With so many LED growth lights for plants on the market, choosing the right one for you can be a hassle. This is why we have taken our time to prepare this post to help you choose the best LED indoor grow light for your indoor garden.
We will cover the following topics in this post:
- Can LED Light Help Plants Grow?
- Types Of Grow Lights For Plants
- Why We Choose LEDs(Advantages Of Using LED Lights To Grow Plants)
- Our Top 6 Growth Light Systems
- Our Best Retrofittable LED Lamps
- Our Best Grow Light Panels
- Which Plants Are Suitable To Be Grown With Indoor Lights?
- Why Are Indoor Gardens So practical When You Don’t Have A Garden?
- Does LED Light Increase Plant Yield?
- At What Rate Do Plants Grow Under LED Lights?
Can LED Light Help Plants Grow?
Yes, LED lights can help plants grow. Wondering how? Well, let me explain:
For photosynthesis ( a mechanism used by plants to generate food, using light and other materials) to occur, plants need a light source that produces light with a specific range of wavelength. Wavelengths are measured in nanometers(nm), and plants require wavelengths between 400 to 700 nanometers for proper photosynthesis, growth, and yield.
Let’s take a look at the various wavelengths, and the color of light they emit:
- Violet light has a wavelength between 380nm to 445nm.
- Blue light has a wavelength between 450nm to 490nm.
- Green and yellow lights have a wavelength between 500nm to 600nm.
- Orange light has a wavelength between 590 to 630 nm.
- Red light has a wavelength between 630nm to 660nm.
Even though the spectrum for photosynthesis is between 400 nm to 700nm, plants mostly absorb red and blue light for photosynthesis to take place. And each of these lights has a role they play in the growth of plants. Plants use wavelengths between, 400 to 490 nanometer( blue light) for their vegetative growth phase. And they use light wavelengths between 580 to 700 nanometer( red light) to grow flowers and fruits. So, for proper growth of plants, there has to be a blend of blue and red light.
Well, luckily most LEDs have a blend of blue and red light with other forms of light for proper photosynthesis to take place. Therefore, making LEDs a competent light source. And we will dive more into the why later.
Let’s Talk About White Light:
You may have noticed that some grow lights produce white light. Well, this is because most fluorescent tubes and LEDs are coated with phosphor, which makes these grow lights produce white light. And this done mostly to help with our vision, to enable us to see clearly when working with the plants indoor.
It isn’t recommended that you buy a grow light that emits white light. This is because it degrades the spectrum of light needed by plants for photosynthesis to occur. The phosphor coating makes the light shift from the spectrum very quickly, and the amount of light output also degrades.
So, when getting a grow light, you are much better off getting one with no coating. We recommend you get one with a straight red and blue color because you’ll get more power for the plant to absorb the peaks of blue and red.
So, if you want to get a higher yield, you should go in for dedicated LEDs with no white light. And you wouldn’t have to worry.
Types Of Lamps For Plant Growth:
When it comes to the type of grow lights, LED isn’t the only option, there are tons of options as well including:
- High-Intensity Discharge ( HID): We have three options: CMH, MH, HPS
- Fluorescent Light
- Light Emitting Diode ( LED)
Let’s take a look at how each of these lights varies from each other, and what they are best used for.
This type of light is considered as a ” family of light” and they do not come as a single light. It is loved by growers because they have a high light output, hence their name high intensity. And are quite expensive compared to the other forms of grow light. They produce the most usable light plants need and they are used by most commercial growers.
They are the best options out there, and they imitate the sun. However, this type of light source is expensive, they also consume lots of power. Due to this, they produce excessive heat, and they’ll usually require a separate ballast as well as a cooling solution.
Generally, if you want to take your indoor growing to a commercial scale, then you might want to get high-intensity discharge bulbs.
These bulbs come in three different types:
- High-Pressure Sodium Lights
- Metal Halide
- Ceramic Metal Halide
i.High-Pressure Sodium Lights(HPS)
This form of light has a higher wavelength, and we recommend you get this form of light during the fruit or flowering stage of your indoor plants. They put out light between 570 to 750 nm wavelength ( yellow, red, and orange light), which is the wavelength plants require during their flowering or fruit stage ( final stage).
ii.Metal Halide( MH)
While and HPS light is used during the flowering stage, metal halide light is used by growers during the vegetative growth phase of the plant life cycle. This is because most Metal Halie puts out light in the 400nm to 500nm wavelength range. And as stated earlier, we know that plants need between 400 to 490nm wavelength ( blue light) of light during their vegetative growth phase.
So, this can be used in the first stage of a plant’s life cycle.
iii.Ceramic Metal Halide
Even though this form of life has the same two-word name out of the three words as the metal halide light, they are quite different. Generally, ceramic metal halide light tends to have a much more balanced spectral output. And it produces a mixture of red, blue, and orange light.
This makes them a good choice for people who want to use one form of light through their plant’s life cycle. Because the blue spectral output ( 450 to 490-nanometer wavelength) will be utilized by the plant during the vegetative growth face, while the orange and red light ( 590 to 660-nanometer wavelength) will be used during the fruit and flowering stage of the plant. This makes them a combination of MH and HPS lights.
So, if you do not want to fuss around changing from one form of light to the other during the life cycle of your plants, then you should get the CMH light.
2.LED ( Light Emitting Diodes)
These are highly efficient bulbs typically seen in indoor groove setups. Compare to HID, they are cheaper to run, and they can last for a while. However, they do come with a high initial cost, but it pays off over time.
Years back, LED lights weren’t the preferred option to grow plants indoors. However, that didn’t stop manufacturers from improving the effectiveness of LED as an indoor source of light for plants. Also, thanks to technological advancement, LEDs have become a truly viable option for anyone looking to grow plants indoors.
They can put out the right intensity of light in the right spectral ranges. The main reason why some growers love LED is that they comprise of a lot of individual diodes which make up one lighting system.
In some LED lights, each diode can be made to give off a certain wavelength of light. This is why they generate less heat and are efficient. This is why when you buy an LED light, the manufacturer can sometimes state that they have 5 diodes at the 580 nanometers, they have 10 diodes at the 620-nanometer range, and so on. So, you can mess with your LED lights in various custom ways.
When purchasing an LED light, you do not just want to get the dollar blue and red lights from eBay or Amazon. Because most of these do not cover the full spectrum of light. When purchasing an LED light, you want to ensure that you get a proper growth bulb with an LED power of 15 to 20W per sq foot of growing area, and it should get the job done.
We decided to focus this article on LEDs because they produce no heat, and they can be lowered just right on top of the plant without fear of burning the plant.
The infamous fluorescent light has been the go-to light for growers when their plants are in their beginning stages, this is because of how affordable they are compared to the other types of bulbs. Due to the low heat dissipated by fluorescent light, they can be used for starting seeds, baby plants, microgreens, clones. and also for the vegetative growth of plants.
They can be quite efficient but not as efficient as LED lights. This is because they put out light with low intensity. Fluorescent lights are at the borderline for producing sufficient lumens for large grow operations.
However, there is a subset of fluorescent light: The High-Intensity Fluorescent. And they tend to put out light with high intensities or more light, whiles bodying the features of normal fluorescent light.
When purchasing fluorescent light bulbs, you want to aim for those with a Kelvin temperature of around 6500K, or 100 Watt. In regular retail bulbs, these are referred to as or labeled as daylight bulbs. These bulbs are great for vegetative growth especially in young plants and they should get your seedlings started.
While these types might not be a great option, this is because they are highly inefficient ( they produce 10% light and 90% heat). Also, the type of light they produce is of a low wavelength, making it a bad option for plants that have a high light requirement. However, they can be used for low-light plants such as ferns, and vines.
5.Light Emitting Plasma
These are new to the world of indoor plant growth, and they tend to produce a better spectrum of light compared to MH, or HPS bulbs. Also, they tend to last longer than other competitors. For the same voltage, plasma lights tend to give a better light intensity, even at low voltages. All, these pecs don’t come for free; plasma bulbs tend to be the most expensive light source on our list so far.
So, Which Is The Best?
Well, LEDs are the best option for obvious reasons. And we will take a look at those reasons below.
Advantages Of Using LED Lights To Grow Plants: Why We Choose LEDs
Generally, every industry in the world has abandoned the use of bulbs– they have all shifted to LEDs. This is true for street lights, household lighting, automobiles, I mean, you name it. It is only in horticulture bulb based technologies are considered, however, the gradual change towards LED in the horticulture industry is happening sooner or later.
So, here are some reasons why you should use LED lights to grow your plants:
1.LEDs Are More Efficient
Yes, this is true. LED lights are two times more efficient than CFLs and most HIDs ( looking at the amount of light you get for a given input). While the efficiency of LED lights getting better each year, that of other light sources continue to stay the same.
Compared to fluorescent lights, LEDs last longer. Fluorescent light tends to give off a lot of heat compared to LEDs, and they also give off a lot of blue light which can be used for only the vegetative growth of plants. Also, fluorescent bulbs tend to die off easily ( usually before a year) and uses a lot of energy compared to LEDs.
HIDs, on the other hand, even though are effective, can only be used for commercial indoor light purposes. Also, due to their high intensity, you would have to keep them at a reasonable distance from the plants else, they will get them burnt. Due to high intensity, they also tend to produce more heat than LED bulbs. Compared to HIDs, LEDs are versatile and can be used for both personal and commercial growth of plants. Also, you can keep them close to plants without worrying about the light damaging the plants, thanks to the moderate light intensity it gives off.
However, it is important to note that HID lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but not LEDs.
So, generally, we can see that LEDs are the most efficient option.
2.LEDs Have A Stable Spectrum
One issue with HID light sources is that as months and years go by, the spectrum produced by the HID changes. For example, after 6 months, the light spectrum of an HPS bulb starts to shift away from red light to yellow light. With this, you will have to change the bulb once a year or once every 18 months to prevent this from happening. This can be a bad situation because the bulb of an HPS system and HID systems, in general, tend to be expensive, and labor-intensive, since you would be required to change a group of bulbs.
However, with LEDs, you have no bulbs to change once you buy them, and the spectrum remains constant. Also, as stated earlier, with LEDs, the various diodes can be tweaked to produce certain wavelengths. So, with one LED light, you can have 4 different light spectrums being produced.
While a CMH might give you the same effect producing both red and blue light simultaneously), do not forget that it is an HID, therefore, after a while, the bulbs will also lose their spectrum, and you will have to change them, just like you will with an HPS, MH, or fluorescent bulb.
3.They Are Easy To Set Up
Besides fluorescent and HIDs dissipating more heat than LEDs, one disadvantage they have is that due to the heat they produce, you might be required to set up a cooling system to keep the environment cool. However, with LEDs, once, you buy them, you do not need to set up any extra coolant or what have you, and this is because they dissipate less heat.
Also, HID lights and fluorescent lights contain mercury, and when they are disposed of, you are also disposing mercury into the environment.
4.LEDs Are Customizable
This is why people love LEDs. You can choose your blend of blue and red lights, and this becomes important when you want to alter the color of the plant, the taste of the fruits, and many other things, which is something you cannot get with a CMH system.
The only downside to LED lights is the upfront cost. However, LED lights are:
- More efficient
- Produce less heat
- You have no bulbs to change
- You have no shift in the spectrum.
Now, we have this out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best LEDs out there.
Our Top 6 LED Growth Light Systems:
1.iDoo Hydroponic Growing System
This system comes with all the bells and whistles you need when growing smaller plants. First of all, it is portable and can be placed anywhere: your bedroom, living area, bathroom, kitchen, or wherever you want.
This kit utilizes the hydroponic circulation system which increases the concentration of oxygen in the water been supplied to the plants. You simply, have to fill the system with water, and the system will automatically infuse the appropriate nutrients into the water, to give the plants faster growth– faster than it would have in the soil.
With its 24-watt LED lights, the plants get the optimal sunlight they need to undergo photosynthesis. To ensure proper growth of plants, it comes equipped with three different modes:
- A normal mode, which offers you red, blue, and white light. With this mode, the system turns on for 14 hours and then goes off for 10 hours. This makes it suitable for young plants, and seedlings.
- A grow mode, which offers white and red light. With this mode, you get 18 hours of on-time and 6 hours of off time, and it is suitable for growing plants.
- Enjoy mode, is suitable for grown plants in their flowering stage, and it offers a less visible red light, and white light. And with this mode, you get a 12-hour on-time and a 12-hour off-time.
This system is suitable for strawberries, lettuce, cherry, kale, tomatoes, and most vegetables. You can grow all these plants thanks to the adjustable height feature. This allows you to adjust the height of the system based on the type of plant you are growing, and also the growing stage of the plant you’re growing.
2.VegeBox Smart LED Hydrophonic Growing System
The VegeBox is simple to use but sophisticated with smart features for the optimal growth of plants. It comes with a powerful 22-watt LED light, which is enough power to grow almost all types of herbs and small vegetables.
Unlike some growing systems on the list, the VegeBox Smart LED offers 2000mL maximum capacity of water, which means, you need to only supply it with water once a week. Once, you set it up, you do not have to worry about turning it on and off yourself because it has an automatic on/off feature, which gets the job done for you.
To ensure the maximum growth of plants, the LED light can be inclined at a 135-degree angle, to ensure your plants grow to their full height. Also, the hydroponic used is eco-friendly.
With this box, you can grow up to 12 grooves at a time, making it the optimal vegetable garden at an affordable price. With the beauty of this system, it can be used to decorate your living area, bedroom, or office space. With this, you can grow your fresh veggies year-round, tp give yourself that vegetable salad you’ve always dreamt off.
It is great for sowing, germination, translating, and you can use it to grow strawberries, chili, oregano, mint, lettuce, and many more plants.
3.AeroGarden Bounty Indoor Hydrophonic Herb Garden
The AeroGarden is sleek not only in appearance but also in how it performs. This herb garden makes working seamless and effortless, thanks to the Alexa compatibility, which gives you the ability to control your garden from any part of your home, without having to touch any button.
The 40-watt LEDs installed turns off and on automatically, and give plants the best light intensity and the perfect spectrum needed for a great yield and fast growth. Also, it automatically reminds you when the water tank is empty, and this makes your work easy since you do not need to check the water tank every time to ensure it’s empty.
Even though it is blessed with all the features to make working with an indoor hydroponic garden easy, you are limited to only 9 plants and has a maximum height of 24″, which is a lot compared to the others on our list.
Also, when you buy this hydroponic garden, you a pre-seeded pod kit with thyme, mint, parsley, and many other seeds.
4.Klarstein GrowIt Farm
The design of the Klarstein GrowIt is quite different from other small conventional gardens. However, this design makes it possible to grow up to 28 plants, in a pesticide-free environment. It has an 8-liter water tank, which can absorb two component nutrient solution, to ensure these plants get the maximum water and nutrients they need for their optimal growth.
It comes with a powerful 48 watt LED light source to ensure that the veggies, get the full spectrum of light they need for vegetative growth, greenery, and flowering. Also, this light imitates the action of the sun, to provide light and also turn off automatically. Thanks to the powerful LED light, large water tank, and the two-component nutrients, you can expect to harvest your plants within 25 to 40 days.
It is easy to use and comes with all the accessories you need to making growing veggies a breeze.
5.Gardyn Home Indoor Smart Hydrophonic Growing System
With this system, all you need to do is to fill it with water– the system does everything else for you. First of all, it can grow up to 30 plants at a go, with no hassle.
It automatically trims, grows, water, and thanks to the Gardyn app, you get real-time updates of whatever is going on with the veggies growing in the garden. It is 60 feet tall, you can grow both small and tall plants from fragrant flowers, heroic herbs, flavored fruits, and lettuces.
There are no buttons, and you can control how the garden should grow your plants using the app. My favorite feature is the vacation mode, which gives automatically sets the system to take care of the plants until you return home. Also, you are provided with tips on how to maintain your garden.
6.AeroGarden Farm 24XL
AeroGarden has been known for making innovative gardens, and the AeroGarden is off no exception. This garden is a vertical garden, and this means it is stackable, and you can grow plants with heights of up to 36 inches.
My favorite feature of this garden is the customizable LED lights, which give you the ability to choose the color pattern emitted by the two powerful 60-watt LEDs, which are all full spectrum. Full-spectrum light sources give your plants the optimal light they need to grow, flourish, and flower.
Also, you can control the garden via the AeroGarden app, or you can use the control panel on the garden when your phone isn’t around. People love using the app because you are given tips on how to grow your plants and updates on whatever is going on in the garden– especially when water is low.
Finally, you get all the tools and a variety of pods you need to fully grow your plants.
Our Top 3 Retrofittable LED Lamps
1.4 Pack LED Indoor Plant Grow Light Bulb A19
If you are looking for an LED bulb with wide coverage for your indoor plants, then this bulb should get the job done. It comes with a full spectrum light ( 400 to 700 nm) giving your plants the perfect wavelength they need for photosynthesis.
Also, this high-intensity bulb delivers saves you about 85% power whiles delivering 150-degree light, which is also the perfect temperature for plants. It lasts long and can last for two years.
2.GE BR20 LED Grow Light
If I could describe this grow light in one word, it will be balanced. This grow light doesn’t only offer the perfect spectrum light to your plants, it also does so with the right intensity and quality. This means your plants will be able to flourish year-round with no deprivation.
It generates a low amount of heat, and it is power efficient, consuming only 9 watts of power. It doesn’t only serve as a grow light, but can be used as a natural home light, to help decorate your home. It can last for up to 3 years.
3.Haus Bright LED Grow Bulb
This bulb offers you 100 watts of light but draws only 20 watts of power, saving you up 80%power. It is full-spectrum light, giving you all the light you need for all stages of plant growth. Finally, it offers warm light, which keeps the temperature of the environment in check for the optional growth of plants.
Our Top LED Grow Light Panels
1.GreenGo 1200w LED Grow Light
The Greengo 1200 watt growth panel offers you 1200 watts of light intensity while consuming only 248 watts of power. It has a veg/bloom feature, which provides plants with the appropriate light spectrum depending on the growth stage. So, for example, if your plant is in its vegetative growth phase, then you will have to turn on the veg button, which offers 430nm to 660nm of light. If your plant is in the flowering stage, then you turn on the bloom button, which offers 430nm to 740nm of light.
Due to the high light output, it comes equipped with a cooling system to dissipate heat from the light outside, giving your plants the optimal temperature they need to grow.
2.YaiYan LED Grow Light
This light panel offers 650 watts of light while consuming only 130 watts of electric power. Just like the GreenGo, it offers a Veg/Bloom feature. However, what makes this different is that the LED lights are angled at 90 degrees and 120 degrees, for more effective coverage and distribution of light.
Also, it offers a quiet and highly efficient double fan system to efficiently dissipate heat.
Which plants are suitable to be grown?
Here are a couple of plants suitable for indoor gardens:
However, all these will depend on the type of system you go in for, and the height offered by the system,
Why Are Indoor Gardens So practical When You Don’t Have A Garden?
Unlike traditional gardens where you need a large plot of land, with indoor gardens, all you need is a little space in your house to place the garden. Also, with indoor gardens, your kids can witness in real-time how the lifecycle of their favorite vegetable takes place.
Also, with indoor gardens, you can grow your vegetables in all seasons ( winter, spring, autumn, summer), and you wouldn’t have to worry about the sun being available or not.
Does LED Light Increase Plant Yield?
Yes, with LED, you can customize the balance between the red, and blue light to give you the yield you want. And most LEDs emit the full spectrum of light.
At What Rate Do Plants Grow Under LED Lights?
Plants grown under LED light tends to grow 58.7% greater than plants grown under fluorescent light.