California Lightworks Solar Storm High Potency LED Grow Lights

When starting any new hobby, most beginners are faced with the initial question: how much do I invest? Playing it safe to make sure they stay committed; many people buy a cheaper beginner model. The cheaper beginner models (cameras, computers, snowboards etc.) are cheap for a reason, and often will break or have other associated issues. Or this money often gets wasted in another regard as they eventually upgrade to a professional-level product. If you know outright that you are going to be doing this new hobby of yours for a long time, then why bother with buying a cheap beginner device when you can put the money you would spend on that cheaper model and invest it straight into a long-lasting, commercial-grade or professional-level model? People that are new to indoor horticulture using LED grow lights will undoubtedly ask themselves this same question. If you are serious about growing your own plants indoor, why not do it right, right from the get-go? If you think that you’re new and you’re going to be a committed grower, or if you are ready to upgrade from your cheaper beginner model, then the California Lightworks Solar Storm High Potency LED Grow Lights are the lights for you. The Solar Storm line of grow lights are powerful, heavy-duty and commercial-grade and will ensure that you take our growing to the next level. In this California Lightworks Solar Storm review, we’re going to take a look and see what separates this grow light from the competition.

California Solar Storm Models

Models Available

California Lightworks produces three primary-source models, and four supplementary-source light models. The primary-source models are designed to fully replace traditional HID light sources, giving your plants an entire spectrum of usable light for photosynthesis. The supplementary lights are heavier on one end of the spectrum, either red for bloom or blue for veg, and are intended to drive your plants in one stage or another. The supplementary lights are intended for use with a primary-source mode. The stand-alone lights are the Solar Storm 880, Solar Storm 440 and one version of the Solar Storm 220, the Full Cycle 220. The Solar Storm 220 also has a veg specific model, the VegMaster and a bloom-specific model, the BloomBooster. These bloom and veg specific models are also available in the Solar Storm 110. This can be a bit confusing, so hopefully this table clears thing up a little.

The California Lightworks 440 and the 880 give you the most control over your grow, being able to switch between veg and bloom mode. Theoretically, in place of one of those all-inclusive models, for smaller grows you could begin with a VegMaster light then physically switch out to a BloomBooster light. More often they are used as a supplementary lights though, simply adding more of your desired light. the FullCycle 220 is the most like other LEDs on the market with a single Full Cycle light spectrum appropriate for the plant’s entire life cycle, though not optimized like the other specific spectra.

ModelStand Alone?Modes AvailableSizeWeight
(inches)(pounds)
SolarStorm 110 BloomBoosterNoBloom only9 x 9 x 47
SolarStorm 110 VegMasterNoVeg only9 x 9 x 47
SolarStorm 220 BloomBoosterNoBloom only9 x 9 x 48
SolarStorm 220 VegMasterNoVeg only9 x 9 x 48
SolarStorm 220 FullCycleYesFull Cycle only9 x 9 x 48
(non-adjustable full spectrum)
SolarStorm 440YesBloom, Veg, and UV15 x 18 x 518
SolarStorm 880YesBloom, Veg, and UV23 x 18 x 532

Solar Storm Spectrum

LEDs & Light

Now that we understand what each of the Solar Storm models are capable of, let’s see what kind of light they each produce. Each of the lights operate using LEDs with CaliforniaLightworks’ proprietary “Optigrow” color blend. The LEDs produce their light at a few very specific dominant wavelengths. The dominant wavelengths are: Deep Blue: 440nm Blue: 470nm, Red: 620nm, Deep Red: 665nm, Warm White: 3100K, UV-B: 280-315nm. Remember, the bloom modes will be red-heavy and veg modes will blue-heavy to help your plant grow optimally.

The VegMaster, BloomBooster and Full Cycle spectra that the 110 and 220 models are capable of producing can be seen in the image below. Note the different relative intensities of each kind of light, making them specific for your desired type of growth. The 440 and 880 are capable of producing both the VegMaster spectrum AND the BloomBooster spectrum simply by switching a button. The Full Cycle 200 can produce ONLY the Full Cycle spectrum. The other 220 models and the 110 models can produce ONLY ONE OF the Veg or Bloom spectra, depending on which one you choose. CaliforniaLightworks has given you a lot of choice in the Solar Storm line, make sure you choose the right light for what you need it for.
[pics]

As you can see, the Solar Storms produce an awesome spectrum of light. But they don’t just have high quality light, but they’ve got a large quantity of light too. In the table below you can check out the various PAR values of each light at varying hanging heights, measured from the center, and their associated footprint coverage. These bad boys can crank out a ton of PAR in a huge footprint. PAR, or photosynthetically active radiation, is the amount of actual usable light being produced. Check out this blog post if you need a refresher on PAR.

Despite being some of the most powerful LED grow lights out there, the Solar Storm lights still run on surprising efficiency.  You can check out the different ratings of the lights below. Each light operates on AC 90-277V, standard voltage. The LEDs have 90 degree primary lenses, don’t actually have secondary lenses, unlike most of the other reviews we have performed on other grow lights. The rationale for leaving out secondary lenses, is that any time you are reflecting light, you’re going to be losing some of it, wasting energy and efficiency. California Lightworks is confident in the quality of its primary lenses to emit a superior amount of light for your plants without secondary optics. There are some LEDs shining at a 130 degree angle, however to provide a nice spread for larger plants and during bloom.

ModelPAR (ummol/m 2 /s) @ 12” heightPAR (ummol/m 2 /s) @ 18” heightPAR (ummol/m 2 /s) @ 24” heightMax Coverage (Veg)Max Coverage (Bloom)
SolarStorm 1109204412534 x 4 feet1 x 1 feet
(both types)(not recommended)
SolarStorm 22017737454205 x 5 feet2 x 2 feet
(all types)
SolarStorm 440257013898326 x 6 feet3 x 3 feet
SolarStorm 8803694243915967 x 7 feet4 x 4 feet

Energy Efficiency

Despite being some of the most powerful LED grow lights out there, the Solar Storm lights still run on surprising efficiency.  You can check out the different ratings of the lights below. Each light operates on AC 90-277V, standard voltage. The LEDs have 90 degree primary lenses, don’t actually have secondary lenses, unlike most of the other reviews we have performed on other grow lights. The rationale for leaving out secondary lenses, is that any time you are reflecting light, you’re going to be losing some of it, wasting energy and efficiency. California Lightworks is confident in the quality of its primary lenses to emit a superior amount of light for your plants without secondary optics. There are some LEDs shining at a 130 degree angle, however to provide a nice spread for larger plants and during bloom.

When using the Solar Storm 440 and 880 in Bloom Mode, you will be consuming more energy. This is because the spectrum shifts to more red and far-red heavy light. Red LEDs are not as efficient as blue and far-red LEDs are even less efficient. However, the benefits from having a bloom-specific mode outweigh the increased energy draw. If you do decide to use the UV diodes, this will also increase your power draw a little, simply because you’re using more diodes that need electricity.

Model# LEDsMax WattageTrue Wattage/UsageHPS/MH Replacement
SolarStorm 11036110 watts85 wattsN/A
VegM, BloomB
SolarStorm 22072220 watts165 watts400 watt
FullCe, VegM, BloomB
SolarStorm 440144440 wattsveg: 235 watts600 watt
bloom: 320 watts
bloom + UV: 350 watts
SolarStorm 880288880 wattsveg: 475 watts1000 watt
bloom: 650 watts
bloom + UV: 680 watts

Solar Storm Build Quality

Construction & Design

California Lightworks’ grow lights are no joke. The Solar Storm line is built for the apocalypse. These heavy duty aluminum lights are big, and heavy-duty, a necessity for the powerful components it is housing. For example, the SolarStorm 880 model measures 23 x 18 x 5 inches, and weighs 32 lbs. This model contains 288 LEDs with 8 built-in drivers. These things crank out light. Because the Solar Storm lights are big and heavy, you need to make sure you have an appropriate place to hang them. Dry wall sockets in your ceiling probably won’t cut it, make sure you find a stud to screw into to hang these bad boys.
UVB Diodes

If you’ve read our blog or some of our other reviews blogyou know our stance on the usefulness of UV light in growing cannabis. Personally, we feel like the potential harm that it is doing to your plants isn’t worth the risk. We don’t feel like there is currently enough evidence to prove that increasing the amount of UV light has a beneficial effect on your plants during flowering and the production of psychoactives in trichomes. That being said, many people swear by the addition of UV light during flowering. Regardless your stance, the Solar Storm lights will still be a good choice for you, since the UV light can be triggered on or off by a simple switch. Some other lights we have reviewed don’t provide this luxury. Just be careful you don’t accidentally leave it switched on by accident, since the switch is close to the bloom/veg switch. Also make sure you’re wearing UV-protected eye wear if you’re working around the lights with the UV switched on.

Safety Features

California Lightworks has included some built-in safety features in the Solar Storms to keep you and your crop safe. The lights have built-in over-voltage surge protection, and a fused power input. As opposed to some of the lights we have reviewed, the Solar Storm lights have a 3-pronged grounded power plug. All of California Lightworks’ lights meet UL/ETL requirements. The lights also have a built-in over-temperature thermal shut-off safety mechanism. If the operating temperature of the light gets to a dangerous level, the lights will automatically shut down, protecting from fire hazards (or just avoiding damage to your plants).

Lifespan and Warranty

The Solar Storm line of grow lights are backed by a limited 3-year warranty, fulfilled by California Lightworks. The LEDs have a projected life span of at least 80,000 hours, which is on the higher end of other lights we’ve reviewed. The cooling fans are only rated for 50,000 hours so you may find yourself having to replace a fan before you find any issues with the LEDs. As long as you maintain the lights as per the operating manual you shouldn’t find yourself getting up to the expected lifespans without issue until then. We can’t stress enough the importance of making absolute sure the Solar Storms are mounted/hanging properly. They are big and heavy and an improper set up could ruin both your lights and your crop. The design of these lights allow you to daisy chain up to 10 lights together so they can all be controlled from a single timer and outlet. We’d personally recommend you have each light plugged into their own outlet, but it’s up to you.

Is the California Lightworks Solar Storm Worth Buying?

What else can we say about California Lightworks’ Solar Storm LED grow lights? These things are for real. They are heavy-duty aluminum lights that pump out a huge amount of PAR. They are big, heavy, commercial grade lights, so make sure that you have an appropriate space for them. If you need something small to just add some suuplementary bloom or vegetation specific light then consider grabbing one of the 100W models to add a little extra for your plants. If you want their industry-yleading technology in a smaller package, the Full Cycle 220 is a compact, more affordable option with a single operating spectrum. But if you know you’re going to be serious about growing for a while, save yourself the money of having to upgrade later and invest in the Solar Storm 440 or 880. These lights have superior PAR values, huge coverage, and can switch between bloom and veg, and add UV as needed. These lights really have it all.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
California Lightworks Solar Storm
Author Rating
5

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