Previous HPS growers who have switched to LED are likely to confirm that the shift had a positive impact on their plants. This is due to the fact that plants generally thrive and respond better to LEDs compared to conventional lighting fixtures. On the upside, however, the traditional grow lights such as Metal hide or High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) are much easier to cope with. They are cheaper and they are easier to navigate through. When looking for an MH or HPS, the only thing you need to know is the number of watts you are going to need. On the contrary, when picking an LED grow light, the last thing you should look for is the watts number. This is a common misconception among consumer. And marketers take full advantage of that by promoting their products with names such as 1000w LED grow light etc. So if you are looking for the real metrics to determine the quality of an LED grow light, then stay tuned and find your answers in this article.
Related article: Best grow box
Use the table below to learn more about a specific grow light in order to determine the best one for your needs. The table gives a good overview and by clicking on “full review” you can read more about the LED grow light of your choice. The buying guide continues after the table.
|Picture||LED Grow Light||Max. Area Coverage [sq. f.]||Max. Actual Watt||Go to|
|Roleadro 45w||2 x 2||25||Full Review|
|ColoFocus 600w||3.5 x 4||120||Full Review|
|Apollo Horticulture GL60 - 180w||2 x 2||109||Full Review|
|BESTVA 600||4 x 3.6||125||Full Review|
|King Plus 1000w||3.4 x 3.8||185||Full Review|
|MarsHydro Mars 300W||2 x 1.5||132||Full Review|
|Roleadro GalaxyHydro 300w||2 x 2||130||Full Review|
|ViparSpectra Reflector series 300w||3 x 3||132||Full Review|
|Advanced LED P150||VEG: 4.5 x 3.5 / |
Bloom 3 x 1
|Marshydro Reflector 480w||VEG: 3.5 x 2 / |
Bloom: 3 x 1
|MarsHydro Mars 600W||2.5 x 2.5||265||Full Review|
|ViperSpectra Reflector 450w||VEG: 3.5 x 3.5 / |
Bloom 2.5 x 2.5
|Appollo Horticulture GL80x5LED 400w||3 x 3||200||Full Review|
|G8LED 240w||3 x 2||140||Full Review|
|California solar flare 220w||3 x 3||180||Full Review|
|Advanced LED: P300||VEG: 4.5 x 3.8 / |
Bloom 3 x 2
|MarsHydro: Pro II Cree 640W||2 x 3||335||Full Review|
|ViperSpectra 1200w||VEG: 5.5 x 5.5 / |
Bloom 4.5 x 4.5
|Advanced LED P600||VEG: 6 x 3.75 / |
Bloom 5 x 2
|ViparSpectra: PAR1200||VEG: 5 x 5 / |
Bloom 4 x 4
|G8LED: 450w||VEG + Bloom 4 x 3||270||Full Review|
|G8LED: 600w||VEG + Bloom 5 x 4||380||Full Review|
Diamond series XML 350
|VEG + Bloom 4.5 x 4.5||330||Full Review|
|Advanced LED: P900||VEG: 6 x 5 / |
Bloom 5 x 3
|Kind LED: K5 XL750||VEG + Bloom 4 x 4||430||Full Review|
It is always a good idea to note your needs before making any purchase. This way, you can easier browse through products without getting overwhelmed. Here are a few things you must consider before looking for an LED grow light.
- Your budget
- The size of your indoor garden. Footprint and height.
- Your growing needs. Plant type and phase.
- How much time do you have? This is relevant because some lighting fixtures are best for one phase while others are best for another. So if you do not want to go through the hassle of changing lights etc. then you may want to look for an LED grow light with a veg/bloom switch button.
Keep in mind that LEDs are generally more expensive than other grow lights (HPS, MH, etc.), but do not let this scare you. You can catch some good discounts on LEDs. Amazon for instance frequently run special offers where you can assure some good value for the money. And remember LED fixtures are more expensive because they typically come with features like:
- Integrated cooling system
- Longer lifespan
- More light emission
- Less electricity consumption
- Low profile, making them perfect for height restricted spaces
But for now let us say, you have browsed through different options and you decided an LED is an investment you want to make. Now it is time to choose which unit is going to be best for you. Let the information below guide you.
Area coverage – How much watt do you need per square meter?
LED manufacturers label their products with a high watt number, have a look at King Plus 1000w below. Just because it is called that, doesn’t mean it actually is true.
Disregard the watt in the title! Here is why:
Under product description, it is said, that you have 10 pieces of 10-watt LEDs. So that means you have a total of 1000 watt, right? Nope! It simply means the unit has a max driven capacity of 1000 watts. When you drive a light fixture to its max it will produce excessive heat which the components of the unit are not built to tolerate. This will shorten the units’ lifespan significantly. So, most LED manufacturers only drive the units to a fraction of its max capacity to maintain a fine line between performance and reliability. They can also use different titles to market the same product. For example, a 1000w LED grow light can also be called a 300 watt. The key here is to look at the actual power draw.
The key here is to look at the actual power draw as highlighted in the picture below.
You can also do it the other way around. First, measure your grow area. Then you can use wattage to estimate how much power (watt) you need per foot. Here is how:
Average LED grow lights draw 32 watts to cover 1 sq. foot of flower plant. You can use this as a baseline to determine how many watts your LED unit needs.
For example, if you have a grow room of:
2 x 2 feet = 4 square feet.
You will need a fixture that draws at least (4×32) 128 of actual watts. Note! We are talking about actual watts, meaning watts drawn at the wall. Not the advertised wattage which typically comes in the name. Use the same principle for larger spaces, just multiply 32 watts times your area in square feet and you will get the amount of actual wattage.
Best LED Grow Light chips
LED chips come in several wattage outputs ranging from less than 1 watt up to 100watts. The higher watts the more expensive the chip. The most common sizes in a grow light are 1,3, 5 or in this case 10-watt chips. High watt chips are better suited for applications that require more penetration. For example, if you have a tall leafy plant then you need more penetration so the light can better reach the entire plant. However, in case of a more low-profile grow or cloning even 1-watt chips will do the job as long as you don’t go over 3-watt chips.
Not all LED chips are alike. Some are known for their high-performance and long lifespan whereas others have a less reassuring reputation. LED chips are manufactured widely around the globe. The ones which you and I are most likely to encounter are typically put together in the US, Europe or China. Now among the horticulture communities, it is widely accepted that the better-quality chips are going to be US-made, names like CREE and Bridgelux are considered the leaders in LED research and manufacturing.
Best LED Grow Light Spectrum – What to look for
Only a certain portion of the full spectrum light promotes photosynthesis. This is called the PAR zone. When led manufacturers provide the spectrum information. Make sure to check the wavelengths of light are on the full spectrum. Let us have a look at the king plus 1000 w once again.
This graph tells us that the king led fixture utilizes the electricity to emit light in wavelengths ranging from 400 nm to 740. This means the light is within the PAR zone (400 nm to 700). So it is very limited how much consumed electricity goes to waste.
We can also see that the graph peaks at the red end of the light spectrum. So the light is mostly red. A plant needs red light when it enters flowering stage. For vegging, you want a fixture that emits more light on the blue on end of PAR spectrum.
Light – What is PPFD and why is it important
You need to know the light intensity. More precisely, you are interested in knowing how much of the emitted light actually reaches your plants. To find out this, you want to look information about photosynthetic photon flux density also known as PPFD. The PPFD tells us the total amount of PAR light that reaches a certain point per second. The unit for this is (umol/m2/s). Let us have a look at the example featuring king plus PPFD numbers.
PPFD values are usually indicated by a light distribution map. A high number means a lot of light falls on a certain point. So the higher number the better it. The distribution map also tells us, that the ideal height for this grow light is 12 or 18 inches. If you move the fixture 24 inches away, the light will not get distributed equally leaving certain parts of the plant out of reach. Always look for the PPFD map. Not all LED companies release it. If you cannot find any information regarding PPFD then make sure to ask the manufacturer.
Warranty – what is bad and what is good
There are a bunch of internet vendors out there either drop-shipping lights from China or runs a so-called “one-man operation”. The only thing they do is to move it from manufacturer to the customer while charging you extra for it. So make sure to do some background check on the company. There might not be anything wrong with the units these vendors sell. However, if your unit breaks for whatever reason, or you experience malfunctions with the driver, fan, lights and what not, then the warranty quality comes in to play. So do some digging. Before purchasing anything, you want to make sure the company you purchase the LED from are reliable when it comes to warranty. Ask them about their return policy. It is here, you need to know the difference between bad and good warranty. So let us have a look at some examples.
Bad warranty policy
- If a shop asks you to send the light back and THEN they will send you a replacement.
Good warranty policy
- They send a replacement out first and even let you use its box to return the broken unit while at the same time covering the postage.
- The longer the warranty the better.
A 5-minute research now can save you a lot of headaches, not to mention cash, in the long run! You can start by reading some reviews or google the company name. If you still haven’t found what you are looking for, then why not call the customer service and ask them questions like:
- How long is your warranty?
- What is your replacement procedure?
- Are your units in stock, or do you drop-ship them from the factory?
- Ask for details on the light, number, and type of chips, actual wattage, recommended core coverage and height above canopy etc..
- When will this unit ship, and when can I expect to have a tracking number?
In this article, we covered all the things to consider before purchasing an LED grow light. Hopefully, by now you have a better idea of what to look for when browsing through the catalog, site or whatever you browse through when searching for the best LED grow light.
In case you missed it, here is a summary of what we covered.
- Don’t pay attention to the watt numbers, look at the actual watt.
- Use 32w per foot as a baseline to estimate the size of grow light. Example: if you have a grow area of 2×2 which 4 square feet, you need a grow light which draws at least 4×32=128w actual power.
- Consider the PAR light produced per watt and the light spectrum chart. And look at the PPFD map. These are the most crucial metric for determining the quality of an LED fixture.
- Prior to purchasing, make sure to research the companies refund and warranty policies.