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Are "LEC" Grow Lights Worth It?

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    Are "LEC" Grow Lights Worth It?

    In San Diego, LEC grow lights have begun to fill the walls of our local hydro store. But what are they? Are they LEDs or something else?

    Light Emitting Ceramic (LEC) is a Type of Ceramic Metal Halide Grow Light

    "LEC" stands for "Light Emitting Ceramic". The term "LEC grow light" is actually a brand name by the company Sun System, and is not a new type of grow light.

    Basically, an LEC is a rebranded version of a type of grow light more commonly known as a "ceramic metal halide" or CMH. CMH grow lights have been around for a while, but these newly redesigned versions have some neat features that make them attractive to the small-scale grower!

    The LEC 315 is currently the most common model of LEC grow light, and yields about 4-9 ounces on average. Keep 12-18" away from the tops of your plants (further in veg, closer in flowering) for the best results!

    What I Like About LEC Grow Lights

    Efficient - More electrically efficient (i.e. bigger yields) and longer lasting than a standard metal halide grow light. LECs get better yields than pretty much any other grow light besides HPS.

    Excellent Source of UV Light - LECs produce a significant amount of UV light, quite a bit more than any other standard cannabis light source besides the sun! Exposure to UV light in the second half of the flowering stage stresses the plant in a "good" way and can increase trichome production, strengthen smell and possibly even enhance potency!

    No-Glass Design - The 315 "LEC" brand light has been designed to run relatively cool without needing glass like a standard MH (the air-cooled larger size 630W versions do unfortunately use glass). Since glass blocks UV light, the no-glass design ensures the UV rays are actually getting to your plant. However, with LECs it's even more important than normal that you wear protective eyewear because UV rays are dangerous in large doses (UV rays don't just increase trichome production, they give humans sunburn and can damage our eyes!).

    See Plants in Full Color - The light spectrum of LECs is great for plants, but it's also great for humans to look at their plants (or take pictures). Unlike other standard flowering grow lights, your plants under LECs look like they're in completely natural light. Not only is it just plain nicer to see your plants under light that isn't yellow or purple (like the light from an HPS or LED), the fact that you can clearly see the buds and leaves makes it a lot easier to spot problems! Another benefit to a natural color spectrum is the light from an LEC doesn't look nearly as suspicious as an HPS or LED.

    Great in the 315W Size (Yields 4-9 Ounces) - The form factor of LECs make it so the 315W size stays just cool enough to be run without ducting or glass, making it easy to set up and use. As far as yields, you can expect 4-9 ounces per harvest with the 315W LEC.

    Example of increased cannabis trichome production under LEC grow lights

    LEC grown cannabis bud pic by the talented grower Jamie Arellano

    What I Don't Like About LEC Grow Lights

    Yields Slightly Less Than HPS Grow Lights - It may be hard to get through all the marketing speak, but when it comes down to it, HPS grow lights are more electrically efficient than LEC grow lights. An HPS simply puts out more light for the same amount of electricity. If literally everything else is the same, the same-wattage HPS would get slightly higher yields than LEC grow lights.

    That's not speaking to the quality of the buds, but that's the truth about yields. Just like with LEDs, an LEC isn't going to give you magically huge yields for the same amount of electricity no matter what the seller tells you. I don't actually think this is actually a big problem with the LECs themselves, as they do get excellent yields compared to pretty much every other grow light besides HPS, but it irks me that sellers try to insinuate that these are going to get bigger yields than HPS grow lights of the same wattage, because that's just not true.

    Not As Good in Bigger Sizes - The 315W LEC is about as big as you can get with an HID grow light without needing an air-cooled hood and dedicated exhaust fan. The bigger LEC size of 630W uses glass and needs to be air-cooled for the best results, just like a regular 600W HPS grow light.

    High Cost - You'll pay a pretty penny compared to a standard ceramic metal halide or HPS grow light for an LEC. As of September 2016, the standard price for a 315W LEC is around $500, and an air-cooled 630W LEC is closer to $1000. That's compared to $150-200 for a 250W or 400W HPS/CMH. So an LEC costs significantly more than double the price of a similar-wattage light without getting more yields. However, those other lights don't have the same form factor and therefore some of the other benefits of the 315W LEC.

    A 400W Ceramic Metal Halide grow light (same exact type of light as an LEC, but a different form factor) costs less than $200


    I think these are a really interesting class of grow light that are just starting to get popular. I feel like the 315 LEC can be a really great choice for the small scale grower looking to harvest 4-9 ounces at a time and wants the highest quality bud possible. It's also for growers who want to be able to see their plants in full color, so plants can be enjoyed in all their natural glory. They're easy to use like other HID lights, and in my opinion they are more intuitive than using LEDs (as it can be hard to optimize the LEDs to be the best distance from your plants).

    I love my 250W HPS, and I don't plan on changing it any time soon, but I will say that if I didn't have a grow light and was in the market for something new, I'd be eyeing a 315W LEC!

    I noticed the 315 is mounted vertically in the hood while the 630's are horizontally opposed. I'm not sure what difference, if any, this would make. I wonder if the 630 would actually be double the output due to the mounting position? There's obviously a reason why they mounted the 315 vertically.

    Also, has anyone seen the ceramic hps bulbs hortilux is coming out with? They claim a superior spectrum over standard hps. They only come in 600w. I asked my local grow shop guy about them but he didn't know when they would be available. I first heard about them on dude grows show. They had a hortilux rep on and from what I understand, any quality 600w digital ballast built within the last few years will work with them.


      I have the 315 & absolutely love the past when I was able to grow I had a 1000 hps and my plants never looked this good! Don't get me wrong they were awesome but what I have now is outstanding. It's in a3x3x6 tent and is rocking the joint!...

      I believe the 4-9 oz. harvest I read about is going to be way under what I got going on.!! We will see.

      I will post a pic when my phone is not being dumb.


        Originally posted by Green75 View Post
        I have the 315 & absolutely love the past when I was able to grow I had a 1000 hps and my plants never looked this good! Don't get me wrong they were awesome but what I have now is outstanding. It's in a3x3x6 tent and is rocking the joint!...

        I believe the 4-9 oz. harvest I read about is going to be way under what I got going on.!! We will see.

        I will post a pic when my phone is not being dumb.
        That's awesome! We've written these estimates based on what we've learned from other growers, but CMH lights in this form factor are still relatively new, and the more info and pictures the better! We really appreciate you sharing your experiences and can't wait to see pics! If you end up yielding more we'll have to update the range (and add your pics!) but so far we haven't seen anyone get more than 7-8 ounces from the 315.


          Geesh...I pray all day for first grow in 13 years.

          I sent you an email back that's has pics. Just can't upload them on here tho.....maybe you can find my response to you


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