An Introduction to LED Grow Lights
LED is an acronym for light emitting diode. They are available in visible, and invisible light such as ultraviolet (UV) and infrared wavelengths. This makes them great for mimicking sunlight when you are growing plants indoors. The best LED grow lights will allow you to adjust the wavelengths to stimulate natural light season schedules. Blue and ultraviolet rays are great for boosting plant growth. Red and infrared wavelengths help with germination and flowering.
What makes LED grow lights better than other lights?
Before LED grow lights, growers would have to use fluorescent bulbs or high pressure sodium bulbs. These types of bulbs produce a lot of heat, which is not ideal for small grow spaces. You would have to make sure you have proper ventilation and fans to cool down your plants.
Benefits of LED Grow Lights
- LED lights produce significantly less heat
- Smaller than fluorescent and high pressure sodium lights
- They have a lifespan of 50,000-100,000 hours of use compared to 20,00 hours of the other bulbs.
- LED grow lights are very compact so you can use them in small grow spaces
- Easy to install and adjust the height as your plants grow.
- You don’t need additional ventilation and fans unlike other lights which means less equipment to buy and less heat to control.
- You can easily adjust wavelengths to mimic season changes and initiate the next growth phase.
- Get 2-4 times more yield per Watt with LED lights
- LED grow lights use about half the amount of electricity and cost less over time.
How to Pick Out The Best LED Grow Lights
If you are thinking about growing marijuana indoors or any other plants for that matter, the first thing you need to consider is how to get the right amount of light to ensure a great harvest. It’s important to note that amount of light, the distance between the lights and the plants, Watts per sq foot and wavelengths can all affect the growth and health of your plants. Here are some things to consider when you are trying to decide on the best LED grow lights:
Size of Your Grow Space
When you are deciding between the best LED grow lights for your space remember to check the wattage of the unit. You will need about 50 watts per plant per square foot. Will one unit be enough or do you need multiple units?
Full Light Spectrum
Make sure you get full spectrum LED grow lights in order to mimic the sunlight during every stage of growth. The majority of photosynthetic activity happens in the red and blue frequencies. Blue lights promote plant growth and are especially important during the seedling and young plant stages. As your plants get older you can switch to more red lights. This will promote the plants to grow taller and to start budding. Ultraviolet light might be able to elevate THC levels in marijuana crops. So look for a LED grow lamp with full PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) values in the 400-700 nm range to get full use of UV, red, and blue lights.
3W (Watts) chips are ideal because they are brighter than 1W LEDs, but not as bright as 5W which have a tendency to burn out very quickly. In fact, if you do decide to use 5W chips, be sure to find a lamp with a thermal management system to help your chips from burning out. 3W provide consistent light coverage without having to buy an extra system.
The total output of your led lights is very different from the actual output. In fact, the actual output is most likely about half of the total output, which is what most product descriptions advertise. You want to find LED lamps with at least 300 Watts to make sure you have enough light to grow in.
Optics absorb around 10% of the light so if you want the light to reach your plants, look for lamps with secondary optics. This will help magnify the light and make it easier for your plants to absorb nutrients. These units are usually more expensive, but are more efficient. You will also need to decide on the angle of dispersions of LED lens. Greater angles will provide better coverage. Lesser angles will provide more direct light.
Even though LED lights don’t produce as much heat a traditional light bulbs, they can still overheat ,especially if they are running for a long time. Since you will most likely use them for most of the day, you need to make sure to protect them and your plants from overheating. LED lights produce about 25% of their energy as heat. Most of the heat happens behind the light bulb. In order to protect the bulbs, look for a lamp with a thick aluminum lining or heat sink to draw the heat away from the LED light bulbs. Internal fans will also help protect the lights and keep your plants from getting too hot throughout the day.
Look for LED lamps that are sturdy and made of materials such as steel or aluminum and not one made from plastic. Your unit should last for about 5 to 10 years, so it might be worth spending a little more now to get a lamp that will last longer and perform better over time. Also look for a unit with warranty for 3 to 5 years and a parts guarantee of preferably 3 years or more. A longer parts guarantee will save you money in the long run if you need to replace a part down the road.
In conclusion, a good LED grow lamp will be made of study, high quality products and come with an extended warranty. It will have cooling systems and have secondary optics. You will want to look for a unit that uses 3W chips, has a total output of at least 300W, and utilize full PAR values.
The Best LED Grow Lights
Now that you understand how LED lights works and why they are the highest quality bulbs for your indoor grow space, it’s time to start researching the best LED grow lights. To save you time, here is a list of the top ten best LED grow lights:
Kind LED Grow Lights
Pros: The Kind LED Grow Lights have proprietary 12 band complete spectrum 3 watt diodes for full PAR coverage. It’s secondary optical lights magnifies PAR and can almost double the light penetration in your grow space. One of it’s best features is that you can adjust the amount of blue, red, white light so find the best combination for each growing stage. Don’t worry though about researching the best lighting percentages, they give you a helpful guide with recommendations for each stage. The Kind LED Grow Lights are the trusted LED grow lights of the Gorilla Grow Tent Combo Package. If you are just getting started, this is a great kit that will save you tons of time and money. You can learn more about the Gorilla Grow Tent Combo Package in our guide Best Complete Marijuana Grow Kit
Cons: The coverage is based on growing plant in low light, so it will be a little smaller for larger plants like marijuana and tomatoes. The red digital readout on the control panel remains on even during dark hours, but Kind assures its customers that it is not bright enough to affect plant growth. It comes with a standard 110 volt cord, so you will have to buy another cord if you want to use 240 volts.
Pros: The G8LED LED Grow Lights won the 2016 Best LED Grow Lights Award from High Times Magazine. They have 8 years of proven growing success. Their grow lights are so efficient, they are cool to the touch even after running for 24 hours straight. You don’t need to switch light settings because it uses 8-bands instead of a full spectrum 12 bands. The 8 bands spectrum works great for vegetative and flowering stages. This also means you aren’t wasting energy on excess lights.
Cons: It only comes with a 2 year warranty but G8LED does all it’s own repairs and services in the USA. Some customers reported the coverage is a little less than advertised so you want to get the next size up for full coverage.
Advanced Platinum Series 12-Band LED Grow Light
Pros: The Advanced Platinum Series 12-Band LED Grow Light has the highest PAR/LUMEN output per WATT of any LED grow light on the market. It’s 12-Band LEDs allow for complete PAR spectrum to maximize growth potential.The 90 degree secondary focusing lens help provide deep canopy penetration. It comes with an impressive 5 year warranty and 90 day satisfaction guarantee. They are an American owned and operated company and available 7 days a week for any technical or support questions.
Cons: Some customers say the coverage measurements are slightly off, so it might be worth getting the next largest size for complete coverage of your grow space.
Galaxyhydro LED Grow Light
Pros: The Galaxyhydro LED Grow light is a full spectrum grow light with two quite cooling fans and Sunflower radiator system. This means heat won’t build up in your lamp and it help extend the lifespan of the unit. It comes with a 2 year warranty and 30 day money back promise.
Cons: It does not have a manual off switch or dimmer switch, but it has a timer. The Infrared LEDs look dim but Galaxyhydro claims that is normal. Also it’s warranty is 1-3 years shorter than some of the other best LED grow lights.
Viparspectra Reflector-Series LED Grow Light
Pros: The Viparspectra Reflector-Series LED Grow Light produces the same results as a 600 Watts High Pressure Sodium light but only uses 276 Watts. It is true full spectrum LED unit so it is ideal for all stages of growth. Aluminum cooling heat sinks and high speed fans keep the LED lights 70% cooler than traditional lights. The reflectors around the LED diodes help spread the light out to keep your plants from burning or stunting their growth. It also comes with a 3 year warranty and 30 day satisfaction guarantee. It’s one of the cheaper LED Grow Light options so it’s a great unit for beginners only growing a few plants.
Cons: It comes with hangers but if you want to adjust the height you will have to get adjustable hangers. Only has two buttons (Veg and Bloom) so it is good for beginners but you won’t be able to adjust the light spectrums. Some customers noted it didn’t produce as high as yield as other LED Grow Lights.