Best LED Grow Lights (2021 Buyers Guide)

Our #1 PICK 

Honorsen Grow Light Panels

~ The Best Value for Money ~

  • Veg/Bloom switch for plants at all stages
  • Maximum energy saving
  • Powerful built-in cooling system

Growing plants has always been synonymous with daily physical labour in the great outdoors. The needs for tons of acreage, powerful equipment and good weather for productive harvests have and still dictate, to a large degree, how plants are grown outside. Whether it’s running a farm or gardening for fun, most folks will be outside, in the dirt and at the mercy of mother nature.

However, in this day and age, more and more people are choosing to grow plants indoors. Why, might you ask? Well for one, we have the knowledge and technology to do so successfully. Another main reason is that indoors, you take the place of mother nature.

You can be in charge of things like water, light, humidity and even ventilation. In other words, indoors, you don’t have to worry about being at risk from inclement and unpredictable weather. People also love growing indoors because you can be more in charge of pests and plant diseases.

Indoors, it’s always growing season. You can grow year-round and not wait for the traditional Spring and Summer months to be the most productive seasons of the year. You can amplify your growing and harvest cycles to 2-3 times a year instead of just one time, no longer relying on the weather to dictate your growing schedule.

And for all those reasons, indoor plants tend to be of higher quality. If you’ve ever seen a tomato grown indoors in a greenhouse compared to a tomato grown in the field (or any vegetable for that matter), then you know exactly what I mean. Indoors plants live less stressful lives with regards to weather, pest and disease, and so oftentimes, they satisfy higher quality standards. Things like shape, colour, smell and flavour are all enhanced.

So, if you are tired of getting sunburned in the garden, or want to decorate your home with some new plants, then making sure you have the proper set-up indoors will be key to your success (and the success of your plants). One component of that set-up is light. So, let’s learn more.


The Low Down on LED Grow Lights

At this point, we’ve all heard and used LED to describe a type of light. But do we actually know what we are talking about? Or what LED even stands for? Well, time to become enlightened (pun intended).

LED stands for light-emitting diode. Not a bad name for a band, if you ask me. LEDs are special because they emit light using an electrical current that passes through a microchip which then illuminators the light-emitting diode. LEDs are directional light sources, meaning they provide light in a specific direction. This process makes them produce light that is about 90% more effective than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

And they do so without emitting any heat. Because of this, LEDs also tend to be more versatile and last longer. Traditional incandescent and compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) emit light and heat in all directions.

On the other hand, incandescent light bulbs produce light by using electricity to heat up a metal filament until it becomes “white” hot. In this process, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat.

In CFLs, electrical current flows between two electrodes at each end of a tube that contains gases. This reaction produces ultraviolet light and heat. The ultraviolet light is then transformed into visible light when it strikes a phosphorus coating on the inside of the bulb.


Types of LEDs

There are three common forms that are most popular for LED grow lights: panels, bars and bulbs. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

LED Light Panels

Panels are probably the most common when it comes to indoor growing. One reason for their popularity is that many come with heatsinks— mechanisms that are designed to remove excess heat from the light fixture. Now is a good time for a quick side-note on heatsinks.

If you thought that LEDs didn’t produce heat, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. LEDs are cool to the touch. But within the mechanisms themselves, there is still plenty of heat.

“With high-power LEDs, it is crucial that you remove heat through efficient thermal management. Without good heat sinking, the junction (internal) temperature of the LED rises, causing the LED characteristics to change for the bad. As the junction temperature of an LED increases, both the forward voltage and the lumen output decreases. Not only is this decreasing the brightness and efficiency of your LED but this junction temperature affects the overall lifetime of the LED as well.”- Tyler Scully at LED Supply

Other pros of LED light panels are that they provide the full spectrum of light to accommodate the various growing stages of your plants and to mimic natural light. They do this by providing a balanced spectrum of red, blue and green light.

They come ready to “plug and play” with any standard electrical outlet and are designed to run for a very, very long time. We are talking decades worth of light life here people.

The con for a full-sized LED light panel, is simply the cost. Panels are by far the most expensive way to provide high-quality LED light to your indoor plants.

LED Light Bars

Light bars are as if you took a single row of diodes from a light panel and used it as a standalone tool. They are handy because you can easily increase your light footprint without investing in an entire new LED light panel. Another pro for single row light bars is that you can vary the light spectrum you are providing your plants. LED light bars should be thought of as supplemental light to whatever main light source you are using.

Due to their supplemental nature, one con is that unless you invest in multiple light bars, they are hard to use as your sole light source. They often come in just one light spectrum and are unable to switch to different ones.

LED Light Bulbs

Light bulbs are singular sources of LED light. Most even have the same, traditional shape as CLF and incandescent bulbs. LED light bulbs cannot be plugged in like panels or light bars. But they will fit into any standard light socket. A pro for LED bulbs is that if you have multiple, they can be used to provide different spectrums of light. You can customise what type of light you provide your plants and where you place it.

An obvious con for LED light bulbs is that unless you are lighting a singular plant, you will need multiple light fixtures and bulbs to provide your plants with the full spectrum that you need. If you are at the point where you’ve got a handful of fixtures and bulbs for your plants, it may be time to upgrade to a singular light panel or a series of light bars.


Features to Look Out For

Spectrum

The best LED grow lights will be full spectrum. This means that on top of providing red, blue and green light, full spectrum LED grow lights will also give infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) light. This will allow you to provide the correct light throughout the entire growing process without having to switch bulbs or utilize different grow lights.

“As plants mature and go through their growth cycle from seedling to adult, and then flowering and fruiting they use different colour spectrums so the ideal LED light is different for each stage of growth.” - Experts at Garden Myths 

Power

LED grow lights will come with some sort of wattage number attached. Very high watts will produce greater light than LED lights with low watts. However, just knowing how many watts a light produce isn’t the most helpful metric. After all, watts are only a measure of electricity.

What you really should consider is the amount of light that is being produced by those watts. And the wavelengths that are being produced. Knowing how much light the LED is capable of providing, and the type of light (as related to the colour spectrum) the LED diodes can create, are much more effective parameters to consider.

Efficiency

As mentioned above, when comparing LED lights to incandescent and CFL light bulbs, LEDs tend to be more efficient than older lighting technology. However, not all LED grow lights are the same efficiency-wise. It depends on quality.

The fact of the matter is that a good LED build is only 80% efficient. The other 20% is converted to heat.

If you want to ensure that your LEDs are as efficient as possible, it is okay to spend some cash. Remember, these things should last for decades. Which takes us to our next point, durability.

Durability

If you are considering your LED purchase as an investment, then you will want to keep it around a long time to make it worth your while. Purchasing an LED lighting system that comes from a trusted brand, is constructed from high quality materials and is protected under some sort of warranty is the best course of action. Peace of mind that your purchase is protected is priceless.


Best LED Grow Light Reviews

#1: Best Technology: Honorsen Grow Light Panels

  • Veg/Bloom switch for plants at all stages
  • Maximum energy saving
  • Powerful built-in cooling system

Honorsen grow light panels are some of the best in the business. Depending on your needs and budget, they come in a 600-to-1,200-watt range. The panels are full spectrum, and have easy to use switches that optimize the light wavelengths to accommodate for vegetative growth and/or blooming and fruiting.

They boast an upgraded cooling system that operates quietly and efficiently, helping your light remain cool. Honorsen backs their products with a 2-year warranty and are always open to questions or concerns from their customers.

What we liked: 

  • Veg/Bloom switch for plants at all stages
  • Maximum energy saving
  • Powerful built-in cooling system

What we didn't like: 

  • Extremely bright to look at

  • Comes with a remote control
  • Light intensity can be adjusted
  • Saves on energy

Kukuppo is another trusted manufacturer in the LED grow light industry. They have a series of models to match the scale of your growing operation, ranging from 600 watts to 2,000 watts. All are sun-like, full spectrum LEDs.

Their larger models come with remote controls for ease of use, and hardware for securing your light panel exactly where you need it. Their panels utilize aluminium heat sinks and fan-less (aka no noise) technology to optimize heat dissipation and increase efficiency. They offer a 1-year warranty and 24-hour messenger technical support.

What we liked: 

  • Comes with a remote control
  • Light intensity can be adjusted
  • Saves on energy

What we didn't like: 

  • No fan reduces noise but can increase the risk of overheating

  • Superior customer service and warranty programs
  • Full spectrum lamp with various light beads
  • Highest PPFD output

Phlizon should also be mentioned in this review considering their reputation and expertise in the LED industry. They’ve got a huge range of products to fit your needs, whether it’s commercial or in-home gardening.

Everything from 1,000 watts to 3,000 watts is available. They utilize a “chip-on-board (COB) technology that create a brighter and fuller spectrum of lighting, and less heat resulting in a longer life span. They fully support their products with a 2-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee if the product you purchased isn’t the right fit.

What we liked: 

  • Superior customer service and warranty programs
  • Full spectrum lamp with various light beads
  • Highest PPFD output

What we didn't like: 

  • Not as bright as some other lights

  • Easy to use plug and play system
  • Improves yields by 20%
  • Excellent customer service

The Mars Hydro grow panel light is a tried-and-true light for all your indoor gardening projects— from seedlings, to vegetables and flowers. Its 600-watt LEDs provide full spectrum light similar to natural sunlight.

White light to sustain your plants colour, blue light to promote growth, red light which is great for photosynthesis, and IR light to promote fruiting and flowering.  It is thermally insulated, excellent at dispersing leftover heat, and comes with an efficient reflector. This LED panel will come with a 3-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee should you run into any problems or not like the product.

What we liked: 

  • Easy to use plug and play system
  • Improves yields by 20%
  • Excellent customer service

What we didn't like: 

  • Needs a fan for better cooling

  • Comes with timers
  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty

If you want to provide light to a smaller area, or specific light for specific plants, then the full spectrum grow lamp from Wolezek is a great option. It’s a fully adjustable tripod lamp that is equipped with 4 LED light bars.

The lamp has three different light modes, with options for dimming, and all controlled via two remote controls. White light that is ideal for full plant growth, red/blue light which promotes germination, seedling growth, flowering and fruiting. And red/blue/white for increased intensity to enhance photosynthesis and increase yield. Timers can be utilized to provide the perfect amount of light. All of this is backed with a 12-month warranty.

What we liked: 

  • Comes with timers
  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty

What we didn't like: 

  • Can be wobbly

#6: The Best LED Light Bulb: MILYN 2 Pack 100W Led Grow Light Bulb

  • Can be used for multiple sets of plants
  • Doesn’t hurt your eyes
  • Saves energy

Depending on the application, LED light bulbs may be all that you need. We thought the 2-pack of 100-watt LED light bulbs from Milyn were a great value. In most cases, two is better than one, and that is true for these bulbs.

Use both for multiple plants, or save one as a backup. It might be long before you need a replacement though, because these bulbs are constructed using high quality aluminium and utilize a heat sink to let heat escape and maintain longevity. These bulbs provide full spectrum, natural sun-like light and can be installed in any standard light fixture.

What we liked: 

  • Can be used for multiple sets of plants
  • Doesn’t hurt your eyes
  • Saves energy

What we didn't like: 

  • Not a full LED grow light unit, just a set of bulbs

Summary

Choosing the correct LED grow light will depend on the type of plants you are growing, and the scale in which you are growing them.

If you have many plants and need to create a larger footprint of light, then choosing a LED panel is what will make your plants grow the best. If you have a smaller area of plants, or simply want to supplement the light you already have, then consider using an LED light bar. And if you have a couple household plants in a small indoor gardening operation, then simply outfitting each one with LED bulbs (with the correct spectrum) can be all that you need for those plant-babies to be successful.

With any option that you choose, it will be crucial to determine that the panel, bar or bulb you are using emits the proper type of light. If you have a high-quality panel, chances are it will come with diodes that provide the full spectrum your plants need, including some IR and UV light.  If you have chosen an LED bar, making sure of what colours it utilizes will be crucial, especially if it cannot toggle between colour types.

And for LED bulbs, the chances are that it will not be able to change its spectrum, so investigating what color is best for the specific type of plant (and the stage of life that the plant is in) will be important.

So, start with determining what type of plant or plants you want to grow inside. Determine where in your home they will grow and how they will be orientated to receive light. Then, decide on the best LED grow light that produces that most efficient colour wavelengths for your plant choices. Sit back and enjoy. But don’t forget to water!

FAQ

1. What’s up with this colour spectrum concept?

“The light emitted by the sun includes a wide range of colours. While the sunlight appears white to us, this sunlight when viewed through a prism creates a spectrum of colours including violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Those are listed by wavelength from short to longest. These colours merge to create the white light that is visible to us. The sun also includes invisible light from ultraviolet radiation.” Rick R from LED Light Expert

That’s all fine and dandy when we grow plants outside, but what about inside? Well, when plants grow inside, they still require all those colours from the sun to grow happily. So LED lights mimic the sun and provide the plant with the special range of colours so that it can grow.

2. What colours on the spectrum are responsible for what?

Depending on the plant, and where it is in its development, certain wavelengths of light are more important than others. The peak of photosynthetic efficiency occurs with red and blue wavelengths. Red light, however, is considered to be the most efficient, especially in the flowering stage of the plant. Blue light is great for both the vegetative and flowering stages of the plant's life cycle, but especially for promoting vegetative growth.

3. How do I decide what wattage I need for my grow light?

Wattage is a measure of electricity, and therefore a measure of how powerful your light will be. It would be good to get a light with as many watts as possible but that still fits within your budget. But remember, don’t get sucked into buying a grow light just solely because of wattage.

What’s also important to consider, is what type of light wavelengths will you get with those watts? And what size footprint will be created?

References
  1. Energy Star. Learn About LED Lighting. Retrieved from: https://www.energystar.gov/products/lighting_fans/light_bulbs/learn_about_led_bulbs
  2. Tyler Scully. Why You Need an LED Heat Sink: Increasing light output & extending your LEDs lifetime. Retrieved from: https://www.ledsupply.com/blog/why-you-need-an-led-heat-sink/ 
  3. Robert Pavlis. LED Grow Lights— Getting the Right Color Spectrum. Retrieved from: https://www.gardenmyths.com/led-grow-lights-color-spectrum/
  4. Robert Pavlis. LED Grow Lights— The Myth about Watts. Retrieved from: https://www.gardenmyths.com/led-grow-lights-the-myth-about-watts/

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