You’ll find award winners, bestsellers, budget options, supplemental lights, lights for small spaces or large grow rooms, as well as the lights most favored by our readers—in other words, the lights other growers like you are already using to get results. We’ve covered a lot of lights below. So for your convenience, we’ve selected our Top 10 recommendations for 2018.
You can get more information on how to get started growing cannabis indoors from our free e-book (get it in the subscription are just below of this section), and from our regular reviews of the best grow tents, best nutrients and other top tools and equipment for your growing operation.
WHAT MAKES THE BEST LED GROW LIGHT
FOR INDOORS GROWING SUCCESS?
Choosing the best light for your grow room depends on a few factors. You need a light powerful enough to cover the area where you grow, and that may vary depending on whether you have a dedicated space for seedlings and clones, or if your weed grows to maturity in one place.
Another factor is whether you want an all-purpose light, or if you plan to supplement it with other lamps for veg and flowering.
If you’re especially looking for low running costs or stealth growing, then LED grow lights are very much your friends.
Finally, at least with LED grow lights you don’t have to worry about replacing bulbs, dealing with ballast, or running too hot. All those things were problems with HID HPS lights but they aren’t an issue with LEDs.
Let’s take a closer look at the best LED grow lights—and to help you choose the right light for your grow space we’ll make sure to include details of coverage area. And if you want to check coverage areas at a glance, just take a look at the table above.
How to choose the best LED grow light
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing an LED grow light to grow cannabis:
The area you need to cover: The first thing that you should keep in mind is the area that needs to be covered. By knowing this, you can decide how many LED lights you will need, and which type of LEDs will provide you the best coverage. In order to cover more space, more lights can be placed adjacent to each other.
The phases of the plant growth: If you need a full growth cycle, you can select a full-spectrum LED grow light to assist in all phases. Or many lights have switches and/or dimmers for each grow stage.
Angle of the LED lens: Also look for the angle of dispersion within the LED bulbs. The greater angles mean more coverage while the lesser angles mean less dispersion and more direct light.
Your budget: Factor in the features that are necessary for you and the amount of money you are willing to spend—both up front and on running costs. An LED grow light can be expensive up front, but can save you money long term thanks to the much lower running costs.
Why choose full-spectrum LED grow lights?
The reason is simple.
Full spectrum LED grow lights are a relatively new product on the market and many growers are not all that familiar with these new lighting systems. Most people believe the giant fluorescent lamps or HPS and Metal Halide lamps are the best grow lights to use over an indoor growing marijuana garden, but they aren’t. Full spectrum light systems have the advantage, because:
They mimic real sunlight
Encourage high yields
Can increase potency and flavor
Cost less to run over time
Run cool and don’t need extra fans
Don’t flicker or need ballast
Their lamps don’t need replacing for 50,000 hours or more—that’s years of trouble-free service
Sunglasses? Yes, we’re serious. You wear them outside, right? Protect your peepers from UV rays indoors too when you’re running a full-spectrum LED light. Remember, these lights are powerful!
Nutrients, even plants need their vegetables and minerals. The nutrients you give them don’t just affect yield, they affect flavor. Don’t have poop-flavored pot. Choose your plants’ nutrients wisely.
Grow tent. Yes, it’s a good idea even if you’re already growing in a closet or enclosed space. It’s easier to control the climate for your weed with a tent. You can protect them from stray light sources when they are supposed to be in the dark and you protect yourself from their light when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Plus, it keeps humidity under control and smells, too.
Light meter. Maybe you think only advanced growers use them, but you can use one, too. Then when you’re advanced, you’ll already know how.
Thermometer and hygrometer. Of course you want to know the ambient conditions in your grow tent. We picked the most kick-ass model on the market to show you. It will last you for years.
THE BEST LED GROW LIGHTS FOR THE MONEY:
EDITORS’ CHOICES FOR 2018
We selected our list of LED grow lights based on the results they showed and features they offer. We have also taken into account factors like customer reviews, industry awards and a close look at which lights have proven most popular with our readers. Finally, below our Top 10 Recommendations, you’ll find some great budget options too, some supplementary lights for flowering, and a selection of grow lights for small spaces.
Advanced LED Diamond 350
VIPARSPECTRA Reflector 300
VIPARSPECTRA Reflector 600
VIPARSPECTRA Reflector 450
MarsHydro Reflector 960
PlatinumLED Platinum P900
PlatinumLED Platinum P600
PlatinumLED Platinum P300
1 Advanced LED Diamond 350
Advanced LED Diamond Series XML 350 - Editor's Choice 2018
Last year our Editor's Choice went to PlatinumLED's Platinum Series P900. We still love it, it's a great light. But for 2018 we're going with the Advanced LED Diamond Series XML 350 instead. For two reasons:
The new Diamond Series is even better! No question. You still won't go wrong with PlatinumLED's P-Series lights, but with the Diamond Series Advanced have really surpassed themselves.
We've noticed a majority of our readers favor relatively smaller lights (600W HID equivalents and below), so we're following suit with our recommendations. However, don't worry, most of the lights we've selected—including this one—are also available in larger models.
OK then. What's so great about the Diamond Series XML 350? Firstly, the sheer quality of the LEDs themselves: American-made 10W CREE XML single chip diodes (and Bridgelux blue and whites). These are the big upgrade vs. PlatinumLED's Platinum Series. We're talking super-bright, reliable, top brand LEDs. Thanks to its selection of chips, the full spectrum Diamond Series now boasts a 14+ wavelength spectrum (including UV and IR), to give your cannabis every kind of light it needs for big yields and dense, potent, flavorful buds. You can use it at every stage of the grow. Moreover, the XML 350 can replace a 600 to 800W HID light for an average draw of just 330W. Which means over 50% less heat, no need for additional cooling and big savings on your electric bill. Other features:
Daisy-chain up to four units on one cord
Patented heat sinks, whisper quiet fans, dust filter and air flow vents—to keep LEDs working perfectly for longer
Clone, veg and flower modes—color select dimmable switches
Modular design—certain faults can be fixed without sending the whole unit away for repair
3-Year Warranty, 90-day Money Back Guarantee, hassle-free returns
US Sales and Support staff
Finally, let's talk coverage:
The 10W CREE LEDs boast precision 90-degree XML Collimator lenses for optimal coverage. So this unit can comfortably cover a maximum grow space of 4.5' x 4.5', with core coverage of 4' x 4'—or 16 to 20 plants. Which is more than enough for home growers in most U.S. states, for instance. PAR when hung at 18" is an exceptional 1395 and 987 at 24" for a 4' x 4' space. If the XML350 isn't the price point or coverage you're looking for, no problem. The XML lights are Advanced's flagship lights, but the Diamond Series has plenty of other options available within its range. The slightly cheaper Diamond Series XTE lights combine Osram LEDs and 5W CREEs. While standard entry-level Diamond Series lights use Bridgelux LEDs only. You'll notice, though, that in all three cases all the LED chips nonetheless come from trusted manufacturers and are American-made. Read our full review here.
The VIPARSPECTRA V300 has been pleasing a lot of customers because it hits the right balance of features for the money—in fact, among our readers it's the Number 1 seller! What we think Viparspectra lights do so well is simply being affordable without too much compromise.
And it seems like you guys agree.
Because not only is the 300W model our readers' Number 1 pick, the other lights in our Top 3 sellers are also from the Viparspectra Reflector Series lights—the 600W and 450W models being our Number 2 and 3 sellers respectively. In fact, VIPARSPECTRA has fully five lights among our Top 10 sellers! In short: Viparspectra is definitely doing something right.
But back to the V300...
As for the V300 specifically, this is an affordable full spectrum (12 wavelengths, including IR) light that can replace a 250W HID light while drawing only 136W. The LEDs are good quality, high-intensity 5W Bridgelux and Epileds chips, with a lifespan of 100,000 hours. A 90° lens angle helps them cover a grow space of 2' x 2' hung at 24" and 1.5' x 1.5' at 18" without hotspots. And PAR when hung at 24" is 300 at the center of the footprint. Other features include daisy-chaining, a 3-year warranty and a 30-day satisfaction or return guarantee. Finally, if you want a built-in timer, dimmable veg and bloom channels, a remote control to program your light, slightly lower average draw at the wall and an extra half-foot of coverage, the VT300 only costs a small amount extra. It's ultra-convenient and gives you that extra bit of customizability to fully optimize your growing. Read our full review here.
3 VIPARSPECTRA Reflector 600
VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series 600W - Readers' Choice 2nd Place
Second biggest seller among our readers, the VIPARSPECTRA V600 is the bigger brother of the v300. It comes with all the same features, plus the addition of separate veg and bloom switches. Replacing a 600W HID light and drawing just 269W on average, the V600 can cover a grow area of 3' x 3' hung at 32" and 2.5' x 2.5' at 22". At the center of the light's footprint, PAR at 24" is 530, 275 at 36" and 784 at 18". Again you can upgrade for remote control programmability, built-in timer and even better coverage—in this case, to the bar-shaped VT600. Or the VT600-S has the same square shape and the same coverage as the V600, but the best PAR values of all three V600 options.
4 VIPARSPECTRA Reflector 450
VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series 450W - Readers' Choice 3rd Place
I guess you'd have to call this one the middle child, size-wise. Anyway, our third biggest seller, the VIPARSPECTRA V450 is a 400W HID replacement, drawing only 200W. It will give you coverage of 2.5' x 2.5' hung at 24" and 2' x 2' at 18", and the respective PAR values are 415 and 655. Again, it has separate veg and bloom switches. And there's a VT version, the VT450, a narrower longer light which gives coverage of 3.5' x 2.5' at 28" and 2' x 2' at 20" and PAR at 24" of 396.
Rounding out our Readers' Favorites is MarsHydro's 300W offering. MarsHydro has over 8 years in the business and a growing reputation. (See this post for why we recommend buying from the MarsHydro eBay store rather than Amazon.) The MarsHydro 300W is very much one of Mars' basic, entry-level full spectrum lights—but a very decent budget option. And still the company's top seller. What's so great about it? Firstly, the high-intensity 5W Epistar LEDs are better than you'll get in some similarly priced lights. Secondly, coverage is respectable: 2' x 2', or enough for two big plants. Power draw is only around 132W. Suitable for the whole grow—plenty of both blue and red wavelengths in the spectrum. Finally, although these are made in China there's a service center in California and US and European warehouses to ensure quick shipping. The downsides:
No UV or IR wavelengths in the spectrum
No veg/bloom switch or dimmers
Hanger not adjustable—but you can buy the adjustable one here
This light is still a popular choice, but if you've got the budget our recommendation would be to consider one of MarsHydro's newer models in the Reflector Series or Pro II Series. You'll get brighter, more even coverage and separate veg and bloom switches, but still at a very affordable price. Want to know more? We've reviewed the identical but slightly larger MarsHydro Mars600 here.
The MarsHydro Reflector 960W fits much better in a small square 4’ by 4’ grow tent than many of the rectangular panels we’ve reviewed. We noticed some slight singeing when we used the “flower” setting, but there were no such problems with the “veg” setting—one of the perks of an adjustable spectrum. Those with other lights in consideration will probably prefer to use this one as a back-up light, but it definitely excels when compared to less expensive options. It wasn't in our Top 10 sellers. However, among our readers this was one of the most popular lights of its size.
7 PlatinumLED Platinum P900
PlatinumLED Platinum Series P900 - Editor's Choice 2017
All of the grow lights from the Platinum Series use revolutionary full-spectrum technology to keep your grow room and plants cool while meeting all their light needs. The P900 offers PlatinumLED's trademark “3x intensity” lights that offer three times the brightness of many competing LED grow lights. The P900 has 12 bands of light wavelengths including infrared and ultraviolet, the parts you can’t see with the naked eye. This panel, and others like it in the Platinum lineup, is about as close to sunlight as you can get indoors. But this isn’t a one-trick pony. This panel is good for every stage of growing cannabis.
You can keep it low-key for sprouting by hitting the “Veg” switch, or kick up the intensity by flipping the switch for “Bloom.” The 90-degree angle of the LED focusing lenses sends the light down into the canopy of your plants. This encourages massive growth. It can replace a 1000 watt HPS light at full intensity and still only use 515 watts of electricity. The average price of electricity in the US is around 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. Running a 1000 watt HPS costs you 12 cents every hour, plus what you’ll pay to cool it. But running the P900 gives the same or better light quality and intensity at half that price. When the P900 is suspended at 18-inches above the plants, its core coverage reaches up to 3 by 5 feet. Its maximum coverage is 4 by 6 feet. You may be asking what those numbers really mean for you. At different stages of growth, you’ll be raising or lowering the light according to what your plants need. For sprouting, you can cover up to 4 by 6 feet. But at more intensive stages like flowering, you’ll cover less area because you need more intense light. An adult cannabis plant takes up at least 1 square foot of space in a 3-gallon pot, so the P900 can flower between 12 to a maximum of 24 at a time. This definitely isn’t a budget light system. But we like that the P1200 LED drivers work anywhere in the world. They accept 110V or 220V input (or specifically, 85V to 260V). PlatinumLED offers one of the better warranties on the market, with a 90-day money-back guarantee and 5-year complete warranty.
For one of the most advanced grow lights we’ve ever used, consider the Platinum Series P600. This grow light is a hefty investment, but most growers will agree that premium results are worth a premium price tag. The build on this is durable and easy to set up. It’s one of the best LED grow lights to buy (see also: "Top LED Grow Lights 2018 & Reviews from the LED Grow Lights Experts" on Big Buds Guide), if you have the money to invest in your crops. The core coverage area is about 2 feet by 5 feet, so you can hit the “Bloom” switch for about 5 to 10 plants, maximum. The Platinum Series combines intense light and powerful fans so your plants don’t burn. The light is intense enough that you can physically see it penetrate the plants – an impressive feat. Further, these lights come with something completely unheard of: A 5-year warranty and exceptional customer service provided by the company directly. With the energy savings against an 800W HPS alone, this unit will pay for itself before the warranty runs out. Read our full review here.
9 PlatinumLED Platinum P300
PlatinumLED Platinum Series P300 - Readers' Choice 4th Place
For those who love the P600 but don’t have quite that large of a budget or size of a grow tent, the Platinum Series P300 is a great runner-up—and currently the 4th highest seller among our readers! This is definitely a more affordable LED grow light that offers many of the same benefits as the P600, but at around half the price. Its coverage is about 4.5 feet by 3.8 feet at an 18-inch height, perfect for compact grow areas, or when used in combination with additional lamps for larger areas. This light panel effectively replaces a 400W HPS light, while only actually using 180 watts of power—making it an energy efficient alternative to a traditional light. It’s just perfect for the small home grower. Just as the P600 represents the higher end of the market, this is still a serious piece of equipment—practically a steal for the amazing coverage you get.
This is a system that has a great high PAR output. What does that mean? Well it means the panel gives off about 2 to 3 times the intensity of other grow lights. More importantly, it has an 11 band spectrum that gives your marijuana plants the most nutritional value including those needed from UV and IR. The light chips are all 3W LEDs, and as I’ve mentioned before, the best 3-watt panels have an additional lens to focus the light a bit more. This panel comes with a 60-degree lens and secondary 90-degree focusing lens to give more intensity for plant growth. The chips in this lamp are also replaceable and another reason for the slightly higher price tag. This means you can always keep that 400-watt output, even when a chip blows. Just order the one chip and replace it when it arrives from the manufacturer. With a 5-year guarantee, Advanced LED offers security to their customers. For more info, check out our full review.
10 G8LED G8-600
G8LED G8-600 Full Spectrum MEGA LED Grow Light - "Best LED Grow Light" winner High Times Magazine's STASH Awards 2016
The G8LED 600W MEGA LED Grow Light from DormGrow is well worth the price paid for the quality of what you get. High Times Magazine named versions of this light a winner in its 2016 and 2014 STASH Awards (and the bloom-only version was named "Best LED Light" in 2017). It offers 8-band wavelength plus IR plus UV so it’s there to cover the entire growth cycle of your weed and make sure it's potent and tasty. Coverage-wise, you'll get 4' x 5' at both flowering and vegetative stages, and penetration of 5'. So, essentially, this replaces an 800-1000W HID light, but draws only 380W at the wall. For maximum yields though, DormGrow suggests adding a couple of these 90W all red bulbs at the flowering stage. They claim that running a light at full capacity and intensity, but adding some extra red wavelengths at flowering, is a more economical and effective way to use LED technology, compared to the usual approach where a single light is used and some of the red LEDs are dimmed or turned off during veg. Evidently High Time agrees! These lights stay cool enough to touch even when they have been running for a full 24 hours. The company backs up their product with a two-year warranty serviced entirely by them, and they even reach out to their customers to ensure everything is going smoothly. Read our full, in-depth review here. (Need something more powerful? Check out our review of the G8-900 here.)
How can these tiny little lights can help your plants grow better when there is no sunlight?
Plants have a tendency to absorb more blue light than other colors like white or green; hence, the UV rays are best to induce vigorous plant growth, while the infrared rays are best catalysts for germination and blooming boost.
The wavelengths can be adjusted according to the requirements of your plants in the grow room. If you have plants to grow that are in their vegetative phase, using UV rays would increase the cell division when the plants absorb the rays. Due to the increase in cell division, the plants grow quickly and result in more yield.
In case you need to treat your plant during the flowering stage, the most effective LED lights are those which provide IR, or infrared, rays. These rays are readily absorbed by the buds and apex of the plant and this causes them to bloom quickly and heavily.
We would recommend an LED grow light that has a wide range of wavelength options available, so that you can adjust according to the effects that you need.
The amount of light, type of light emitted, types of plants being grown, Lumen per area, wavelength, and the height between plants and the light can all affect the growth of the plant being treated.
What Are the Benefits of Using LED Grow Lights?Manuel Solis2018-10-05T20:49:13+00:00
Before the rise of LED grow lights, there were other similar methods in use. These include high-pressure sodium lamps and fluorescent bulbs. These methods were not at all favorable for small grow room owners who need to have a small, compact structure. These lights needed a lot of space to set all the equipment, due to the huge amount of heat being produced and the need to have a proper ventilation system to avoid heat build-up. This mess made that process out of reach for the small grow room owners.
LED lights take up a minimal amount of space, don’t contribute extra heat, don’t need their bulbs replaced, don’t have ballasts to manage, and use half the electricity to run.
Compact and easy to install:These lights come in a very compact structure that is very easy to handle. You will not need any specific knowledge to get them installed. You can just have a proper place to hang them above the plants at the required distance.
No need for separate ventilation set up:These lights don’t emit a lot of heat and there is no need to have a proper ventilation system. They can work without any huge ventilation setup and type of large fans.
Can be installed adjacent to each other:As said earlier they have a compact design and most of them can be installed adjacent to each other in order to give more coverage.
Variety and control:Their wavelengths can be adjusted easily and also the modes for vegetative and blooming phase can be chosen.
All these factors have made us great fans of these LED grow lights, because they give us great results with a lot less hassle and cost.
How Many Watts Do You Need?Manuel Solis2018-10-05T20:49:33+00:00
When it comes to LED grow lights, it’s not really about the wattage.
Firstly, wattage isn’t a measure of brightness or intensity. It’s just a measure of how much power is being drawn at the wall. Yes, if you compare two bulbs of different wattage but exactly the same technology, then the higher wattage will be the brighter bulb.
However, LEDs are much more efficient than HID lights, so an LED that draws the same power as an HID will generally be much brighter.
To complicate things further, there are various competing LED technologies.
And then there’s the matter of secondary optics to intensify brightness even further…
So How Do You Know If Your Plants Are Going To Be Getting Enough Light?Manuel Solis2018-10-05T20:51:05+00:00
So how do you know if your plants are going to be getting enough light?
Well, first it depends on which strain you’re growing. Different strains have different light requirements. So we recommend that you first pick a strain, then start looking at grow lights.
Once you know how much light your chosen strain will need, compare it with the PAR and coverage charts provided by grow light manufacturers. A reputable manufacturer should give you plenty of information about what size of grow area their lights can cover and at what heights, as well as the PAR values across the whole footprint. Naturally you’ll need a light that can supply at least as much PAR as your chosen strain needs, but for maximum yields the more PAR you can give your plants the better.
Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this massive buyer’s guide to the best LED grow light for your plants. For some more reviews and interesting reading,
check out Big Buds Guide too. Good luck and happy growing!