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Is Fluorescent Grow Lights Best For Plants?

When thinking about the care of your crops you have surely wondered if fluorescent grow lights are a good option for the development of your plants, the answer in part is yes. However, we know that cultivation is a process that needs several elements so that it can work in the best way.

While fluorescent lights offer very good advantages to the growth of small plants, there are other types that in terms of specific characteristics (such as efficiency, durability, quality, etc.) may be better; such is the case with LED grow lights.

Everything will depend on the benefits we are looking for. If you are looking to save electricity, fluorescent lights usually consume less energy than HID lights (which increase the risk of excess heat) and are also appropriate to encourage the flowering process of plants.

It is important to consider that not all indoor plants are enough fluorescent light, some need broad-spectrum lighting, that is, containing a variety of colors and temperature levels, since each of them works to stimulate certain periods of growth in plants. Remember that these lights intervene in processes such as their growth, the color of their leaves and parts in general, as well as in the flowering process.

Although there are a variety of lights for cultivation on the market, one of those that currently provide greater efficiency are LED lights. While fluorescent lights are widely used for cultivation, these are mostly suitable for small crops and smaller-range plants.

In the same way, throughout this article we will explain in more detail everything related to these issues, so, at the time of choosing you can make your decision evaluating their characteristics, and choose the best light that fits the needs of your crop.

Fluorescent Grow Lights: What does your type of lighting offer plants?

Let's start by reviewing everything related to fluorescent grow lights, this type of lighting works by means of fluorescent light, which is emitted through a phosphor coating. Fluorescent culture lights are made using a glass tube containing elements such as argon and mercury vapor.

In order for the fluorescent light we see through these lamps to be emitted, a combination of elements must be given. For example, at each end of the light there are electrodes, which are wrapped in alkaline earth oxide, when the gas existing in the electrodes goes through an ionization process, reflects an ultraviolet light, which in turn will be absorbed by the phosphors, and thus the fluorescent light we see is given.

Fluorescent light is ideal for treating houseplants that do not require large amounts of light, since its spectrum is manufactured to emit low levels of luminosity. This type of light is ideal for use in the vegetative phase of the plant, however it may be limited for the later phases of the crop.


To know how to incorporate this type of light into our crops we can review its advantages and disadvantages, and thus be able to evaluate when it best suits the needs of our crop and the expectations we seek to meet its use:

Positive aspects

Consume less energy

When it comes to taking care of the energy we use with our plants, fluorescent grow lights are our best option, as they are designed to consume much less energy than traditional grow lights.

In terms of percentages and making a comparison with LED type lights, it can be highlighted that fluorescent culture lights consume approximately 50% less energy.

They are more affordable

Compared to the rest of the lights available on the market, fluorescent grow lights have a great popularity due to the fact that they are much cheaper than the rest, being a less expensive type of lighting is ideal for those people who are starting in the task of growing indoors, since they will not need a large investment to apply an adequate light to their plantation.


Fluorescent grow lights generally work very well creating an optimal environment for planting, it is ideally recommended in the phase for seed grubbing, as they have the ability to mimic the environment that would be created in an outdoor greenhouse.

They are suitable for illuminating during the growth of edible type plants, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and ideal for indoor plantings and their effectiveness can be seen mostly in small plants.


One of the great advantages of fluorescent grow lights without a doubt is its great capacity of adaptability to crops, in the market we will find a wide variety of types of fluorescent lights: different tones, which adapt to what you want to enhance in your crop, you will find different types of sizes and powers.

This type of lamp can be used in different positions, which will help control which area of the plant you want to illuminate in a specific way.


One of the most common fears when starting in indoor lighting, is not knowing how to handle the lamps accurately and cause possible damage to our crop. In this sense, fluorescent grow lights are precisely the most suitable to start.

They are already quite simple to use, they do not have complicated connections, and it is not necessary to have advanced technical skills, their handling is quite friendly and similar to that of the lamps we commonly know. Considering that they are lights that emit low levels of luminosity, it decreases the risk of excess heat and damage to our crop.


Negatives aspects

Have a medium reach

Although fluorescent grow lights work ideally for the vegetation phase of our crop, they are not suitable for providing growth to all types of indoor plants because others need a wide spectrum of light to grow as they are expected to do in a natural environment.

Limited lifetime

Another of the great disadvantages of fluorescent grow lights is their useful life, compared to the other lamps available on the market, fluorescent culture lights tend to have a considerably shorter operating time than the rest, the care of them will be ideal to meet the useful stage of the product.

Increased danger of toxicity

One of the compounds of fluorescent grow lights is mercury, this enters the group of toxic metals, so the use of these lamps will increase the chances of causing poisoning to our body. When broken, the mercury particles contained in the lamp are released in the form of steam, these can be absorbed both by the human body and by the environment in general.

What plants really need

Maintaining a crop is a really simple task, as long as the basic elements that every plant needs are met, these are: water, sunlight and soil. Now, when building an indoor growing space, all these needs of the plants must be met usually with the help of artificial articles or equipment (especially from the point of view of lights).

That is why there are several types of lights on the market, which work for this type of crops:

  • Fluorescent Lights
  • LED Lights
  • HPS Lights
  • HID Lights

Each type of light has a specific function for the stages of indoor cultivation, however, in recent years it has been LED lights that have become more popular to maintain the necessary care of this form of cultivation. That is why it is necessary to detail them in greater detail.


How do LED lights work?

LED lights are one of the many types of grow lights that are used today.

They are composed of two materials that function as semiconductors: the first with a positive charge (protons) and the second with a negative charge (electrons). When these two elements collide, an energetic charge is released in the form of a photon and this procedure is what allows the energy to be released in the form of light.

Advantages of LED lights

The main advantage of using LED lights is that they provide compact spectrum light, which will benefit your crop not only in the vegetative phase (as fluorescent grow lights normally do) but their spectrum can be modified to adapt to the needs of each stage of development of your plants.

The technology with which LED lights are manufactured has evolved to the point that today this type of lighting can be built in compact and solid parts (replacing the vacuum or gas components which deteriorate quickly) that adapt to anywhere, the range of products varies and are available in several sizes that are perfectly suited to any crop in indoor format.

One of the factors why LED lights are the most requested, is their long durability, these lights are manufactured to last long periods of time, since they are quite resistant, and it is precisely this feature that makes it stand out among the grow lights available in the market.

The characteristics and needs of your plants guide your choice

As we have seen, both fluorescent grow lights and LED lights have their advantages, in this sense, the choice will basically depend on what the type of plants that are being grown needs, the size of that crop and the purposes that you want to achieve with the flowering of the plants.

Some people have indoor crops where they produce plants for personal consumption and others for sale; for example, that happens a lot with marijuana, it is a plant that can be grown only for personal consumption, but there are also crops dedicated to marketing.

In the case of the former (small crops), the use of fluorescent lights is widely recommended, as they can achieve optimal development and favorable results in their crops without having to make considerable investment in lamps.

For those people who maintain a larger crop, the use of LED lights is mostly recommended because you can take more specific care of your plants, maintaining greater control and adjust to the needs of each stage of development, thus reducing the risk of losses in terms of production.

In conclusion, the choice should be guided taking into account several aspects such as: the energy consumption of the light, the costs of the equipment and the investment budget, the efficiency of the plants, the amount of light they need, and the durability that the lamps will have in the long term.

For more information regarding the functionality of lights on plants, you can visit our blog.
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