Best Grow Lights 2017
Our Top Picks and Recommendations

If you're lucky enough the method hydroponics may be as simple as placing your pot beside a window and having a plant that only requires normal day cycle of the sun. For the rest of us and the especially the hardcore hydroponic growers with large indoor garden space, you will no doubt be in need of hydroponic grow lights. Before I get into the specifics of the types of grow lights I’ll explain for the beginners why it is so important for your plants to receive the right amount of light. For plants to grow and thrive they need an energy or fuel source (light) in which they use to make their own food by a combination of gases. This is called photosynthesis. All plants have chlorophyll on the surface of their leaves (which make the leaves green), which needs light. So light is important, plants will not make their own food and won’t grow without it. I will soon get to the different types of grow lights that you will need to replace and replicate natural sunlight.

Best Grow Lights 2017

Model

Power
(Watts)

Full
Spectrum


Apollo Horticulture GLK600GW19 600 Watt Grow Light Digital Dimmable HPS MH System for Plants Gull Wing Hood Set

Apollo Horticulture
GLK600GW19

600

Yes

Apollo Horticulture 60 Watt CFL Compact Fluorescent Grow Light Bulb for Plant Growing - 6500K

Apollo Horticulture
60 Watt CFL

60

No

TaoTronics Led Grow lights Bulb , Grow Lights for Indoor Plants, Grow Lamp for Hydroponics Greenhouse Organic, Plant Lights ( E26 12w 3 Bands)

TaoTronics Led
Grow light Bulb

12

No

Agrobrite FLT24 T5 Fluorescent Grow Light System, 2 Foot, 4 Tube

Agrobrite T5, FLT24, 2 Foot

432

No

iPower GLSETX600DHMWING20

600

No

Jump Start 4' T5 Grow Light System (Stand, Fixture & Tube)

Hydrofarm Inc JSV4 4-Foot
Jump Start T5

54

Yes

VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series 300W LED Grow Light Full Spectrum for Indoor Plants Veg and Flower

VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series

300

Yes

Erligpowht 45W LED Red Blue Hanging Light for Indoor Plant

Erligpowht 45W LED Red
Blue Hanging Light

45

No

iPower 54W 4 Feet T5 Grow Light System with Stand Rack for Plant Growing, 6400K

iPower GLT5XX4 Head Start T5

54

Yes

LED Grow Lights, Hgrope 5W LED Clip Desk Lamp with 360 Degree Flexible Gooseneck Light for Office, Home, Indoor Garden Greenhouse

Hgrope 5W LED Grow lights

5

No


1. Apollo Horticulture GLK600GW19 Digital HPS MH (HID) - Best Grow Light 2017

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First things first, Apollo Horticulture is the most popular brands when it comes to all things grow lights. And for a good reason, the reliability, great value and rave reviews. Don’t forget that sometimes you do pay for what you get, sometimes you can rationalize spending a little more for quality products. This isn’t just a grow light, this is a grow light pack which includes bulbs, reflector, hangers, digital ballast and a timer. Everything you need to automate your hydroponic lights perfect for a medium size garden. This pack may not produce full spectrum light but it is a starting point and you can easily add an inexpensive LED.


2. Apollo Horticulture 60 Watt CFL

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Another Apollo product, this should not be a surprise. Although this product is not a value bundled deal it is a perfect addition to any size garden, and no matter the stage. This Compact Fluorescent Light is full spectrum and fits traditional light sockets. This product will use about the same amount of electricity as a house light but will have nearly double the lifespan as the HPS above. In terms of a CFL this is easily at the top of its field and definitely affordable. This product will fit nicely for someone starting out in hydroponics who wants the ease of plugging this light directly into the electricity socket and doesn’t require any automation.


3. Tao Tronics LED Grow Light Bulb

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This would have to be the best selling LED on amazon and for a good reason, price, and quality and energy efficiency. This product has incorporated both red and blue lights to widen the spectrum for budding, flowering and vegetative stages of your plant. This product is incredibly safe, producing literally no heat even running at 17 hours a day. This product is perfect for any size garden; you can afford to add as many of these grow lights as you want. For those who are starting out with hydroponic grow lights you will notice the improvement, your plant will produce leaves within 2 weeks when used daily. A Hydroponic must have for those who want to improve plant health.


4. Agrobrite T5, FLT24 2 Foot 4 Tube Fixture

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Despite the grow light business being largely dominated by LED lights, many will always have trust in fluorescent grow lights. This product boasts 4 fluorescent tubes, a high-efficiency specular aluminium reflector, and 10ft power cord. This product can be used for a medium garden. This product could even be your sole source of light, 4 tubes and spectacular aluminium reflector emitting blinding full spectrum light. The coolest part, this product has options, it can be hung 3 ways; overhead, vertical or horizontal to fit just as you want. Because of this and it’s full spectrum light power and quality this product is popular and you need not look any further if a T5 grow light is what you need.


5. iPower GLSETX600DHMWING20 Digital HPS MH

Another renowned supplier of grow lights and another value pack. This pack is very similar to that of my number 1 rated product. This hydroponic grow light pack comes at a comparable price and similar features. It includes electronic ballast, bulbs, reflector and rope. The only thing missing here is a timer, and automation makes like and hydroponics that much easier, especially if you're growing a more complicated plant. Value for money is mostly there, the timer is not however it has been given great reviews and many of them. Not as many as my number 1 but for those who want an all-in-one pack and don’t need a timer go for it.


Now I’ve given you my top 5, if none of those options have caught your eye or you’ve got something in particular you are searching for. I have another 5 options for you.

6. Hydrofarm Jump Start JSV4 4-Foot T5

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another quality brand and a no fuss full spectrum T5 grow light with an adjustable height frame. And very reasonable price.​


7. VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series LED

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an innovative product combining both red and blue LED lights perfect for flowering or vegetative plants whilst saving on your electricity bill.


8. Erligpowt 45W LED Red Blue Hanging Light

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another product combining both red and blue LED lights. This product has been widely tested with rave customer reviews from those growing anywhere from bananas to seaweed.


9. iPower GLT5XX4 Head Start T5

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a similar setup to the Hydrofarm (number 6) a T5 light housed in a reflector attached to a 4-foot frame. The price is also comparable, the go to T5 light for those who swear by iPower I’m sure.


10. Hgrope LED Grow Lights.

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One word. Miniature, but versatile with a 360-degree flexible gooseneck arm. It’s perfect for a small-scale hydroponic grower and it’s as easy as plugging it into the wall socket. At a very reasonable price.


Grow Light Buying Guide

To keep my comparison nice and simple I will group my different grow lights by each heading (HID, Fluorescent, Plasma and LED) and include the specific varieties within.

Type

Garden
Space

Plant Stage

Approx.
Lifespan

Cost

HID

Small

Vegetative stage (blue)
and flowering (red)

<10,000 hours

MH ~$25*
HPS ~ $150*

Fluorescent

Small

All stages
(full spectrum)

<20,000 hours

CFL ~$5-10 per bulb
T5 ~ $50

Plasma

Small

All stages
(full spectrum)

>20,000 hours

>$500

LED

Customise for
large or small

Budding (red) or
vegetative (blue) or
combine

>50,000 hours

Small ~$100
Large ~$200

*Extra costs such as fans to combat heat produced

As you can see I have given you the most basic comparison by the factors such as garden space, plant stage, approximate lifespan, and cost. It may not seem adequate for all the background information I’ve given you, but don’t despair there will be specialised pages for each option including top products if you have already made up your mind or you want to window shop a little (except online). There is something you may want to think about especially with a small indoor garden that I briefly touched on, and that’s heat. Something you may need to consider when thinking about HID grow lights is that they produce quite a lot of heat and will usually require fans. Keep this in mind as the less heat the less fire danger.

HID Grow Lights

I’ll start with the most traditional types of grow lights. These are called High-Intensity Discharge Lights. Now there is a bit of science behind this type of grow light. It involves gas and metals, which are heated to produce light, a very bright white light at that. These lights are used in some fancy car headlights think about those multiple circle front headlights that are bright nearly blinding white. These are made up of many High-Intensity Discharge lights.

There are a few different setups of High-Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights. Each type of setup has a different function; I will go through them so you can decide the best grow lights for your hydroponic system. These can come in bulbs a ballast or as a lighting hood/reflector depending on your preference. I have included the two most common HID lights depending on your hydroponic needs

Metal Halide HID gets its name from the mixture of gas (mercury) and metal halides. Remember HID produce light from heating gas and metals. These grow lights are distinguished by their neutral white light emitted. The Metal Halide HID is especially associated with indoor gardening because of their wide spectrum mimicking that of sunlight making them one of the best grow lights ousting incandescent lights.

Sodium HPS as you may guess gets its name by heating sodium (instead of mercury and metal) to produce light. There are two types of Sodium HID them being low pressure and high pressure. High-pressure sodium lights are known specifically as a grow light and in our case hydroponic grow lights. Sodium lights are distinguished by their characteristic yellow colour and have little purpose outdoors.

Fluorescent Grow Lights

This word will look familiar to anyone who has changed a light globe at home. Fluorescent lamps produce light by using an electric current to excite the gas (mercury), which produces a short-wave UV. This source of light is very common and may be in your house, at your local department store, school or workplace. This type of light is more visible light than incandescent lamps (and it’s more energy efficient); this quality is another reason these lamps make my list of best grow lights. There is always going to be situations where different grow lights work best and stand out of the crowd. For fluorescent lights, it’s not really an ideal grow light for large plants as this light can’t penetrate as deeply as HID, therefore unless you want to situate multiple fluorescent lights above and to the side of your large plant then this is still for you. Now for the specifics.

Compact fluorescent Lighting (CFL) a more popular lighting option for those who want or require smaller grow lights. They are commonly used in households as they fit the standard light socket. This type of light is perfect for the small-scale indoor hydroponic garden as this light gives of practically no heat and can be positioned very closely to the plant safely and without harm. CFL lights are available in different spectrums (Kelvin ranges), which produce different colours if you want to get into the specifics. Depending on your Kelvin range (1000K-10, 000K) these bulbs mimic different types of sunlight. At the lower Kelvin range you have your standard house light (red) then direct sunlight (yellow), daylight/overcast (white to light blue) and open shade (dark blue) at the upper end of the scale (10,000K).

T5 grow lights are another option as hydroponic lights and are best applied to a large space. T5 refers to the different shape I guess you could say. You would have seen these lights somewhere in your lifetime; it’s those long tubes (2-5) usually in a white metal case. This is T5; these lights are known to be one of the most efficient in all the grow light types. Logically you cover more space with the long tubes of the T5 lights instead of many CFL lights. As well as covering more space surprisingly these lights like CFL produce little heat and make these lights one of the best grow lights around.


Plasma Grow Lights

We are heading to the more modern side of things. When I think plasma I think of modern TVs and have soon been forgotten (new LED TV’s). Surprisingly plasma lights are shooting up to the top of the list of the best grow lights. Why you may ask? Because they offer the fullest spectrum of lighting out of all grow lights. Just before I mentioned that you would need a separate fluorescent light for different levels of the spectrum. Forget that. A plasma light uses Electromagnetic induction to produce light instead of electrodes or filaments (like HID and fluorescent). Another positive is that plasma grow lights are up to 50% more efficient that the traditional types of grow lights (not LED). Those hydroponic growers that have been fixated with LED lights are now adding plasma lights to increase their power and rightly so. There is always a downside and a reason why they aren’t as popular as LED lights, the price is a killer. But those who aren’t strapped for cash seem to see plasma lights as one of the best grow lights. Don’t worry I’ll have options for those on a budget, just read on.


LED Grow Lights

Another modern type of hydroponic grow light, and most popular that’s for sure. Simply because they are cheap, easy to set up, energy efficient and even include their own built-in fan which ensures there is little to no heat emitted. LED if you haven’t noticed in new cars and torches are the brightest option of the different types of grow lights. Time to get a little technical; LED lights work by sending an electric current through a semiconductor with causes electrons (little particles) to bounce around and in turn produce a very powerful light. Although these lights are very bright and efficient they do not have a wide spectrum, and you will need multiple LED’s to provide the necessary light ranges for flowering, budding and what not. LED lights are the most efficient of all the different types of grow lights traditional or modern and despite the small range of spectrum options, there are enough positives to outweigh the negatives and the reason why they are the most popular on the market today.

Conclusion

Okay, finally a conclusion. If you're just starting out on a low budget and a low-fuss hydroponic grow lights is what you are looking for don’t go past the fluorescent grow lights. These work well for a small garden and for stages of your plant. For energy efficiency you can either go Plasma or LED, there will not be a more energy efficient grow light that LED hydroponic lights. But at a cost, think of this as in an investment and you will be given returns (lower energy bill). Plasma lights are also energy efficient and provide a full spectrum, unlike the LED hydroponic lights. If a large space is what you have, by all means, you can use lots of fluorescent lights or HID mixed with Plasma lights to save costs. But for energy efficiency, all spectrum (mix red/blue LED) you can penetrate a large area.

Product images sourced from Amazon.com​

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Apollo Horticulture GLK600GW19 600 Watt Grow Light Digital Dimmable HPS MH
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star