

That means very even coverage and deep penetration beneath the canopy.

They’re full-spectrum white lights.  Full Spectrum is like sunlight only better.

And most importantly: quantum boards are about the most efficient LED lights out there.

On the downside, you don’t get the fancy features of some more expensive lights, such as programmable spectrum, built-in timers, remote control, smartphone apps, etc.

But most growers who’ve tried them would argue that performance, efficiency, and lower costs more than makeup for that.

And they are genuinely dimmable, without losing efficiency — unlike many lights with “dimmer” switches, which rather than truly altering brightness just turn off some of the diodes.

That gives you a bit of flexibility as to how you use them. For instance, you’ve got the option of dimming the light a little instead of raising it higher above the plants.

They’re also highly customizable. So you could easily build or customize one to the size and shape of your grow room. Or experiment to your heart’s content with different diodes and layouts.

But if you’re not into DIY, not a problem!

If you want a pre-assembled light, our recommendation is this one  See above for our reasons why.


Good Karma and Good Growing from MaryJane Farmer

Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this explanation of how to find the best LED grow lights and how to set up your grow room for your plants.  Good luck and happy growing!

Send me suggestions, questions, or criticisms below in the comments.  I would love to hear from you.  And send your photos too.  MaryJane@420Beginner.com


Last update on 2023-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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