You don't need a lot of space to grow your own plants, but light is essential. Choosing the best LED grow lights is a key factor in providing plants with the right environment for healthy growth. Along with air, water, and nutrients, light quality has a major impact on a plant’s survival.
Grow lights are not like standard household lights. They fall into two categories: either blue/red spectrum or full spectrum. The blue/red (also known as blurple) spectrum maximizes photosynthesis for overall plant health, and it’s frequently recommended in greenhouses which already receive a lot of natural light. Full spectrum adds that “white” sunlight component for indoor growing. Full spectrum also has green light, which until fairly recently was not thought of as particularly important to plant growth. However, research now suggests it may be helpful during photosynthesis.
LED grow lights — well, LED lights in general — consume less energy than traditional fluorescent or high-density discharge models, have a lifespan two to three times that of non-LED rivals, and can largely be recycled. They can suit both commercial and home users, come in several different models, and offer a variety of features. The sheer diversity can make choosing the most appropriate model challenging. We took a look at the best LED grow lights for a range of different purposes.
– Best Overall: Mars Hydro TSL 2000W LED Grow Lights
– Best Budget: Juhefa LED Grow Lights
– Best Compact: Viparspectra P1000 LED Grow Lights
– Best for Flowering Plants: Aglex COB 2000 Watt LED Grow Lights
– Best for Succulents: Roleadro LED Grow Lights
– Best Commercial: Spider Farmer SF-4000 LED Grow Lights
How We Picked the Products
We have been looking at LED grow lights for some time, and our research has allowed us to gain a thorough understanding of the various types of LED grow light available, as well as how they perform.
In the commercial sector, brands like Gavita, Samsung, and Spider Farmer are highly respected, but most require significant investment. For modest greenhouses and grow rooms Mars Hydro and Viparspectra are among the leading names. Feit Electric produces an interesting range, from large strip lights to tabletop models, as well as individual LED grow bulbs. When it comes to the smaller household models, there are many crucial factors, and brand names have perhaps less importance than price.
Given the enormous variety, we are featuring a selection of LED grow lights for different purposes. We have taken into account performance, price, manufacturer reputation, and owner feedback. The results provide solutions for all kinds of growers.
In most cases, the manufacturers chosen offer a number of models at different sizes. If the one we have highlighted doesn’t quite meet a particular grower’s requirements, an alternative with more appropriate performance, and the same sought-after feature set, is often readily available.
Best LED Grow Lights: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Mars Hydro TSL 2000W LED Grow Lights
Why It Made The Cut: The TSL 2000W LED grow lights from leading brand Mars Hydro are a high-performance, feature-rich option. The ability to daisy chain up to 15 units gives solutions for all needs.
– Size: 45.28 inches L x 13.39 inches W x 4.72 inches H
– Watts: 300W
– PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density): 1505 μmol/m2/s at 12 inches high
– Full spectrum wide-angle light
– Silent, fan-free design
– Can be adapted to changing needs
– Reports of poor customer service
– Expensive for beginners
Given the enormous variety of LED grow lights available and growers’ different needs, picking a single overall best is a bit challenging. We chose the Mars Hydro TSL 2000W for its combination of versatility and high performance, which is more ideal for a wider range of users than many rivals.
Although it is a little expensive for complete beginners, a single unit is an affordable investment for enthusiastic hobbyists with either a modest greenhouse or grow room. The ability to daisy-chain units together means that almost any space can be catered for, either as needs change or for larger commercial installations.
Each unit supplies full-spectrum light that is high in the important blue and red components. The lights can also be dimmed to suit the growing environment. The Mars Hydro TSL 2000W is a fan-free design, and is, therefore, silent. It uses a thermal insulator and shielding to prevent heat from reaching delicate young seedlings. It can cover a 3-by-5 foot area at 18 inches for the vegetation stage, and 2-by-4 foot area at 14 inches for flowering. Units are IP65 water-resistant, meaning they are completely dustproof and can withstand low-pressure water jets from all directions, according to DSM&T.
Best Budget: Juhefa LED Grow Lights
Why It Made The Cut: While capable of promoting growth from seedling to flower, these budget-friendly LED grow lights are best for the home gardener who wants to help small batches of plants through their early stages.
– Size: 12 inches L x 5 inches W x 1.2 inches H
– Watts: 25W
– PPFD: 50 μmol/m2/s at 18 inches high to 265 μmol/m2/s at 4 inches high
– Full spectrum including IR and UV
– Very low energy requirements
– Small coverage area
– Not expandable
Many gardeners like to keep things simple and are happy to spend considerable time carefully monitoring their plants. They don’t need large LED grow lights, but they understand how tender new shoots benefit from all the help they can get. The Juhefa LED Grow Lights can easily work for a small greenhouse, conservatory, or even a window ledge.
The diminutive dimensions don't detract from lights’ quality. These are full-spectrum units that include IR and UV light. They can be used to support plants from seedling to flowering, though the coverage area is modest. They are most effective for young plants, microgreens, and small succulents. While you can buy multiple units for a modest amount of money if you want to cover a larger area, this model can’t be daisy chained, So, you’d need to plug each in individually (with a power cord that’s only about 5 feet).
Best Compact: Viparspectra P1000 LED Grow Lights
Why It Made The Cut: The compact Viparspectra P1000 offers good value and low energy consumption for those just starting out on their horticultural journey, or who want to give seedlings the best possible start.
– Size: 12 inches L x 11 inches W x 2.6 inches H
– Watts: 100 watts
– PPFD: 1006 μmol/m2/s at 12 inches high
– High performance with low energy consumption
– No fan design for zero noise
– Very competitive pricing
– No daisy chaining
– A little awkward to hang
The Viparspectra P1000 LED grow lights are a step up from the absolute beginner level to a high-quality unit that offers impressive performance — all while still remaining compact. It's also very affordable both to buy and operate.
The full spectrum LEDs come from Samsung, arguably the best in terms of output for their size, and include infrared. Despite being only 12-by-11 inches, the Viparspectra P1000 offers coverage of 2.5-by-2.5 feet at 18 inches for vegetation, and 2-by-2 feet at 14 inches for flowering. You can adjust the brightness from just 5 to 100 percent, allowing for great control and further energy savings.
Any full-spectrum LED grow light can be used throughout a plant’s various stages, though we suggest the Viparspectra P1000 is best for young growth. It cannot be daisy chained, though other competitively priced models in the Viparspectra range can be. If your output needs are expected to grow soon, it might be better to invest in one of those alternatives from the outset.
Best for Flowering Plants: Aglex COB 2000 Watt LED Grow Lights
Why It Made The Cut: Chip-On-Board (COB) technology allows greater light intensity from a smaller unit. Given the coverage offered for the price, the Aglex COB 2000 offers great value for money.
– Size: 16.54 inches L x 16.54 inches W x 2.17 inches H
– Watts: 2000W
– PPFD: 1475 μmol/m2/s at 24 inches high
– High coverage from relatively compact unit
– Switchable intensity saves energy
– Can be daisy chained
– Some fan noise
– Occasional reports of faulty LEDs
Standard LED grow lights use Surface Mounted Diodes (SMDs). They are placed quite close together, but there are noticeable spaces in between. Chip-On-Board (COB) technology packs lots of small LEDs into a very tight group, creating what appears to be a single, high intensity light source.
COBs can get very hot because of their density, so the Aglex COB 2000 uses a combination of 90 SMDs and 4 COBs, plus a 5-inch fan. The fan is relatively quiet, but there is a background hum. The main advantage here is a high intensity, full spectrum light, including IR, from a relatively modest unit.
To maximize its energy saving, the Aglex COB 2000 also offers three easily switchable settings specifically tuned to the initial growth stages where plants need less light, and later blooming and fruiting stages where they need most. To provide for the needs of large scale growers, the Aglex COB 2000 can be daisy chained.
Best for Succulents: Roleadro LED Grow Light
Why It Made The Cut: Succulents and other tropical plants can flower all year round in the right environment. The Roleadro LED grow light provides the ideal color spectrum to maximize health and yield.
– Size: 10.86 inches L x 10.86 inches W x 0.55 inches H
– Watts: 25W
– PPFD: 403.39 μmol/m2/s (We estimated the PPFD figure using Lux measurements on the Red + Blue LED 450+650 nm spectrum.)
– Compact unit has unique lenses for wide coverage
– Also suitable for seedlings and micro greens
– Very affordable
– No hook for hanging
– Not full spectrum
Most succulents don’t need the scorching hot, arid conditions that many believe, but they do benefit from receiving 12 hours sunlight a day. The Roleandro LED grow light offers blue and red spectrum at wavelengths that enhance root development, healthy growth, and flowering. The Roleandro also provides suitable light for early development of seedlings and rapid growth for microgreens.
The unit itself is compact and does not require a fan, so it’s just over half an inch thick. An aluminum heatsink provides necessary cooling. Unique LED lenses are angled at 60 degrees to maximize coverage and provide a much better growing area than clip-on lamps. It comes with wires for hanging, but it doesn’t include a hook. The power cord is six feet long, with a transformer in the middle. If aesthetics are important to you, you should note this unit is functional rather than attractive. It doesn’t include a timer, but fitting one to the power outlet makes a simple solution.
Best Commercial: Spider Farmer SF-4000 LED Grow Lights
Why It Made The Cut: Spider Farmer is an industry leader with powerful LED grow lights that offer both outstanding full spectrum performance and the long lifespan that commercial growers expect from their investment.
– Size: 25.3 inches L x 21.1 inches W x 2.3 inches H
– Watts: 450W
– PPFD: 1912 μmol/m2/s at 12 inches high
– Designed to help produce exceptional yields
– Up to 12 units can be daisy-chained
– 100,000 hour lifespan
– Large investment
– Higher running costs
The Spider Farmer SF-4000 is the latest in an extensive range of commercially-focused LED grow lights from one of the industry’s leading brands. It’s 5-by-5 foot vegetation coverage and 4-by-4 foot fruit and flower coverage come from a unit that is relatively compact, but produces the highest PPFD value, which measures the amount of light that reaches plants, of any of the LED grow lights we looked at.
LED placement right up to the edge of the panels helps deliver full spectrum light, including infrared, uniformly across the growing area. You can manage the intensity using a dimmer. Despite the high performance this is a silent, fan-free design.
Durability is key in commercial setups, and the renowned Samsung LEDs offer a lifespan of 100,000 hours — double that of many rivals. It means the Spider Farmer SF-4000 could last over a decade, even if run 24/7. Those with large installations can daisy-chain up to 12 Spider Farmer SF-4000s. They are UL and CE certified for safety.
Things to Consider Before Buying LED Grow Lights
Blue light helps photosynthesis and early plant growth. Red light helps flower and fruit growth. However, different types of plants have different needs, so suggesting a blue/red spectrum LED is an oversimplification at best. Commercial growers who focus on a single plant may wish to investigate a precise color solution, but in most cases a full spectrum LED grow light, which includes white light, infrared (IR), and occasionally ultraviolet (UV), offers best overall performance for the majority of growers. This is particularly true in grow rooms that don’t have a lot of natural light, as full spectrum LED most closely mimics natural sunlight.
LED grow lights are supplied either as bulbs, strips (bars), or panels. LED bulbs are a good idea where existing halogens or high-intensity bulbs are already used. Just swap out the existing lights as they burn out. LED grow light strips are often used in commercial environments, as they are economical for large areas and often hang well above the growing areas. Panels are very popular with both hobby growers and professionals. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and performance options, and often very affordable.
LED grow light panels and strips are usually rated for the coverage they offer. It is an important consideration when choosing the best LED grow light for a particular area. The figure may vary depending on whether the growth is vegetative or for flowers and fruit. Manufacturers usually supply this information, though may just provide figures maximum coverage, which is for vegetation. For flowers and fruit, it will likely be around 20 percent less.
Many different figures are given for LED grow light performance, and it can be very confusing. PAR is Photosynthetic Active Radiation, but measurements of PAR are calculated using PPF (Photosynthetic Photon Flux), which is given in micromoles per second (μmol/s). PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density), is given in micromoles per square meter per second (μmol/m2/s). This is the actual amount of useful light reaching plants at a given height and distance (usually specified). Micromoles per Joule (μmol/J) is sometimes quoted as a rating of efficiency.
This explains the science, but practical application can be difficult, and some LED grow light manufacturers don’t provide these figures. However, when they are supplied they can be very useful for comparison. If a specific type of plant is being grown, it is worth researching the recommended PPFD for maximum yield and buying accordingly.
One of the major advantages LED grow lights have over other types is that they consume comparatively less power, making them more economical to run. As wattage does not directly relate to PAR, PPF or PPFD, it should be considered separately. Model names often include what appears to be a wattage figure but these are frequently misleading. For example our top pick, the Mars Hydro 2000W, in fact consumes 300 watts.
Q: What is the most powerful LED grow light?
It depends how you rate power. Using watts is common, making the 3000 W Aglex COB the most powerful LED grow light we have seen. However, watts measure power consumption, whereas coverage, efficiency, and light type are more important for plant growth.
Q: How do LED grow lights cost?
LED grow light cost varies tremendously from small models that can be as little as $20 each, to large commercial units that top $900 each.
Q: Are expensive LED grow lights worth it?
Whether expensive LED grow lights are worth it will depend on your planned production. For those experimenting with ways to grow a few plants at home, a budget LED grow light might be sufficient. For those who are aiming for greater productivity long-term, more expensive LED grow lights almost invariably lead to better yields.
Q: How do LED grow lights work?
LED grow lights work by selectively delivering the parts of sunlight that help plant growth. LED grow lights provide different light colors and wavelengths, but produce very little heat.
Q: What color LED is best for plants?
The sun produces more blue light than any other color, so if you had to pick a single color LED that is best for plants, you’d want blue. However, that is only one component of the light spectrum that is useful to the plant, and finding a fuller spectrum will be better for plant growth.
Q: Why choose full spectrum LED grow lights?
Choose full spectrum LED grow lights for the best combination of light for your plants. Full spectrum LED grow lights provide the broadest range of wavelengths that benefit plants during the various stages of their development.
Q: What are PAR values?
The PAR value is the amount of Photosynthetic Active Radiation provided by a light source. Normally light is measured in Lux or Lumens, but neither of these has much impact on plants so they don’t mean much in terms of choosing the best LED grow lights. Plants grow by photosynthesis, so in effect PAR is the measure of the amount of light that is useful to the plant for its development.
Final Thoughts on LED Grow Lights
The compact, low-cost Juhefa LED grow lights are ideal for those who want to give small numbers of home-grown seedlings a boost. While theoretically they can aid growth through to the flowering stage, their coverage means that’s not really feasible for more than a couple of plants.
The Mars Hydro is a high-performance model for enthusiasts taking their growing more seriously. The ability to daisy chain units makes it feasible for hobbyists who later want to extend their growing spaces, or for modest commercial setups.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.