LED vs. HID Cost Comparison


Have you ever wondered what the total cost of setting up and running a traditional High Intensity Discharge (HID) garden is compared to a garden set up with the newest Light-Emitting Diode (LED) technology? We wanted to know exactly what LED vs. HID grow lights would look like as well, so Black Dog LED has run the numbers, and the short answer is that using LED lights becomes less expensive, quickly. Black Dog LED compared an HID-lit garden that used two 1000w Metal Halide (MH) bulbs for vegetative growth and two 1000w High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs for flowering versus a garden lit with two Black Dog LED Platinum XL lights. For the sake of simplicity and to make sure this applied to everyone, we only included the cost of bulbs, ballasts, sealed reflectors, and fans/ducting in this research. We did NOT include the cost of air conditioning for the HID garden because this will vary from slightly expensive to very expensive depending on climate and time of year. If we had included air conditioning, it would make LED grow light vs HPS lighting even more cost effective in less time.

Since we know the frequency of bulb replacement varies from one gardener to the next, we studied two scenarios: “optimal” and “economical,” as explained in the HID light chart below.

In the graph below the chart, you can see that Black Dog LED lights are less expensive at 12 months in the optimal bulb replacement scenario and 18 months in the economical bulb replacement scenario. After this time, you are spending less money each day you garden with Black Dog LED lights. Also, with LEDs, you will not be adding toxic mercury to the landfills each and every time you change your bulbs, as is the case with all HID and fluorescent bulbs.

We believe in full disclosure, so if you want all of the details on the differences between LED and HID lights please keep reading, otherwise... Happy gardening!

Scenarios HPS Bulb Change MH Bulb Change LED Bulb Change Veg. Hours On/Off Flower Hours On/Off Initial Cost Cost at 12 Months Cost at 24 Months Cost at 48 Months
Black Dog LED N/A N/A None 20/4 12/12 $3,458 $4,341 $5,225 $6,991
Optimal 6 Months 12 Months None 20/4 12/12 $2,305 $4,619 $6,933 $12,039
Economical 12 Months 18 Months None 20/4 12/12 $2,305 $3,881 $5,935 $9,566

LED vs HID total cost comparison graph


For the HID setup, we used:
2 - 1000w Hortilux HPS
2 - Hortilux Blue Day MH 1000w
2 - Lumatek 1000w 120v
3 - 6' Activeair Inline Fans (for venting the room and the reflectors)
2 - Magnum XXXL 6" Reflectors and some basic ducting

For the Black Dog LED setup, we used:
2 - Platinum XLs
2 - 6' Activeair Inline Fans (for venting the room only; the lights do not need to be vented because they are LEDs)

Assumed Cost per kwh: $0.108