1 Advanced LED Diamond Series XML 350
Advanced LED Diamond Series XML 350 - EDITOR'S CHOICE: Best LED Grow Light (2019)
In previous years, our overall Editor's Choice went to PlatinumLED's Platinum Series P900. We still love it, it's a great light. But for 2019 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 LED 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? 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.
- 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.
- Precision 90-degree XML Collimator lenses for optimal coverage
- 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.
- Use it at every stage of the grow: clone, veg and flower modes—color select dimmable switches
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Well worth the money, but look elsewhere if you’re on a tight budget.
- If you want a fully programmable/customizable spectrum, this isn’t for you. (Keep reading for our recommendations.)
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 still come from trusted manufacturers and are American-made. Read our full review here
PlatinumLED P600 (see below); Optic 6
2 MarsHydro Mars 300W
MarsHydro 300W - EDITOR'S CHOICE: Best Budget LED Grow Light (Under $100)
Buy on MarsHydro eBay Store
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?
- High-intensity 5W Epistar LEDs are better than you’ll get in some similarly priced lights.
- Coverage is respectable: 2′ x 2′, or enough for two big plants.
- Replaces a 150W HID light.
- Low power draw: only around 132W.
- Suitable for the whole grow—plenty of both blue and red wavelengths in the spectrum.
- Although the lights are made in China, there’s a service center in California and US and European warehouses to ensure quick shipping.
- 3-year warranty.
- Well under $100.
- 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 has been a very popular choice among our readers, hence our recommendation. But if you've got the budget, also 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—not quite as cheap, but still at a very affordable price. Want to know more? We've reviewed the identical but slightly larger MarsHydro Mars600 here
Alternatives: Viparspectra VT300; Roleadro GalaxyHydro 300W (both reviewed below).
3 HLG 550 V2 Quantum Board
HLG 550 V2 Quantum Board LED Grow Light - EDITOR'S CHOICE: Most Efficient LED Grow Light
Testament to the quality, affordability and popularity of HLG’s quantum boards is just how often they sell out. So if the light you want’s not in stock, sorry, you may just have to wait a bit—but by all accounts, it’ll be worth it! Why? Because the HLG 550 V2 is the most efficient LED grow light to cover a 5’ x 5’ area! Or 6’ x 6’ for veg. With full-spectrum white light. Thanks to clever design and the highest quality components, the efficiency is 2.5 umols of PAR per joule. So it’s replacing a 1000W HID light while drawing just 480W at the wall.
- Surprisingly affordable—even pre-assembled quantum board lights like this one compare very favorably for price with similar power lights from the top manufacturers.
- Ultra-efficient: 2.5 umols of PAR per joule.
- Excellent penetration and very even coverage, due to…
- 1152 top bin Samsung LM301B LEDs packed into an area 26” x 20”
- Passive cooling, so no noisy fans.
- High efficiency Mean Well dimmable driver (dimmable up to 50%).
- Lower than average recommended mounting heights—just 22 – 32”. Meaning plenty of those photons hitting your plants at every grow stage.
- See your plants in their natural colors, thanks to full-spectrum white light.
- 3-year manufacturer warranty.
- Designed and manufactured in the USA.
- Super-helpful customer service.
- Not programmable.
- No in-built timers.
(Or if you're reading this in October 2018, check out the LED Grow Lights Depot Croptober Sale
too — you'll find a selection of HLG lights and kits at up to 25% off.) The HLG 550 V2 is available in 3000K or 4000K models
. The spectrum of the latter has more blue in it, plus a bit more green and yellow. While the 4000K has a little more red and orange than the 3000K option.
Various smaller models and kits are also available, just check Amazon
4 OPTIC 4 (3rd Gen.) COB
OPTIC 4 (3rd Gen.) COB LED Grow Light 405W (UV/IR) - Best COB LED Grow Light
Like quantum boards, COB (Chip On Board) lights are super-efficient and give you brilliant light penetration. Both also produce full-spectrum, natural-looking white light. The main difference is the way the diodes are spread across the unit—loosely speaking, a quantum board is like a COB light but with the diodes spread out. Optic's COB lights boast genuine USA-made CREE XLAMP CXB2540 80W chips to give you coverage of 3.3' x 3.3' for veg and 3' x 3' for flowering.
- Powerful and efficient: yields of up to 1.8g per watt—1.62 lbs per harvest.
- Commercial level PAR output at an accessible price—1250 u/mols at center of footprint when hung at 24″.
- Equivalent to a 600W HPS light but consumes only 405W at max power.
- Bloom boost switch for flowering—turns on 64 Epistar and Bridgelux 5W LEDs.
- White light, full spectrum output designed for cannabis—including UV and IR.
- See your plants in their natural colors.
- Built-in timer.
- 5-year warranty.
- “Industry best Return on Investment”, according to manufacturer.
- Not as programmable as some similarly priced lights.
- Not dimmable.
- Quantum boards are better for short grow spaces—they can usually be hung closer to the plants.
The Optic 4 should be plenty large enough for many home growers. However, for bigger or smaller grows, Optic LED COB lights also come in a range of different sizes—all of them boasting pro-quality CREE diodes at a relatively accessible price. We favor quantum boards over COBs, just slightly. But there's really nothing much in it. Both give even coverage, excellent penetration and enviable yield per watt. So just go for whichever best suits your grow space. Either way, you'll not be disappointed!
5 BESTVA Reflector Elite-1200W
BESTVA Reflector Series Elite-1200W - Best LED Grow Light Under $200
Like MarsHydro and Viparspectra, BESTVA aims to create "well designed, well made fixtures at reasonable prices and no unnecessary extras" (BESTVA stands for best value). Unlike some budget brands, they've also been in the business a similar length of time to Mars and Vipar—around 8 years now—so we're happy to recommend one of their lights here. This one's a big seller on Amazon too. Probably because you get a lot of power for not a lot of cash—PAR at the center of the footprint is 1221 umols/m²s (hung at 24").
- Footprint of 4′ x 5.2′ when hung at 24″.
- Replaces an 800W HPS/MH light but draws only 280W.
- 60 dual-chip 10W Bridgelux and Epiled diodes.
- Separate Bloom and Veg switches—saves money during the veg stage.
- Passive cooling, so no extra moving parts that could fail.
- Lifespan of 100,000 hours.
- 3-year warranty and good reputation for customer service.
- We prefer dimmers to Bloom/Veg switches that just turn diodes on/off rather than dim their intensity. Genuine dimmers can help with a smooth, gradual transition into flowering (higher intensity light) that minimizes shock to your plants.
Even if you shouldn't expect average PAR across the footprint to be as good as the specs at the center, this is still an excellent light for the money. The customer reviews on Amazon and BESTVA's own site are generally pretty glowing too.
6 MarsHydro Pro II CREE 128 600W
MarsHydro Mars Pro II CREE 128 600W - Best LED Grow Light Under $500
Buy on MarsHydro eBay Store
High quality CREE diodes and excellent PAR figures at a very affordable price: what's not to like? There's also a cheaper strand to the Mars Pro II series lights, with Epistar LEDs instead. And they're great lights too... but CREEs are worth the extra few bucks. And those CREE diodes are exactly what give these lights such impressive numbers: 1400 umols of PAR (hung at 18"), flowering coverage of 2' x 4' and veg coverage of 3.5' x 6.5' and a max. draw at the wall of just 355W.
- Max. yield of 1.8g per watt—great value for money.
- Replaces a 400-600W HPS/MH light, for a fraction of the energy costs.
- Reliable, high quality build and components.
- Excellent for all grow stages.
- Separate Bloom and Veg switches—saves you money during the veg stage.
- Much cooler than traditional HID/HPS/MH lighting.
- 3-year manufacturer warranty.
- No frills.
- Switches rather than genuine dimmers.
- Spectrum doesn’t include UV.
You won't get fancy features and programmability with MarsHydro, but the sheer power, performance and reliability of these lights is hard to beat at this price.
7 Kind LED K5 XL1000
Kind LED K5 XL1000 - Best Programmable LED Grow Light
Named "Best LED Innovation" by High Times STASH Awards 2017
Here's a manufacturer that's won more than one High Times STASH award. In 2016, Kind LED won "Best LED Innovation" for its GH Series of supplemental bar lights. Then in 2017, it got the same award again for this impressive beast of a light, the Kind LED K5 XL1000. This is a true 1000 Watt HID replacement. It comfortably and evenly covers a footprint of 5' x 5' while drawing only 630W, to give you outstanding bud quality and yield per watt, plus significant electricity savings.
- Programmable and fully customizable 12-band spectrum (including UVB & IR) and in-built timer.
- You can exactly mimic the seasons and the sun’s passage through the sky during the day. It will slowly “rise” and intensify and slowly “set”.
- Set different light recipes and schedules to optimize for different strains of cannabis.
- Lights can be set up and controlled with a small remote control.
- Control up to 100 lights at once with one remote!
- The XL1000’s LEDs are truly dimmable—i.e. not just turning off diodes like many “dimmable” lights.
- Runs very cool—without noisy internal fans or the need for extra cooling in your grow room.
- UL Listed, meaning that it meets some very high safety standards.
- Lifetime customer support and a 90-day money back guarantee
- As you’d imagine, these aren’t cheap… But you get what you pay for.
We think this is pretty much the gold standard of programmable LED grow lights right now. And if you need something this powerful, it's more than likely the light for you. Read a full review here
8 G8LED G8-600
G8LED G8-600 Full Spectrum MEGA LED Grow Light - Best LED Grow Light for Veg Stage
"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. We've named it 'Best for Veg Stage' as, although it can be used for a full grow, DormGrow recommends adding a supplementary red light during flowering for best results.
- Coverage of 4′ x 5′ at both flowering and vegetative stages, and canopy penetration of 5′.
- Replaces an 800-1000W HID light, but draws only 380W at the wall.
- Spectrum includes UV and IR.
- High quality lights but very suitable for beginners.
- These lights stay cool enough to touch even when they have been running for a full 24 hours.
- 2-year warranty, serviced by DormGrow.
- Excellent customer service—they even reach out to their customers to ensure everything is going smoothly.
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! Read our full, in-depth review here
9 VIPARSPECTRA VT300 Reflector 300W
VIPARSPECTRA VT300 Reflector-Series 300W (Dimmable) - Best LED Grow Light for a Small Grow Room (Up To 2.5' x 2.5')
The VIPARSPECTRA VT300 has been pleasing a lot of customers because it hits the right balance of features for the money—it's currently Amazon's top selling Viparspectra light (Jan 2019). Indeed, what Viparspectra lights do so well is simply being affordable without too much compromise. You can always expect good build quality, reliability and excellent performance. And unlike many other affordable brands, Viparspectra has a long track record. So you know the price isn't too good to be true.
- Cover a grow space of 2.5′ x 2.5′ hung at 24″ and 2′ x 2′ at 18″ without hotspots
- Full-spectrum, 12 wavelengths (including IR).
- PAR when hung at 18″ is 565 at the center of the footprint.
- Can replace a 250W HID light while drawing only 134W.
- LEDs are good quality, high-intensity 5W Bridgelux and Epileds chips.
- Dimmable Veg and Bloom channels.
- Remote control to operate light and program timer.
- Built-in timer.
- Lifespan of 100,000 hours.
- 3-year warranty and a 30-day satisfaction or return guarantee.
This is a highly affordable light (under or around $100), with quality and performance not compromised by the inclusion of unnecessary features. Read our full review here
10 Black Dog PhytoMAX-2 400
Black Dog PhytoMAX-2 400 - Best Commercial Level LED Grow Light
If you want to join the pros, Black Dog LED is one of the biggest names around. As well as a spectrum developed specifically for cannabis over more than 6 years, Black Dog lights are efficient and super-powerful. We've chosen the PhytoMAX-2 400 model because it's a good size for most home grows. It gives even coverage over an impressive 4.25' x 4.25' footprint for flowering and up to 5.25' x 5.25' for veg.
- Proprietary Phyto-Genesis spectrum maximizes yield, terpenes and potency—includes UV and IR.
- Top bin diodes from CREE, OSRAM, etc.
- 641 μMol/s total photon flux.
- Replaces a 600W MH/HPS light—but drawing only 420W.
- Large heatsink and quiet, reliable internal fans for outstanding heat management and maximum LED efficiency and lifespan.
- White-looking light allows you to see your plants’ natural colors.
- 6-12 month average return on investment—excellent value per watt.
- Lifespan up to 70,000 hours (including the fans).
- ETL, CE, FCC, RoHS safety certified.
- Industry leading 5-year warranty.
- Big up-front investment, but should pay for itself in bigger yields and low running costs.
If you want to take your home growing to the next level, Black Dog lights are reliable and widely trusted. They're proven to grow big yields of top quality bud. You won't find many growers with anything but praise for these beasts.
11 PlatinumLED Platinum Series P900
PlatinumLED Platinum Series P900 - Best 1000W HPS Replacement
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.
- Can replace a 1000 watt HPS light at full intensity, while still only using 515 watts of electricity—same or better light quality and intensity at around half the price.
- Bloom coverage of 3′ x 5′, veg coverage of 4′ x 6′.
- Awesome PPFD of 1250 umols hung at 24″.
- Platinum LED claim “highest PAR per watt”.
- 12-band full-spectrum from top bin US-made diodes.
- Spectrum includes UV and IR.
- Separate Veg and Bloom switches for energy savings during veg phase and a red boost during flowering.
- LED drivers work with any voltage—can be used worldwide.
- Excellent 5-year complete warranty with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
- Established manufacturer with a proven track record.
- High up-front cost, but should pay for itself with lower running costs, better bud and higher yields.
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. Which should be more than enough power for most home growers.
Alternatives: HLG 550 V2 Quantum Board (see above).