Their Reflector series lights are great and some of the better lights I’ve reviewed.
But like all Chinese brands, they exaggerate the specs.
What’s strange is: they seem to have made the conscious decision to lie a little bit less. They didn’t decide to just be honest (that would be crazy), only to exaggerate less than before.
I guess they think this will make them seem more legitimate than brands that lie more.
But what is really hilarious is the implementation of this new “slightly more honest” policy. They definitely missed the mark with that.
I’ll get into that more in the section on disadvantages below.
For now, let’s take a look at the lights.
The Mars Hydro Reflector Series has four fixtures. The naming is a bit confusing. In some places they are referred to by the numbers 48, 96, 144, and 192; in other places they are called 240w, 480w, 720w and 960w.
As expected from Mars, those wattages are not the actual wattages of the lights. Not even close. They are also not the HID equivalent (the first set of numbers is the number of diodes in the fixture and the second is the theoretical wattage, were all diodes driven at their full power).
The table below shows you exactly how much wattage each light in the Mars Reflector Series actually uses and how each light compares to HID lights. It also shows you the actual coverage you can expect and the output in umol per square meter per second, at 18 inches from the canopy.
Mars Hydro Reflector Series LED Grow Lights Comparison Table
|Reflector 48 (240W)
|2' x 2'||336 umol/m²/s|
|Reflector 96 (480W)
|2' x 3'||531 umol/m²/s|
|Reflector 144 (720W)
|2' x 4'||740 umol/m²/s|
|Reflector 192 (960W)
|3' x 3'||895 umol/m²/s|
Mars Hydro Reflector 192 Review
The Reflector 960w (also referred to as the 192, which is the number of diodes) is the largest and most popular of this Mars Hydro series of LED grow lights, so I will focus this review on that model.
Everything said about the 192 version goes for the other 3 versions as well, apart from the specific numbers, like wattage, coverage area, output, etc.
Mars Hydro Reflector 960W LED Grow Light Features
- Uses 410 watts — save about 35% on your electric bill over HID lights
- Equivalent to a 600 watt HID system — but costs less to buy AND to operate
- Ideal full spectrum light — perfect for all stages of growth
- Veg and Flower Switches — turn off unneeded diodes to save money on power costs
- 3 by 3 foot core coverage — slightly less than a comparable HID system
- Epistar 5w LED chips — deeper canopy penetration than 3w chips
- Runs on AC85 to 265V — will work in any country
- Rated for 50,000 to 100,000 hours — up to 10 years with no bulb changes
- 3-year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee — risk-free purchase
- US Service Center — warranty repairs are faster, since you don’t have to ship back to China
The Reflector series from Mars Hydro has a number of advantages, but the number one pro should be obvious: the cost.
These lights cost far less than an equivalent light made by an American brand. And given that Mars is one of the better Chinese brands, but the price is on par with the rest, you are getting great value.
In addition to the purchase price, the operating cost is also a big advantage. Since LED grow lights run cooler and use less power than their HID or fluorescent equivalents, you save a ton of money in operating costs.
In general, you save around 50%, when everything is added up. Mars reflector lights are about in the middle when it comes to LEDs. They are not the most efficient, but also far from the least.
Considering the low purchase price, you can be very happy with the approximately 35% reduction in power usage and the additional savings due to lower heat output (1398 BTU for the 960w reflector).
The Mars Reflector color spectrum is not perfect, but it is quite good, so I will list it as an advantage. But I definitely prefer the spectrum of lights like the Phlizon COB series or the BestVA lights.
The Mars spectrum is made up of diodes with the following wavelengths 440 nm and 460 nm (blue), 630 nm and 660 nm (red), 730 nm (IR), 2700k to 3000k (white).
Mars do not provide any info about the ratio (i.e. how many if the 192 diodes are red, blue, white, etc.), apart from telling us that 2 of them are IR diodes.
That said, we can see the approximate ratio from the spectral graph. It is immediately obvious that there are large spikes on blue and red, meaning that the vast majority of diodes are in the 2 red and the 2 blue wavelengths.
The problem with the spectrum should also be immediately obvious. 2 problems, to be exact.
The first is the large blue spike. That is simply too much blue light. During vegging, that is fine, but during flowering, you want closer to a 5:1 red to blue ratio. This much blue will keep plants from stretching as much as they should during the bloom cycle.
This may be of benefit if your vertical space is limited and you want your plants to stay on the shorter side, but if you are trying to maximize yields, it will hurt. If the plants don’t stretch enough, there is not enough stalk space for really large buds to form
The second problem is the minimal amount of green and yellow light. While plants don’t need as much light in these colors, they do want some. And ideally, they want quite a bit more than they are getting from this light.
Green light penetrates more deeply below the canopy, since it is not absorbed as much by the leaves as other colors. This helps bud growth even below the leaves. Furthermore, you get higher quality yields if plants receive more green and yellow light. That is what they are getting in nature, after all.
Overall, the spectrum is quite good for plants, especially during vegging. But I definitely wish Mars had substituted about 20% of the blue diodes for white ones (especially since white light contains blue as well). That would have been a huge improvement.
The truth is: almost every LED grow light has reflectors. Without them they simply would not be able to efficiently direct the light from the diodes downward toward the canopy in a focused beam.
This light has one large continuous reflector panel, with indentations for each diode. These indentations reflect the light at a 120° in one direction and 90° in the other.
Mars claims this continuous reflector leads to 100% light output with no loss. That is laughable.
No surface is 100% reflective and any time light is reflected by a surface, a portion of that light is absorbed by the surface. The amount of light absorbed can be minimal for a highly reflective surface (like a mirror), but it is never 0.
As a result, the reflector on these lights is not really an advantage. It is also not a disadvantage. Basically, it is like a power cord: a feature the light needs, but not one you would generally advertise as groundbreaking.
Output, Coverage And Canopy Penetration
In terms of numbers, it consumes 410 watts and gives you an output of 895 umol/m²/s dead center of the coverage area at a hanging height of 18 inches. In the corners of a 3 by 3 foot area at that height, you get values ranging from 84 to 100 895 umol/m²/s.
Since you generally like to see a PPFD of at least 100 umol/m²/s to flower plants, the ideal flowering coverage of this light is slightly below 3 by 3 feet. That said, it is powerful enough to flower a 3×3 area, especially if the walls are covered in reflective material (like the inside of a grow tent).
The Mars Reflector Series uses 5 watt LED chips from Epistar. They give you a better penetration than 3 watt chips. The main drawback of 5 watt chips is heat, but this light does well at managing that, with a heat output of 1398 BTU.
Daisy Chain, Warranty And Guarantee
The other big advantage of the reflector series over many other comparable lights is the ability to daisy chain several fixtures together. This allows you to run multiple lights from the same outlet.
Even better, you don’t even need a special cord. You can simply plug the power cord of one light into the next fixture.
When you buy your Reflector Series light, you also get a power cord (6.7 feet), a hanging kit and an instruction manual. In other words, nothing special. Those are all things that should be included with any grow light.
Mars gives you a 3 year warranty on these lights. Since they now have a service center located in the US, getting your light repaired or replaced should be much faster than before. You also get a 30 day money back guarantee which states that you can return your light within 30 days for a full refund, no matter the reason. Both are comparable with the better Chinese brands and better than what you get with most.
The biggest disadvantage of these lights, to me, is the one I touched on in the introduction. The lying and exaggeration. Even though Mars Hydro has apparently decided to exaggerate a bit less, they still exaggerate.
And what’s funny is that they have adjusted their lies in some spots, but not in others.
The result is a complete mess when looking at the specs on their lights. You’ll see several different figures for each spec and not a single one will actually reflect reality. This is true even for the dimensions! (Just….why??)
Worse, all the review sites just copy the info from Mars and don’t do any actual research of their own, so they all give you the wrong specs, too. It’s crazy.
So what’s the point of this rant?
Just to let you know what you’re getting into.
These lights are great, but Mars Hydro is not a great company. They’re insanely disorganized and dishonest and that combination makes it very hard to find accurate info on their lights. You can’t get reliable info in the grow forums either, since Mars pays several of them for the right to post whatever info they want.
Here’s the truth.
If you buy one of their lights, it will probably work just fine. It won’t do what they claim it does, but it will live up to what you’ve read on this page.
That said, there is always a small chance you get a defective unit. If that happens, it will take time and hassle to get it fixed or replaced.
Mars will get you a working light. But you’ll lose time. That’s the risk when you buy a budget light from any Chinese brand.
That said, you save so much money that it’s probably worth it. Definitely worth it, if you plan for the worst case and are prepared for it.
Personally, I would always buy one extra light (at a minimum) to have as a backup, in case a light goes out in the middle of a grow. If you need 4 lights, buy five or six. They’re cheap enough to do that and why risk harming your precious crop if a light craps out on you and it takes weeks to get it repaired or replaced?
Apart from that, I’ll mention the spectrum again. It is good, but could be much better with more white diodes. It’s hard to call it a disadvantage as a whole, but I would call the small number of white diodes specifically a disadvantage.
Then there is the power cord. 6.7 feet is fairly short, so you will probably need an extension cord to reach an outlet. Being able to daisy chain the lights does help, if you have more than one of them.
Mars Hydro Reflector Series Review Summary
Do I recommend these lights?
Yes, I do.
But I recommend others before these.
The main advantage all of those brands have over the Mars Hydro Reflector Series 960W LED grow light and the other lights in the reflector series is a better spectrum. This is especially true for the Phlizon COB lights.
Even though I prefer those other lights, the Reflector Series lights are still very good.
If Mars Hydro has a light in the size and strength you need and the others don’t, it is certainly worth getting. Even if the other brands do have the light you need, but you just prefer Mars, there’s not really anything wrong with their lights.
They are good. The others just have a better color spectrum, especially for flowering.
That’s why I give these lights a solid Grow Light Info rating of 3.8 out of 5. That is a higher rating than most lights, but definitely lags behind the best.