Marijuana Grow Lights Benefit from a Better Understanding of Energy Efficiency


As the marijuana industry continues to grow in the U.S. so does our understanding on the best ways to cultivate the plant. Former researcher for NASA, Neil Yorio, has discovered a revolutionary change in the way indoor plants can be grown. Yorio worked in NASA’s Bio Regenerative Life Support Systems program. His objective was to find ways to grow plants in space so that they could act as a life support system for longer missions. The plants would generate oxygen, get rid of carbon dioxide, purify water and, of course, could be eaten. Lighting is an essential consideration when growing, but the lights for these long missions needed to be lightweight which eliminated glass. Yorio discovered that LED lights were the perfect solution and he’s since put his knowledge into the creation of advanced marijuana grow lights.

The Need for Improved Efficiency in Marijuana Grow Lights

Yorio believes that LED lights offer the best light source for growing cannabis.

Plants absorb about as much light as the human eye can perceive. Everything outside this spectrum becomes junk. Yorio says, “If you’re delivering wavelengths of light outside that range that [the plants] can’t use for photosynthesis, you’re consuming more electricity to create more light that plants aren’t using.”

High-pressure sodium lighting is usually used for marijuana grow lights. This is the same light found in orange street lights. These lights produce an enormous amount of light but the problem is that most of it is going to waste. This kind of light also contains mercury which ultimately just becomes hazardous waste. These kind of marijuana grow lights use an incredibly high amount of electricity which becomes extremely expensive and wasteful, considering that the plants have no way of absorbing all of that light.

Gaining a Better Understanding of LED Grow Lights

Yorio proposes that LED lights are the way to the future. The quality of light is more suited to plants so the light isn’t wasted. LED lights don’t contain harmful chemicals and they use about 40 percent less electricity. They make for perfect marijuana grow lights. The only obstacle that stands right now, according to Yorio, is a lack of education in how to best use them. LED lights produce lower temperatures so the environment will have to be adjusted accordingly. The water and nutrient levels may need to be adjusted. With some experimentation and work, ideal levels can be found and LED lights will likely find themselves to be the growers’ choice of the future.

Budgeting for a Professional Grow Light Set

A professional LED lighting rig for growing marijuana can be costly up front but save long term.

Good quality LED lights for growing cost about $1500 per light. A grow space of 1000 feet would likely need about 62 lights. While this seems expensive, it’s important to keep in mind that the lights last for 10 years if used for approximately 12 hours a day over that time. They also use 40 percent less electricity. These savings are important to note when factoring in overall costs.

The popularity of LED lights has grown since Yorio’s work with NASA. These days, LED lighting is used in far more than just space missions. LED lights are now used in cars and televisions as well as household lights and lamps. The next step seems to be agriculture. Yorio works as vice president for BIOS, an agricultural LED lighting company that makes LED lighting for humans and plants.


  1. Mr. Yorio’s light is fine for chemically-simple plants. Growing a chemically-complex plant laike cannabis to its full potential requires full-spectrum lighting, not just red, green and blue. This opinion is based on 40 years spent researching the interaction of quantum physics and organic chemistry in cannabis. NOT l


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