When I first started learning about how to grow weed in my home, I remember looking around at all of the lamps in my house and wondering, “can I use a regular lamp to grow marijuana?”

In short, the answer is no. Regular lamps like floor lamps or desk lamps that you might have in your house do not put out the right spectrum of light to grow marijuana plants. Regular lamps with incandescent lightbulbs also get very hot and could burn your marijuana plants.

Let’s look at what makes regular lights a bad option for growing cannabis and what types of lights you can use instead.

Why You Can’t Use Regular Lamps To Grow Marijuana: 3 Reasons

1. Regular lamps do not produce enough UV, blue and red light for marijuana plants

The basic reason that you can’t use regular lamps to grow cannabis is that they don’t always put out the right wavelengths of light that plants need. Plants need specifically blue, UV, and red light. Full-spectrum white light can also do the trick.

Most regular lightbulbs produce more yellow and orange light than red, blue, or UV light. Regular lamps that output mostly yellow and orange spectrums of light could starve the plants.

2. Regular lightbulbs are too hot for cannabis plants

Another reason why you can’t use regular house lamps or desk lamps to grow plants like marijuana is that they just get way too hot. Heat management is a big problem for indoor growers, and regular lightbulbs produce a lot more heat than LED grow lights. If a regular lightbulb gets too close to a plant, it could cause heat damage or even burn the plant.

3. Many smaller desk lamps and small lightbulbs do not produce enough light

Also, many light bulbs don’t put out enough light for cannabis plants to grow. After all, plants have evolved to require light from the sun. Cannabis especially loves sunlight and prefers to grow in full sunlight. Most regular house lamps simply cannot reproduce the brightness of the Sun.

For example, a typical LED grow light will produce at least 45 watts of light and often more than 100 watts. In contrast, regular light bulbs usually produce less than 25 watts, and sometimes under 10 watts. That is simply not enough light output for sunlight-loving plants to grow.

But wouldn’t the money you would save make it worth it?

No, unfortunately, using a regular lamp would just kill your plants.

But the thought process is understandable. Even though regular lamps are not good for growing cannabis, that hasn’t stopped many people from trying. Beginner growers will often try to use regular lamps to grow marijuana in order to cut costs and save money. After all good grow lamps can be expensive.  Even the cheapest grow lamp that is good enough quality to grow marijuana will cost around $100.

Unfortunately, anyone who makes the mistake of trying to grow cannabis with a regular lamp using normal light bulbs from the hardware store will quickly learn why a good grow light is important to have. In fact, you could say that a good grow light is the heart and soul of any indoor cannabis garden. By skimping on a grow light and swapping in a regular lamp, you will doom the plants before they even have a chance to reach the mature vegetative growth stage. Here’s what that might look like:

What would happen if you tried to grow marijuana with a regular light?

First, Cannabis plants will try to stretch toward the light

If you did try to use a regular lamp to grow marijuana the first thing that might happen is that your plants would grow towards the light and stretch as much as they can to reach the light quickly. Because they are starving, they will try to grow as quickly as possible to maximize the amount of light they are getting. If your plants are still seedlings, they may grow very tall very quickly and have long, thin stems without producing any mature serrated leaves.

Second, they might shrivel up immediately

As the seedlings stretch toward the regular lamp, two things could happen. Right from the start, the roots might use up all of its small store of nutrients that it had from its seed to grow those long thin stems. Unless you have taken the risky move of feeding your seedlings in week one (not a good idea), they could begin to run out of nutrients before growing the first set of mature leaves. Because they would be deprived of sustenance, the seedlings’ leaves could begin to shrivel and turn yellow. And if they are already too hot from the light, they could begin to shrivel up almost immediately.

Third, the plants might topple over

Next, the seedlings could become top heavy and the long thin stem may eventually be unable to support the weight of the upper part of the plant. As a result, the plant could collapse under its own weight and tip over. If that happens, then not only will the plant be farther away from the light source, but it will also begin to grow in an unusual shape with a bent stem. While the plant can recover from this, it is not a good way to start if you are trying to grow cannabis.

Finally, the plants will probably die from heat burn

If the marijuana plants do successfully grow closer to the lamp without tipping over or shriveling up first, then they will eventually be close enough to the lamp to start experiencing heat damage. Incandescent light bulbs put out a significant amount of heat and many will burn anything that touches it. If the plants come to close to the lamp, they would get burned too.

But even if the plants do not get burned, they can still experience heat stress in a number of other ways. First, the heat coming from the light bulb will change the humidity levels around the plant and dry them out very quickly. Dry, hot air is not good and will damage the plants if not corrected immediately. The leaves could begin cupping around the edges if they are feeling stressed from hot, dry conditions.

So that’s what could happen if you use a regular light to grow cannabis. It’s not a pretty picture, and it definitely is not a good strategy for a successful grow setup. Next, let’s take a look at why grow lights are so much better than regular lamps for growing marijuana.

Grow Lights Designed For Growing Cannabis Have Many Benefits Over Regular Lamps

1. LED Grow lights are not too hot

Grow lights and specifically LED grow lights are not as hot as regular light bulbs that you might have in your house. Regular light bulbs are so hot that they will burn you if you touch them. That is definitely not something you want to have near your cannabis garden.

2. Grow lights put out the right spectrum of light

Unlike regular lamps and light bulbs, LED grow lights put out a huge amount of blue, red, and UV light. They can also put out full spectrum white light in many cases. Importantly, they do not put out as much yellow or green light, which means that you are only giving your plants the kind of light they want when you use a grow light.

3. Grow lights have great features to make growing weed easier

Regular floor and desk lamps tend to come with two settings: on or off. However, grow lamps that are designed for growing cannabis come with a wide range of other helpful features, like timers, various spectrum settings, and different modes so that you can control exactly what kind of light your plants are getting at each stage of the grow cycle.

They also tend to have attachments for hanging the lamp above your plants inside a grow tent and other features that make them ideal for using to grow marijuana.

Why you should invest in a good grow lamp

Even though it might sound like a good idea to save money on a good grow lamp for cannabis and get something cheaper or try a regular lamp, the long term results of poor lighting will be disappointing. It is better to buy a good grow lamp or grow light before you start growing marijuana so that your plants are happy.

If you don’t buy a good grow lamp, then you risk wasting a lot of time, money and energy when the plants end up not being able to grow to their full potential. If your plants do not grow well or even fail to grow at all because of a lighting issue, then you will have to buy a good grow light eventually.

The bottom line is this: in order to grow big buds and colas, weed plants need a lot of the right kind of light. So it is best to give them what they want upfront instead of learning the hard way that cannabis plants need more light than a regular lamp can provide to them. You don’t have to buy the best grow light or the most expensive grow light to get started. Just buy a decent, cheaper cannabis grow light and then upgrade later on if you need to.

Conclusion: Regular Lamps Cannot be Used to Grow Cannabis

Hopefully, it is clear now why regular lamps like desk lamps or floor lamps are not good for growing cannabis. They basically put out the wrong spectrum of light for growing plants or not enough of the right spectrum. Plants like marijuana like blue, red and UV light, but regular lights put out more yellow and orange light. Using a regular lamp is a quick way to ensure that your cannabis garden will fail or underperform.

If you are looking for a better light that is specifically built for growing cannabis, check out our equipment page. Grow lights are specifically built for growing cannabis and have tons of settings and helpful features that other lights won’t have. Definitely pick up a good grow lamp if you are planning to create a cannabis grow setup.