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A guide to the best LED grow lights
If you’re growing plants indoors you need a high quality lighting system. This is where LED grow lights come in. You can have great hydroponics, and provide the best nutrients, but without the right lights your plants aren’t going to grow. It’s as simple as that.
Finding great LED grow lights isn’t hard. You just need to know what you’re looking for. Plants need a specific type of light to carry out photosynthesis, and you need to make sure you provide it. We’re going to explain a little about how LED grow lights work and what they do. Then we’re going to how you some of the best LED grow lights on the market. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to grow successfully, using LED grow lights.
What are LED grow lights?
We’ve already explained that you need light to grow plants indoors. LED grow lights are the latest mass produced lights on the market. Until recently, growers had mostly used LED lighting as a supplement. If plants needed extra light during flowering then growers would place LED lights close to them. This would provide the necessary light top-up.
This has now changed. LED grow lights have been improved. They are larger and far more powerful. This means that, as a grower, you can use LED lights to provide light for your entire crop of plants. You can obtain LED grow lights in a panel, which is simply hung above your plants. These panels come in a variety of shapes, including circular and square. The great thing about an LED grow lights system is that it’s self-contained. You often don’t need any additional cooling system, which means you save money and space.
How do LED grow lights work?
Before you decide on which LED grow lights to buy, it’s a good idea to know how they work. Without getting too technical, LED grow lights have a semiconductor, through which an electronic current is passed. Using different materials to make the semiconductor means that diodes can be created that have different wavelengths of light. This is really important, as different plants need different wavelengths. You also need to use different wavelengths, at different parts of the growing process.
What does the wattage of a grow light mean?
It’s important that you know what the listed wattage on an LED grow light means. You actually need to know the power consumption. If you push the wattage listed on the bulbs through to them, you can build up too much heat and the bulb will not last as long. You need check the amount of power you will actually get from the lights, in your growing set up. Remember, that pushing through a really high wattage can also lead to an increase in temperature.
What are wavelengths, and what do they mean?
We’ve already stated that different wavelengths of light are required when growing plants. This can be because a certain type of plant requires a different type of light. It can also be because plants need a different type of light at different stages of growth. For the best growing experience it’s best to have LED grow lights that cover the entire spectrum. Fluorescent and HPS grow lights can give you a range of the spectrum, but they use vast amounts of power. Using full spectrum LED grow lights gives you the same access to the full spectrum of light, but using far less power. Here are some more details about wavelengths, so you can understand why having access to the full spectrum is so important.
Helps to produce growth in plants. This type of light is often used to produce plants that have height and good leaf coverage. It’s sometimes a good idea to restrict blue light when flowers are blooming. This is because continued plant growth can restrict the growth of buds. If you are growing a cannabis crop, then the use of blue light is vital during the vegetation stage. It helps to produce strong plants.
Quite the opposite to blue light, red light is most useful when lights are in bloom, to help increase and improve the yield. If you want to ensure the maximum yield from your plants then you need to utilize red light when your plants start to bloom.
White light helps the human eye. If you use only blue or red LED grow lights then you can’t always tell if there are any potential problems occurring with the growth of your plants.
You can experience increased temperatures, when using LED grow lights in this part of the spectrum. You need to bear this in mind with regard to ensuring that the temperature is right for your plants. If temperatures in your growing area rise, then you will need to employ cooling equipment to reduce the level of heat.
If you are growing marijuana, ultraviolet light can help with increasing THC production. Of course promoting the production of THC is essential if you are going to maximize the psychological effects of your cannabis plants.
Where do light cycles come in?
If your plants are growing outdoors they go through a natural light cycle as they grow through the months of the year. If you grow your plants indoors then you have to mimic this cycle with the use of your grow lighting system. Doing this ensures that your plants are as healthy and productive as possible. Therefore, your plants should receive a lot of light at the beginning of the growing season, as they would outdoors. If you are growing cannabis plants this means that in the seedling stage they need sixteen hours of light each day. At the clone stage they need eighteen hours of light, as they do at the vegetative stage. As your plants come into the blooming stage you need to reduce the amount of light provided to twelve hours per day, as they would get outdoors in a natural environment. Combining the right amount of light with the right wavelength, helps your plants to complete the growing cycle with the best strength, and in the best condition.
What are the benefits of LED grow lights?
Taking into account the importance of the light cycle, there are specific benefits that LED grow lights have over other types of grow lights that growers can use. There are also specific benefits in relation to power usage, and to the lifecycle of lights. For now, here are some of the generic benefits you can get from using LED grow lights.
The space you can save
Often other types of grow light require a large amount of other equipment to support them, such as an array of cooling equipment. LED grow light systems tend to be smaller than other systems that can be used. They also don’t emit the heat that other systems do, and you don’t require as much output to produce the same amount of light. This means there is often no need for the cooling systems. If they are needed at all then they are far smaller. This means that you don’t need as much room in which to grow your plants. There are obvious advantages to this, as not everyone has access to a massive amount of internal growing space.
The easing of temperature worries
If you use other grow lights then you have to pay careful attention to the rise in temperature they can create. If you don’t then all of your plants can be ruined. Temperature control can involve paying large amounts of money to run a cooling system. LED grow lights only usually get warm to the touch so you don’t have to worry about high temperatures; often you don’t even have to worry about a cooling system. If you do need a cooling system it will be nowhere near as big. It’s important to note that if you are heating a very large area, you may still encounter high temperatures. For this reason, you need to keep a close eye on the temperature.
Improved power efficiency
LED grow lights have high levels of output, to provide enough light for your plants, but they don’t use huge amounts of power. This isn’t the case with other types of grow light, which can cost you a lot more to run. Lower power usage is also beneficial to the environment, so everyone benefits.
If you’re growing plants you don’t want to have to replace your grow lights often. The majority of LED grow lights are rated as having a lifespan of between 50,000 and 100,000 hours. This compares very favorably with other grow lights which have an average lifespan of around 20,000 hours. You can see how this means you get twice the growing time if you use LED grow lights.
Specific advantages of LED grow lights
You have seen the overall advantages of LED grow lights, but it’s interesting to take a look at how they are a better option than other grow lights that have traditionally been used, and still are in use by many. So why should you change to LED grow lights? We’re going to compare LED grow lights with other grow lights, one on one.
High Pressure Sodium (HPS) grow lights are still very popular with some growers, and purchasing them is certainly far cheaper than buying LED grow lights. That’s not the end of the story though. HPS grow lights use more power than LED grow lights, so they are more expensive to run. They also emit a lot of heat; as much as 500 degrees F, as opposed to 70 degrees F for LED grow lights. This means that they can be harder to manage, and you’ll need a separate cooling system. This again means that you end up spending more money in the long run.
Although the light that HPS grow lights emit is strong enough, it’s yellow in color. This isn’t that good for plants, in either the vegetative or blooming stage. LED grow lights use the correct color light to optimize the level of growth and blooming in your plants. LED grow lights also have a lifespan of 50,000 hours, as opposed to 18,000 for an HPS grow light. Overall, LED lights are cheaper in the long term and produce a better outcome for your plants.
LED grow lights versus HID grow lights
High Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights are effective for growing your plants, but they have a downside. There’s no doubt that initial outlay is more affordable than for LED grow lights, which obviously may seem tempting. Costs soon grow though. HID grow lights are very powerful, so they use a lot of power. This means that you pay more to operate HID grow lights, than you would to operate LED grow lights. Costs also grow because HID grow lights give off a great deal of heat, up to 600 degrees F. This means you need a separate cooling system. This isn’t always necessary for LED grow lights. You should also take into account that HID grow lights only have a lifespan of 10,000 hours. Taking all of this into account, you can see why LED grow lights are a better option.
LED grow lights versus fluorescent grow lights
Fluorescent grow lights are affordable, and they do not give off the same levels of heat as HPS and HID grow lights. However, fluorescent grow lights contain gases such as neon, xenon and argon which means that they are difficult to dispose of efficiently and safely. LED grow lights have all the advantages of the cooler temperature without the downside.
Although T5 grow lights are more efficient than previous fluorescent grow lights, they don’t offer the same longevity as LED grow lights, and they emit more heat. Their lifespan is 20,000 – 35,000 hours, and they give off 95 degrees F of heat, as opposed to the 75 degrees F of heat given off by LED grow lights. It is possible to convert a T5 grow light system by simply replacing the fluorescent tubes with LED tubes instead.
LED grow lights versus plasma grow lights
Plasma grow lights are some of the most advanced on the market, and they do have all the power and versatility you need to ensure your plants grow and bloom to their maximum potential. However, plasma grow lights are extremely expensive. This is why growers opt for LED grow lights that cost less, but provide the same benefits.
What should you consider before buying LED grow lights?
You can see why LED grow lights provide the best overall option when you’re deciding on which type of grow light to buy. That doesn’t mean the decision making process is over. You still have to think about your personal requirements, and which grow lights to buy. Let’s take a look at your personal requirements first.
What is your budget?
This is one of the most important aspects with any purchase, and LED grow lights are no different. Think about this carefully, as you need to be realistic about the amount of money you have to spend. There’s little point searching through the range of LED grow lights on the market, if you can’t afford to buy the one you choose. Don’t forget LED grow lights can be expensive initially, but you need to factor in the amount of money you will save in the long run. You may be able to secure lights at discounted prices, so you should never rule any lights out. Establishing your budget helps you to know exactly where you stand with affordability.
What grow space do you have?
You can’t even think about buying your LED grow lights if you don’t know what size of set up you need. Make sure you know the height of the space, and the footprint. If you’re just starting out growing it can’t be emphasized enough, how important it is to do your research.
What style of grow do you have?
Think hard about what type of plants you are growing. Do you need lights that will enable you to grow tall and sturdy plants? Do you need lights that create the best blooms on your plants? Do you need full spectrum LED grow lights that give you all of the best options?
What sort of preparations do you need to make?
Don’t forget that LED grow lights don’t emit as much heat as other types of grow light. If you already have a growing system in place you will need to think about disposing of any large cooling system you have, and adapting to your new grow light system. This may also involve adjusting the amount of space you use for your growing. It’s important to remember that you may need to retain some sort of cooling system, in case of any raised temperature levels.
What should you think about when making your LED grow light purchase?
After you have thought about your personal considerations, you still have to decide which LED grow lights to buy. So what sort of things should you think about before you purchase your LED grow lights?
Strength of construction
When you’re buying an LED grow light system you don’t want to take any chances with your own safety, or that of your plants. For this reason, you need to make sure that you invest in lights that have a solid structure and reliable wiring. If you don’t do this you are risking damage from the high levels of light required to grow your plants effectively.
Color of LED
The best LED systems provide the correct levels of blue and red LED light, to ensure efficient growth and blooming of your plants at all times. If you don’t have the right wavelengths you are not going to grow the best plants possible.
Although LED grow lights don’t emit nearly as much light as other grow lights, you still need to pay attention to the method of cooling that comes with the lights. This system comes in the form of a “heat sink” which directs any heat away from the LED and the lighting system. Look out for LED grow light systems that has a metal-core printed circuit board with an attached panel of “fins.” These systems should keep efficiently cool.
What about the warranty
LED grow lights generally have such a long lifespan that a warranty is never used; this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. There’s always the chance that you will need a replacement part for your lights. For this reason, you should look for a warranty that not only includes a short term (90 day) return option, should you experience any technical problems with the product. It should also include the option to get replacement parts in the longer term (3-5 yeas). Making sure that you have a good warranty gives you peace of mind when you’re making the purchase.
Remember that you should never be afraid to ask any questions you have. Any reliable company will be only too happy to answer them. You may want to think about asking questions like:
· What are details of the warranty?
· What does shipping involve?
· How long have you been in business?
· Do you have recommendations you can show?
· What happens if replacement parts are required?
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. You can ask anything you want to. It’s better to get all the answers to your questions, before you invest any money in making a purchase. If you’re not satisfied with any of the answers provided, then you should not feel pressured into buying the product.
Some of the best LED grow lights on the market
Taking all of the important considerations into account, here are some of the best grow lights, you may want to consider. We have provided some information as to the unique selling points of the different brands.
Advanced LED lights
One of the biggest providers of LED grow lights, Advanced LED lights has a good reputation. Located in the USA all the staff the company employs are home based. Advanced LED lights offer high quality 3w/3chip 11 Wavelength LED grow lights. They include a 90 day money back guarantee when you make your purchase, as well as a three year warranty. They promise that you get the best parts and no additional heat output from your lights.
Some of the LED grow lights you can purchase from Advanced LED lights are:
Diamond Series XML – 10W CREE XML
Replaces H600w HPS grow light.
Diamond Series LEDs – Extreme 3w LED Technology
Available in different wattage, 100w, 200w, 300w, 400w, 600w, 800w.
Saves on electricity as it runs cool.
Blue and White 3w LEDs.
Comes with an LED grow light guide.
XTE Series LED Grow Light – USA Made 5w LEDs
5w and 3w LEDs.
New optics, including a reflector for more light.
ColdFlo Heat technology as a cooling system.
100% control of color.
As well as the LED grow lights on sale, you can also purchase accessories, such as track systems, thermostats and timers. You can buy all of the products you require in one place.
Hydro Grow lights
These lights have been on the market for four years. The company produces both EXTREME Series LED Grow Lights and SOL Series LED Grow Lights. All of the company’s LED grow lights come with a 90 day money back guarantee. The former come with a three year warranty, whereas the latter come with a two year warranty. Hydro Grow has a reputation for providing exactly the wattage on its grow lights that it advertises. This isn’t the case with every provider.
Hydro Grow is a US based company that includes free shipping in mainland USA as standard. The company also sells used LED grow lights at a reduced price. Customers can also enter social media competitions to win free lights.
The EXTREME Series LED Grow Lights sold by Hydro Grow include custom thin finned copper core heatsinks, an extremely low heat signature and optics grade PMMA acrylic. Their makeup is such that they can very easily be upgraded and part replacement is simple.
The SOL Series LED Grow Lights sold by Hydro Grow include a fusion reflector, custom thin-finned heatsinks and the same low signature as the EXTREME Series LED Grow Lights. They are also just as easily upgradable.
Blackdog is a US based company that sells LED grow lights containing its proprietary Phyto-Genesis Spectrum which is aimed at replicating the natural outdoor growing light conditions for your plants. As we’ve already explained providing lighting that is as close to the natural light cycle as possible is vital in producing high quality plants. Blackdog has a reputation for providing light wattage which is exactly as advertised. The company provides free shipping in mainland USA and includes individual warranties with its different products. The LED grow lights sold by Blackdog include:
PhytoMAX LED grow lights
5-watt LEDs which provide a high output.
Cooling system that includes long life fans with extra quiet running.
UV LED capability.
Universal LED grow lights
5-watt LEDs which provide a high output.
Square housing that ensures wider and more uniform coverage.
Large heat sink.
The company also sells accessories such as grow glasses, grow room kits and grow tents.
These are some of the best lights on the market, from a reputable provider. Based in China Raysace provides an excellent product, accompanied by highly regarded customer service. The company has distributors throughout the US, and provides free shipping on its products. The company also offers a 90 day guarantee, as well as a three year warranty, should you have any problems with your LED grow lights. The process is simple so you will never have any problems getting help if you have any issues with your product.
Raysace COB grow lights incorporate an innovative cup design that allows more light to be gathered. Their Integrated light source technology also improves the uniformity of color and increases luminous efficiency. The state of the art design of the lights means they are easier to maintain and have a higher level of stability. If you are looking to grow a reliable crop on a regular basis, then this is extremely valuable. LED grow lights available from Raysace include:
· Full spectrum light that provides close to the maximum wavelength.
· Professional optical reflector to improve growth and bloom.
· Largest light output in the LED grow light market.
· State of the art cooling system to improve longevity.
· 200 w, 1 hole COB Plant light.
· Suitable for small growing area.
· Suitable for individual plants.
· Strong cooling system.
· Reflective cup design aids growth and produces maximum yield.
· Provides maximum returns for minimum investment.
All Raysace COB LED grow lights have been proven to offer improvements, when compared to regular single LED grow lights. As a result of customer feedback and laboratory testing, the company guarantees that this improvement includes a 15% increase in yield. At the end of the day, you want to secure a high yield from your growing. This makes LED grow lights from Raysace an excellent investment.
Why are the best LED grow lights so important?
Any grower wants to ensure that their plants are healthy, and grow in a tall and sturdy manner. If you have flowering plants then you want to make sure you get a good yield. The yield can be especially important if you are cultivating a cannabis crop. You don’t want to go out of your way to provide your plants with all the care and nourishment they need, only to find the growth and yield isn’t what you expected. If you purchase the best LED grow lights you help to ensure that your expectations are met.
You shouldn’t be swayed by LED grow lights that seem more affordable, or that come accompanied with an array of empty promises. A highly rated LED grow light company, like the ones we have featured, can back up its claims. Reputable companies also always provide trusted guaranties and warranties. These companies will also be only too happy to assist with any queries you have. They want attempt to give you the brush off, like some less reputable companies.
Tips on growing with LED grow lights
Of course, once you have selected the best LED grow lights, you still have to put them to the best use. If you are not used to using an LED grow light system some tips can be helpful. They help you to get the best results from your LED grow light experience. This is important in terms of both finance and the size and quality of the yield you get from your growing.
Reflectors are useful
Some lights, like those from Raysace, have reflector cups which help to direct light. If you have lights that don’t include reflectors, it’s a good idea to use them. This makes sure that the light goes directly to where you want it. This helps your plants to grow more effectively, and improves the energy efficiency of your growing regime.
Check the temperature of your grow space
It’s obviously a good thing that LED grow lights don’t emit much heat. It’s also good that you don’t need as many LED grow lights to provide sufficient light for your crop. On the other hand, the fact that the lights are cool, and that you don’t need as many, can cause issues if you don’t pay careful attention. You have to check that the temperature is warm enough so that your plants don’t get too cold. Use additional heating if you need to.
Add lights if they are needed
Check on the growth progress of your plants, and don’t be afraid to add lights if you need them. If you want to improve your growing results you can add an additional panel of blue lights to the side of your plants. If you are not using a SCROG or SOG technique, doing this can help provide sufficient light across all of your plants. Making sure that your light provision is uniform means that your plant growth is too.
Make sure your distance is right
You can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of your LED grow lights if you don’t locate them at the right distance from your plants. Although you can locate LED grow lights closer than other lights you need to be careful. You have to make sure that your lights are situated at a point where they provide light coverage for your entire crop of plants. Place LED grow lights too close to individual plants, and you run the risk of limiting the light supply to other plants.
Take care of your LED grow lights
The initial investment in LED grow lights is often quite expensive, so you want to make sure you don’t waste it. One of the most important things you need to do is take good care of your lights. One way of doing this is to use a power stabilizer. This helps to regulate the voltage in your lighting system. Doing this prevents the damage that can occur if any surges or spikes take place.
The whole story of LED grow lights
You have read our review of what makes a great LED grow light, and which are the best on the market. How does this really affect you?
Where you are now?
Many growers are very set in their ways with the grow lights they use. If you are currently using HPS or HID grow lights then maybe you think they are great. If you are happy with the growth and yield of your plants then that’s fine. However, if you change to LED grow lights these can both be improved even further. You can benefit from these improvements.
This may involve an initial outlay in changing over your grow light system, but you will see the benefits in the longer term.
What will happen when you change?
You will benefit from using lights that don’t just have power, but also use the full wavelength of light. As we have shown, this promotes the growth and health of your plants as it most closely mimics the natural light cycle. You will also save money in the long run, as LED grow lights use a lot less power than other types of grow lights. This means that your power bills will greatly reduce, should you make the change.
Not only that, but your grow lights will last longer and you will not need a large cooling system, as the lights are simply warm to the touch. All of lights we have featured are a good option. Hydro Grow produces lights that benefit from custom thin finned copper core heatsinks and are easy to upgrade. Blackdog lights are designed with the Phyto-Genesis Spectrum™, for improved provision of lighting. Advanced LED lights feature 11 wavelengths. Raysace lights potentially provide the best value, with their reflective cup design that helps to direct light to exactly where you want it. This means that your plants are getting exactly the right amount of light that they need. Whatever choice you make, LED lights make the most sense from a financial and successful growing point of view. You should consider making the change from your current grow light system today.