Everyone has heard of quantum boards by now.
You can’t visit any forum on growing without seeing HLG LED grow lights mentioned, and usually in glowing terms.
But how much of the hype is real?
And how much is just good marketing?
Here’s the truth: the reason you keep hearing and reading about them is mostly down to marketing.
When they first came out, HLG made sure there was a constant conversation about their lights, and the very cleverly picked “quantum board” term.
Does that mean these lights are not worth it?
No, definitely not. They are great lights and they perform exceptionally well. The company had some issues in the past, but they have improved drastically.
We’ll cover it all in the review below.
The review will focus on the Horticulture Lighting Group 600 V2 RSpec LED grow light, since that is their flagship fixture. Everything said (apart from specific numbers) goes for the other quantum board lights as well.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the most popular HLG quantum board lights and seeing how they compare. Then we’ll cover the 600 V2 RSpec in detail.
Horticulture Lighting Group Quantum Board Panels Comparison Table
- Watts: 80w
- Coverage: 1' x 2' Bloom
- PPF: 152 umol/s
- Watts: 95w
- Coverage: 2' x 2' Bloom
- PPF: 235 umol/s
- Watts: 270w
- Coverage: 2' x 4' Bloom
- PPF: 700 umol/s
- Watts: 600w
- Coverage: 5' x 5' Bloom
- PPF: 1522 umol/s
- Watts: 270w
- Coverage: 3' x 5' Veg
- PPF: 675 umol/s
- Watts: 600w
- Coverage: 6' x 6' Veg
- PPF: 1446 umol/s
- Watts: 630w
- Coverage: 5' x 5' Bloom
- PPF: 1730 umol/s
- Watts: 600w
- Coverage: 5' x 5' Bloom
- PPF: 1584 umol/s
- Watts: 650w
- Coverage: 5' x 5' Bloom
- PPF: 1900 umol/s
HLG 600 V2 RSpec LED Grow Light Review
As mentioned, this review focuses on the HLG 600 V2 Spec (which is an updated version of the HLG 550 V2 Rspec) for the specific numbers, but everything written here goes for the other quantum board lights as well.
Reviews of those would simply repeat everything said here. For the specs on the other fixtures, see the table above.
- Uses 600 watts — save over 50% on your electric bill over HID lights
- Dimmable to 60 watts — save even more when you don’t need the full output
- Incredible output — PPF of 1522μmol/s is an amazing output for only 600 watts of power consumption
- Equivalent to a 1000 watt HID system — but costs far less to operate and generates far less heat, too
- Perfect spectrum for plants — 3500K white light plus 660 nm deep red
- 5 by 5 foot core coverage — with an even light spread, due to the diodes being spread out over the large fixture
- Custom-designed quantum boards — with Samsung LM301H 3500K white and LH351 660nm deep red diodes
- Dimmable driver — highly efficient drive, dimmable to 10% intensity
- 2.55 μmol/joule — one of the most efficient lights on the market
- 3 year warranty — from the manufacturer
The biggest advantage of the Horticulture Lighting Group fixtures are the quality components. Chief among them are the Samsung LEDs.
These high quality components are extremely efficient, delivering a high output, while consuming less power and generating less heat than almost every other light on the market.
The other major advantage of HLG fixtures is the form factor. The large panel makes for a more even light distribution. Let’s take a closer look at the primary advantages of this light.
The Samsung LM301H LEDs emit a full-spectrum white light with a color temperature of 3500K. That is a warm white (i.e. containing a lot of red-spectrum light) that is great for flowering, but also works well for vegging.
The additional LH351 LEDs add a 660 nm deep red light that give plants a huge boost during the bloom stage. It results in bigger and more potent yields.
The light emitted by the HLG 600 V2 RSpec is ideal for full cycle plant growth and is especially powerful for flowering.
When it comes to HLG lights with a spectrum consisting only of 3000K or 4000K white light (their older fixtures), you lose that extra flowering boost from the deep red light.
The 3000K spectrum is a bit warmer (more reddish) than the 3500K white light in the RSpec, so it is also great for flowering, but you do miss that additional deep red light. The 4000K spectrum works well for flowering, too, but not as well as the RSpec or the 3000K.
None of the HLG lights emit a significant amount of UV or IR light. However, the 600 RSpec is compatible with the HLG 30 UV bar. You can attach it in the center of the fixture, making this an easy way to add some UV light to your grow room.
If you want an LED grow light that provides ultraviolet or infrared wavelengths on its own, try the Phlizon series. That said, I usually prefer to just add some fluorescent bulbs for additional UV light, since it only really makes a difference during the last few weeks of flowering. And even that is disputed.
Output And Coverage
As you can see below, the coverage is much more even than most LED grow lights. Instead of sky-high PPFD readings in the center of the footprint and minuscule readings in the corners, the difference is not nearly as pronounced. But of course there is still a difference. That is unavoidable.
PPFD Across 5×5 Area At 24 Inches
PPFD Across 5×5 Area At 30 Inches
The reason for the even coverage is something I touched on earlier: the size of the fixture.
With a smaller fixture (like most competitors), light to the corners of the coverage area has to travel further, since it is coming from the center of the area. It loses much of its intensity by the time it reaches the canopy.
With the larger HLG fixture, light does not have to travel nearly as far to reach the corners of the coverage area, since the large size of the fixture brings LED diodes much closer to the far corners. As a result, the light does not lose nearly as much of its intensity by the time it reaches the canopy.
This does mean less power in the center of the coverage area, but much more around the outside. Even with less power in the center, you still get a lot. Plenty for any type of plant.
And the plants on the outside also still get enough light to flower, which is not the case with many lights that focus all of their power into a small area in the center of the coverage area.
You can also see from the PAR footprints that this light has a coverage area of 5 by 5 feet. It can effectively cover that size area, especially if it is in a tent or other enclosure with reflective walls.
Personally, I would use this light to cover a 4 by 4 foot area. That way you ensure that even plants in the corners still get well over 100 umol/s. If the light is used to cover a 5 by 5 foot area, the corners will get slightly less than 100 umol/s.
It would work fine, but I prefer to give the plants a bit more light.
When you buy a HLG light, you get a longer warranty than with Chinese brands: a full 3 years. They also have a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can return the light if it is not to your liking. Unfortunately they do charge a 20% restocking fee.
Another great pro is the heat management. The quantum boards run much cooler than other LED panels, so the fixture doesn’t even need fans. Passive cooling is all you need.
Not only does that mean silent operation, it also means a longer lifespan. Fans are usually one of the first components to stop working.
The HLG 600 lights ship with a free set of ratchet hangers, but that is not the case for the other HLG fixtures.
Note: the company has made huge improvements and is now one of the top two or three brands on the market in terms of quality and customer service, but we’ve left our original review below, because we did not feel it was right to simply remove our previous misgivings.
See the email HLG sent us in response to the points we make below and our note following the email, to see how our views of the company have changed. It is also important to note that HLG are one of the few grow light companies that are still operating well during the pandemic.
The biggest disadvantage is the company themselves. Horticulture Lighting Group make great lights and most likely, you will be happy with yours. But if you get a bad one, you’re in for some frustration (note: it sounds like they are working hard on improving their customer service – see the email they sent me in response to this review below).
HLG does not do good job with customer service. Yes, they will get you a replacement light, if you end up with a fixture that doesn’t work, but it will take longer than it should and the process will be much more painful that it should be.
They also tend to have more lights break that a company like NextLight. Of course, NextLight’s Mega costs almost twice as much as the comparable HLG 600, but much of that difference goes to better quality control, better build quality and much better customer service and after-sale care.
And honestly, none of this is surprising, when you consider the beginning of HLG. Horticulture Lighting Group was formed from the combination of Johnson Grow Lights and another company, whose name I can’t remember. I tried checking, but HLG seems to have removed this info from their website for some reason.
Johnson was a pretty terrible company, with extremely bad customer service and very prone to mistakes, like shipping out the wrong lights, etc. I don’t think their lights were very good either, but like HLG, they did a great job of marketing (I don’t know why I’m writing “they”, when I’m almost certain Johnson was just one guy).
I remember, there was an episode of Heavy T’s Grow Show (episode #220) where they had the owner (and probably only employee) of Johnson Grow Lights in their studio and agreed to do test grows with one of his lights. They promised photos, follow ups and reports on the progress of this “amazing” light.
I tried to search for follow up shows or any info whatsoever from those test grows and found nothing. That suggests to me that the light was less than “amazing”.
Of course, since they were most certainly paid by Johnson to do those test grows, they couldn’t report bad news, so they just dropped the whole thing entirely. If the light had worked as advertised, you can be sure there would have been follow ups. It also would have been advertised on Johnson’s website.
Of course, all of this is just a guess. The whole point of this little story is simply to say that it is no surprise HLG has issues, when they were formed in part from Johnson Grow Lights, which was a fairly horrible company (and probably nothing more than just the one man himself).
Anyway, if you don’t mind sacrificing some peace of mind and you can accept that you may get a bad light and you may deal with some frustration getting that remedied, then HLG lights are great.
And let’s face it: while they have quality control and customer service issues, they still do both of those things far better than most Chinese brands. At least HLG lights perform as advertised.
If you do want to check out some cheaper Chinese lights that use quantum boards or similar technology, read my review of the Spider Farm SF series, and my review of Mars Hydro’s TS and SP.
Email From HLG
After publishing this review, I received an email from one of the founders of Horticulture Lighting Group addressing some of the issues I mentioned above. I wasn’t sure what to do with that, but decided the fairest thing would be to paste the email below exactly as received. I did remove an external link and added a comment of my own in parenthesis at one point. I also added missing punctuation (there was a lot of that).
Thanks for your review of our products.
I apologize for issues you had with our products. Around mid this year we were behind by months on emails but now we have 2 staff members for support and warranty and things have changed. Steve me partner is always reachable on phone and helps every customer equally regardless of order size. Our support issues have been resolved and i wish there was a way to prove it to you so you can update your review.
Note we have new Sphere and PAR map reports on website (I have added the PAR reports to this review).
“Horticulture Lighting Group was formed from the combination of Johnson Grow Lights and another company, whose name I can’t remember.” The other company was mine, it was Northern Grow Lights.
Both Northern Grow Lights and Johnson Grow lights were 1 man show each. HLG is now 15+ employees.
HLG 550 is only lamp that had higher failure rates. This is because of Meanwell driver. We have worked with Meanwell to fix this issue. MW now makes all drivers for us in Taiwan instead of China and is better quality. and we now also use inventronics driver that has much less failure rate than MW.
Back in 2017 everyone was using COB or high power LED. We created a new revolution by offering 20% higher efficiency for 1/3 the price, making a DIY lamp would take hours and we made it possible to make a DIY lamp in 10 mins. That is when we got trademark Quantum Board and it is unfortunately that other misuse it all the time.
To be honest it has been all organic growth at HLG. We just started advertising. Everything you see on IG is all me.
Lets connect via email. I would love to know more about you and share our story.
From the email, it seemed they were working hard to improve, which is always a great thing to see in a company. And the fact that he took the time to write this email in response to my review also says a lot.
I’m impressed and I do hope they have put the customer service issues behind them. Their lights are a bit more expensive than the Chinese brands, so you expect better customer service and better quality control for your money.
Update October 2020: From what we’ve been hearing, their customer service has been doing MUCH better. It does seem like the issues were just some growing pains and their efforts to improve a weakness have paid off.
They are even still operating well during the pandemic, which has shut down some of the biggest brands that sell their lights for double what HLG charges. We can now safely say that we highly recommend HLG lights. If you can afford them, there is no better option on the market.
HLG Quantum Board LED Grow Light Review: Final Verdict
The Horticulture Lighting Group HLG 600 V2 RSpec LED Grow Light and all other HLG panels, use high quality components to give you one of the most efficient grow lights on the market period.
The high quality Samsung diodes deliver huge output, while consuming less power and generating less heat. Your costs go way down and your yields go up.
The large fixtures with diodes spread out over the entire surface ensure a more even coverage and deeper penetration, since the light does not lose nearly as much of its intensity by the time it hits the canopy. Again, yields increase, especially around the outside of the coverage area.
The all-white color spectrum is great for all stages of growing and the addition of deep red in the RSpec fixtures gives a huge boost to flowering. This also results in bigger and higher quality yields.
The internet is littered with grow reports using these lights and the results speak for themselves. Growers are getting incredible yields. For that reason, it should come as no surprise that HLG quantum board lights earned a rating of 4.8 out of 5.
Mr Mack says
You most definately need an oscilating fan to transfer heat away from the quantum board and the driver which will then be extracted by fans or cooled by an ac.
The mean well driver alone can heat up to 50 degrees celcius.
Also 1 watt off power equals 3.4 British thermal units..
HPS is roughly 44% efficient so theres alot of power converted to heat.
Quantum Boards are more efficient so less energy is turned to heat..but a watt is a watt. And over Time you’ll need to cool the light the same as you would an HID.
Please refer to this link on a forum where it was discussed fairly in depth with quite a bit of science behind or from experienced growers.
HID vs QUANTUM BOARD HEAT
https://www.rollitup.org/t/qauntum-board-vs-hid-heat-difference.994295/ID vs QUANTUM BOARD hea
Also you can pay 1000 usd for a top bin fixture.from HLG (hlg buys their parts in china and assembles them in united states……their still chinese manufactured)
Or you can pay 350 usd for a Chinese quantum board with medium bin diodes with IR and UV off alibaba (trade assurance so it means if item not as described your protected, everyone on rollitup uses them.with great success and good customer service)
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOP BIN AND MEDIUM BIN 10%
Difference between top bin and low bin
HLG is extremely over priced. And customer service is less than desirable.
If you feel you need to spend 650 usd more for a QB with 10-15%efficiency over chinese boards that’s your choice.
But most growers wouldnt notice a difference if UNLESS EVERY OTHER SINGLE ASPECT OF THEIR GROW was dialed in for 80% of users this board is useless to you with its high price tag.
Yes, that’s true, you would want to have an external fan. But that is true for any grow light, to be honest. You always want a fan circulating hot air away from the light (and also keeping the air moving over the plants).
As for the Chinese brands: they are always an option. It is up to each individual whether the savings are worth the higher potential for a faulty fixture and the hassle of trying to get it replaced from Chinese company. They can be very frustrating to deal with. I generally agree with you that it is worth it, especially if budget is a concern, but again, that is up to everyone to decide for themselves.
It all comes from China that’s where due process ones in the Best companies to buy from
There are some brands that make their lights in the US, but very few of them. And their lights cost a lot more than the HLG lights.
Why not run the drivers offsite and use 18g wire to connect them to the boards… this would reduce heat inside your grow up to 15-20 degrees
My impression after having used the Quantum boards – 3000K for 2 years and 6 harvests is when the time comes to expand I will buy more. They work and are budget friendly compared to almost every other LED light out there. Am I biased? Sure, I admit I have not used anything else so are there LED lights that can increase the grow quality I would say more than likely and maybe someday, if budget constraints are more flexible, I may try something new. For now I can veg 12 and flower 6. Cost is about $50/month to operate a 4-board 600H.. Very stable and no issues. Quality materials all around. Thank you HLG.
Their lights work. My main issue is with the company and their seeming disorganization at the top. I actually think it’s probably just one guy, maybe two, who run everything. Maybe some day, they can afford to hire someone who actually knows how to run a company.
Jacob Hadary says
I ordered an HLG 600Rspec, they shipped it and it took only 72hrs to have it “delivered* and it was either stolen from my doorstep or the driver was lying and got himself a new grow light. Either way, I contacted HLG, they needed 24 hrs to file an insurance claim and they were ready to send me a new unit that day. I needed up getting 4 QB96 Elite V2 kits instead, but they have definitely streamlined their customer service and reply to emails within 20 mins, except on Sundays. From simple questions to weird ones and stolen packages- they’re wayyyyy better now. I don’t think I’ll buy anywhere else the experience was so good.
BTW the 4 QB96 kits on 2 MeanWell 320 watt drivers for 640 total watts is a BEAST. The kits are only 69$, so including 2 drivers, building an aluminum frame and the random materials for wiring, I got a 640 watt top bin HLG fixture for less than 460$ total. Including shipping and taxes.
Yes, they have really improved and are now far better at customer service than many of the more expensive brands, like Kind or California Lightworks.
Michael Sayce says
in regards to hlg group the merger was indeed with johnson grow lights, northern grow lights, photon labs llc
president Amit Chandna from Northern grow lights (MBR) Steve Johnson from Johnson grow lights! yes you indeed correct they import all supplies from China from heatsinks, led’s to grow tents!! i have found the bill of laden & shipping documents & the ports wich they were shipped all in the name of Photon Labs llc with HLG being the recipient, Photon Labs llc has the same address on the shipping documents as HLG Westerville, Ohio along with that it shows the companies that supplied them all the goods! i got tired of reading all the bickering on the grow forums about buying chinese lights & that HlG is all american well BS so i spent a couple hrs lastnite searching soi have the proof to prove otherwise if you would like this info to validate my claims id be happy to send you all the links! as they say “proofs in the pudding” Cheers
Info link please [email protected]
al lang says
I received a 550 v2 4000k as a present and wanted a 550 v2 r-spec instead. I called and explained my situation and the process was handled quickly and efficiently. The customer service was impeccable. When I received the r-spec it had the inventronics driver which now has a resistor added with a knob so no screwdriver needed to dim.
That’s great to hear!
Grow Doctor says
This is an excellent article. Mr. Mack has a really good comment on here comparing HLG vs Alibaba quantum boards. For anyone looking to buy direct I have a buying guide to help you navigate shopping on Alibaba as well as the basics of growing with Quantum Boards.
what kind of “grow lightin info” is this, if you only talk about AMERICAN brands??? what about “others”???? what about those with your govt is at war now???
what about chinese manufacturers-brands?????
You have serious issues: both mental and with comprehension. Maybe take another look at the site and then rethink your comment.
Can you say…..troll
Just had a driver issue with my 550s. Replacements received within a couple days. Excellent customer service!
Thank you HLG!
Yes, they seem to be doing MUCH better with customer service. I am so happy to see that. It shows they really care and want to improve.
Customer service has definitely improved. I contacted their wholesale department (Amit) and since I live so close to their corporate HQ he’s gonna let me come out, check the boards out, and have them shipped direct to their corporate HQ,
That’s real Kool! where do you live if you dont mind me asking my friend?
Michael Sayce says
Thats real KOOL of them! so if you dont mind me asking wheres this meeting suppose to take place at? inquiring minds want to know thats all my friend!
Alan Baeth says
Yes i would like to know that myself! I know both states they work out of, just like to hear it from the horses mouth as they say !! no hate my friend just wish you the best✌
The seller Kingbrite on Alibaba is awesome and I highly recommend them if you want a quality light, quality customer service with warranties and best of all 1/3rd the price of HLG for the exact same products (Some better and technologically improved)
Kingbrite is definitely a good alternative, if you don’t mind buying direct from China.
Juan eubanks says
Are the hlg lights made in China
Michael Sayce says
Yes & No all the pcb`s, led’s & the heatsinks come from China! They assemble them in Illinois & Tennesse so how ever you want to interpet whats made in USA is a matter of opinion! I have alot of shipping manifests to prove what im saying! If you would like the truth let me know id me more than happy to share my info! Btw go to importgenuis.com look up hlg by name then let me know ill give you all the info about Steve johnson & Amit ✌
Kris mcdonald says
Hi could you share this info bro cheers
Hi there my friend! Im not having any luck trying to paste the links, but if you like you can can reach me at [email protected] and i would be more than happy to send you all the info i have aquired & show you how to find the same info on just about any company! Stay safe ✌
Michael Sayce says
Hey kris not sure if it went through, you can contact me at [email protected] i will give you all the info my friend ✌
Alan Baeth says
Thanks for the info michael sayce about HLG ! That import website has shipping info on everything even told me the name of the vessel & what time it arrived in the port from china Amazing Thanks again
Samsung is Korean
Alan Baeth says
Samsung has Sales & a manufacturing plant for their mid-power led’s in China also! do your homework!
joey boombatz says
i have both the hlg 550 v2 and the 550 rv2 and both have worked great. am very happy with them and will continue to use them.
you should check out the HLG-600 kits,
100watts more and less $$
I have both and only use the 600s to flower although both are very nice lights.
I’m curious if real growers actually notice any difference with the spectrum shift?
Lee Gee says
Any way to power the smaller versions off DC power? Also wondering why the 100 watt version that I have has two power ports if they can’t be daisy chained.
I waited forever for my new HLG 260W kits to arrive and they finally did…AND BOTH F-ING HEAT SINKS LOOK LIKE THEY WERE USED IN A DEMOLITION DERBY OR SOMETHING.
I am so angry right now. They were rude when I contacted them about the late shipment, they required an adult to sign for the package, which completely WASTED my day, and now they arrive and they look like they are trying to pass off used trash as new.
I have used the lamp of the Chinese brand litescience, it is also very good, never overheated
i have both the helenor compact and 720w and 960W both have worked great. am very happy with them and will continue to use them.
John grower says
Hlg trademarked the “quantum board”, a term, or the name, they don’t own the patent. Google , cn203496505u. Lol. China
Samsung as already pointed out, has 7 mfg plants, 2 China, 1 Austin. They make the new evos as well as b h diodes
Meanwell and invertronics made in china.
I love my expensive china hlg light. Assembly is one THING, MADE IN 🇺🇸, I think not.
John grower says
As mentioned, samsung has 7 plants that make all diodes, evos, b, h,, 2 in china, 1 Austin tx.,
Meanwell and inventronics drivers made in china, the trademark that HLG has, Quantum Board, lol just the name only.
$64,000.00 dollar question,
Who owns the patent to the quantum board?
Since most want proof, Google.
Well before HLG was created.
Like their light, OWN ONE.
Hate the phrase made in 🇺🇸 When it’s just assembled. Tired of forum HLG gate keepers crying china crap.