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CFL vs LED Grow Light

One of the most vital areas of maintaining houseplants is light. Which type of plant growth light to use depends on the available light in your space and the plants you’d like to grow.

There are two different kinds of lighting systems, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. While neither option is necessarily negative, we recommend doing some research before making a purchase.

Both CFL and LED lights have advantages and disadvantages, and the lights that are best for you are determined by several factors, such as budget, room size, goals, etc.

CFL vs LED: Comparison

CFL is ideal for tiny areas, limited finances, and for getting your plants off to a good start. But it is inferior to LED in terms of performance. LED creates significantly less heat but at a higher cost.

Let’s see how CFL and LED grow lights differ in different areas:


LED grow lights easily outperform the finest fluorescent grow lights in terms of energy efficiency. It’s more vital to compare the light levels provided to plants than the electrical watts when evaluating lighting efficiency.

In terms of micromoles of photons per Joule of energy, a 300-watt LED bulb is equivalent to a 600-watt T5 fluorescent grow tube. Which saves nearly half the light energy while giving the same level of light.


LED grow lights are substantially more expensive to acquire than fluorescent grow lights. LED lights to consume half the energy that fluorescent lamps do to provide the same amount of light while lasting up to eight times longer.

As a result, the long-term cost of LEDs is lower than the cost of acquiring and operating fluorescent grow lights for hydroponic farming.

Color Temperature and PAR

Color temperature provides an understanding of the light spectrum in terms of cold colors and warm colors. Photosynthetically active radiation, or PAR, refers to the spectrum of useful light energy that most plants require for photosynthesis.

Hydroponics fans tend to obsess over the finer points of light energy and how it affects plant development. However, fluorescent bulbs that provide a variety of mild, warm, and full-spectrum lights are now available.

LED technology enables growers to create a wide range of precise outputs, from broad-spectrum white light that resembles sunshine to light that can be used for finely specified reasons like stimulating basil plants to produce a greater taste.

Heat Production

Even though LED grow lighting emits almost no heat and fluorescent grow lights run cool, we recommend considering the heat generated by fluorescent lighting to some extent, particularly with high-output T5 fluorescent lighting.


Again, LED grow lights outperform fluorescent grow lights, with LEDs having a useable lifespan of roughly 50000 hours vs about 8000 hours for CFLs and 10000 to 20000 hours for T5 fluorescents.

Compact Fluorescent Light

Compact Fluorescent Lights, commonly known as CFL, is a popular choice among many growers. These lights are ideal for seeds and propagating clones.

CFLs’ low initial cost outlay provides for a low-risk, toe-dipping into indoor gardening for growers with limited room and finances. They are available in both regular spiral and T5 tube bulbs.


CFL lights are inexpensive and easily accessible which makes them an excellent beginning point for aspiring growers on a small budget.

Even though they generate more heat than LEDs, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to spend more money on extractor fans to keep your grow room cool. CFLs are not as energy efficient as LEDs, but they still use very little energy.


Another benefit of CFLs is that they allow you to have a very simple compact set-up in a small space, allowing you to experiment with different ways without spending too much money.

They offer the distinct benefit of allowing you to get near to your plants without burning them, making them ideal for ‘closet’ setups. CFLs are ideal for seed germination, rooted clones, and tiny vegetative plants because of their low heat intensity.


CFL lights have a severe drawback as they produce substantially less power than LED lights. It results in a slower overall growth rate and less-than-ideal yield. More lights and more power will very certainly be required.

There will also be the cost of setting up an efficient mechanism for raising and lowering them.


In general, fluorescent grow lights are less costly than other types of grow lights.

They provide an excellent light spectrum for developing plants and are a wonderful alternative for clones, seedlings, and young plants in the early phases of growth.

They can be maintained closer to the plants, making them an excellent choice for compact indoor grow areas. T5 grow lights have the benefit of emitting light that can cover a big area.


The fluorescent light is not powerful enough to penetrate deep into the plant because of the poor yield per watt.

The fact that they are not as effective during the vegetative and blooming stages of plant growth is another downside of fluorescent grow lights. They’re best for plants that are short and flat.

Light Emitting Diode Light

Light Emitting Diode, or LED, is a type of semiconductor that emits light. These lights are well-known for their high efficiency and low heat output. Previously indoor growers couldn’t use LEDs as they weren’t strong enough.

LED lights have now been tailored particularly for indoor grow uses, thanks to better technology, and their popularity among growers has increased. They’ve grown in popularity for providing unique advantages over CFLs.


LED lights are far more expensive than CFL lights, which is why many growers are unwilling to use them.

Even though the arithmetic demonstrates that LEDs would save you money over CFLs in the long run, growers on a budget are typically turned off by the upfront expense.


LED lights are considerably more energy-efficient than CFL lights in terms of transforming energy utilization into usable light for your precious plants. As a result, your yields will be much higher for the same amount of power used as CFLs.

This is beneficial to both your wallet and the environment. Your grow lights may run for up to 12 hours a day, so the less electricity they use, the less money you’ll spend on your utility bill.

Temperature and Light Spectrum

LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours or more since they run at a lower temperature and employ small “diodes” instead of traditional globes or tubes. Which makes them significantly superior to CFLs in terms of endurance.

It also eliminates the need for additional grow room cooling via extractor fans, as well as the risk of ‘burning’ plants and the risk of fire.

Plants require a wide range of light spectrums, including red, blue, infrared, and violet to thrive. A full spectrum LED lives true to its name by simulating sunlight and supplying the light spectrums required for optimum plant development.


LED Grow Lights have a longer lifespan since their light-emitting diodes are more efficient while using less energy. They generate the same amount of light as traditional grow lights while using fewer watts.

One advantage of LED grow light is that it produces significantly less heat than traditional grow lighting technologies. This is critical for plant development. LED grow lights meet the growing demands of plants with their better light efficiency and reduced heat.

LEDs are very simple to manage, and many of them are waterproof, dustproof, and recyclable. Lastly, they are simple to install as they come in an all-in-one package.


The upfront costs of LED grow lights are one of the most significant disadvantages. In comparison to other lights, these are rather expensive.

Another downside of LEDs is the purple light that they emanate which hides certain damage. Insect control can become more difficult since the light conceals pest damage.

LED grow lights are also rather hefty as they come with a heat sink.

Final Verdict

So, which grow lights are the most effective? The answer depends on what you require and anticipate from them.

Other factors to consider include the size of your growing room, whether or not the growth will be long-term, and how complicated the growth will be.

Overall, LED lights are the preferable choice, as they provide quicker growth rates, larger yields, and lower energy use. CFLs, on the other hand, have a place in the market and should be considered if you’re on a budget and just getting started in the growing sector.


Q. What are the finest CFL bulbs for growing?

A: 5000K and 6500K bulbs are best when plants are forming roots and stems.

Q. Is it possible to combine CFLs with LEDs?

A: Yes, and there are benefits to combining them. A combination is faster than using simply CFLs.

Q. How long should a plant be exposed to a grow light?

A: Grow lights must be on for at least 8-10 hours every day to be effective.

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