It can be challenging to select the optimal LED grow lights for your indoor garden from the numerous options available in the market. LED grow lights are gaining popularity for indoor gardening and hydroponic setups due to their various benefits over traditional HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting, such as reduced energy usage, lower heat emissions, and longer durability. Nevertheless, with a plethora of choices featuring distinct characteristics, coverage, light intensity, and design, it can be overwhelming to determine the ideal option that meets your indoor gardening requirements.
Photontek XT 1000W CO2
The Photontek XT 1000W is a powerful full-spectrum LED grow light, considered to be one of the best on the market. Its spider form factor makes it lightweight, despite its high wattage output. This grow light boasts a photon efficacy of 2.7 umol/J and delivers a uniform light distribution over a 6 x 6 feet area. The XT 1000W incorporates P-Tek drivers, as well as Osram and Lumiled LEDs. Compared to HPS grow lights, it can reduce your HVAC system’s capacity by 40%, while increasing yields by up to 60%.
What sets this grow light apart is its unique ability to utilize CO2 supplements to enhance yields without requiring additional plants. Users have reported that a 5 x 5 footprint with CO2 supplements can produce better results than a 6 x 6 footprint. Another noteworthy feature of the XT 1000W is its click magnet attachment system that makes it modular. By using fewer bars, you can save on electricity, particularly when working with a smaller grow space. The XT 1000W is also compatible with Photontek’s Digital Lighting Controller, which allows you to manage up to 100 grow lights. However, even without the optional controller, you can connect the XT 1000W to other controllers that use a 0-10V output or RJ to 0-10V adapter.
Mars Hydro TS1000 Dimmable 150W LED Grow Light
The Mars Hydro TS1000 LED grow light is a panel fixture that features 354 small LED bulbs arranged in a spread-style design. This energy-efficient light consumes only 150 watts of actual power and emits a PPFD of 743 micromole/m2/s when placed 18 inches away from the plants. (For a more detailed description of this measurement, see the Power section below.) It emits full-spectrum white light that encourages plant growth throughout all stages of growth. The lights are also dimmable, and the daisy-chain functionality allows up to 15 units to be connected to a single electrical outlet.
This grow light can cover a flowering stage area of 6.5 square feet and a vegetative stage area of 9 square feet. It has an internal temperature regulation system, eliminating the need for a fan, resulting in quiet operation.
From both a horticultural and budget standpoint, the Mars Hydro TS1000 was our preferred LED grow light. In our tests, it produced a large enough light footprint to maintain nine houseplants and delivered excellent light intensity. We could envision using it for starting garden seedlings in the spring or growing vegetables indoors during the winter.
We tested this fixture in a dark basement growing area, where the plants beneath its light flourished. The foliage remained dense and deep green in color, there was no leaf drop, and by the end of the month, new buds and leaves had begun to grow.
While the locking pulleys made it easy to adjust the fixture’s height, lowering it required climbing a ladder. The dimmer knob was easy to access and turn smoothly. Overall, the quality and performance were excellent, and the price was reasonable. However, the fixture’s industrial appearance may not be aesthetically compatible with most living spaces.
Product Specs Type: Spread-style Coverage: 3 feet by 3 feet Wattage: 150
Pros Full-spectrum lighting promotes germination, vegetative growth, flowering, and fruiting. 354 LEDs on an adjustable-height spread-style fixture deliver intense, even coverage. Dimmable grow light with low power draw reduces costs. Daisy-chain connectivity allows users to easily expand the system as needed. Low heat production and internal heat-sink system means no noisy cooling fan.
Cons Industrial appearance may not be aesthetically compatible with most living spaces. Requires two overhead anchor points for installation.
For indoor growers who require a light with deep penetration for their thick foliage, the perfect solution is here. This LED light provides your plants with up to 2080 PPFD and covers an area of at least 16-25 sqft. It provides the same amount of power as two 1000w double-ended HID’s but consumes 200-300w less power, which means less heat output as well. Additionally, its 3000k spectrum is complemented by 660nm deep red diodes to give your plants the full range of wavelengths they require to grow from seed to harvest.
The Grower’s Choice Master Lighting Controller is compatible with this light, allowing you to program it to turn on and off without the need for an auxiliary timer. Therefore, if you’re looking for a light that can provide coverage for 6-8 thick plants, this is the one for you. This light is also dimmable, giving you the flexibility to adjust its light output as per your needs.
✓ Coverage for 6-8 Plants ✓ Equivalent Power to 2x 1000w’s with Less Heat ✓ Dimmable Light Output ✓ Total Output: 2080μmol/s ✓ Coverage Area: 16-25sqft.
Horticulture Lighting Group Quantum Board Lights
If you’re familiar with grow forums, you’ve likely heard of Horticulture Lighting Group, or HLG. They’re known for introducing quantum boards to the market, which are thin panels with open LED diodes that emit a white light, typically 3000K or 4000K. More recent versions include additional red or blue diodes for a flowering or vegging boost. One of the biggest advantages of quantum boards is their light spread, which is more even due to their larger size and many small diodes. They also produce less heat, are cooled passively using heat sinks, and don’t require fans, making them flatter and lighter with no potential for fan failure or noise. The spectrum of HLG lights is similar to natural sunlight, but there are now similar lights from Chinese brands at a lower cost, such as Spider Farmer and Mars. While HLG lights are a great value with better quality control and customer service than Chinese brands, their higher cost may not be worth it for those on a limited budget. Ultimately, the decision depends on budget and individual needs.
GE BR30 LED Grow Light Bulb
- Fits in most lamps
- Produces soft, natural white light
- Easy to set up
- Requires a lamp nearby
Our top choice for the best all-around grow light is the GE BR30. This LED grow light emits an advanced red spectrum, making it perfect for cultivating tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, fruit trees, and flowers. With a voltage of 120, it can fit into standard lamps, eliminating the need to purchase extra equipment. Setup is also a breeze, but you’ll need to have at least one lamp on hand to use it or multiple lamps if you intend to use more than one bulb.
When we tested the GE BR30, we were pleased with the soft, warm glow it emitted. It wasn’t as glaringly bright as other options, but it still provided sufficient brightness for seedlings to thrive, and we saw significant growth within just a few days. We also observed noticeable improvement on a yucca plant after three weeks of use.
What to look for when shopping for the best grow lights for indoor plants
Consider these factors when buying a grow light to ensure you’re properly taking care of your indoor plants:
✔️ Plant type: Not all plants require the same amount or intensity of light. Research the specific plant you want to grow to understand its light requirements before buying a grow light.
✔️ Micromoles: This unit of measurement describes the amount of light falling on an area over a period of time and is crucial for photosynthesis. Check how many micromoles your plant needs and make sure the grow light you buy provides an appropriate amount.
✔️ PPF and PPFD: These values indicate the amount of light energy that can benefit your plant. A higher number means better growth promotion. Ensure that your plant receives the optimal amount of energy by understanding the values.
✔️ Bulb size and shape: Different bulbs have various shapes and sizes, and not all will fit in the same lamp. Verify the size of the bulb before purchasing it to ensure it will fit in your fixture.
✔️ Heat: Some light systems produce heat, which can be harmful to certain plants. Determine which type of light is appropriate for your plant to avoid damaging it.
How many watts per plant do I need?
When comparing the power of various grow lights, look at the “actual power draw” or “actual power consumption” in watts. Generally speaking, grow lights should use 32 watts per square foot of grow space at the absolute minimum, though 50 to 80 watts per square foot is ideal.
The actual brightness of LED lights is measured in lumens rather than watts, which is another way of measuring light intensity. Vegetables typically require 2,200 lumens per square foot, while other plants generally need approximately 1,375 lumens per square foot.
How far should LED lights be from plants?
LED lights should generally be at least 12 inches above your plants to prevent leaf burn.
What advantages do LED grow lights have over HPS lights?
LED grow lights are more energy efficient than high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights. They also emit less heat, which means users needn’t worry as much about temperature regulation.