Table of Contents
Top 20 LED Grow Lights Review 2017
How to choose the best grow light
When it comes to choosing your new LED cannabis grow light, there is no one size fits all. It depends on the scale of your operation, your budget and the specific needs you have for your plants. In this guide, we will examine some of the things you should keep in mind as well as 20 of the best grow lights for the money.
Things to keep in mind
• The area you need to cover: It’s important when you’re looking at grow lights to note how much coverage area you will need. If you only have a couple of plants then you will probably only need a light that will cover say 2’x2’. However if you have a larger scale operation with 20-30 plants, then you will need several powerful lights. Remember that even the most powerful LED lights will provide at maximum 7’x7’ of full coverage. Most are only up to 5’x5’. Also take into account the concentration of your plants in your grow space. If the plants are spread out you will need more lights in order to cover them equally. Your lights will also be placed at different heights over the canopy during the different stages of plant growth.
• The phases of the plant growth: If you are planning on growing all of your plants from seedling to flower, you will need to purchase all full-spectrum LED lights. These lights are specifically developed for all stages of plant growth and have different settings depending on the stage. These differ from other lights only made for one stage. Different lights will have different settings available. Some lights are single channel, which means they are simply on or off. Two channel lights have a vegetative and flowering mode. Then, there are the programmable lights which are able to accommodate custom light schedules, custom spectra as well as have the intensity of the light changed as well. The vegetative phase of your cannabis plants will last anywhere from one week up to a little over a month, depending on your growing conditions. Typically for the vegetative stage your light cycle will be something like 18 hours on and 6 hours off. This is considered the standard daylight cycle. Some people prefer to have their lights on 24 hours a day, as this can help to stimulate the plant growth and move the cannabis plants into the flowering stage faster. It is up to you which light cycle you prefer, however it has been shown that the standard daylight cycle may work better for Indica strains. It is also important to remember that cannabis plants in the vegetative phase need about half the wattage of plants in the flowering stage. Therefore, in the vegetative phase you can move your lights further away from the plants, allowing for a larger coverage area. Once your plants are showing signs of reaching the flowering stage, you will need to switch the light cycle to 12 hours on and 12 hours off. The light cycle will stimulate the plants to leave the vegetative phase and begin producing buds. Various strains will differ in the time they take to mature so keep that in mind as well. If you know which strains your plants are, it may be beneficial for you to take the time to look up the average height of the plants when they are grown indoors. This can help you determine when they are ready to exit the vegetative stage into the flowering stage.
• The angle of the LED lens: When looking into LED lights, it’s also important to keep in mind the angle of dispersion for the lens. The greater the angle means more coverage, and the smaller the angle means less coverage. This is important in determining how many lights you will need and how many cannabis plants you will be able to accommodate.
• Your budget: LED lights are typically on the more expensive end of the spectrum when it comes to cannabis grow lights. However there are many benefits in using them versus other types of lights like HID and fluorescents that we will go over shortly. If you only have a few plants, you will likely be able to use a cheaper light designed for a smaller coverage area. With LED lights you truly get what you pay for, so it would be in your best interest to research very carefully and potentially invest a little more. In the end, your budget will most likely determine how many plants you will be able to care for.
Why choose a full-spectrum LED grow light?
Full-spectrum LED lights are designed to mimic sunlight, therefore are the most natural way for your cannabis plants to grow indoors. Because they have the full spectrum, your plants will be able to utilize as much light as possible. Cannabis plants tend to grow better if they have access to a wide spectrum of wave lengths. If you only plan to grow plants in one stage, such as only vegetative, then you may be able to use a light specifically tailored for that one stage. In addition to full-spectrum LEDs, there are also white LEDs. White LEDs are good for the vegetative stage as the plants don’t require as intense a light. However, most white LEDs contain a lot of light in the yellow and green spectrum, which is harder for the plants to utilize and therefore mostly goes to waste. Full-spectrum LEDs are useful for all plant stages and contain, as the name suggests, a full spectrum of colors/wave lengths. Therefore, at every phase in your cannabis plant growth, they will receive the light they need. Keep in mind that LED lights never run at full power. This is part of what helps LED grow lights have such a long lifespan. For example, one 3 watt chip will run at around 60 percent of its full power. When you’re looking at lights, remember that most manufacturers will list the full potential power of the light, not what it actually produces. Therefore, a 600 watt light (200 3-watt chips) will only really produce 300-400 watts of power. It is usually beneficial to purchase higher wattage lights as chips will inevitably burn out. This allows your lights to last even longer as they are able to compensate for the wattage lost. Never purchase a grow light with chips under 3 watts. Any less and your cannabis plants won’t receive full coverage.
Other pros of full-spectrum LED grow lights include:
• They encourage larger product yields.
• They can last for years, some are know to last up to 50,000 hours or more.
• They are more energy efficient than other types of grow lights, using up to 70 percent less electricity than other types of grow lights.
• They emit less heat, eliminating the need for extra fans. Even after 24 hours on, a LED will still be cool to the touch.
Items you may need for your grow room kit
• Charcoal carbon filters: These will help your grow room not to smell.
• 24 hour timer (mechanical or digital): A timer will make your life much easier in that you will be able to set it for different growth phases and it allows you more freedom in your day.
• Intake/Exhaust timer: If you have a larger scale grow room or facility, you may benefit from having a timer to control your intake and exhaust so that you are able to shift your focus onto other more important things.
• pH meter: Measuring the pH in the “root zone” (area directly around the plant’s roots) will allow you to know exactly how many nutrients your plant is absorbing. If the pH is too low or too high, the cannabis plant will not be able to absorb all the nutrients it needs and may start to show signs of nutrient deficiency.
• PPM (parts per million) meter: When it comes to growing cannabis, a PPM meter will measure the concentration of minerals in the water you give to your plants. This is helpful because plants can only take so many minerals in at a time.
• Fan for air flow: This can help your grow room stay fresh, allowing fresh air to be pulled in and stale air to be released back outside.
• Cannabis specific nutrients: Your cannabis plants will need nutrients, no doubt about it. However, each phase of growth needs different levels of nutrients so it’s important to educate yourself about each phase and it’s respective nutrient needs.
• Grow tent: A grow tent can be very helpful in containing your plants if you don’t have a whole room or facility to dedicate to them. There are many sizes available from various retailers, designed for different amounts of cannabis plants.
• Grow glasses: It is very important to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays that your LED lights emit. Even though you aren’t outside, your eyes can still be damaged. Consider buying LED specific grow glasses so your eyes are protected fully.
• Ionizer: This handy device can help diminish the smell of cannabis very quickly in your grow room, should the need arise.
15 Best LED Grow Lights for the Money (Organized by wattage)
1. Apollo Horticulture GL60LED Full Spectrum 180W LED Grow Light
All Apollo Horticulture lights are advertised as having a 50,000 hour life span and come with a two year warranty. They are full spectrum so are suited for all stages of plant growth. This light is suited for an area of 2.5’x2.5’ according to the company, so perfect for someone with only a few plants. The light has 60 3-watt chips and a quiet cooling fan. The light also includes a hanging kit. The angle of the lens is between 90 and 120 degrees making it a great choice for a full coverage light.
2. Roleadro Hydroponic 270W UFO LED Plant Grow Light
This small but powerful grow light has nine bands. It contains 90 3-watt chips. It also includes a fan and several vents, but emits little noise. This light is great for beginner growers who have a very small grow space and only one or two plants.
3. Galaxyhydro 300w LED Grow Light
This light has red, white and blue spectrums making it ideal for all phases of cannabis plant growth. The light is advertised as having all of the useful spectra for plants, while leaving out the spectra that plants do not utilize. The 300w grow light contains 100 3-watt chips. The light includes a cooling system to ensure that the chips do not overheat. The cooling system is comprised of a cooling fan as well as a radiator system. The light produces very little noise and has great heat dissipation thanks to the cooling system. This light will always be cool to the touch. Another benefit of this light is it is “daisy-chain” compatible, meaning there won’t be as many cords needed. The angle of each light is 120 degrees which is great to ensure full coverage. The light is designed to be placed at roughly 36” above the plants. Each light has a two year warranty included and a 30 day money back guarantee. They offer direct assistance to all customers and will answer any questions you have about the growing process as well as using their lights specifically.
4. California Light Works 440w LED Grow Light
This light is equipped with 88 5-watt chips. It also comes with two 15-watt UVB T8 tubes with a separate switch. The angle of the lens is about 90 degrees and contains only primary optics, no secondary. This light is advertised as a perfect fit for a 3’x3’ grow area. It’s high level of PPF (photo-synthetic photon flux) is said to penetrate the canopy better, yielding better results. These lights also come in convenient packs of two, four and eight in addition to individually.
5. G8LED 450 Watt LED Grow Light
This light was rated one of the best lights of 2016 by High Times magazine. The light has an eight band system plus UV (blue) and infrared (red) spectra as well. It is advertised to remain cool to the touch even after 24 hours of nonstop use. The LEDs are manufactured in the United States and the brand is known to produce high yields. This light is suitable for the whole growth cycle, from seedling to flower. It is advertised to penetrate up to 60 inches past the canopy, making it a good option for taller strains. The light is said to cover up to a 4’x3’ grow area. This model comes with a two year warranty.
6. S540 Advance Spectrum MAX 540w LED Grow Light
All LED grow lights from Advance come with a three year warranty and 120 day money back guarantee, setting them aside from manufacturers with shorter warranty periods. Because this light is designed as a modular, it is easy to repair and replace a specific diode should one burn out. Advance’s LED lights are advertised as the coolest-running LED grow lights on the market and as having a 50,000 hour lifespan. The base lens is 90 degrees and the light also features a 60 degree secondary lens. This allows for the light to penetrate deeper into the plant. Each chip in this light is 3 watts.
7. G8LED 600 Watt MEGA LED Grow Light
Another great light from G8LED is their 600w model. This light was also rated one of the best lights of 2016 by High Times magazine. The model is similar to the 450w discussed above, but is more suitable for a 4.5’x4’ grow area. Again it is developed for all phases of the plant growth due to its variety of spectra available. This model also comes with a two year warranty.
8. Johnson Grow Lights LED Maximizer 630w Grow Light
This light covers a grow area of up to 6’x6’. It has a 80+ CRI (color rendering index) which is said to ensure that the light provided will be utilized in a more efficient manner by the cannabis plants. Rather than using a single light and reflector, Johnson Grow Lights uses multiple light sources to make sure the light is evenly distributed over all the plants. This system is recommended for a variety of grow spaces, including grow tents, rooms, warehouses and aquaponics systems.
9. Apollo Horticulture 700w GL140X5LED LED Grow Light
Again, all Apollo Horticulture lights are advertised as having a 50,000 hour life span and come with a two year warranty. They are full spectrum so are suited for all stages of plant growth. This light in particular is suited for an area of 3.5’x3.5’ according to the company. It is designed for all types of growers, whether in grow tents, rooms and even hydroponic systems. The light has 140 5-watt chips and a cooling system in place designed to keep the heat produced by the light away from the chips. It contains two 4.5” fans to do this. The angle of the lens is between 90 and 120 degrees making it another great full coverage light.
10. Johnson Grow Lights LED CX-16 715 Watts
Another great light from Johnson Grow Lights, their 715w model is designed for a grow space of up to 7’x7’. Again it has a CRI of 80+ and uses multiple light sources to ensure even distribution of light. This light comes with a three year warranty.
11. California Light Works Solar System 1100 800w LED Grow Light
Another great light from California Light Works, this light is great for all phases of plant growth. It comes with a five year warranty. This lighting system is advertised as a great stand alone light or to be used in a large scale operation, so it’s great for every level of grower. This light is designed to replace a 1000w HPS while consuming up to 40 percent less energy. All spectra are fully controllable, which promotes higher yields as well as better cannabis quality. The light comes with a controller, which is able to be synced to up to 1000 lights if need be. It offers day, week and even season programming. Another benefit of this lighting system is its ability to have customizable grow schedules programmed to be strain specific. This light is designed to cover up to an 8’x8’ grow area.
12. Black Dog LED Phytomax-2 840w LED Grow Light
This light boasts several spectra ideal for all phases of cannabis plant growth. It is advertised to cover a grow area of up to 4.25’x4.25’. It is comprised of 168 5-watt chips. Black Dog uses the Phyto-Genesis Spectrum which is advertised as the most efficient system for growing cannabis plants. Even though the light is full spectrum, it appears white to the human eye so that you can easily see each plant and monitor for signs of nutrient deficiency. The no-glass design is said to deliver up to eight percent more light to the plants. The light includes fans to direct the heat away from the chips and each light is said to have a 70,000 hour lifespan, which is much greater than most competitors. The light also comes with a five year warranty. On their company website they have detailed diagrams and instructions for each plant growth phase and the respective coverage area and hanging height for each light.
13. Advanced Platinum Series P900 900w Grow Light
The platinum series is advertised as having the highest PAR output per watt of any LED light on the market, making it two to three times more intense. It contains 12 bands, from UV to IR and everything in between. There are also specific “Veg” and “Flower” switches, making it easy to use the light for each phase of growth. The light also contains cooling fans. This light is designed for a 6’x4.5’ area of coverage when placed at 18″ above the canopy. Another benefit to this light is it has a five year warranty included as well as a 90 day money back guarantee.
14. Marshydro Reflector 960W LED Grow Light
Marshydro states that they currently light over 10,000 grow rooms worldwide. This light has a nice compact design, meaning it takes up very little space. There are switches for both vegetative and flowering phases of cannabis plant growth. This light will cover up to 4’x4’ of grow area. The lens is mixed between 90 and 120 degrees and the light is said to have a lifetime of between 50,000 and 100,000 hours. The reflective design results in little to no light lost. There are 192 5-watt chips. The product comes with a two year warranty.
15. Kind K5 XL1000 1000w LED Grow Light
This light is a great option for a grower with a larger area needing to be covered and that is looking for a customizable light option. It is comprised of a mixture of both 3 and 5-watt chips. Each of the primary photosynthesis spectra ranges are able to be individually adjusted allowing the grower to give their specific strains their ideal spectral ratios throughout all phases of their growth. All of Kind LED grow lights produce very little heat so they don’t need to be cooled with additional intake and exhaust fans. This light also features the “Mother Earth” timer, which is designed to recreate the natural outdoor lighting in your grow area. With this feature there are eight customizable stages that simulate the sun rising and setting. Each stage can be set to your preferred duration and intensity. All functions of this light are controlled from the included remote. Another great function is that growers are able to sync multiple lights to one remote, making it easy to control a larger facility. Each light is advertised as able to cover an area of 5’x5’. Every light also comes with grow room glasses to protect growers from the harmful UV rays emitted by the lights.
LED Grow Lights Q&A
Compiled here are the answers to some of the basic questions both new and experienced growers typically have when it comes to LED grow lights.
What is an LED grow light?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. As mentioned previously there are two kinds, white and multiple band or full-spectrum. LED grow lights simulate sunlight in order to stimulate plant growth. They are typically the top choice when it comes to cannabis cultivation.
How Do LED Grow Lights Work?
Every diode creates a specific frequency. Most LED lights focus on the blue and red spectrums. When selecting a light look for lights with blues that range from 440 to 470 nanometers and reds that range from 640 to 660 nanometers. Flowering plants tend to absorb more colors in the blue spectrum, while vegetative plants absorb more in the red spectrum. This is where it’s helpful to have a full-spectrum LED light so that you’re able to use it for all phases of your cannabis plant growth.
What Are the Benefits of Using LED Grow Lights?
As mentioned above, LED grow lights have many advantages:
• They minimize operating costs due to their energy efficiency and ability to last for years. For example, compared to HIDs who typically last for at maximum a year, LEDs are known to last up to six years or more. LEDs also consume much less power than HIDs so your electricity bill won’t be nearly as high.
• They offer more control over the spectra your plants are offered, as they are often customizable and full-spectrums offer your plants more than just one kind of light.
• They take up very little space and don’t require ballasts as opposed to other types of grow lights.
• They are very easy to install respectively and don’t require any additional equipment.
How Many Watts Do You Need to Grow?
The bare minimum wattage required to grow cannabis is 25 watts per square foot of grow space. With LED lights you typically want at least 32 watts per square foot of grow space. Keep in mind that this is 32 watts of actual wattage. As mentioned before, LED lights only put out at max 60 percent of their total power. For example, if you had a grow space of 4’x4’, or 16 square feet, you would need at least 500 actual watts. You can also buy several smaller grow lights to cover the same area, it’s up to you. Also remember that cannabis in the vegetative stage needs about half the wattage of cannabis in the flowering stage. So if your plants are in the vegetative stage you can theoretically move your light back and cover a much larger area. It also can be very helpful to rotate your plants regularly so that they all receive the same amount of light. If you decide to use multiple lights in your grow room, consider overlapping the coverage area to ensure each plant is evenly lit.
Tips & Tricks
1. Some growers like to use mylar to coat their grow room or tent to create an entirely reflective surface. This allows the light to be reflected from all angles onto the cannabis plants, helping to evenly distribute the light.
2. Keep your grow area as clean as possible at all times. This will deter pests and microorganisms from gathering and impeding your cannabis plant growth.
3. Keep in mind that PAR values of LED grow lights can be misleading. PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation. It is used as a way to measure the amount of light given off that is usable by the plant. Better lights actually tend to have lower PAR values, contrary to what other lights may advertise. This is because good LED lights don’t concentrate their power in one spot, rather evenly spreading it throughout the coverage area.
4. Pay close attention to the listed warranty of whichever light you decide to buy. LED grow lights are designed to last for a very long time, so be wary of any lights that only include a one year or less warranty. Lights with a shorter warranty period are often indicative of poor craftsmanship and low quality materials.
Full-spectrum LED grow lights are a great energy efficient option. They simulate sunlight so your cannabis plants will benefit greatly. They are cost effective and many grow lights listed above are programmable, which means you can customize them throughout all phases of your cannabis plant growth. While the initial investment may seem daunting, a full-spectrum LED grow light will ultimately be in your best interest.