I’m going to assume you’re in your 100th hour or so of reading LED grow light reviews and you’re still no closer to making a decision.
I can make this assumption, because I’ve been there myself and I’ve helped countless others in the same situation. There are so many different options these days and, unfortunately, most of those options just aren’t any good.
You need to first eliminate all the useless lights. Then you need to decide which of the quality lights is best for your garden. It’s a daunting task.
On this page, I’ve narrowed the choices on Amazon down to the 10 best. These lights give you the best results for a reasonable cost. I have not included any of the prohibitively expensive lights, nor any of the dirt cheap ones.
LED Grow Light Comparison Table
|Model||Actual Wattage||HID Equiv||Price||Rating|
|Galaxyhydro 600W||230 watts||600 watts||$$$||8.2 / 10|
|Advanced Platinum Series||50-758 watts||150-1400 watts||$$$||9.8 / 10|
|Mars Hydro 300||132 watts||250 watts||$$||9.2 / 10|
|iPower 36W System||22 watts||36 watts||$||8.4 / 10|
|VIPARSPECTRA Reflector 300||136 watts||250 watts||$$||9.2 / 10|
|800w COB System||210 watts||800 watts||$$||8.2 / 10|
|VIPARSPECTRA Dimmable 450||210 watts||400 watts||$$||7.8 / 10|
|Growstar 600||250 watts||600 watts||$$||9.2 / 10|
|Master 420||320 watts||1000 watts||$$$||8.6 / 10|
|MEIZHI 300||130 watts||250 watts||$$||9.4 / 10|
LED Grow Lights — Reviews of the 5 Best of 2017
The following lights are the 5 best options currently available on Amazon. By “best”, I mean they offer the best value. There are certainly better quality lights, but because they cost ten times as much, I feel the lights listed below give you the best results for your money.
These lights are also some of the best-selling grow lights on amazon. They have a lot of reviews, too. You’ll definitely want to read through those, especially the bad ones. I find you learn the most about a product from the bad reviews. If the negatives of a product are something I can live with, then I know I’ve found the one for me.
Galaxy Hydro is offering a great value here. You won’t find many 600 watt equivalent LED lights for this low of a price. And the you do find are low quality lights that won’t flower anything. This light isn’t perfect by any means, but it delivers results and you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
The 600 watt light from Galaxy Hydro only draws around 230 watts of power, so you’re using just over a third the power of an equivalent HID system. It’s a full-spectrum light that will work during any grow cycle. Specifically, it offers 9 different wavelengths, from IR to UV. Basically, all the colors of light plants need to grow.
It has two large fans for improved heat dissipation, which further saves you money since you don’t have to run an air conditioning unit. Several of these fixtures can be daisy chained together using the included power cord (you don’t need to pay for a special cord like you do with many competitors). Hangers are also included.
- Works on AC85/265V — use it anywhere in the world
- 230w power draw — about 60% less electricity than HID
- Contains UV and IR — for higher quality yields
- CE, ROHS, and FCC certified — quality product
- Has 50,000-hour lifespan — no more expensive bulb changes
- Package includes grow light, power cord, and stainless steel rope hanger — everything you need to start growing immediately
- Includes 2-year warranty — if something does go wrong, you’re covered
The Advanced Platinum Series has six lights, from the P150 to the P1200. The smallest runs on 86 watts and is equivalent to a 250 watt HID light and the largest runs on 690 watts and is equivalent to 1400 watts of HID light (the one pictured on the left is the P450; this link will take you to the Amazon page that shows all 6 lights in this series).
This series of lights enjoys a stellar reputation. They are the most expensive lights on this list, but they are still priced far below competing lights that deliver similar results. And they are far superior to any lights in the same price range.
In short, if you’re looking for great lights at a bargain price, you’ve found them. It’s worth paying a bit more than you would for the absolute cheapest, since these lights will actually get you yields that match the equivalent HPS system.
- 12-band spectrum with UV and IR — all the light your plants need for all stages of growth
- US-made top-bin CREE and Bridgelux LEDs — more output, while using less power and longer lasting
- Rated for 100,000 hours — 8-10 years with no bulb changes
- AC 85 to 260V input voltage — works anywhere in the world (all international cords available)
- Complete 5-year warranty and 90-day return policy — no purchasing risk
- Package contains grow light, hangers and power cord — everything you need to start growing immediately
If you’ve spent time on forums for growing, you’ve probably come across the Mars Hydro name. The reason for that is that they pay those forums to discuss their lights. You can’t fault them for advertising, but you do want to be aware that these lights are not as amazing as you might read.
Don’t get me wrong: they are good lights for the price. And the price is low. But there are issues to be aware of. They’re a Chinese company, which means a higher incidence of faulty lights. Luckily, you can return it if you buy from Amazon, but you still lose time. Customer service has also been a problem in the past, but they now have a service center in California, so this should improve.
Bottom line: Mars Hydro lights are a great option if you’re looking to get a powerful light at a low price. You just need to be aware of the potential issues.
- 132 watt actual power draw — save on electricity over HID lighting
- VDE and UL-certified plugs and wiring — safe and easy to maintain
- Heat-proof tube — no fire risk
- Runs on 85-265V — works in any country
- 50,000-100,000 hour lifespan — up to 10 years without bulb changes
- Full-spectrum light with blue, red and white diodes — great for all growth stages
- Includes 1-year warranty and 30-day returns — if you do get a bad unit, you can get it replaced
iPower’s GLLEDXJMPS4F LED grow light was designed to replace a T5 fluorescent tube and it does this admirably. Not only does it cost less than the equivalent fluorescent bulb plus fixture, it also costs far less to operate on a monthly basis. It consumes less electricity, produces less heat and won’t need annual bulb changes (the diodes last at least 4 years, but generally closer to 10).
This fixture emits a full spectrum light from red, blue and white diodes. In terms of spectrum, it can be used for any stage of plant growth, but at 36 watts it isn’t powerful enough to maximize yields during flowering. As a fluorescent replacement, it isn’t meant to be a flowering light anyway. It is ideal for seedlings and clones or for vegging and it does all three far better than fluorescent lighting.
- Full spectrum light with red, blue and white LEDs — can be used for all stages of growth, but best for seeding, cloning and vegging
- Height adjustable — always keep the perfect distance from the plants
- High-quality metal frame — sturdy enough support the light, but still lightweight (7.4 lbs)
- Low power usage and heat output — save money on electricity over fluorescent lights
- On and off switch — no need to unplug it every time you want to turn it off
- Easily assembled — start growing in minutes
- 1-year warranty
The Viparspectra Reflector Series 300 watt LED Grow Light proves that high quality LED grow lights don’t have to cost 5 times an equivalent HID system. In fact, they can cost LESS than that HID light.
This 300 watt fixture is equivalent to a 250 watt HID system, but it actually costs less. It also uses only 136 watts of power and emits far less heat, so you save over 50% each month on operating costs.
This fixture is part of the Viparspectra Reflector series of lights, which range from this 300 watt panel up to a 1200 watt one. You can check out the full series here on Amazon.
These are all full-spectrum lights than can be used for any stage of growth. They come with 3-year warranties and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. That means there is no purchasing risk whatsoever. You can try the light out for 30 days and if you don’t like it, simply return it for a refund. You’ve got nothing to lose!
- Uses 136 watts — save about 50% on your electric bill over HID lights
- Equivalent to a 250 watt HID system — but costs less to buy AND to operate
- Full spectrum light — can be used during all stages of growth
- 2 by 2 foot core coverage — equivalent to HID or competing LEDs
- 90° degree lenses — focus all the light onto your plants, so none goes to waste
- Runs on AC100-240V — will work in any country
- Rated for 100,000 hours — 8-10 years with no bulb changes
- Includes light, hanging kit and power cord — everything you need to start growing immediately
Buying LED Grow Lights: Factors to Consider
Whether you’re new to growing indoors altogether or just new to growing with LED plant lights, you may not be familiar with some of the unique characteristics of LED lighting. Here are the main factors you want to look at when purchasing LED horticultural lights. The factors are listed in no particular order. Only you can know which one is most important to you, given your specific growing situation.
You may have noticed that most LED lights have two different wattage figures. One of these is the potential wattage and the other the actual wattage. The potential wattage is the wattage the light could run at if the LED chips were running at full power. For example, a light with two hundred 3w diodes has a potential wattage of 600.
LED chips are never run at full power, though. Doing so would considerably shorten their life span. Generally, they are run at 50 to 60% of their potential power. This is their actual wattage and is the amount of electricity the light will actually consume. The 600 watt light from the example above would probably use 300 to 400 watts of power.
Most horticultural LED lights use diodes in multiple colors. The majority will be various shades of red and blue, with the better lights also using some white diodes as well as some infrared and ultra-violet ones. This mix of colors gives you all the light plants need for every stage of growth. It is referred to as full-spectrum light and is generally what you want.
There are a few exceptions. If you are looking for a light to only grow clones or to just veg plants, then you might want one with mostly blue LEDs. If you are looking for a light to supplement your existing setup to give your plants a boost during flowering, you’ll want one with mostly red diodes.
Finally, I need to briefly mention all-white LED fixtures. These lights use only white LED, which gives them a spectrum similar to natural sunlight (which is also a mix of HPS and metal halide). Proponents of white light claim it is best for plants, because it gives them the light they are used to from the sun.
And white light does work well to grow and flower plants. But it includes a lot of light in the yellow and green ranges, which is light plants do not use much during photosynthesis. Thus, it goes to waste. A fixture with mostly red and blue is more efficient, because you are not using any of the electricity you paid for to produce light that plants don’t want.
For LED lights, the most widely used measure of intensity is PAR. It stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation and is used to measure the amount of light in the wavelengths that plants use for photosynthesis.
Some manufacturers give PAR readings for their plants; others do not. Those that do often only give one value, which doesn’t really tell you much. That value was taken dead center beneath the light. A large value here means you have a powerful light in the middle of the coverage area, but it tells you nothing about the strength of the light around the edges.
Ideally, manufacturers will provide a PAR footprint that shows PAR readings throughout the coverage area. Most do not do this, however, so you will often have to look to tests done by third parties, such as review sites, for this information.
This refers to the area a fixture can cover while still providing enough light for the plants. For the flowering stage of growth, plants need more light, so you will have to move the light fixtures closer to the canopy. This increases the intensity, but also decreases the coverage area. This is why lights have a smaller coverage area for flowering than they do for vegging. Always make sure the the area given by the manufacturer is for flowering, unless you only plan to veg with your light.
LED lights give off far less heat than HID lights, but powerful LED diodes still emit enough heat that they require cooling. Any larger LED fixture must have heat sinks to reduce the amount of heat emitted and internal fans to disperse whatever heat remains. You want to make sure that a fixtures cooling system is adequate for the amount and strength of diodes in contains. If it isn’t, this will considerably shorten the life span of the LED chips.
General Info on LED Horticultural Lights
LED growing lights have come a long way since they were first introduced. Today’s lights give you yields equal to, and in some cases better than, HID lighting. Older LED lights were great at vegging, but they fell short when it came to flowering. They just didn’t have the required intensity and yields suffered as a result.
Modern light emitting diodes are capable of handling all stages of plant growth:
- Vegging (growth) — During vegging, plants require more bluish light with wavelengths that range between 430-460 nanometers
- Flowering (blooming) — During flowering, plants need more reddish light and also more intensity. This light has wavelengths that range between 650-700 nanometers.
Quality LED manufacturers produce fixtures that provide several shades of blue and red light. Additionally, the best lights also have some white LEDs. White light contains a lot of green and yellow wavelengths. Plants don’t use much of this light, so you don’t want to have too much of it (like HPS and MH bulbs), but it’s good to have some. Finally, quality fixtures often also have some infrared and some ultra-violet light.
LED lights are energy efficient, specifically because they do not contain much white light (i.e. light in the yellow and green ranges). They provide the exact light plants need and nothing more. This way, you are not using electricity to produc light that goes to waste.
Sunlight, for example, contains a ton of yellow and green light. Yes, it works well to grow plants, but that’s because it also contains the red and blue wavelengths plants need. All the other colors go to waste. Since the sun provides an unlimited supply of light, it doesn’t really matter that so much of it goes to wast.
Things are different when we are paying for it, though. That is exactly what happens with traditional grow lights, like high-pressure sodium (HPS), metal-halide (MH) and fluorescent bulbs. They emit mostly unusable light. And the same is true for all-white LEDs, despite what the manufacturers of those light claim. Yes, they work, but they waste a lot of energy unnecessarily.
Common uses for LED grow lights
LED plant lights are commonly used for the following applications:
- Standard gardening — LED lights might be used in greenhouses to supplement natural sunlight or the may be used exclusively for underground or indoor gardens
- Urban farming — In urban area where space is limited, grow lights can completely change the way we grow food. They allow us to move grow operations into abandoned warehouses, old subway tunnels, etc.
- Algae making — Algae is now widely used to manufacture bio-fuel and LED grow lights are perfect for gorwing algae. For this application, lights that only veg (i.e. they have mostly blueish LEDs) are perfect, so you can save even more on electricity since less power is needed for vegging. They also run cooler.
- Marijuana cultivation — this is the fastest growing area for LED lighting and it is revolutionizing the industry. Quality LED lights produce more and higher quality yields, while using less power and creating less heat. They may cost more to purchase upfront, but the operating costs are much lower and the resulting output is worth more. Costs are reduced and revenues increase. Grow operations become much more profitable. And in the past few years, home growers have been switching to LEDs in huge numbers, too.
LED grow lights can help growers save up to 75% in energy consumption. They have a smaller heat signature as well, which saves even more. Their incredible efficiency and their improved yields make LEDs the horticultural lighting of the future. And for the countless growers who have made the switch already, they are the lighting choice of the present, too.
Quality LED grow lights are the best solution we have today for growing plants indoors. They are more efficient that traditional forms of lighting, meaning they produce more output, while using less electricity and producing less heat. They also last much longer. You won’t have to change bulbs for at least 5 years, and often over 10.
But there are downsides. Well, one big downside, and that is the proliferation of low-quality LED lights. In the past five years, tons of manufacturers have flooded the market with low-cost LED lights that are practically useless. They either do not have to light intensity required to flower plants or they simply use the wrong spectrum to be of any use.
If you’re in the market for an LED light, I’m sure you’ve been doing your research and have come across a number of these cheap fixtures. Unfortunately, not all of them are easy to recognize; some of these manufacturers are very good at marketing and know how to make their lights appear far better than they are. What can you do then?
You’re already doing it.
Sites like this one wade through all the crappy choices and find the quality lights. And they don’t always have to be the most expensive options either (Platinum LED is a good example of this). You can get really good lights for not too much more than their HID equivalents.
But they will cost at least a bit more. Those LED lights selling at rock bottom prices are the ones you want to avoid. Pay a little more for a huge jump in quality. If you are not willing to do that, you are not yet ready to switch to LEDs. And that’s fine. HID and fluorescent lights have worked for decades and they still work well today. LED just works better.