What is the Difference Between a Grow Light and a Regular Light?


LED grow lights are becoming popular in the growing world but still, there are a lot of questions about how much more effective LEDs are than other types of light. So we wanted to outline some differences between LEDs and regular lights. In comparison to incandescent bulbs or even household LED-style lights you might use to illuminate a room, LED grow lights are far more powerful, far brighter, and designed specifically to encourage plant growth. Let’s break it down.

Regular lights are created to provide light in a dark space. They are composed of narrow spectral wavelengths and normally there is no proper spectrum of light to engage photosynthesis. That said, incandescent bulbs can actually be used to grow seedlings but once you start to get larger plants the bulbs simply do not produce enough wattage/energy for the plants to do photosynthesis.

Difference Between a Grow Light and a Regular Light

What Are Grow Lights?

Grow lights are lights that specialize in producing lighting in the 400nm—700nm light range while producing a high wattage—wattage is the energy that plants can use to convert amino acids into sucrose and other important compounds they use to grow.

Because plants use the visible light spectrum to grow and the amount of wattage is the amount of available energy, why does a regular incandescent bulb or LED bulb not work for growing plants? Simply, the spectrum is not optimized for growth, and the wattage is not powerful enough. You wouldn’t want a high-wattage bulb for your light source anyways! It’s just far too bright.

There are a couple more things that affect your plant’s growth. I want to outline some elements that will affect the growth and health of your plants—check these out. the difference between a grow light and a regular light.

Heat Emission

Wattage translates directly to usable energy for a plant. The amount of available wattage is the amount of available energy for the plant to utilize. Yet, lights are not 100% efficient—they leak heat. The heat that emanates from a lamp is produced by the process of converting the electrical current into visible light and this heat is basically waste but obviously, it has an impact on your plants. Because LEDs and HID and other grow lights produce a lot of wattages, they also produce a lot of heat, much more heat than a light bulb.

If you compare the heat from a light bulb and a grow light obviously you’ll see what I mean. This is all to say that LEDs and other grow lights are more expensive to run than an incandescent bulb, but the result is that you’re able to grow plants much faster. Additionally, heat is something you’ll want to watch for when placing your light near your plants since heat can damage them.

Power Intensity

Grow lights will generate more power than regular household light bulbs. The more intense grow lights are, the more energy they will emit—the high intensity of a grow light will increase the rate of photosynthesis. Different grow lights have different energy levels and there are a lot of brands out in the market so just make sure you choose the one fits your needs—you can check out our other blogs for some information about choosing the right wattage for your tent.

Light Spectrum

Household light bulbs are not designed to produce a spectrum of light that is specialized enough for plant growth. While it does produce the visible spectrum, which plants use to grow, the emphasis of that spectrum is not along the lines of what’s actually useful for a plant’s full development. Grow lights on the other hand produce an extreme amount of red and blue light, which plants utilize most during their growth.

Energy Efficiency

Obviously, we’ve produced household bulbs to be extremely energy efficient since billions of people across the world use them. However, to make the plants grow, grow lights consume a lot of energy because they are designed to emit a certain wavelength with a certain wattage, so clearly they’re less efficient than household bulbs. This is the drawback of growing indoors: you need to use a lot of energy to grow a plant. If you’re concerned about that, but still want to grow indoors, LEDs are much more efficient than HID bulbs, so you may want to consider that when deciding which kind of light you will use.


Household light bulbs are cheap—they only require equipment that has been available for over 100 years so manufacturing prices are really low. LED grow lights, on the other hand, have a different price level because LED grow lights (or HID grow lights) require a specialized manufacturing process that can only be done in specific situations and with specific equipment, plus the components are much more costly. That is just the reality if you want to have a productive grow.


Incandescent bulbs are short-lived. We all have changed a light bulb in our lives, probably more often than we plan to do. LED household lights last a lot longer and are a lot brighter but they don’t necessarily have a longer lifespan than grow lights. LED grow lights last around 50,000 hours but their luminosity, just like HID lights, can start to wane after a certain period. While the light technically still works, the luminosity lessens after around 40,000 hours of use. This is improving, though, as we are refining our diodes.

Difference Between a Grow Light and a Regular Light

Sum up

I know growing can be tough but if we start thinking like a grower and scientists and move away from normal household bulbs towards equipment that is actually capable of handling a growing plant grows will be a lot more successful. Growing cannabis is a surprising amount of reading so don’t get discouraged, just keep researching! If you have any questions about how to set up your lights, feel free to contact us any time, we’ll be happy to help! Just follow our Instagram, and share your thoughts with us in a direct message!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

And be sure to check out our other blog posts for useful tips on becoming a great grower!

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