Can I Grow with CFL Grow Lights?


Can I Grow With CFL Grow Lights?

We often get the question, "Can I grow with CFL Grow Lights?". Simple answer - Yes, complicated answer - it depends on what you're growing and what you are trying to achieve. 

Everyone that is getting started growing indoors wants to grow in the cheapest and most simplest possible way. We can't blame them, nobody wants to buy more than they need and waste their hard earned money. Whenever we're asked this question we ask, what are you growing? We ask this because our recommendation really can depend on what you're growing.


Uses for CFL Grow Lights

CFL Grow lights are great for many things. Whenever we start seeds or cuttings we almost always start them under CFLs. In fact, our go-to for starting a tray of seeds or cuttings is a 125w CFL. The 125w works great at keeping seedlings from becoming leggy and can cover more than one tray directly under it too. 

CFL grow lights can work great for vegging your plants from seedling to to full veg as well. CFLs are awesome at growing greens with minimal electricity and great results too. However, when vegging larger plants additional bulbs may be needed to ensure there is enough light.


CFL Grow Light Wattage

The most common CFL grow lights are 25w bulbs that screw into medium base sockets (your standard household bulb socket) or larger 125w mogul base CFL bulbs. There are other sizes as well, but these are the most common. 25w CFLs are pretty small and most often used in single plant grows. Typically you'll start the seedling with a 25w, wait until it grows a little larger, add another, rinse and repeat. Typically you'll need at least 4 25w CFLs to veg a healthy medium size plant.  

There are larger CFLs out there as well, but the price to wattage usually isn't great. For example, a 125w CFL typically goes for somewhere around $30-40, while a 200w goes for around $60-70. The price per watt of the 125w is significantly cheaper than the 200w. You'll have to make a one-time purchase for another socket or reflector if you need more than 125w, but in the long run you'll save!


Spectrums of CFL Grow Lights

For CFL Grow Lights you'll typically have two spectrums - 6500k for grow and 2900k for bloom. Small CFLs like 25w are usually only available in 6500k. 125w are offered in both 6500k and 2900k. Though occasionally you may see a dual spectrum bulb that contains components for both. 


Can I use CFLs for Bloom?

We get asked pretty often - can I use CFL grow lights for bloom? Technically yes, but what results are you trying to achieve? You won't get a great harvest off of a single 125w bloom CFL. If the "something is better than nothing" approach is fine, then sure, go right ahead. However, if you want decent results we'd recommend at least two 125w bloom CFLs for a single plant. Otherwise you won't get much yield. Not saying it won't be good quality overall, but a single 125w doesn't provide a big yield or density.


Final Verdict

CFLs have their uses, and you can grow a full plant for seed to harvest under them, but they may not be best for all stages of growth. We recommend CFLs for starting seeds or cuttings as well as early veg, but for vegging large plants and flowering we recommend higher intensity lights like HID (MH/HPS) or LED. But don't let us discourage you if you decide to use CFLs for your grow, we just don't want you to expect more than you'll get and be disappointed. If CFL is all you can afford, by all means grow on! Because growing something is definitely better than growing nothing!

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  • Rogue Staff
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