Best LED Grow Lights 2018
Buying Guide and Resource
LED lights are probably the most modern and popular choice for indoor hydroponic gardeners. Not only can they be cheap, they can be energy efficient and allow you to customize mixing different colored LED (different spectrum range) to suit the specific needs of your plants at its different growth stages. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode; the name pretty much describes the components of a LED that contain two lead semiconductors forming a diode. As you may gather LED’s create visible light as an electric current (power source) passes through the semiconductors. There are lots of different types of LED lights and due to their popularity and cheap manufacturing they can be found toys, TV’s, watches etc.
I will (try) give you all the information you will need about LED grow lights, and hopefully, you will be able to decide if they are for you. LED Grow lights differ in category, size, wavelength and wattage. Here is what you may want to know before I give you my LED grow light reviews.
1. Tao Tronics LED Grow Light Bulb - Best LED Grow Light 2018
I’ve said this before and I have no problem saying this again; 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.
To say this product is jam-packed is an understatement when it contains 225 LED’s!! Made up of 165 red LED lights for flowering and 60 blue LED lights for the vegetative stage. This product is well made and for a very reasonable price. This product has been widely tested with rave customer reviews from those growing anywhere from bananas to seaweed. Upon customer reviews, there is a wide range not only of plants grown with this light but there is also quite a range of hydroponic set-ups such as greenhouses, plant factories, pipeline cultivation for obtaining tissue cultures from specific plants. This reinforces how versatile and well made this product is offering a two-year warranty and a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours. This product will not disappoint, and this is why it’s my number 2 best LED grow light.
An innovative product providing 300W full spectrum LED grow lights combined with a 250W HPS bulb, supporting your plant's growth through the vegetative stage to flowering. Although not a well-known brand it is causing shockwaves within the hydroponic grow light scene. This product is on par with well-known brands like Galaxy Hydro, MarsHydro and KingLED only this product provides more bang for your buck. Quality is not compromised whatsoever even with the very modest price. You do not have to worry about the production of heat with this product inbuilt heat sinks and upgraded cooling fans ensure minimal heat is dissipated keeping your garden and plants safe and sound. This product suits a small to medium size hydroponic garden with an area of 2”x2” up to 3”x3” or perfect to add to existing hydroponic grow light setups. With a three-year warranty and great value, you definitely do not want to let this product slip your eye.
Galaxy Hydro is a VERY well known and trusted company, well established and with 6 years experience making LED grow lights. This product offers a superior 9 band full spectrum light and it also includes UV light. The only reason this product sits at number 4 and not number 3 is a number of reviews. This product contains heat sinks and offers new technology using a daisy chain organization allowing 90° and 120° beam angles. Although they have a wide range of LED lights differing in size and wattages, however, this product seems to be the most popular and most practical full spectrum LED grow lights.
Another popular hydroponic grow light, some die-hard King LED followers may even dispute its position above. Both products are on par; again it has gathered more reviews and more happy customers. Is the customer always right? Right? This product boasts 7 years experience (1 up on Galaxyhydro!) and full spectrum LED grow lights providing red, blue and white light alike the Galaxyhydro product above. A little cheaper than both my number 3 and number 4 options, however, this does not in any way equate to any shortcuts in quality and safety features. This product uses heatproof tubes and isolated power supply perfect for your small to a medium hydroponic garden.
This definitely packs a punch and as the products name states it is definitely one of the largest wattages on my list. Another well-known brand incorporating new technology designed to include holes between LED bulbs combined with two fans and vents instead of heat sinks to keep this light working longer and safer. Suitable for medium to large garden areas.
This is another fantastic well-reviewed product by Galaxyhydro the only downside for those wanting an all-in-one is that is limited to 7 bands unlike my number 4. This product offers all the same quality features as my number 4 with the exception of the daisy chain design and of course the full spectrum. Not to be overlooked for those who don’t require a full spectrum.
has had crazy good reviews and many of them include everything a quality LED grow light should with heat sinks, blue and red LED lights and great energy efficiency. This light conveniently hangs and is perfect for the first time grower (only 3 bands).
is probably the most similar in size and structures to my number 1 the TaoTronics although nowhere near as popular. A little pricier but you get 12 LED’s including 4 blue, 6 red and 2 purple for your vegetative and flowering growth. I can’t forget the usual safety requirements with heat sinks inbuilt.
is easily my most simplistic Hydroponic grow light in my list. It looks identical to a usual light bulb that you would plug into your lights except it’s LED. This product is perfect for an absolute beginner who wants to start growing small hydroponic herb garden inside with a low 8W and awesome energy efficiency.
LED Grow Light Buying Guide
First, Answer These Questions.
What Are You Growing?
This refers to the size of your garden space and the type of plant/stages which you will require different spectrums. I’ll give you a quick example, if you’re strictly requiring light during the vegetative stage due to your geographical location during winter you would be fine having blue LED lights. For others who need light, all year round might head for full spectrum LED grow lights and those in between might opt for a half blue/red LED setup. I’ve summarized the light colors and appropriate plant stage below.
Appropriate Plant Stage
Flowering and promote budding
Flowering and promote budding (watch the heat !)
A supplement and for your visibility!
Some add as a supplement
What’s Your Hydroponic Garden Size?
Make sure you choose the best LED grow lights that can cover your garden size and ensure it will cover your plant as it grows. Research the height and size your plant will go. Check the table of my top 10 and for each product, there is the recommended garden size.
Will You Have Adequate Cooling?
Don’t skip out on safety; most modern LED lights will come with heat sinks, cooling vents. If you have a medium scale hydroponic set-up and go with a medium sized LED light such as a GalaxyHydro, VIRASPECTRA, KingLED or MarsHydro you won’t have to worry about heat production as cooling systems are inclusive within the best LED grow light brands. It’s more relevant for the first timers, who are setting up their hydroponic garden using a single LED bulb that need to be wary. If you see that you need to place your LED bulb in close proximity to the plant or household items the chances are you have the wrong product.
What’s Your Budget?
As you may notice my top 5 rated best LED Grow lights range from about $10 to $150, for whatever budget you will be able to pick a quality light. See this as an investment, instead of adding more LED bulbs, invest in a medium size LED that will be practical throughout the plant’s growth and in case you decide to scale-up your hydroponic garden.
Do your research before heading in-store or purchasing online, you should have an answer for each question above and you can use my LED grow light reviews. LED grow lights are energy efficient, awesomely bright and have a long lifespan; with the right choice, it will make your hydroponic growing a breeze. Now do your research!
More background information I must, LED lights generally come in three categories Miniature, High Power (HP-LED) and Application Specific (AS-LED). I’ll quickly run through each just for argument's sake.
You probably guessed it; yep it gets its name from its size. This teeny weeny LED light is normally found on your TV as a power light on your mobile phone (camera flash) or on key rings. This won’t be relevant to most unless you have a super small hydroponic setup and you need/want only a fraction of light. This type of LED usually comes in 5V and 12V ranges and do not require any additional cooling system like a heat sink. One down two to go!
High Power LED (HP-LED)
This is where most of you hydroponic growers should be looking if you want a minimalistic approach that wants the bare minimum. This bare minimum may seem like a good deal but these high power LED lights dissipate a lot of heat. And with the good, unfortunately, there is bad meaning you will probably require some cooling equipment. Lucky many modern products have thought ahead and incorporated it into their design but are mindful. A property that makes this class so popular is that one HP-LED can replace and outshine any other grow light but read on, as there are other considerations that need to be made.
Application Specific LED (AS-LED)
This one’s a biggie and to limit the confusion rating I will skim read all the facts and spit out only the facts you need. Application Specific is pretty much a pre-set customization; this consists of different colors, flashing and physical makeup (strips). I will quickly note the AS-LED types such as Flashing, Bi-colour (two colors), Tri-colour (three colors), RGB (red green blue), multicolor, alphanumeric (dots form numbers), Digital RGB (red green blue) and filament (strips). I’ll quickly expand on digital and filament. Digital RGB refers to not only red green blue lights but to the ability to control the color and brightness of each LED independently of the others like you would find in Christmas lights. A LED filament refers to a long rod of LED lights similar looking to a fluorescent rod. This type of LED has been slowly out phasing incandescent bulbs and manages heat by containing inert nitrogen and carbon gas within the filament itself (not individual bulbs). So using a filament removes the need for cooling devices as needed in most HP-LEDs.
This is a very important! This may seem straightforward to anyone who has purchased a light of any kind, not so straightforward with LED lights. Yes, the Watts will be listed on the product however this may not be the output you are getting from your light. The Watt listed on the box is the maximum amount of power that your lamp can use meaning that if the box lists 600W it could cause heat problems and reduce its lifespan. The same 600W LED light could be marketed anywhere between 300W and 600W. To overcome this don’t rely on the manufacturer’s rating, compare power consumption to find the most efficient and long lasting LED. LED lights can vary from 5W to 1000W depending on the size and amount of power the lamp requires to emit that certain light.
LED Wavelengths (Colors)
Grow lights effectively are used to replace and mimic the visible light emitting from the sun outdoors. Seems simple but you may not know that within that visible sunlight there is a light spectrum. And quite a wide one much to the surprise of many, and yes it needs to be specific. LED lights are not full spectrum lights like fluorescent grow lights; do not let this discourage you as you can get the best of both worlds (efficiency, brightness etc. with a big spectrum).
There are bands within the spectrum that coincide with different stages of growth for your plant or if it’s easier to understand different seasons (the light of each season).
- Blue Light (autumn/winter) mid 400nm
This light is ideal for vegetative growth creating tall and leafy plants, however not helpful during bloom and budding so see below!
- Red light (summer/spring) 600-640nm
Opposite end of the spectrum from the blue and imitates the light usually found in spring perfect for plants that are in bloom (flowering) and budding. Note that too much red light will not allow vegetative growth (the same as blue will not allow flowering/budding).
- White light
This is not relevant for the growth of your plant, more relevant for you not tripping over things and clearly being able to see your plant and any problems it might have.
- Orange/Red light (summer)
Orange/Red lights don’t sit too far away from the red lights the main difference is that these lights generally produce a lot of heat, please be mindful
forsafety and for your plant's health. You may need to purchase cooling fans or other heat reducing equipment.
- Ultraviolet light (UV)
Not usually included
withinLED combinations but it makes sense doesn’t it? Natural light includes UV although it isn’t compulsory. If you want to play around with combinations this won’t hurt and there are many out there that have only positive things to say about them. Up to you!
Product images sourced from Amazon.com