Best LED Grow Lights: The Ultimate Buyers Guide 2019

HLG Quantum Boards

  • Efficiency
  • Innovative design
  • Best Spectrum

Advanced
Platinum LED Series

  • Versatile Design
  • Quality Cooling
  • Light Efficacy

ViparSpectra Reflector Series

  • Budget LED Light
  • Integrated Fans
  • Reflective Design

You need the best LED grow light because there is no piece of equipment more important when it comes to growing any sort of plants indoors. The grow light is the source of life for your plants. Its performance directly impacts every aspect of your grow. So when it comes to indoor growing, the one thing you don’t want to cut back on is the quality of your light fixture.

It’s already well known that LED grow lights can save you money and increase yield while at the same time producing little heat. But to unlock these promised benefits you have to navigate through a jungle of misleading information, poor quality products and sneaky marketing tactics. This navigation is vital for your pocket. You want to do this thoroughly so you do not waste your hard-earned dollars on a light that does not live up to its promises. 

Fortunately, we’ve already done the navigation for you and compiled the most significant informations in this easy to digest guide with the purpose of making it easier to find the best led grow light for your particular needs.

The buying guide starts with an overview of significant releases of LED series by five best LED grow light producers on the market of 2019 as shown in table below. 

Overview: Best LED Grow Lights on the market

LED SeriesModelActual WattsVeg AreaBloom Area

Advanced Platinum Series
P3001804,5 x 3,83 x 2
P6003456 x 3,75 x 2
P9005156 x 45 x 3
P12006906 x 5,55 x 4

ViparSpectra Reflector Series
300w1302 x 21,5 x 1,5
450w2002,5 x 2,52 x 2
600w2603 x 32,5 x 2,5
900w4054 x 43 x 3
Marshydro Reflector Series280w1053,5 x 3,52 x 2
480w2073,5 x 5,52 x 2
720w3172,5 x 4,5 2 x 4
960w4105 x 5,54 x 4

King Plus LED
600w1203,2 x 3,63,0 x 3,4
1000w1853,4 x 3,83,2 x 3,6
1500w2604 x 53,8 x 4,5
3000w6157,8 x 87 x 7,5
Horticulture Lighting Group Quantum BoardsHLG 550 V24806,0 x 64,5 x 4,5

In this guide we will review the overall performance of each LED grow lights based on following criterias:

Efficiency – We want these lights to waste as little electricity as possible and last as long as possible.

Cooling – Grow light fixtures ability to dissipate heat effectively

Spectrum – How big an area does the fixture cover and how is the quality of the spectrum in relation to plant growth. 

How to choose the best led grow light?

The first thing we suggest you do is to make a list with the most important values you have in a grow light. Here are a few ideas to get you started: initial price, size, material, efficiency, UV, PAR, spectrum, lifespan, warranty, etc.

Of course, there are more, but make sure you identify the factors most important for your personal tastes, growing style and growing environment.

Then, take that list and read through our compiled list of reviews of the best LED grow lights available. Try and pick an LED grow light that best matches the features that you have decided are most important, based on the list you made earlier. 

If that sounds like a lot of hassle, then you can simply pick an LED grow light featuring in this article. We have handpicked few quality LED grow lights within different price range. We believe these grow lights meet the requirement in terms of important factors such as light spectrum etc. And we have made it easier for you to pick the right model for your particular needs. Just follow the guidelines in the “recommended for” section of each grow light.

1. Advanced Platinum LED Series Review

When we first started writing this guide, we knew that Platinum LED products would definitely make our list. This company creates lights that are designed for everyday growers, with commercial-level efficiency and power.  

There are six different models in the PlatinumLED line, so you will always be able to find the one that suits your needs. For smaller crops, their 50 watt P300 is known as one of the most efficient led grow lights out there. perfect place to start. If you’re ready to scale up, the P1200 gives you incredible light output while using only 379 watts of power. Their thin, modular design means that you can start with one, then expand as necessary. No matter how your grow room is set up, there is sure to be a PlatinumLED model for you.

Finding the perfect balance between cost and performance, they’ve created a product that will give you flawless performance for several years. There are a few key features you get with this light that you don’t often find at this price range. 

Efficiency

As we are sure you’re well aware, electricity is one of the biggest cost involved with growing indoors. Shaving off even a small amount of your monthly bill can result in huge savings every year. As a whole, LED grow lights are known to be some of the most efficient on the market. But the PlatinumLED lights push this well-known fact to its absolute limit. 

Their largest model, the P1200, draws as little as 379 watts during vegetation while keeping its total light output equivalent to the power draw of a 1400 watt HPS grow light. In essence, this light is about twice as efficient as an entry-level LED grow light. And, each light is rated for up to 100,000 hours of operation. 

It might cost a little more upfront, but you’re guaranteed to recover this cost within a year, as a result of the reduced energy use and the lengthy lifespan. 

 

Cooling

One of the main features of LED Grow lights is how much cooler they run when compared with older technologies. Not only will too much heat severely damage your plants, but it can cause the LEDs to burn out faster as well. 

PlatinumLED has an excellent cooling system in place that allows it to push cool air over the LEDs and bring it away from the fixture. Air is expelled through the top of the light, ensuring that what little heat produced can’t do any damage to your plants 

Light and Spectrum Quality

It’s not just about the quantity of light we feed our plants, but the quality. Grow light manufacturers are constantly trying to optimize their system to produce only the exact spectrum of light used by plants for photosynthesis. PlatinumLED is one of the few companies that has managed to create their own unique system that emits a set of carefully selected colors of light. This has lead the company to earn a PAR rating that is much better than the majority of products on the market. Thats why the series has made it to our top LED grow light recommendations.

If you’ve ever used a flashlight, you already know why spread is an issue. Almost every light on the market has an uneven spread. It’s brightest in the middle, and slowly fades towards to outside of its range. PlatinumLED makes sure that their lights have the most even spread of any other light on the market. This means that you can pack more plants into a denser area, ensuring that they all get the large volumes of light that you need, even as they begin to grow larger. This feature makes the light perfect for the ScrOG technique as well.  For anyone who wants to get the most bang for your buck, this is an essential feature.

Recommended for

If you’re the type of grower who demands the best, you owe it to yourself to check out this grow light. 

Its high output means you’ll get better yields from every plant, quickly helping you recover the premium you paid for it. Keeping that in mind, it’s far from the most expensive on the market. 

We’ve found that this product line is the perfect balance between price and quality. The manufacturer is so confident in their results that they go live on camera and test their options against competitors in real time. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, Read our in-depth Review

Efficiency
4.5/5
Cooling
4.5/5
Spectrum
4/5
Price
2.5/5

2. ViparSpectra Reflector series Review

The biggest reason people shy away from LED Grow lights is the cost. ViparSpectra decided to challenge the market by releasing a low-cost alternative to expensive options. If you’re on a tight budget, this is the perfect way to get started. But this light wouldn’t have made our list if it couldn’t keep up with the best of them. 

If you’re connecting two or three lights together, you’ll be happy to know that they provide a separate electrical outlet for daisy-chaining lights together. This means that you only have to run one cord out to your system. We don’t recommend it for large grows, as you’ll want to have separate circuits for each light. But for small growers with multiple plants, this feature is perfect. Let us dive into the key features of this light.

 

Efficiency

Even if you live in an area where power is inexpensive, power is still a significant cost to your indoor growing operation. So it is quite an assurance to hear that even a budget friendly LED grow light such as the ViparSpectra Reflector Series are still more efficient than HID/HPS grow lights

The ViparSpectra Reflector is very well designed. The outer frame is made of aluminum, which is both solid and at the same time good at getting rid of excessive heat. Thanks to the design the manufacturer advertises with a lifespan of at least 100.000 hours. This means you are covered for 22 years on a cycle of 12 hours. For unexpected failures, the manufacturer has promised a 3-year warranty. 

 

Cooling

This light is very simple to use and set up. Its body is compact and lightweight, so you’ll have no problem setting it up. In smaller rooms where space is a concern, you need to make sure that your lights are dissipating heat as far away from the plants as possibleWith the entire frame made from aluminum, this grow light is very well built. Aluminum is not only solid, but it also removes heat very effectively. 

 

Light & Spectrum Quality

Current theories indicate that plants only need a very specific spectrum of light to grow. However, there is still some debate on the topic. Many growers and those ‘in the know’ believe that UV light is the secret key to unlocking the full potential of your plant. 

There have even been some strains that supposedly perform better in UV light. Since cannabis is native to areas where there are larger amounts of UV radiation, it’s entirely possible that this theory is true. If you’re looking to try this out for yourself, ViparSpectra is one of the top models to offer this feature with its built-in UV-emitting diodes.

Recommended for

If you’re looking to save money for a small-scale grow, then the Viparspectra 300w is the perfect option for you. Although its spectrum is most ideal for Veg stage, we believe the series provide some of the best options out there for beginners looking to supply a small grow area within a limited budget. 

The power savings from a slightly more efficient light are minimal when growing on a small scale, so this light will provide more than enough efficiency for you. Compared to HPS lights, you’ll still see plenty of savings, with higher quality light output. Want to know more? Read our in-depth review.

Efficiency
5/5
Cooling
4/5
Spectrum
3/5
Price
5/5

3. MarsHydro Reflector Series Review

Looking for a cheap LED grow light to break into this exciting new market? Where value is concerned, there is nothing more affordable than the MarsHydro Reflector Series. Sure, there are some cheaper models on the market. But this is the most affordable one we found that still managed to meet all of our requirements. 

There are four models of the MarsHydro Reflector, each of which is designed for a specific size of grow. The entry level model, the Reflector 48, contains 48 5w LED lights in a compact square panel. As you move up the product line, you’ll notice that MarsHydro has effectively combined multiple Reflector 48’s into one unit. This means that when you attach them together, you’ll be able to get full coverage, even in an awkwardly sized grow room. 

Each panel is essentially designed to provide the same coverage required for a single plant. If you want to grow three, you could pick yourself up a Reflector 144. If you decide to add another later, you could just add another Reflector 48. This design lets you break into the market early, and expand as you need. There are a few key features that we love about this light, beginning with the design.

 

Efficiency

The Reflector series are designed to be as small as possible, while still offering impressive coverage. Each 48-LED unit is one square foot on the face, and just two inches thick. This single light will cover two square feet of space. Volume wise, this is a fraction of the amount of space that an HPS light would occupy. Efficiency wise, the Marshydro 48 from the series draw 105 watts while replacing 160w hps. The LEDs has an estimated life time rating of 50000-100000 hrs. But some users report that the diodes wear of much sooner than that.

 

Cooling

Keeping the lights cool helps convert the electricity running through the LEDs straight into light, without wasted energy being produced as heat. The cooling system consists of integrated circuit board, heat sink and high speed heat dissipating fans that work efficiently to cool down the lights while making minimum noise.

 

Light & Spectrum Quality

The MarsHydro Reflector are also a very efficient line of LEDs. Although the Reflectors produce a large amount of photosynthetically active light, they do so with high efficiency. The smallest Reflector 48 rated at a maximum 224 watts actually consumes only 102 watts. The largest (960 watts) runs on only 415 watts. The fans mounted in the light fixtures also function to increase their efficiency, by reducing the amount of electricity converted to heat.

The unique modular bright green MarsHydro lights aren’t just a pretty face, though. The light output of the MarsHydro light covers the entire photosynthetic spectrum effectively. The spectrum is mostly balanced between red and blue, slightly heavier on the red end, which is a good thing. The PAR directly below the Reflector 192 (at a height of 18 inches) is a whopping 1200umol. Your plants will thrive under a MarsHydro Reflector.   

Recommended for

If you’re working with limited funds, or just getting started with indoor growing, this is the perfect light for you. Where power draw is concerned, this light is roughly 10% more efficient than an equivalent HPS light. 

That being said, its’ so cheap that you won’t save any money by going with an HPS model. What you get is a compact unit that is easy to use and produces less heat. In our books, that’s a win. See our in-depth review of the MarsHydro Reflector series.

Efficiency
4/5
Cooling
4/5
Spectrum
4/5
Price
3.5/5

4. King Plus LED series Review

While there are plenty of high quality LED grow lights on the market, there are very few high quality and affordable LED grow lights. KING LED has tackled this problem in one swift motion with the release of their King Plus line. With 6 different models to choose from, this is the perfect entry point for any beginner grower. If you don’t need the modular design of the MarsHydro models, KING can save you some dollars without sacrificing on light output and power. Whether you’re growing one plant or ten, KING has a suitable option at a rock bottom price. Here is what we like about them:

 

Efficiency

In packages ranging from 600 to 1600 watts, you’ve got a pretty solid lineup to choose from. No matter how much or how little you’re looking to grow, there is sure to be a suitable model for you. These grow lights have two types of focusing lenses, operating at either 60 or 120 degrees. This evens out the light and gives you the perfect balance between focus and spread over your plants. At 50,000 hours, these lights around to last you much longer than any HID light on the market. You can expect to get up to 10 years of life out of them, which is more than you can say for many of the other electrical devices kicking around your home. 

 

Cooling

The plastic polymer of KING LED lights doesn’t reduce heat as effectively as other aluminum light fixtures, but it still conducts the thermal energy enough to reduce excess heat in your growing space. Each light has anywhere from 2-4 fans (depending on the model) mounted within the fixture. The fans’ primary function is to cool the light fixture and remove excess heat. Although LEDs produce way less heat than traditional HID lights a small amount of heat is still produced, and the fans do a great job of negating it. The fans aren’t the quietest of all the lights we’ve reviewed but they’re not super noticeable. The double chip LEDs are great for heat reduction as well. Because they can produce comparable light output from a fewer number of LEDs, there is less heat produced overall.

 

Light & spectrum

We like that in each light, there is a greater ratio of red to blue lights. Red light is the most efficient light for plants to use in photosynthesis. Although blue does provide some useful benefits, including inhibiting auxin synthesis, which helps promote bushier plants. Of course, all types of light are present in sunlight so it is important that you provide your plant with each type of light because they all have different functions and benefits for your plans. That is why KING LED has mounted some yellow and white LEDs, in order to cover the entire visible spectrum. One thing we don’t love about the KING LED lights are the presence of the UV and IR LEDs. 

Recommended for

If you’re on a budget and want an affordable way to get started, then the KING LED lights are your best option. They don’t have a lot of frills, but they are perfectly suitable for a simple grow. You can still produce some high yield, beautiful plants from any of their models with a decent spectrum and at a great price. 

If you want to keep your initial costs down, these are the ones you’ll want. Make sure you check out our in-depth review of the KING LED grow light.

Efficiency
4/5
Cooling
3.5/5
Spectrum
4/5
Price
4/5

5. HLG Quantum Boards 550 v2 LED grow light review

Horticulture Lighting Group released this Quantum Board mid 2018. Quantum boards is basically a board integrated with small LED diodes. In the case of the QB 550 V2 the LEDs are top of the line Samsung LM 301b diodes. HLG is the first company who came up with this innovative LED grow light design. But because the design is simple it is also easy to copy, so be aware of a lot of copy cat manufacturers out there. Quantum boards are great when it comes to light design and efficiency. It is increasingly becoming the new rage among indoor growers, which is why we choose to review it. 

 

Efficiency 

The HLG 550 v2 replaces 1000w HPS while drawing only 480 watts at wall. The light fixture has an integrated driver at the back of the panel allowing you to decrease the light intensity down to 240w. This way you can adjust the light according to your plant stage and thus save electricity. 

 

Cooling

With the Quantum board it has never been easier to keep your grow space at a lower temperature. The QB LEDs rest on a aluminum heat sink panel that assures passive cooling. This means that the led fixture mainly concentrates the energy on converting the consumed power into light, which initially is the whole purpose of LED grow lights. Leaving out the fans as a part of the fixture also means low noise level. However, you may benefit from installing an external fan to get the excessive heat away from the plants.

 

Light & Spectrum 

The QB 550 v2 consist of 1152 samsung diods divided over 4 quantum boards which means there are 288 on each qbs attached to the panel. The fixture spectrum is white with 3000k and 4000k options. 3000k is the most popular option and ideal for seedling to harvest. 4000k is best for veg but can be used for the other plant life phases as well. 3000k is best for larger yield. While 4000k is best for increasing quality. 

The white light spectrum assures a working environment where it is possible to see the plants natural color. The spectrum contains a medium amount of blue peaking at around 455 nm while at the same time having a large bump at the orange spectrum peaking at around 605 nm. The blue light spectrum is good for the veg stage as it keeps plants compact and helps them grow up instead of out. 

The quantum board emits also a lot of green light to promote photosynthesis and canopy penetration. There is also some far red light present in the light for the same purpose.

Recommended for

We recommend the HLG quantum board 550 led grow light for indoor growers looking to cover a grow area of 6×6 during veg plant stage and 4×4 for plants in the flower stage. 

The recommened height for this fixture is 18” for flower and 24” for veg. The grow light fixture is also certified for commercial growth. The quantum board is not recommended for beginners because they cost quite around 1k dollars at the time of writing. 

Efficiency
5/5
Cooling
3/5
Spectrum
5/5
Price
2/5

Everything You need to know about LED grow lights

Why Indoor growing is becoming more popular?

Since cannabis has become legalized in many states, many people have been looking to get involved in the cannabis industry – even if it is for their own personal enjoyment. The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to start an indoor, or an outdoor garden. Many beginners often feel that an outdoor garden is the best place to start. There is very little equipment required, so the startup costs are low. But if you ask any expert, they’ll tell you that an indoor grow is the way to go.

The primary reason you’d want to grow indoors is that you have much more control over the environmental factors. The amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients you give you plants has a significant impact on how well they grow. If you’re relying on natural sunlight, you have very little control over how well your grow performs. You can spend countless hours working on your grow, only to have the whole thing ruined by one bad season.

It’s also important to consider the nature of cannabis itself. This plant isn’t native to North America. In most parts of the world, our environment just isn’t suited for ideal growth. With the advanced strains and genetic lines, we have access to, anything less than ideal simply isn’t cutting it. A quality plant requires that you select the right seeds, optimize the humidity and heat, and carefully control the lighting cycles to induce flowering at the right moment. All of these conditions are difficult to control in an outdoor environment. If you want high yield and high quality, then a climate control grow is the only way to go

Environmental Factors in a Grow room

With any grow, the end goal is a large yield and a high-quality product. There are several factors that influence your plants development. Each of these factors can be controlled manually, or with a specific piece of equipment.

 

Light
Light is the catalyst that allows your plants to produce energy, allowing them to grow. Plants can absorb light much more effectively than our eyes can, so a simple household lighting system that appears bright enough to us simply won’t cut it. Every indoor grow room will require at least one specialized grow light, with many growers opting for the use of several. With LED grow lights, there are lots of options that help you control how much light your plants are getting. You can control the spectrum, light cycle, position, and dispersion of the light. All of these options are heavily dependent on which type of grow light you choose.

 

Temperature
Cannabis is a tropical plant. It’s used to growing in a fairly warm environment. To get the best quality buds, you need to keep your grow room temperature above 64 degrees and below 77. Keep in mind, this is just a general guideline. Many strains require specific temperatures for some of their signature qualities to develop. The unique smell of Sour Diesel? At 67 degrees, you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from Kush. What can affect the heat in your room? Lighting is the biggest source of heat in your entire system. HPS lighting, for example, gives off huge amounts of heat. Growing with HPS lights will always require high volume cooling systems. Using LED lighting allows you to almost completely avoid the cooling expense altogether.

 

Humidity
From seed to flower, every stage of growth requires that your plants take in a large volume of water. The combination of moist soil and warm temperatures can make for a very humid environment. For most grows, special humidity control is not required. However, it’s important that you select equipment that is capable of withstanding a humid environment. When there is electricity involved in a humid environment, you should always take caution to ensure that your equipment is properly rated for a grow room.

 

Benefits of using LED grow Lights

If you’ve been shopping around, you probably know that LEDs aren’t your only option. There are many types of grow lights. HPS lights have been used for years, and are often quite effective. But LEDs are the newest technology on the market, and they have several key benefits over HPS lights.

HPS vS LED grow light

 LEDHPSWinner
Average Price per 500w$500$200HPS 60% cheaper
Average Yield1.25g/watt0,5g/wattLED increases yield by 250%
Space req. per 4 light3.31 cubic feet14 cubic feetLED takes 77% less space
Light spread3 feet/panel5 feet/lightHPS covers 160% more
Heat generation watt/hr3.4 BTUs3.4 BTUsEqual
PAR-light95%44%LEDs produce the correct light spectrum
Lifespan in hrs50-100k10-15kLEDS last 10x longer
Production cost*$32000$85000LEDs cost 60% less

Although there are some minor benefits to an HPS lighting system, LED is better in almost every respect. For most growers, LED is the obvious choice because of their compact design, low heat output, higher power efficiency, and superior lifespan.

How many watts do you need?

When selecting the specific light, you need, this is often the first question that people ask. As we’ll explain soon, there is a lot more to effective growth than just the amount of power you’ll need. However, it is still possible to get a rough estimate of the amount of light you’ll need. This shouldn’t be the only factor, but can help you narrow down your choices.

Typically, one cannabis plant occupies two square feet of space. The general rule of thumb is that you require 50 watts per plant. For a grow of four plants, you’d need at least 200w of LED power in order to grow them effectively. Of course, there are a few things to consider.

Think about the layout of your grow space. Are you actually going to fit a plant into two square feet? Some require more, while others can pack them together more effectively. Once you have a rough idea, you can adjust the calculation. Doubling the square footage will double the power requirement, and vice versa. At 4 feet per plant, you’ll need 100 watts of LED power for each one. At 1 foot, you’ll only need 25.

When you look at the LED rating of a grow lamp, this is a measure of the total power rating that the LEDs combined can produce. So, for example, an LED grow light with 100x 3w LEDs has a maximum wattage rating of 300 watts. An LED light with 200x 5w LEDs has a maximum wattage of 1000 watts. However, the most important thing to remember is that these Watts don’t necessarily correspond to how much energy your light is actually consuming, and therefore converting from electricity into light. This value, is called the true wattage or actual wattage of the grow light. When considering an LED grow light, the true wattage has two important consequences for you to understand. The first, is basically the reason LEDs are so efficient. Just because a 3w LED can operate at 3w, doesn’t mean it should, because this will cause the light to burn out quicker, and running brighter will produce more heat. Running below the maximum wattage allows for higher efficiency. Second, although the LEDs run at a lower wattage, we know they do so at a higher efficiency while still producing a significant amount of light. This is why an LED running at lower wattage can replace a higher wattage HID light.

Why is Light Spectrum important?

Plants need light, and LEDs make light. Easy, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Some types of light are much more efficient at promoting photosynthesis than others. If we were blasting light at a plant that it isn’t capable of using, we’re not really doing anything more than just wasting electricity. For this reason, the light spectrum is extremely important when selecting a good LED grow light.

We use the value of PAR, or Photosynthetically Active Radiation, as a way to measure how much useful output our grow lights are capable of. If you’re going to compare one light to another, PAR is the best possible metric you can use. Not every manufacturer makes their PAR data available, but we always do our best to provide it when possible.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a high-end light, you’ll want to read our blog post on how PAR is measured and all of the metrics that are associated with it. It’s also helpful to understand why plants are green to put it all into context.

The importance of coverage

The one problem with PAR values is that they can often be a bit misleading. Light coverage isn’t always even. You’ll often find that the light is very bright towards the center, and slowly fades as it goes toward the end. If you look at the most expensive grow lights, you could even notice their par ratings may seem a little lower than others. This is because PAR is measured at the center of the light. When an LED grow light isn’t spreading this light out evenly, its measurement will be much higher in the center and lower towards the edges. If you have a grow light with even coverage, like the most expensive lights, its PAR measurement will be even throughout, even if it is a bit smaller. Even coverage is always better, as it allows for a denser growing environment.

Another important aspect of light coverage is the spread of light. Grow lights typically come with focusing lenses pre-installed. These lenses spread out the light over a given area. It doesn’t matter whether you are covering a large area or a small one, the total light output doesn’t change. If you’re only growing a single plant, you’re better off to focus this light all in one area with a 60-degree lens. Alternately, a 120-degree lens could be used with a very powerful light to cover more plants. 90-degree lenses offer perfect in-between value for good middle ground coverage.  If you need more information, we’ve covered everything you need to know about lens angles on our blog.

Conclusion

Hopefully, what you read in this guide helped you picking the light best for you and your situation. Stay tuned for more on growing with LED lights and other stuff related to indoor growing on our blog. We appreciate any feedback and we encourage you to share your growing experience through the comment section below or contact form. Sharing is indeed caring.

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