If you want to grow indoors, you’ll need artificial lighting. Our favorite form of artificial lighting are LED grow lights. Through technological advancements, LED lighting has emerged as the best indoor grow lighting for most hydroponic systems.
Benefits of LED Lights for Growing
- Lower electric bills.
- Almost no heat is emitted, so energy isn’t wasted and your grow area stays cool. This means you won’t need extra fans or vents to balance out the hot temperature.
- Less heat means lower grow room humidity and less water evaporation which helps to conserve your nutrient-rich water solution.
- Sophisticated lights allow you to select different light frequency ranges optimal for growing at different stages.
Now that we know why you’d want to go LED, let’s see which is the best for you. Awarding ‘the best’ is debatable and differs depending on several factors which we’ll outline below.back to menu ↑
Best LED Grow Light Under $100
If you’re looking for the best beginner LED grow light, this is our top suggestion. Philzon makes a great light kit for the money and we can’t recommend highly enough. If you’re just starting out and don’t want to spend a ton of money, a lot of experts and retailers will try to sell you something you don’t need that will be way over your budget.
- Rated power: 600W
- Core Coverage: 2×2 ft
- Lifespan: 50,000 hours
The Philzon 600W is a great choice if you’re looking for a great quality full-spectrum light at an affordable price. Hanging gear and a thermometer are included to provide even more bang for your buck. Amazon owners average a 4.3/5 star review and are overall very pleased with their purchase.
The Philzon full-spectrum 600W is great for a small room if you’re just starting out, but also includes the ability to daisy chain additional lights. This means that you can connect the additional lights together and only use one single electrical wall outlet. If you’re starting out with a smaller room in the 2 foot x 2 foot range, this will do the trick. However, if you’re looking to double your space, you’ll need extra lighting. The LED light fixture comes with two switches, “veg” and “bloom”. The veg switch is for seedlings and clones. Two days after the first transplant, both switches should be enabled to get the full growing effect.back to menu ↑
Best LED Grow Light Under $200
The next step up, in our opinion is to the sub-$200 category where we chose the HLG Quantum LED board. Quantum boards are all the rage in LED grow lighting, and we can’t get enough of the HLG 100V2 model. Quantum boards produce a high quality sun-like mid-range light that doesn’t look like a disco ball.
- Equivalent power: 220W T5 or 300W CFL output or 200W metal halide
- Core Coverage: 2×2 ft (flowering) and 3x3ft (vegging)
The HLG 100 is nice and thin and easy to install. Some LED grow lights are quite bulky which is why we appreciate the thinness of this HLG model. Because it is so thin, it’s also quite light in weight when compared to other options on the market.
Most owners of the HLG 100 are thrilled with their purchase but some deduct one star from their review due to excess heat. Not everybody agrees with this point but, since the battery sits directly on top of the light, you can understand where the heat comes from. If you purchase this light and run into that issue, you may want to purchase some small clip fans to balance out the heat.back to menu ↑
Best LED Grow Light Under $500
One of the best LED grow light brands is Mars Hydro. The Mars Hydro 800W LED light is a great choice if you have a bit more money to spend on your LED light. The Mars Hydro Reflector 800W provides a full light spectrum for vegetables, flowers, and aquatic plants. This is a powerful light and a definite step up from our previous two top picks.
- Rated power: 800W
- Core Coverage: 4×4 ft
- Lifespan: 50,000 – 100,000 hours
The “Reflector” in the name comes from the use of unique reflecting blades that produce refractory light beams that amplify the light coverage. Since this is already a powerful light, the reflector really helps the light pack a punch.
Unlike the other previous fans we mentioned, this light comes equipped with built-in cooling fans that are virtually silent. The Mars Hydro Reflector 960 can be daisy-chained to each other for extra growing power and production.
Mars Hydro is highly respected in the indoor growing world and we can’t say enough good things about the 960W addition to their family of quality products. A great feature that you get with your purchase is the three-year warranty that the brand offers.back to menu ↑
Best LED Grow Light
This is the big dog, and certainly not for the beginner. The G8LED MEGA is a multi-award winning LED grow light that will easily run you over $1,000. If you’re truly asking for the best, this is our top recommendation, though it is not for everyone.
- Rated power: 900W
- Core Coverage: 6×4 ft
- Lifespan:100,000 hours
For most of our readers just starting out, the previous lights mentioned are awesome and are perfect for keeping up with growing indoors as a hobby. If your growing is beyond a hobby and you are extremely concerned with growth and the yield of your plants, then this light is for you.
The MEGA G8LED might be the best brand on the market, and their long list of awards prove it. In some circles, this light is known as a “commercial grade”. This LED light does cost a lot of money, but worth every penny and is even averaging a 4.9/5 stars on Amazon.
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Basics of LED Grow Lights
Now you know which LED grow lights are best, let’s get into more detail to understand them a little better. Below we will explain several key features of these grow lights.
LED Grow Light Spectrum
The best kind of light is free: sunlight. For indoor growing, we need to recreate sunlight the best we can. Sunlight contains all light colors on the spectrum and that’s what LED grow lights try to do. The LED light spectrum is an important part of giving plants the light they need.
Plants require different spectrums of light at different growing stages for optimal growth, and that’s where LED lighting gets interesting. Not only is it energy-efficient, but most LED grow lights have the ability to manually switch from “veg” to “flower”. This type of precision allows for optimal growth and a higher yield.
LED Grow Light Spacing
The space between your light and your plants is critical. If the light is too close to the plants, it could burn and kill them. If the light is too far, you’ll get zero to minimal growth. Pay close attention to the specifications provided by your manufacturer when it comes to the proper space to allow for. It can also be helpful to see what other owners and reviewers of that light suggest based on their own trial and error.
How Long Should I Leave LED Grow Lights On?
We suggest leaving your lights on for 14-18 hours. Indoor plants require more light exposure than outdoor plants, but don’t be tempted to just leave them on 24/7. We’ve written extensively that you should not leave your grow light on 24 hours a day.back to menu ↑
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 some grow room glasses.back to menu ↑
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.back to menu ↑
What should I look for when buying LED grow lights?
- 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?
As our name states we are dedicated to highlighting the intersection of gardening and technology, and LED grow lights are a perfect example of that. Indoor gardening has gotten much easier thanks to technological advances like LED grow lighting over conventional forms of lights.
The good news is you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a good LED grow light. However, as you saw from out last suggestion, you CAN spend over $1,000, so make sure to know your budget beforehand. Each light is different so be sure to listen to your manufacturer’s suggestions as far as usage and positioning. Happy growing!