What are LED Grow Lights?
There are various options for indoor garden lighting, but no others offer the energy efficiency and overall benefits to plant growth that LED grow lights can offer. LED lighting wasn’t a viable option for indoor gardening until after 2014, when scientists finally developed a blue-spectrum LED. Until then indoor growers traditionally relied on two types of HID bulbs, High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH), which offered the necessary light for flowering and vegetative growth, respectively.
Blue-spectrum LEDs were a game changing breakthrough.
Full-spectrum LED grow lights have quickly become an industry standard for both the hydroponic hobbyist and the seasoned commercial growers. You will want to bookmark (Ctrl+D) our selections for the “Best LED Grow Lights of 2020”
Before we get ahead of ourselves, here is our selection for:
Best 1000 Watt LED Grow Light – Value
King Plus 1000w LED Grow Light Double Chips Full Spectrum with UV&IR for Greenhouse Indoor Plant Veg and Flower
The KingLED 1,000w LED Grow Light won our pick for “Best Value in a Grow Light” based on it being a “top-shelf” product that is available for “bottom-shelf” price. It’s a competitive design that comes at an affordable cost; making this a great choice for someone new to using LED grow lights in their garden.
Historically the main objection to using LED grow lighting is the initial cost. Between the low price of this light, quality demonstrated in a lifespan of 100,000 hours, the ease of operation, the 3 year warranty – how can you afford not to at least try it out?
- Veg/Bloom switch: The Veg/Bloom Switch is a fairly common feature on full-spectrum LED grow lamps, as it makes operation simple. The “Veg” switch activates the blue and white LED array; typically used for germination or seedling growth. The “Bloom” switch powers the red and white LED array; which begins fueling the vegetative growth stage. For the flowering stage, both the Veg and Bloom switches can be turned on simultaneously, providing the full light spectrum.
- Full-spectrum light: This LED grow light provides a full spectrum lighting source from 380 nm to 780 nm (including UV + IR) of natural light. This translates into having synthetic sunshine for your indoor garden, as it offers light covering the entire natural spectrum. For you, this means quicker growing plants with larger, fuller yields at harvest.
- Energy-efficient technology: Unlike the traditionally used High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulb, this LED grow lamp adopts a high-tech LED chip(double-chip 10W LED. This advanced alternative can replace a traditional 600w HPS bulb to offer more light for less electricity. Reduced operating costs translate into an immediate benefit for you!
- Advanced cooling system: The light assembly contains multiple high-speed muted fans and advanced design aluminum radiators that can allow it to operate at temperatures between 50°F to 60°F. This is significantly lower than other lamps on the market. Cooler lamps mean you can have them closer to your plants – meaning more dynamic results.
|Model||Wattage||Dimensions||Diode||Lamp Weight||Replaces a (xxx watt) Bulb||Actual Power Draw|
|KingLED King Plus Series||600w||12.2” x 8.3” x 2.4”||100 pcs. Double-chip 10w||6.39 lbs.||250w HPS/MH||125w|
|1000w||12.2” x 8.3” x 2.4”||100 pcs. Double-chip 10w||6.39 lbs.||600w HPS/MH||185w|
|1200w||15.8” x 8.4” x 2.4”||100 pcs. Double-chip 10w||6.61 lbs.||800w HPS/MH||185w|
|Spider Farmer SF Series||1000w||11.8” x 10.5” x 2.3”||215 pcs. LM301B||2.7 lbs.||600w HPS/MH||100w|
|2000w||25.5” x 10.5” x 2.3”||606 pcs. LM301B||6.7 lbs.||1200w HPS/MH||202w|
|4000w||25.3” x 21.1” x 2.3”||1212 pcs. LM301B||11.5 lbs.||2400w HPS/MH||456w|
|Exlenvce||600w||12.3” x 8.1” x 2.9”||60 pcs. Triple-chip 15w||5 lbs.||150w HPS/MH||145w|
|1200w||15.8” x 8.2” x 2.8”||120 pcs. Triple-chip 15w||6.3 lbs.||600w HPS/MH||235w|
|1500w||15.8” x 8.2” x 2.8”||150 pcs. Triple-chip 15w||6.9 lbs.||800w HPS/MH||260w|
|2000w||19.3” x 8.2” x 2.8”||200 pcs. Triple-chip 15w||9.2 lbs.||1200w HPS/MH||400w|
|BestVA DC Series||2000w||20.66” x 8.46” x 2.36”||200 pcs.||10.36 lbs.||1200 w HPS/MH||540w|
|3000w||20.66” x 11.4” x 2.36”||300 pcs.||16 lbs.||2000w HPS/MH||615w|
|4000w||30.5″ x 14.6″ x 5.7″||400 pcs.||19.8 lbs.||3000w HPS/MH||690w|
|Model||Wattage||Dimensions||Diode||Lamp Weight||Replaces a (xxx watt) HID Bulb||Actual Power Draw|
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How many square feet does a LED grow light cover?
|500 watt||4’ x 4’ Flowering Area|
|1000 watt||4’ x 8’ Flowering Area|
|1200 watt||6’ x 6’ Flowering Area|
|1500 watt||8’ x 8’ Flowering Area|
|2000 watt||Trying to use a single light to cover over 8×8 is not recommended. |
Higher wattage is not for larger coverage, but for optimal growth.
- To understand the coverage of LED grow lights, it’s important to know how the diodes inside them emit light. A traditional HID bulb such as High-Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide radiates light outward from its filament. A fluorescent bulb also radiates outward, as the gases inside the bulb become electrically charged. This is why these bulbs are turned sideways with a heat-resistant reflective backing behind them.
LED light diodes, however, project light differently. Their light projects out from the actual diode itself, which is typically affixed to a small reflective backing. This focuses the intense light of the diode in a beam. This beam isn’t as narrowly focused as a laser beam, but picture a strong flashlight pointed up at the night sky. You’ll notice that the beam doesn’t get much wider further out from the light; it stays in a tight beam.
How many plants can I grow under an LED grow light?
|500 watt||8 sm., 4 med., 2 lg.|
|1,000 watt||12 sm., 6 med., 3 lg.|
|1,500 watt||16 sm., 8 med., 4 lg.|
These are estimates based on industry averages. We always recommend calculating the actual needs of your garden. Allowing for slightly more light than you need will ensure optimal growth.
This is the million dollar question, right? How many plants can you get out of a grow lamp; maybe it’s more a question of how many lights you’ll need to reach your goals. To answer this question properly, we need to look at three characteristics. These three things will essentially be unique to every garden, and will be the ultimate arbiter in deciding how many plants you can grow per light.
- System Design – This includes the type of light, the design of your indoor garden, and how much room you allowed for when building your garden. Is it a hydroponic system? Soil? Wall mounted or in buckets? Do you have large garden beds occupying tables in your garage, or do you have a climate controlled greenhouse that you grow out of?
- Species and Size of the Plants – Obviously this is going to be a major factor. Growing petunias is different from growing watermelon, and that is different from growing tomatoes. The point is, selling yourself short and getting one 600w light may limit your ability to grow more than a few healthy plants at a time. It may be better to get more light than you need at the moment, if expansion or trying new plants is a possibility in your future.
- Environmental Considerations – I don’t know about you, but I like to be prepared. Whenever I set out to build or fabricate something, I build it in my mind first in order to help realize tricky spots in the project. You might consider doing the same, as it can be frustrating to go to measure out where to hang your light because your plants are growing so well, only to learn that you can’t raise the light any higher. Thinking about any of the potentially troublesome areas in your garden, even writing them all out, can save you tons of trouble down the road
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How far should I hang my LED light from my plants?
- Good question. Just how far should you hang your lights away from the plants?
As illustrated by our look at the PAR value, the closer you are to your light source, the better for the plant. Right?
I mean, with the heat output from LED grow light systems regularly holding below 100℉, you could potentially put the lights right on top of your plants without damaging them – maximizing their light intake.
The question is, then, would that be the best thing for your garden?
Another problem with hanging your plants too close to the light source is found in the way the light emanates in a cone shape. The farther from the source you are, the light may lose potency, but it gains in the overall coverage area.
Generally speaking, you’ll want your lights no closer than 12” to your plants tallest point, and no further away than 30”.back to menu ↑
What are the light requirements of plants?
- We all know that plants need light, right? In kindergarten we all put our seed in a dixie cup and place it in the windowsill. Add the other magical ingredient – water – and up comes the sprout, always moving towards the light.
Plants seem to instinctively “know” that without sunlight their growth will be stunted.
You can’t just use any light you find, however.
We’ve already covered some of the differences in the lighting options available to indoor gardeners, but how do we know which is better? First we need to know what makes light helpful to a plant in the first place. There are three factors that have substantial impact on how the light a plant receives will affect its growth. These factors are:
- Light Quantity – Historically, light quality has been expressed in units called lumens. While useful to scientific research on light affecting human sight, the term did not accurately account for measuring the photon particles of light coming into contact with a plant. Botanists and horticulturists now prefer to use Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD); an explicit measurement used to calculate the number of photons hitting a given surface – per sq. meter, per second.
A second term of value to plant science is the Daily Light Integral, which is simply a measurement that includes the photon density (PPFD) and the number of hours that a plant spends exposed to that rate of photon contact. Generally speaking, more light is required for flowering than for vegetativce growth.
- Light Quality – As I mentioned earlier, not just any ‘ol light will do. We need special kinds of lights to grow plants. Why? When we talk about quality of light, particularly as plants determine it, we are really referring to spectrum – or color. All plants have photoreceptors that are triggered by photons of their respective spectrum entering the plant’s system. When taking light quality under consideration in your own project, ensure that your lights are either full-spectrum or that you have separate lamps to account for the spectrum of light needed at the different stages of growth.
- Photoperiod (Light Duration) – The photoperiod is simply the amount of time the plants spend in the light or the dark. It can get a bit more complicated than that, however, as these light/dark cycles can be controlled to manipulate growth of indoor gardens. A popular example is found in applying large doses of light for 18-20 hours/day throughout the vegetative stage, then cutting the light down to ~12 hours or so to trigger the flowering stage. This is known as photoperiodism and is used to optimize growth and yields.
Who makes the best LED grow light?
- Do you know what always makes these “Best Of” lists so difficult for us? It’s the fact that problems can be as unique as snowflakes. In real life, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all answer. To overcome this, and make sure anyone having a problem finding the best LED grow light can walk away happy, we’ve developed this handy cheat sheet. Use it to help you decide on your solution – the sooner you do, the sooner you can get started on the garden!
- This category was determined using diode specs. such as chip-count and wattage. Exlenvce uses Bridgelux 15w triple chips; with (3) 5-watt chips. SF uses twice as many diodes for the power-class as competitors. E.g., An Exlenvce 1200w lamp uses 120 diodes – A SF 1000w lamp uses 215 diodes.
Can you have too much light in a grow room?
- Short answer, no. However, you are spending money to convert electricity into usable light. If you are creating more light than your plants need (or if the light isn’t getting to your plants), then you are very literally, wasting money.
Reflective walls that surround your plants or lights with reflectors built-in can double your PAR efficiency and ensure optimal light absorption. The truth is that horticulturists and botanists don’t know a great deal about the
Without installing more lighting.
Does more light equal more yield?
- Philips Lighting has been conducting rigorous testing on LED grow lights, trying to develop an optimal “light recipe”. This recipe would include specific measurements for factors like light distribution, light quality (spectrum), photoperiod (light vs. dark time), light direction, etc. As of 2014, they had learned that recipes could only be made optimal to a given species; in other words, each species of plant had different light needs. They also collected data showing that altering the light recipe can affect nutritional content, taste, and a plant’s inherent disease resistance – but have not yet thought of a way to use this information.
Can LED Grow Lights Harm My Eyes?
Sometimes the LED light can harm the eyes when exposed for long periods of time. To combat this, grow room glasses were created. Grow room glasses are basically fancy sunglasses that help block out any harmful light. If you plan on being around your lights for extended periods of time, do your eyes a favor and purchase a pair – they don’t cost too much. We’ve broken down the best grow room glasses and gone deeper in to why you need them.
How Much Should I Spend on a Grow Light?
You should spend how ever much your budget allows. As you’ve seen from our guide above, you can spend anywhere from less than $100, all the way to more than $1,000. Using our guide above, you can easily see which light fits your needs best for a variety of budgets. If you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t spend too much. The good news is most of these lights have a “daisy chain” capability meaning. as we mentioned earlier, that you can connect several of them together and only use one single electrical wall outlet.
What should I look for when buying LED grow lights?
The best LED grow lights keep each of these components in mind:
- Power output – How many watts is the light and does it fit your needs?
- Spectrum – Does it include the complete PAR spectrum, especially blue and red?
- Quality LED chips – We suggest chips of at least 3W each, these are good for blue and red lights.
- Cooling – Are there onboard fan(s)? Or do you need to purchase any separately?
How Long Should I Leave LED Grow Lights On?
- With the low operating temperatures of modern LED lamps, there is little concern of heat or fire (which is not the case with HID bulbs). The question, then, is how long do your plants want the lights on for?
You can find a more thorough explanation up above, but generally speaking you want around 16-18 hours for vegetative growth and around 10-12 hours for flowering. This simulates the shortening of natural daylight as we transition from summer into autumn.
Does more light equal more yield?
- You may not realize it, but by asking that question you have touched on one of the biggest discussions in the indoor grow lighting industry, as well as the indoor gardening community.
When you get into how it all works, light is some amazing stuff. It doesn’t really act like anything else in the world, so it can be difficult to visualize how it works without having something else to use as a comparison or reference. For example, we may imagine light pouring like a liquid or like smoke, until it fills a space up – that’s close, but not quite right. We could describe it as being like radiation, emanating out and being absorbed by anything in its path…a little closer, even, but still not exactly the same thing.
Light has unique properties – in order to determine whether it is as simple as (more light = more growth) or whether dumping all those photons is wasteful or even harmful, we need to better understand how it works in the first place.
Discussion of PAR
It turns out that there is a good indicator of the lamp’s growing power;
one that most people will refer to as PAR or Photosynthetically Active Radiation, which is an essential component of photosynthesis. The PAR wavelength range is ~380 to 730nm, which is consistent with the visible light spectrum.
When comparing LED lamps of the same wattage, a higher PAR value is better.
Additionally important to consider, the farther away the plant is from the light source the lower the effective PAR value.
We hope this resource helped you to decide which LED grow light is right for your indoor garden. When all the information is in one place, the advantages become pretty obvious. We don’t want anybody to make their decision based on out-dated information, or stick with yesterday’s technology simply because they don’t understand the new stuff.
Indoor gardening began as a hobbyist pursuit, with little commercial application. Today, indoor agriculture is a standalone industry projected to do $40.25 billion in business. Largely in part due to advances in LED lighting technology, commercial growers are harvesting more per plant than ever before.
Best of luck in your indoor garden, thanks for reading our selections for Best LED Grow Lights of 2020!