With indoor gardening, both hydroponics and soil culture, lighting is by far one of the biggest considerations you need to make with your grow. Your choice of lighting you is going to be directly related to your final yield, ability to induce or inhibit flowering, and the overall health of your plants.

This can feel like a big decision to make, and although important, it isn’t rocket science. Knowing just a few key elements will help you to make the best choice for your indoor garden.

Here are the steps you need to take when deciding the lighting for your indoor gardening project…

How to choose lighting

1. Assess The Size Of Your Growing Area

The reason this is the very first step, is because this is the main limiting factor of a light's efficiency. The major difference between a 1000 watt HID light, and a 60 watt CFL is the amount of coverage it will provide. Both can be found in very similar spectrum's, but neither will provide the same coverage.

If all you have is 1 small pant, a 100 watt CFL will be a great choice. The 1000 watt HID, though far more powerful, will be overkill for this particular project. Larger growing areas like a room, may even need multiple lights.

Different lights will provide different coverage. Each manufacturer will often provide their own recommendations, but there are some general recommendations for different lighting options:

Surface Area

HID Lighting




250 watts

130 watts

220 watts


400 watts

300-600 watts

270 watts

1 meter2

600 watts

1000 watts

320 watts

1.5 meters2

1000 watts

Not recommended

630 watts


2. Consider Your Crop Choice

Different crops will demand different lighting as well. Low-light plants like most orchids or ferns will do better with less intense lighting. Most herbs, succulents, and vegetables on the other hand will do far better with a more intense form of light like an HID bulb.

The spectrum is another important consideration because this will have a direct impact on how the plant responds to its environment. Plants don’t have a central nervous system, and therefore need to react according to the environment, including the spectrum of light given.

In the early morning, and throughout the summer, the sun is high in the atmosphere, which results in a blue spectrum of light. As the day progresses, and as the earth tilts away from the sun in the fall, the angle of the sun on the earth's atmosphere changes. With this tilt, the atmospheric gases scatter high energy light waves more effectively which is the blue spectrum of light. The slower, more penetrating waves of red light manage to make their way to the earth's surface. This is visible as a redder light spectrum to both humans and plants. This is how plants know what time of the year it is.

Knowing this, we can choose our lighting to either take advantage of this, or avoid the changes that comes with autumn or fall. For most seasonal plants, this autumn simulating red spectrum of light (found in red LEDs, and HPS lighting), can cause the plants to produce flowers and grow taller. If we are growing tomatoes or a flowering crop, this is something we want, but only when we are ready and after we have allowed the plant to grow to a suitable height first.

Red versus blue spectrum of light


3. Consider Your Budget

This is one of the most important considerations to make because grow light pricing is so variable. CFL lights are among the cheapest, and have a long working life. The problem is that for larger grows with more coverage needed (see step 1), you will need many CFL lights to do the job properly. CFLs, are also not the best source of red spectrum lighting, so crops that need the red spectrum to initiate flowering (see step 2), you will need to keep another type of lighting on hand to switch to when you want to go into flowering stages of growth. CFL’s are one of the best options for growers on a tight budget, or for people who are just starting out and not looking to invest thousands of dollars to get started with hydroponics.

CFL Light

HID is the middle option, and is by far the most popular choice. An HID bulb will cost anywhere between £20 and £60. The ballasts used to control the lighting, along with any additional reflectors can range from £100-600 on top of the price for the bulb. For most, this is the price range that is the most attractive. The bulbs in this range will provide more than enough power for your plants, and will produce great results for most people. This is the standard lighting option for both novice and experienced growers alike.

LEDs are the other main choice, and are by far the most expensive initially. Long term, LED lighting will actually save you thousands of pounds, but do require a hefty investment in the early stages. An LED will cost roughly 3 times the price of a HID bulb of the same lumens, but will save thousands in the long run on energy savings and run times. HID bulbs need to be replaced in the very least, every 12 months, but for serious growers this is about every 6 months. LEDs on the other hand will only lose about 25% of their overall efficiency after 25 years of regular use. They use about 33% less energy, and do not require nearly the same level of airflow to keep cool, cutting the costs of ventilation and temperature control as well.

Led Light

4. Checking Availability Of Lighting Choices

This is the final step when deciding on the lighting for your project. Depending on your local area and availability, you may be able to visit a hydroponic store directly, cutting the cost of shipping out of the picture. For those who are not living near to a hydroponic supply shop, online is the best way to go about purchasing their lighting.

In the UK, it’s easy to find online sources of hydroponic gear, like at The Hydroponic Store. We sell all of the discussed lighting options in a variety of styles, spectrum's, and power ratings. We will ship anywhere in the UK, and only a £5 delivery charge on all items up to 50 kg.

The weights of lighting vary, but the heaviest is the HID. This will ultimately affect the shipping. Depending on how much you order, HID lighting can quickly become a hefty item to ship. CFLs, and LEDs on the other hand are very lightweight, and are thus much cheaper to ship all over the world.

Outside of the UK, shipping rates, and product availability will vary greatly. In some cases, it may actually be cheaper to order an LED and have it shipped to your door than buying the cheaper (but far heavier) HID lighting and pay an arm and a leg for shipping. Consider your local area and what the availability of the different lighting options are.

Indoor garden

Choosing the right lighting for your project will depend on your grow space, crop choice, budget, and the availability of these products in your area. After considering all of these variables, it becomes much easier to make the right choice for your individual grow project.

Check out our lighting options on the website, or feel free to stop in to any of our stores to have a look in person. Our knowledgeable staff are standing by and ready to answer any and all of your lighting questions.