No. They are labeled as such, but they are not actually full-spectrum.
Most contain LED diodes in multiple colors. That means they have specific wavelengths, but not every wavelength. The wavelengths between the diodes the light contains are missing.
There is only one way to get a true full-spectrum output. And that is with white light.
I will explain why and also which combination of diodes gives you the best light for plants (hint: only white is not as effective as white plus additional diodes).
I will also show why LEDs and CMH bulbs are the only two cost effective ways to get the ideal full-spectrum white light.
And I will show you exactly which LED fixtures provide this ideal light and do so at a reasonable cost. Why spend over a thousand dollars on a light, when you can get the same thing for a few hundred.
Summary of Recommendations
Here’s a quick summary of the best lights. If you’re curious why I chose these lights, you’ll find brief reviews for each below and also links to more in-depth reviews.
Best Full Spectrum LED Grow Light Overall
Best COB Only Full Spectrum White LED
Best Non-COB Full Spectrum LED
Full Spectrum Grow Lights: Why LED?
HID lights are full-spectrum, as are fluorescent lights. So why should you go with LED?
You’ll find much more detail here, but basically, LED grow lights are the only form of horticultural lighting that give you the ideal spectrum (because they can have any spectrum), that deliver that spectrum efficiently, and that achieve enough output to flower plants.
Let’s look at each type of full-spectrum horticultural lighting.
Best Full Spectrum Grow Lights
HPS and MH both work well and have for a long time, but they do not give you the ideal spectrum. HPS lacks blue light and MH lacks red light. Both work, but would work much better with a fuller spectrum.
Among HID bulbs, only CMH bulbs give you a full spectrum light. As such, they give you the ideal (or very close to ideal) full spectrum light, and they do it very efficiently.
Ceramic metal halide bulbs are the only type of lighting I recommend besides LED. I prefer LED, because it is more efficient (more output while using less power) and runs cooler.
As for fluorescent lighting, it simply does not have the power to flower larger gardens effectively. For a small grow, they are great. You can just pick up some fluorescent bulbs at Home Depot or a similar store and start growing without spending much on lighting.
But for a large grow, you would need too many lights and once you get that many, fluorescent lighting is no longer efficient (higher power usage and more heat).
In short: LED grow lights can provide the perfect spectrum and give you a large output while consuming less power. The only other lighting system that comes close is ceramic metal halide.
The only problem with LED lighting: most of it is not great.
You have to know exactly which ones to get, or you’ll end up with one that is far from ideal.
What you don’t want is a light using red and blue diodes. Often referred to a purple, or blurple, LEDs, the manufacturers of these lights refer to them as “full spectrum”. But they are not.
Even if they have diodes in many other colors, they are not really full spectrum.
Each diode emits one specific wavelength, which means that there is no light in the wavelengths in between. For example, if a light has red diodes emitting the wavelengths 630 nm and 660 nm, it does not emit light with a wavelength of 640 nm or 650 nm.
Can you really call this full spectrum, if it only has light in very specific wavelengths?
No you can’t. And the only way to get a full spectrum LED grow light is to use white diodes, since white light is made up of light in every color.
Full Spectrum White LED Grow Light
Full spectrum white LED fixtures can be made up entirely of white diodes, or they can have some white diodes, along with other colored diodes. Either way, the white light covers the full spectrum of visible light.
What is the best way to deliver full-spectrum white LED light?
COBs. Chip-on-board LEDs are available in several different colors, but for horticultural applications, manufactueres use two: warm white (3000K) and cool white (6000K).
Both deliver a full-spectrum white light that is great for all stages of plant growth. The 3000K ones are better for flowering, while the 6000K ones are better for vegging. Many fixtures will include a mix of both.
Why are COBs better than regular all-white diodes?
They have far more power than regular LED diodes, meaning they penetrate much deeper beneath the canopy. This huge advantage leads to bigger and better yields.
As good as the all-white spectrum is, there is an even better spectrum. That is the all-white spectrum mixed with additional red and blue diodes, as well as UV and IR. Many non-COB LEDs provide this mix and the best COB fixtures will give you this spectrum as well.
Let’s take a look at the best lights on the market that mix white COBs with additional diodes, the best COB only light, and the best lights using regular diodes only (with a mix of all-white and colored).
Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights: Reviews And Comparison
Below are the best full spectrum LED plant lights on the market today. My top recommendation combines COBs with supplemental diodes.
I’ve also included a line of fixtures that uses only CREE CXB3590 COBs (the industry standard), and a line of lights that achieves a perfect spectrum without using COBs, for those who prefer regular LEDs
Finally, I have a second, but lower priced line of COB fixtures with additional diodes for those on a budget. They cost less than the Phlizon, because they use Bridgelux COBs, instead of CREE.
Best Full-Spectrum LED Grow Light: Phlizon COB Series
Since the best full spectrum LED lights are ones that combine all-white COBs with supplemental diodes that provide additional red, blue, UV and IR wavelengths, it only makes sense that the best light overall provides exactly that spectrum.
Of course we could get a light from the industry-leader Optic LED. They make great fixtures. Or we could get a Phlizon COB Series fixture and pay half as much for virtually the same light.
That is why the Phlizon lights are my top recommendation. They are an amazing value.
I won’t go into too much detail here, since I already wrote an in-depth review of the Phlizon lights that you can check out.
Here are the highlights.
The CREE COBs are the stand-out feature. These high quality chip-on-board LEDs give you an intense light that penetrates far more deeply below the canopy than regular LEDs. They also have a great full-spectrum white light, with half emitting warm white and half cool white light.
The supplementary diodes add red, blue, UV and IR to that white spectrum, making it even more ideal for plants. It works great for any stage of growth.
All 3 Phlizon fixtures are highly efficient, achieving huge outputs while keeping power usage down (for exact numbers, check out the comparison table in the review). They also have two separate (but confusingly named) power switches, so you can dial back the power and save some money when you don’t need full strength.
- Perfect spectrum for plants
- High output
- Low power usage
- Two separate power switches
- 50,000+ hour lifespan
- 2-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee
- Slightly higher cost than other budget lights (mainly because they’re better)
- Labeling on the power switches is confusing
- No daisy chain feature
Best Full Spectrum White LED: CREE CXB3590 COB Series
The best light for growing is achieved by combining full-spectrum white light with additional red, blue, UV and IR, but many prefer not to have any additional diodes. They prefer a light with only white COB LEDs and they want the highest quality diodes to boot.
When it comes to high quality chip-on-board LEDs, there is one name above all the rest: CREE. And their CXB3590 COBs are the industry standard. There are a few fixtures that include them, but the best value is the Canagrow line of CXB3590 lights.
Canagrow have 3 lights in this series: one with a single COB, one with two of them and one with four (pictured above). All deliver an intense light that achieves deep penetration. And they manage to keep the power consumption down.
The best feature of these lights is the quality components. Not only do they use Cree LEDs, but they also use Meanwell drivers (top in the industry). In fact, every component used is top-of-the-line. Naturally, the price is higher than the other lights listed on this page as well.
One nice feature that is missing from the Phlizon light is the ability to daisy chain several fixtures together and run them fro a single outlet. If you have multiple lights, this can be very useful.
The Canagrow light also has a dimmer, which is better than having two switches. Instead of completely powering off a section of the fixture, you can simply dial back the intensity of every diode together.
I’ll just give a quick summary of the major advantages and disadvantages here. You can check out my in-depth review to get all the details.
- Highest quality components (CREE, Meanwell, etc.)
- Dimmer so you can reduce power and save on electricity when you don’t need the full intensity
- 3 year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee
- Higher cost than other fixtures on this list
- No additional diodes for added red or blue light
- No UV or IR
Best Non-COB Full Spectrum LED: BestVA DC Series
COBs give you a deeper canopy penetration than regular LEDs, but not everyone is a fan. And the truth is, the best non-COB LED fixtures are almost as good.
My favorite series is the DC Series of lights from BestVA. DC stands for “double chip” and refers to the chip arrangement in the fixture. It uses two 5 watt chips in conjunction to form a single 10w diode, which is actually similar to COB technology, except on a much smaller scale.
These 10 watt chips end up giving you a deeper canopy penetration than 3 watt or 5 watt chips, which is their main advantage.
The biggest disadvantage of the larger chips is heat, so you need to make sure the fixture can adequately deal with the additional heat output. The BestVA lights do a great job at keeping heat down, so that is not an issue here.
They use warm white and cool white diodes, in addition to diodes in multiple colors. Most are shades of red or blue. The results are full spectrum lights that work great for any stage of growth.
The color spectrum is similar to the spectra of the other lights on this list, but has more red and blue and less of the other colors, especially green and yellow. It still has a good amount of these colors, which is what makes it so effective. These are not blue/red only lights.
Here are the main pros and cons. For much more detail, check out my review of the BestVA DC Series.
- Great spectrum for all stages
- Low price
- Great heat management
- 3 year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee
- 10w chips get less penetration than COBs (but still very good)
- No daisy chain feature
Best Budget Alternative To Phlizon: Aglex COB Series
The Phlizon lights are my top choice, because they give you everything the industry standard Optic and Amare lights do, but at half the price. Nevertheless, they are still priced a bit higher than other budget lights, so I decided to include my second favorite series that combines COBs with supplemental LEDs.
The Aglex COB series keeps costs down even more by using Bridgelux BXCD1734 COBs. These are high quality 5500K LEDs and provide a cool full spectrum white light. That said, they are not CREE chips, which cost more and are the industry standard.
Apart from the less expensiveness components, there aren’t too many differences between Aglex and Phlizon. One big one is that the Aglex series tops out at 2000w, while the Phlizon series goes up to 3000 watts.
Note that Chinese brand naming conventions are in full force here, meaning 2000w is nowhere near 2000w. My reviews of these lights tell you the actual wattage of each one.
Since the Aglex lights use 5500K COBs, their spectrum is a bit different from the Phlizon, which uses a mixture of 3000K and 6000K. The difference is not huge, but the Aglex has a bit more blue spectrum light and slightly less red.
Apart from that, Aglex does a better job of labeling their dual power switches (veg and bloom) and their lights can be daisy chained, so you can connect multiple lights and run them from a single outlet.
Here is a summary of the main advantages and disadvantages. For all the details, check out my review of the Aglex COB series.
- Great spectrum for all stages
- Low price
- Separate veg and bloom switches
- Daisy chain feature
- 3 year warranty
- Bridgelux COBs instead of CREE (they are also good, but Cree is industry best)
- No money back guarantee