300-400W Alternative Lighting Review & Comparison Test with LED, Ceramic MH, and HPS

Video Transcript:

SpectralRadiometerHello everyone, Nate from GrowersHouse (growershouse.com) here and today we want to show off our newest test that we've just completed. The 300-400 Watt Alternative Lighting Test. Now for this test we've actually got a new piece of equipment that's called a spectroradiometer (spectrometer with optics). ==So this is a three thousand dollar light meter that not only gives intensity but also gives the intensity of every color wavelength or the entire spectrum that a light source gives off. It is much better than a lumen meter and even better than a PAR meter at telling you a whole story about what is going on with the spectrum and intensity of a grow light or any light for that matter. (The data it provides is then equated into a spectral graph) You may be familiar with these types of graphs even if you haven't heard of a spectroradiometer because on the side of some HID bulb boxes, like an high pressure sodium (HPS) or a metal halide (MH), you'll see a graph that has different colors on it and that is actually the spectroradiometer reading that the company has done and published it on that box.

So what we have done is gotten six different lights from 300 to 400 watts most of them are what we would call alternative lighting. These comprise of LED's, ceramic metal halides and as well for reference a 400 Watt HPS. The lights tested in this test were: The LumiGrow Pro 325 LED, Black Dog 360-U LED Universal series, Fero LED 10 Spot from Spain, SunSystem LEC 315 Ceramic Metal Halide, Kind LED K3 L600, and again for reference the 400 Watt HID setup with a Hortilux 400W HPS and a Quantum 400W ballast and a YieldMaster 6 inch air cooled reflector from Sunlight Supply.

In addition to taking the spectroradiometer readings which give us that graph of the light spectrum we also took a 4 x 4 footprint and put the lights 24 inches above that footprint and made the footprint also have a 3 x 3, 2 x 2, and a 1 x 1 footprint within it and a center reading. And we measured within 33 points within that 4 x 4 to get a really good understanding what the intensity is of the light over that 4 x 4 and the points within it. And we have posted those for each individual light. A few notes for everyone: We hung the lights at 24 inches but some of these lights are really recommended for a smaller space like a 3 foot by 3 foot space. But we wanted to include the 4 x 4 because some people are doing that and we just wanted to see what the intensity would be like out there. For example the Black Dog LED they recommend hanging their light at 18 inches rather than 24 inches so you might get different readings by moving the light but we needed to hang all of the lights at the same height to compare apples to apples. Although, in the future, we might do a different style of testing with lights that are recommended for a certain size area such as a 3 x 3 and then test them as the manufacturer tells us the recommended heights for different coverage.

Along with that we also hooked up each light to a Kill-A-Watt Meter so we can read the wattage, amperage, voltage and hertz. This is coming from straight out of the wall because it is often a little bit different than what companies overtly state. We also with this information made our own ratio, we are calling the PAR/Watt Ratio, really what the Par/Watt ration is the sum of what the PAR was given with that 4 x 4 footprint divided by the watts the light is pulling from the wall. With that ratio you can see relatively how efficient a light can be. But again that doesn't tell the whole story that is just there as another way to digest this information.

Going over some quick analysis of this information, it looks like these lights are really good for different things. What we noticed was that the Black Dog LED had not so much intensity in the center were we have the graph average of PAR over 1 x 1 perimeter but it had really high PAR for the outer edges so what we noticed was it means that it was a little bit more consistent than some of the other lights.

You might see the Kind LED is the new LED to the market, and it was very intense over the center performed very well with the wattage it was putting out but didn't have quite the consistency of the coverage area. You'll see the 400W HPS with the way its reflector is made has a pretty good and consistent coverage area. And Then the Ceramic Metal Halide light also performs pretty well having the highest intensity with a fairly consistent coverage area (comes with a 3100k Ceramic MH bulb [flowering growth], but a 4200k Ceramic MH bulb is also available [vegetative growth]. Another note is, it looks like we took the average of all the PAR over the 4 x 4 footprint and that can just give you a basis of really just how much intensity that is putting out over that 4 x 4 area.

Other than that we really wanted to make this information available so that you can purchase the best light for needs because we realize if you are going in a 2 x 2 versus a 4 x 4 you might purchase a different light after getting this information. We think this can give a better, more informed decision for getting a new light for your setup. Also there is much more that can be done with this information we just put it in a few different ways that can make it easy to interpolate what going on but we also included the raw data in a spreadsheet that you can download and you can use this information any which way, post it online make more graphs for other people that you think may be relevant or maybe show the story of the graphs and the spectrum in a different way.

If there is anything else you guys would like to see us test please write us at staff @growershouse.com or give us a call. We could even include other lights on this test as an addendum. This is Nate from Growers House, have a good one.

300-400W Alternative Lighting Test Results PDF

300-400W Alternative Lighting Test Results PDF

Alternative Lighting Test: PAR Data Excel File

Alternative Lighting Test: Spectral Data Excel File

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7 thoughts on “300-400W Alternative Lighting Review & Comparison Test with LED, Ceramic MH, and HPS”

  • Roy

    Yo Growershouse Staff:

    Thanks for another very informative test. I couldn't agree with Nigel more ... I know you all earned my business being straight up. Yo Nate if you have a shot to include the California Light Works 400w I may be just forced to add it to my collection =P
    The California Light Works 200w's are badass.

    Reply
  • yosef

    Nice ! Now how about a phone number for your contact info !

    Reply
  • Dustin

    I have also enjoyed the experiments from growers house. One caveat though:

    Par readings have been taken on the Lumigrow Pro 325 in the past at 24", and if we compare the results from the past test test to the present one, I notice that the readings are off by as much as 50 par in the center. This just makes me wonder about the consistency of the readings, and reinforces in my mind the fact that the only way to definitively decide which led to go with is to experiment yourself.

    I also recall a experiment on Lumigrows youtube channel where they test the pro 325 to a 600 hps, and the pro 325 exceeds the hps in par. Not so according to the present study.

    So who knows when no one gets the same results consistently?

    It really comes down to the
    5 year warranty with lumigrow vs. 3 year with kind, and long term repair cost of each. The extra 2 years security with lumigrow plus great customer service probably makes up for it's (according to this study) little less performance vis a vis the kind led.

    Reply
  • Drek

    The CMH killed the other lights....big time!

    Reply
  • Nuecoyote

    This is good work I wish all lights had this data available. So that's what I would request that you keep on going with other lights. I think there are lights for different purposes and this help identify them clearly without relying on manufacturers claims.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • BarleySinger

    Compare results of CMH to BlackDog Phytomax, using lights for the same footprint, and measuring PAR at the recomended distance from the plants for each fixture, because that is more realistic. Include energy consumption & heat output.

    Reply
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