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Best LED Grow Lights Reviews (2018): Our Top Picks for Every Budget2018-10-21T15:12:20+00:00

Best LED Grow Lights Reviews (2018): Our Top Picks for Every Budget

Best LED Grow Lights 2018: Best Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights on The Market

If you’re looking for the Best LED Grow Lights and full spectrum grow lights for your grow room, let us help you choose one. We know it’s a big investment so we’ve hand-picked the best LED grow lights on the market. Whatever your growing needs or budget, you can find a light here to suit.

Below, you’ll find award winners, bestsellers, budget options, quantum boards, 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.

Table of Contents

You can get more information on how to get started growing cannabis indoors from our free e-book (get it in the sidebar on the right), and from our regular reviews of the best grow tents, best nutrients and other top tools and equipment for your growing operation.

Get bigger, better buds faster!

Best LED Grow Lights on the Market

We’ve covered a lot of lights below. So for your convenience, we’ve selected our Top 11 recommendations for 2018 and organized them into this handy table:

 MODEL & SPECIFICATIONSHID-EQUIVALENT WATTAGEMAX. COVERAGE AREACHECK PRICE
Advanced LED Diamond Series XML350 - Editor’s Choice 2018Equivalent Wattage
600-800W
Coverage Area
4.5' x 4.5'

Check Price

Viparspectra Reflector Series V300 - Our Readers' FavoriteEquivalent Wattage
250W
Coverage Area
2' x 2'

Check Price

Viparspectra Reflector Series V600 - Readers' Choice 2nd PlaceEquivalent Wattage
600W
Coverage Area
3' x 3'

Check Price

Viparspectra Reflector Series V450 - Readers' Choice 3rd PlaceEquivalent Wattage
400W
Coverage Area
2.5' x 2.5'

Check Price

HLG 550 V2 Quantum Board LED Grow Light - Most Efficient LED Grow LightHLG 550 V2 Quantum Board - Most Efficient LED Grow LightEquivalent Wattage
1000W
Coverage Area
6' x 6'

Check Price

MarsHydro 300W on eBay storeMarsHydro 300W - Readers' Choice 5th PlaceEquivalent Wattage
300W
Coverage Area
2' x 2'

Check Price

PlatinumLED Platinum Series P900 - Editor's Choice 2017Equivalent Wattage
1000W
Coverage Area
4' x 6'

Check Price

G8LED G8-600 Mega LED - "Best LED Grow Light" winner,

High Times Magazine's STASH Awards 2016
Equivalent Wattage
800-1000W
Coverage Area
4' x 5'

Check Price

Kind LED K5 XL1000 - “Best LED Innovation”,

High Times STASH Awards 2017
Equivalent Wattage
1000W
Coverage Area
5' x 5'

Check Price

Phlizon Newest 600W Full Spectrum LED Plant Grow Light,with Thermometer Humidity MonitorPhlizon 600W – Amazon Best Seller (Good budget option)Equivalent Wattage
600W
Coverage Area
2' x 2'

Check Price

Roleadro GalaxyHydro Series 300W – 420 Beginner Reviews

Top 10 Seller (Good budget option)
Equivalent Wattage
300W
Coverage Area
2' x 3'

Check Price

Click the links to skip straight to the reviews.

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/MH 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
  • They’re safer and more environmentally friendly

Consider updating an outdated system to a full-spectrum LED panel today. If you go with one of the picks below, we’re sure you won’t look back.

Put together your grow room kit

Some useful gadgets that will be helpful in your grow room:

==>Beginner’s Setup for Growing Cannabis Indoors<==

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.

If you’re looking for a complete grow tent kit, including lights and everything else you’ll need to grow, check out this Custom Grow Room Builder tool from GrowersHouse.com.

How does it work? Just select how many plants you want to grow, your preferred lighting (LED, HID or CMH) and grow style (soil, coco coir, ebb & flow hydro or flood & drain hydro) and the site will offer you a selection of complete grow room packages ready to have shipped to you. Once assembled, all you’ll need are some seeds!


Here are the Best LED Grow Lights for the Money: Our 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.

OCTOBER 2018 UPDATE:

Frankly, it was high time we had a good look at a lighting tech everyone’s talking about: quantum boards. And… We’re convinced. They live up to the hype. So we’ve added in a quick explanation of what exactly they are, why growers love them and recommended a pre-assembled light to buy.

While Viparspectra and MarsHydro remain our favorite lights at the more affordable end of the market, a couple of other manufacturers also merit attention these days. Namely Phlizon and King Plus. Admittedly, there’s a seemingly endless amount of low-priced Chinese lights on the market, but these two names clearly stand out from the pack. They’ve been massive sellers on Amazon this year—especially their 600W models—and the customer reviews back that up. So we’ve taken a closer look and added them to our list.

Now, here’s our top pick for 2018…

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series 300W – Our Readers’ Favorite

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.

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.

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.

MarsHydro 300W – Readers’ Choice 5th Place

MarsHydro 300W LED Grow Light - on eBay store

Buy on MarsHydro eBay Store

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.

MarsHydro Reflector 960 Watt LED Grow Light

MarsHydro Mars Reflector 960W full spectrum grow light

Buy on MarsHydro eBay Store

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.


PlatinumLED Platinum Series

In our opinion, PlatinumLED’s Platinum Series of grow lights has been surpassed by Advanced LED’s Diamond Series (see above), but the Platinums remain excellent lights, have been consistently popular with our readers and are widely available. So we’re very happy to highlight them here too.

Because even if we think the Diamond Series now has the edge, PlatinumLED is a reliable, established company making excellent lights. They always uses top quality components and assemble in the USA. However, with the Diamond Series Advanced have simply taken the high component quality up yet another notch or two.

Like Advanced LED, their lights aren’t the cheapest. Nonetheless that extra quality and reliability makes them well worth it. And they are often cheaper than the Diamond Series.

So if you can’t quite afford any of the Diamond Series lights, here’s what we thought of the Platinum Series P900, P600 and P300 (our 4th highest selling light):

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.

Switching included

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.

PlatinumLED Platinum Series P600

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.

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.

PAR values

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.


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.)

Kind LED K5 XL1000 – Named “Best LED Innovation” by High Times STASH Awards 2017

Here’s another 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 last year, 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.

As you’d expect, it runs very cool—without noisy internal fans or the need for extra cooling in your grow room.

Programmable

But the major innovation comes with the fully-customizable and programmable 12 band spectrum and in-built timer. And we mean “fully” customizable. You can exactly mimic the seasons and the sun’s passage through the sky during the day—the XL1000’s LEDs are truly dimmable. It will slowly “rise” and intensify and slowly “set”. You can optimize for different strains of cannabis. And all this can be set up and controlled with a small remote control. In fact, you can control up to 100 lights at once with one remote!

Kind back all this up with lifetime customer support and a 90-day money back guarantee. And for even more peace of mind, the XL1000 is apparently the only UL Listed LED grow light available, meaning that it meets some very high safety standards.

We think this is pretty much the gold standard of 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.


Most Efficient LED Lighting Technology: Quantum Boards

Check out almost any thread about LED grow lights on grower’s forums or Facebook groups and sooner or later someone will usually start praising quantum boards — usually, even more highly than COBs.

I built and customized my own. It cost a fraction of other lights. The results are outstanding. I’d never go back… and so on.

Sounds great, right?

So what exactly are quantum boards? And what’s so amazing about them?

Well, a quantum board is basically clever printed circuit board technology that allows you to pack hundreds of intense, top bin LED diodes onto one board with no extra cooling needed.

That means very even coverage and deep penetration beneath the canopy.

They’re full spectrum white lights.

And most importantly: they’re about the most efficient LED lights out there.

On the downside, you don’t get the fancy features of some more expensive lights, such as programmable spectrum, built-in timers, remote control, smartphone apps, etc.

But most growers who’ve tried them would argue that performance, efficiency and lower costs more than make up for that.

And they are genuinely dimmable, without losing efficiency — unlike many lights with “dimmer” switches, which rather than truly altering brightness just turn off some of the diodes.

That gives you a bit of flexibility as to how you use them. For instance, you’ve got the option of dimming the light a little instead of raising it higher above the plants.

They’re also highly customizable. So you could easily build or customize one to the size and shape of your grow room. Or experiment to your heart’s content with different diodes and layouts.

But if you’re not into DIY, not a problem!

Horticulture Lighting Group (HLG), the manufacturer of quantum boards, sells complete pre-assembled grow lights, as well as grow light kits you can (very easily) assemble yourself and, for the more adventurous, just the boards on their own.

If you want a pre-assembled light, our recommendation is the HLG 550 V2.  Here’s why…

HLG 550 V2 Quantum Board LED Grow Light – Editor’s Choice

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!

The HLG 550 V2 is the most efficient LED grow light to cover a 5’ x 5’ area! Or 6’ x 6’ for veg.

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.

If you’re expecting a hefty price tag for that, then you’ll be very pleasantly surprised! Even the pre-assembled quantum board lights compare very favorably for price with similar power lights from the top manufacturers.

(Various smaller models and kits are also available, btw, just check Amazon. 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.)

How does it achieve such efficiency? Clever design and some of the highest quality components available.

More specifically: 1152 top bin Samsung LM301B LEDs packed into an area 26” x 20”, passive cooling, and a high efficiency Mean Well dimmable driver (dimmable up to 50%).

The design also allows for recommended mounting heights of just 22 – 32”. Meaning plenty of those photons hitting your plants at every grow stage.

Designed and manufactured in the USA, it comes with a 3-year manufacturer warranty. And we hear the HLG customer service is super helpful too.

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.

==>Want 20% off the normal price? Click here. The HLG 550 V2 is currently in LED Grow Lights Depot’s Croptober Sale, until 31st October  2018 (or until they sell out).<==


Budget LED Grow Lights

Some of the lights below are no-frills but bright and really do the job, while others pack in a lot of features for a relatively tiny price.

The thing with budget options is that there’s always a trade-off somewhere, but we feel these lights strike the best balance between features and doing at least one important thing brilliantly.

Phlizon 600W Full Spectrum LED Grow Light – Amazon Best Seller

Although this doesn’t look a great deal different to a lot of lights out there, it’s currently Amazon’s best selling LED grow light (Oct 2018)! So what is it that sets this apart from the rest?

One word: Price! You get a whole lot of light for not much money here.

Not only that, but also a few features you don’t normally get in a light this affordable, such as separate Veg and Bloom switches, UV and IR and the ability to daisy chain multiple units. They even throw in a free temperature and humidity monitor.

The Phlizon 600W comprises sixty 10W double-chip LEDs for core coverage of 2′ x 2′ hung at 24″. It’s designed to replace a 400W HID, while consuming just 108W. The warranty is 2 years and it looks like experiences with Phlizon’s customer service have been very positive when problems have occurred.

Downsides? A few growers have complained that the fans are a bit noisy. Indiscreet packaging has been another occasional complaint. And some comparable but slightly more expensive lights have better PAR values.

Brightness is what matters most, so we’d recommend getting the highest PAR values you can afford.

But still, at this price point you rarely get so many features. It’s easy enough to see why so many people have given it a go.

King Plus 600W Full Spectrum LED Grow Light from KingLED – Another Budget Best Seller

Speaking of competitors to the Phlizon 600W… the King Plus 600W is the 2nd best seller on Amazon right now (Oct 2018) and normally goes for about the same price. So how do they differ? Which one should you choose?

KingLED’s King Plus 600W claims better PAR values than the Phlizon, name-brand Epistar LEDs and a better 3-year warranty. Both lights also include UV and IR in their spectrum. So if it’s simply brightness that matters to you, go for the King Plus.

The King Plus also claims to be a 600W HID replacement (but 400W is maybe closer to the mark) with core coverage of 3′ x 3′ at the veg stage. Power draw at the wall is 120W.

However, the trade-off versus the Phlizon is that the King Plus isn’t daisy-chainable, it doesn’t have Bloom/Veg switches and you won’t get a free temp/humidity monitor.

Again, we’d recommend getting the brightest light you can afford. But if money’s tight, or you just want to give growing a try without spending a fortune, this is a great budget option.

Ledgle Grow Light 300W – 420 Beginner Top 10 Seller

While this is a relatively inexpensive full spectrum light, it’s got a lot of value for the money—and it’s been one of our Top 10 sellers.

For one, the LEDs are huge! They are 6-watts each and there are 50 of them, so this an intensely bright light that works especially well for dense plants. The panel covers up to 2 by 1.5 feet when the plants are flowering.

The customization options are similar to those on more expensive panels. They include two switches, one for the vegetative stage, and one for flowering. The spectrum covers 11 bands including white light, UV, and IR. The two built-in cooling fans have a backup system to keep running even if one of their chips fails. Global Star offers a 1-year warranty that includes parts and service.

Roleadro GalaxyHydro Series 300W – 420 Beginner Top 10 Seller

Another Top 10 seller among our readers, the Galaxy Hydro 300 Watt panel is one of the least expensive grow lights we reviewed. It’s a 9-band spectrum light with a seven to one ratio of red to blue LEDs plus UV and IR. It only covers 2′ by 3′ at most (for sprouting, not flowering) but it’s made to be daisy-chained. You can buy two or three of these for the same price of a larger light and link them together like Christmas lights to cover a larger space. GalaxyHydro offers a 2-year warranty with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The previous version of this model remains very popular with our readers too—both versions were Top 10 sellers.

MEIZHI Reflector-Series R450 450W LED Grow Light

MEIZHI’s Reflector-Series R450 450W LED grow light is going head to head with brands like VIPARSPECTRA and Mars Hydro. Its PAR rating of 779umol is amazing for this price point. Its ninety 5W LEDs cover the full spectrum needed for big healthy buds in your next harvest.

It can replace a 450W HID lamp and save you lots of money in the process because it only consumes 195W of electricity. Turn on the Grow switch for veg, then flip on Bloom for flowering. With 120° reflectors, the panel can cover a 3.5 by 2ft space by itself, or you can daisy-chain it for larger grow tents. Check out the full review for all the details of this budget light with big possibilities.

Looking for something larger? We’ve noticed our readers also appreciate the 600W version.


Best LED Grow Lights for Small Spaces or Supplemental Lighting

Some growers prefer to have one light running at full intensity for a whole grow, but then add in some red lights for flowering. For you guys, we’ve got a couple of supplemental bloom lights listed below.

Also, we know some of you only have space for a plant or two, while others might want to try something small-scale and low-cost for your first indoor weed growing attempts. So in this section you’ll also find a couple of great options for very small grow spaces.

TaoTronics Hydroponic 36W LED Grow Light TT-GL23

This light is tailored to those who are brand-new in their growing operation and need something that works for a small-scale grow room. If you only have a single plant, for example, why would you spend hundreds of dollars on a light for it? The TaoTronics Hydroponic 36W equivalent LED Grow Light is perfect if you want to master your craft without a big initial investment. It probably won’t last for your long-term goals, but it’s difficult to find a light that’s a better value.

Fits a standard E26 socket, lasts up to 50,000 hours and draws only 20W. This is the newest and brightest in the TaoTronics LED grow bulb line and also now has a 60° beam angle for better coverage. Even with one plant, we recommend using two bulbs for best results.

Roleadro 45W Panel LED Grow Light

Here’s another small grow light that’s been a popular seller with our readers. We would recommend it more for seedlings, these aren’t really powerful enough for any marijuana plants older than a couple of weeks. However, if you’ve got a separate germination area, a few of these low-cost panels could come in handy. And we’ve heard of them being used for supplemental lighting.

Apollo Horticulture GL60LED 180W LED Grow Light

Apollo is one of the better manufacturers when it comes to LED grow lights and indoor growing equipment, and this small LED grow panel makes an ideal option for a new small plant grower. It fits in a 2 by 2-foot space to cover up to three plants and uses only 90 watts of electricity.

This lamp is easy to hang as it’s lightweight and doesn’t require ballast. One of the features we like best about the Apollo is that you can hang this lamp closer to the plants than you can others because it runs cool. In fact, this is the lamp we like best for marijuana seedlings because it covers four important wavelengths of the spectrum.

This lamp though small has an impressive life span of over 50,000 hours and the company does offer a 2-year warranty, which is somewhat unusual for an inexpensively priced lamp. The lamp will work with all phases of growth including the flowering stage, although you may want to add a second lamp for that part.

ABI True Red 26W PAR38 Flowering lamp (to assist in blooming)

Let’s say you want a bigger yield but you’re already stretching the light from your LED panel to the limit. Many growers supplement with an extra red light or two. They encourage better blooming. Since they’re also LED lamps, they last for years, so they are a cheap investment.

This 54W-equivalent (actual draw 26W) red light bulb from ABI is an inexpensive way to get more buds and flowers on your weed. It fits in a standard household lamp socket or you can plug it into an extension cord made for light bulbs. Don’t worry, it’s not hot like an incandescent red lamp, it runs very cool.

G8LED 90W All Red Flowering Boost LED Grow Lights

The perfect accompaniment to the G8LED light listed above. Add one of these per 10 square feet of grow area at the flowering stage for higher yields, more resin and bigger, denser buds. They’re 90W HID equivalents, but draw only 75W. Would also work great with other full spectrum, full cycle lights without an extra bloom setting.


Our Favorite Light That Didn’t Make Our 2018 Top 10

Here’s one last light for our list of recommendations. It was in our Top 10 last year, but even though it didn’t quite make the cut this year it’s too good a light to leave out entirely.

California Lightworks SolarStorm 440W LED Grow Light – Ideal for a 3′ by 3′ grow tent

California Lightworks SolarStorm 440W LED Grow Light definitely falls under one of the more expensive lights on this page, which along with not being a big seller among our readers was in part (see below) why it dropped out of our Top 10 this year.

But we still want to recommend it here, because this is one situation where you get the results you pay for.

Also, you might be able to pick one up at a bargain price soon—it’s been discontinued and replaced by the Solar System 550. That was the other reason why we dropped it from the Top 10.

However, the 440 remains pretty widely available for now. So we’ll keep this review up for the time being.

The SolarStorm 440 can replace a 600W HPS light while consuming only 235W during the vegetative stage, 320W in bloom mode and 350W during the final few weeks when the UV-B booster is turned on (see below). You’ll get coverage of 3′ x 3′ for bloom and up to 6′ x 6′ during veg.

This unit comes in a distinctive bright red color—a stark change from subtly-colored light panels from other manufacturers. And that’s far from the only thing that’s notable about the SolarStorm.

The light is a bit more intense than those with 3W chips, as this uses 5W OSRAM SSL LEDs instead—88 of them. The optics are all jewel-quality glass focused at 90 degrees. Plus, it has two T8 15W UV-B tubes to enhance growth at the flowering stage—a unique feature.

But don’t worry, this panel runs cool and quiet with its built-in fans. And as befits the price tag, it comes with a 3-year warranty to protect your investment.


LED Grow Lights Q&A

Here’s our FAQ about LED grow lights. If you’re new to growing, or just want to brush up, enjoy! Also, check out our beginner’s guide to marijuana grow lights, which covers everything below in greater detail.

What is an LED Grow Light?

Let’s start with a little intro about LED grow lights.

  • LED:that stands for “light emitting diode”
  • Grow:it helps plants to grow best when they have been planted indoors
  • Light:it provides light energy that will mimic the way the sunlight would have affected these plants when grown outdoors

It provides various wavelengths of visible and invisible light including UV and IR rays that can directly increase the growth and hence the yield of any plant grown under these lights.

How Do LED Grow Lights Work?

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?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

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?

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.

What Are PAR Values?

Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) refers to the wavelengths of light that plants can actually use to photosynthesize. The more of these wavelengths your cannabis plants are getting the better.

PAR is generally measured in two ways: PPF and PPFD.

PPF is Photosynthetic Photon Flux. Which just means how many photons of usable light are being emitted by the light. This is measured in micromoles per second (μmol/s).

PPFD, however, stands for Photosynthetic Flux Density. This is an even more important measure, because it specifies not just how much PAR is emitted by your grow light, but how much of that light actually falls on the plant. The numbers you’ll see are in micromoles per square meter per second (μmol/m²/s).

Some manufacturers only give you PPF, and others only give you measures from right in the center of the light’s footprint. Both tactics can allow sub-standard manufacturers to make inflated claims, by only stating their PAR values very selectively! So to be sure you’re getting what you need, always make sure to check for diagrams of PAR values across the whole footprint and at different heights.

Wrapping Up

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!

88 Comments

  1. Susan September 20, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Hey Bro, can I follow you on FB?

  2. Peach September 14, 2016 at 6:02 am

    Just curious what you think about the advanced diamond series xml LED 330 watt with the 10 watt cree. I have the platinum p900 and p1200 (platinum) and they are really nice. I did get some bleaching, but I had the them way too close.

  3. Kabir August 13, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Very nice and excellent writing ,I have got a lot of information about growing lights.I also like led growing light for aquaponics.
    Thanks

  4. Bill April 8, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Big help I went with a galaxy hydro 300 w for a 3×3 grow area still trying to figure out light distance. Was to close and the plants didn’t do much for 2 weeks. Now I pulled the light to about 18″-24″ just replanted to 3 gal pots.looking better

    • kevin April 28, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      Hi Bill, That’s 18 watts per square foot.
      You need a Min of 25 watts per square foot
      I would add 1 more light then you will have 36 watts per sf.
      I use 3 advanced platinum p 300 for a total of 60 watts per sf
      with very good results.
      also start with 24 inches away and try lowering in 2 inch increments every 3 to 4 days till you get to 18 inches. back off light if you see any light burn. there’s a lot of info if you search the internet for reviews and distance of your led light.

    • Dann June 25, 2016 at 4:50 am

      Hi guys, a 3 x 3 (9sqf) would require 225w if its 25w a square foot. So one 300w would be enough. A 4 x 4 (16sqf) -which i think Kevin had in mind, would need the two 300w to Get the 35w a square foot, sorry for butting in yo.

    • Nasty October 20, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Those panels only pull about 150w from the wall. So it would be less than 20w/sq ft.

    • FACTS September 15, 2017 at 4:26 am

      it’s not about what they pull from the wall. A galaxy 300, galaxy 600 and galaxy 1000 all pull LESS THAN 120 watts from the wall! I have worked with the 600’s and 1000’s and hace a friend that swears by the 300! He gets better results with one 300 over a 4×4 than i do with 2×600 over a 1×4. He’s also been at it a lot longer. his 300 pull only 88 watts from the socket (not 150) plus 3 for the timer but puts out 31,000 Lumens (equal to just over the light put out by a pair of Mini-Sunburst 150w HPS by about 3,000 lumens. my 600’s pull only 98~103 from the wall, but put out 62,800 Lumens each, just under a 600w HPS@66,000. They are labeled by CLOSEST EQUIVALENT OUTPUT HID, NOT POWER DRAW! They are on a passive zener circuit that draws enough to power each chip with the ten watts without using ten watts per chip. NOT ALL THE ENERGY IS CONSUMED, passing some through the chip into the next. Again, It’s about the OUTPUT, not the DRAW. Each chip only actually consumes about 1 watt out the 10 watts it uses to output at full 10 watt capacity as long as 10 watts passes through the chip. The zener circuit is a simple combination of series and parallel circuit using a diode to control the flow along the aluminum panel in one direction only so the chips draw in parallel from the current running in a solo series through the diode(s) and Panel(s). This allows the consumtion wattage to be reduced to as little as 1/10 to 1/2 the actual output wattage.

    • Gary Morris February 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Good morning Kevin,
      Great information and I sincerely appreciate your sharing.
      I am a bit confused as to the values (expressed in watts per sq ft.) Are we talking about watts of LED light rated consumption per sq ft. or estimated conversion of LED output watts as would be expressed in conventional incandescent lights.
      For example a metal halide or high pressure sodium lamps 1000 watt light consumes 1000 watts of energy, vs a LED light which (if I am not mistaken (yet probably am)) of the same potency would consume approximately 25% of the same energy (say 250 watts consumption. So my question is are your above expressed minimum 25 watts per square foot based on LED watt consumption or??
      I would appreciate your input. Sorry if this seems a dumb question.
      All the best,
      Gary

    • FACTS September 15, 2017 at 4:54 am

      Rated Output. Consumption, as stated above has no reflection on output. A 45 watt LED panel is not listed for it’s consumption, but rather the accepted value of OUTPUT, and thus equal to using a 45 watt purple/red/blue CFL bulb/combo, and only draws about 5 watts off the wall. The Galaxy Hydro 300 only consumes ~85 watts, give or take. Either one of my Galaxy Hydro 600’s puts out twice the lumens (`62,800), of my 6xT5HO (peaking @30,000 even 6″ from reflector with all six on), yet draws 1/3 the power. The 25 watts per square foot is a rule of thumb predating HID’s (Bringing the consumption on MH and HPS down to 75% of original values with little impact on Lumens) If you go by 25W CONSUMPTION per sqyare foot with LEDs or HIDs, you are going to be looking at some severely light burned plants…. Most likely the reason i’m getting sub-par yields from my 2x GH600 over 1×4 vs my buddy with his single GH300 over a 4×4. Proportionally, my total yield is roughly just under half his total from 1/4 the space. but it’s also not as high quality. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH LIGHT! You want to match your lighting to your space by 25W OUTPUT per square foot but no more than 70w OUTPUT per square foot. It’s really about Lumuns per square foot (uMol in metric). Ed Rosenthal explains it a lot better in his book than I possibly could (2010 being the newest Edition). Go get yourself a copy at Barnes & Noble or from a friend with the PDF, Just don’t get it any way that puts your name and address on the “Watch List” (definitely not your Grow Address if it’s at home in your closet/spare room/basement/attic/etc…). Ed’s book is THE only comprehensive guide to indoor gardening of any kind, not to mention the course material in the University of California.

    • Randy M September 24, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      This is a great, comprehensive list. I would add in that while “Watts” is a useful measure that we are accustomed to with incandescent lighting, it is important to understand that we are talking about photons with plants, and that depending on the spectrum, the difference between lumens and PPF can be critical as well. There is too much misinformation and confusion out there. There is a guide over at indoor hydroponics that has a good explanation of all this: https://www.indoor-hydroponics.com/grow-lights-for-indoor-hydroponics-understanding-the-science

    • FACTS September 15, 2017 at 5:21 am

      Proper Hight of lighting is indicated by full coverage of your canopy area. Raise the light until it covers your 3×3 or 4×4 area at soil level (top of planting container height). You can continue to raise it to keep full profile of your top canopy, or alternatively let the plants grow up to the light’s critical zone adding square footage to the sides of your canopy. Regardless of plant (Mary-Jane, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.), all growth comes from your Growing Tips, which are not limited to your upper canopy. The more healthy Foliage you maintain, the higher your yield will be. Your canopy is not just the flat surface at the upper reaches of the plant, it is as 3-dimensional as your plant. a plant that is 2′ across the base and 3 ‘ tall would be figured for canopy area as the healthiest part of the whole cone, not the 2×2 base. This gives it roughly 7~8 square feet of canopy ( rough math, purely estimated), and would require 400~500 watts (50-60 watts/sq ft) for optimal production output, where as the 2×2 only requires about 200w (~25 watts/sq ft of fore mentioned plant) for optimal growth of 4 square foot total. Ideally, it’s about total sq ft of full canopy (top AND sides (all growth exposed to light) for ~1g/watt with MJ), but the total sq ft of your space suffices for minimal yield (1/4g/watt with MJ).

    • shirley May 11, 2018 at 1:43 am

      Hi, My name is Shirley, we are the professional LED Grow Light manufacture from China, our brand is JCBritw. Recently we released a new 30W LED Grow Light full spectrum with UV& IR lamps, we need some testing, do you interested ?
      Please send email to shirley@jcbritw.com, or you can catch me on Face Book by search: JCBritw Hope to hear from you soon

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