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
1. Apollo Horticulture GLK600GW19 Digital HPS MH (HID) - Best Grow Light 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
another quality brand and a no fuss full spectrum T5 grow light with an adjustable height frame. And very reasonable price.
an innovative product combining both red and blue LED lights perfect for flowering or vegetative plants whilst saving on your electricity bill.
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.
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.
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.
Vegetative stage (blue)
CFL ~$5-10 per bulb
Budding (red) or
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
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
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.
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
Product images sourced from Amazon.com