In this guide, you will learn about TOP-5 best LED grow lights and their types: clusters and single broad-spectrum models making UV and white light. Today, we’re going to look at some small manageable panels that would be excellent for indoor or hot house growing, and even for light tanning potentially. We’ll also discuss what these things may soon become. Find out how these items work and what things you should pay attention to while shopping for a new one.

You will be able to grow marijuana at home all year round (just first find out whether it is legal in your state) or exquisite herbs such as basil and rosemary.

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

How LED Grow Lights Work

LED bulbs produce light due electricity flowing through them, but some energy not being permitted to leave. Diodes allow current to only flow in one direction, and so the resistance is shed as light. The chemical makeup of the LED’s material determines the type of light they shed.

Some light is easy to produce with a little chemistry, others took a lot of work. A full spectrum LED is actually a tricky thing. Some produce it with clusters of single-color LEDs to emit some or all of the spectra you want. Others have a complex chemistry feat, managing to emit all of them from a single component. This is done based on voltages fed into them.

Some of these broad spectrum LED panels only emit white and UV light. LEDs can produce white light as actual white light, rather than combining component sources to produce it. Others are more advanced, capable of individual colors as well.

What are the Types of LED Lights?

We touched on this a little bit in looking at how the technology works. There are a few different ways these can be implemented. It’s more about how the multispectrum light is achieved. Is it a cluster of LEDs, or is it a single broad-spectrum LED? If it’s a single broad-spectrum LED, is it just making UV and white light?

Most of these models are rectangular panels, fairly thin (about as thick as an old DVD player), and lined with a matrix of LEDs. They can be mounted on walls, hung from ceilings, mount-hung from ceilings, placed on stands, really anything.

They weigh very little, and consist primarily of one or two thin, long controller boards at either or both ends of the matrix, depending on its size. Along with this will be a voltage control component, and a microcontroller/microchip to control complex lighting tasks. So, there’s not much to these devices. There may also be fans in some of them, or at least breather panels, to allow the heat produced by broad-spectrum light to be shed rather than damage the LEDs and their board.

What to Look for When Buying

So, this isn’t a super complex technology aside from the “gee whiz” aspects of how an LED itself works. They are an affordable, quickly-made product, and outside displays and some future materials tricks we pull, their main purpose is illumination, and in this case, illumination that can help plants grow.

This means that while there are things to pay attention to while shopping for these, it’s not as complex as it could be with other products. But, let’s look at some of these factors, and keep them in mind.

  • Light Types – Full spectrum grow lights don’t necessarily produce every basic light type singularly. Some, as we said, are actually white light and UV, and there’s no way for them to select one of the RGB components discreetly. This is fine for green houses.
  • Form Factor – They all have a more or less similar form factor, but some are broader and thinner (producing more light surface), while others are dense and squat. Both have their strong points, as the condensed ones provide a more directional, concentrated UV source.
  • Controllable Strength – You will want, if possible, to be able to control the strength of the light being put out. Too much UV can cook some plants, too little can starve others. This also prevents you from being burned, as UV will burn you if overexposed. It’s called a sunburn.
  • Timer – If you can get one with a timer, it does help. If you set specific durations and times for the lights, you could reliably produce a circadian cycle for your hot house. This will be useful for space colonization.

TOP-5 Best LED Grow Lights

Below, you will find TOP-5 best products available on the market within the price range from $70 to $300. They differ in the number of LEDs and their design. Most of the models are chunky panels that are not hangable from the ceiling, however, there is an option of a thin panel that is both mountable to the walls and hangable from the ceiling.

Standard LED Grow Light | Relassy

LED Grow Light from Relassy: photo

This one is basically a standard concept for an LED grow light, providing whitish/yellowish light, and UV. It will illuminate an area, but not blindingly brightly, still plenty of light to see. It attempts to look like real sunlight, with the same yellowish tint that it naturally has.

It uses two control boards, being dual-matrix, which has its ups and its downs, but this is to allow it to fold.

Features

  • LED Count: 338 LEDs. 
  • Matrix Count: One.
  • Type: Yellow/white and UV.
  • Timer: Yes, 4/8/12 hour settings.
  • Form Factor: Thin panel.
  • Wall Mountable: Yes.
  • Hangable from Ceiling: Yes.
  • Runs Hot: Not terribly.
  • RGB: Not on this one.

Performance

This is really a bog standard LED grow light. It produces a slightly unappealing yellowish light, which is a wee bit sicklier than real sunlight. I would prefer plain white light to denote UV activity myself. But, it’s affordable, it’ll work, and the design is more than suitable. 

I could see this in a hot house or just for indoor growing of things. The overheat detection is nice, meaning this thing won’t ever get too hot, and is a nice peace of mind.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Thin.
  • Aims for realistic sunlight.
  • Power-smart.
  • Doesn’t run too hot.
  • No RGB.
  • Light looks a little sickly to me.

Conclusion 

This is a fine light for just a hot house or other enclosure, but not ones I’d recommend for areas where you spend a lot of time. It’s not a bad light, but it’s a little basic in some ways.

Relassy: Check the current price

Mixed-Channel 1500W LED Grow Lights | Yehsence

Mixed-Channel 1500W LED Grow Lights: photo

This is an example of mixed-channel sources, which puts out a mix of blues and reds, plus strong UV itself.

This has base channels, and triple chips, putting out a unique kind of mixed light. However, this one does not produce white or any pure colors, resulting a weird reddish light. I find it pleasant, but others might not.

One nice thing is the solidity of the chip design. Zener diodes regulate power better to make the LEDs last longer and stand up to abuse.

Features

  • LED Count: 300 LEDs.
  • Matrix Count: One.
  • Type: Proprietary.
  • Timer: No.
  • Form Factor: Chunky panel.
  • Wall Mountable: No (fans).
  • Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).
  • Runs Hot: Not terribly.
  • RGB: Not on this one.

Performance

So, the gimmick with this one is varied intensities of UV and visible light, which are more ideal for different growing stages (or for sensitive plants). This is not a bad idea, but this could be achieved with more accoutrements.

The light, while it doesn’t bother me, might be unpleasant to other people, but it is a solid way to do a gradual exposure setup.

Pros Cons
  • Cyclical growing design. 
  • Solid construction.
  • Good venting.
  • Long lifespan.
  • Power smart.
  • No RGB.
  • Light might be weird to some.
  • Simplistic controls.

Conclusion 

This is for more precise growing, but it works well for it. However, the weird light might put some people off. There are better looking options (though similar) from these.

Yehsence: Check the current price

Best Looking LED Grow Lights | VIPARSPECTRA

LED Grow Lights from VIPARSPECTRA: photo

This one produces the most pleasant light. Yes, it does have a largely bluish or reddish hue, but the three channels produce nicer lights. The blue is soft (this is UV). IR is very dim and scarcely visible.

Like the one before it, it does have different cycles in mind, but works fine for emulating a day, or attending to different picky plants. The thing that stands out about this one is, it’s better looking both in case and in light emission, than most others on here.

It is, however, not quite as sturdy nor powerful. It isn’t pointlessly week, though.

Features

  • LED Count: 80 LEDs.
  • Matrix Count: Four.
  • Type: Proprietary.
  • Timer: No.
  • Form Factor: Chunky panel.
  • Wall Mountable: No (fans).
  • Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).
  • Runs Hot: Not terribly.
  • RGB: Sort of yes.

Performance

This is the best looking one, it looks like a modern box itself, and the three kinds of light are just easier to be around than with others like this.

It’s simplistic, and it’s not as powerful as others, but it’s not so weak as to be not good enough for what it does. The fans mean it can only be hung by chains/tethers from the ceiling.

Pros Cons
  • Pleasant light.
  • Nice design.
  • Power smart.
  • Affordable.
  • Not as powerful as some.
  • Slightly fragile if it falls.
  • Daisy chaining concept is cute, but hazardous.

Conclusion 

This one’s not bad at all. It makes weird light (all the rest of these do), but this one’s is more pleasant. Be careful daisy chaining them, though.

VIPARSPECTRA: Check the current price

Compact 2000W Double Chips LED Grow Lights | King Plus

Compact 2000W Double Chips LED Grow Lights: photo

This one unfortunately produces that “ugly” pinkish light, but this one has its advantages. It’s very powerful and compact, which means it’s easy to pack these, though you shouldn’t daisy chain them.

Features

  • LED Count: 80 LEDs. 
  • Matrix Count: Two.
  • Type: Proprietary.
  • Timer: No.
  • Form Factor: Chunky panel.
  • Wall Mountable: No (fans).
  • Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).
  • Runs Hot: Not terribly.
  • RGB: Not on this one.

Performance

Okay so this isn’t that different from the second one on this list, aside from its form factor being a little boxier. As such, it focuses on a gradual strength plan for most growing, and it produces a weird kind of light as a result.

Okay, so the appeal of the light isn’t the primary focus with grow lights – growing things is. However, remember that plants take a lot of maintenance, which means you will be exposed to this light for protracted periods of time. That means if the light bugs you, that’s going to be an issue. It can’t really harm you, of course, it’s just ugly.

Pros Cons
  • Long-lasting.
  • Powerful.
  • Ugly light.
  • Heavy.
  • Expensive.

Conclusion 

This is a more durable version of the second one, with the same strengths and weaknesses otherwise. It works fine, just ugly light comes from it.

King Plus: Check the current price

Best LED Grow Lights for Hydroponics, 3000W | BESTVA

LED Grow Lights for Hydroponics: photo

This intense purple-skewed light is designed with hydroponics in mind, where the others are more just for enclosed growing of whatever form. That said, this one is most performant for those environments.

Features

  • LED Count: Not Listed.
  • Matrix Count: Not Listed.
  • Type: Proprietary.
  • Timer: No.
  • Form Factor: Chunky panel.
  • Wall Mountable: No (fans).
  • Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).
  • Runs Hot: Not terribly.
  • RGB: Not on this one.

Performance

So, this one works just fine for hydroponics, which is still a burgeoning science all these years later. With the proper setup, you could grow tropical fruit in an enclosure while snow and sleet fall around you outside.

This has a lot of potential for fighting hunger in the future. If you can supply water, power, and plant food, you can grow anything anywhere with this and a heat source. It’s pretty impressive when you think about it.

Pros Cons
  • Long-lasting.
  • Powerful.
  • Ugly light.
  • Heavy.
  • Expensive.

Conclusion 

If your focus is hydroponics, then this is the grow light for you. I really would say the light is ugly from it too, but most of them are. You can also have other illumination present to make the atmosphere more organic.

BESTVA: Check the current price

Comparative Chart of LED Grow Light Effectiveness

Product Features

Relassy

LED Count: 338 LEDs.
Matrix Count: One.
Type: Yellow/white and UV.
Timer: Yes, 4/8/12 hour settings.
Form Factor: Thin panel.
Wall Mountable: Yes.
Hangable from Ceiling: Yes.

Effectiveness: 10

Yehsence

LED Count: 300 LEDs.
Matrix Count: One.
Type: Proprietary.
Timer: No.
Form Factor: Chunky panel.
Wall Mountable: No (fans).
Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).

Effectiveness: 8

VIPARSPECTRA

LED Count: 80 LEDs.
Matrix Count: Four.
Type: Proprietary.
Timer: No.
Form Factor: Chunky panel.
Wall Mountable: No (fans).
Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).

Effectiveness: 9

King Plus

LED Count: 80 LEDs.
Matrix Count: Two.
Type: Proprietary.
Timer: No.
Form Factor: Chunky panel.
Wall Mountable: No (fans).
Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).

Effectiveness: 10

BESTVA

LED Count: Not Listed.
Matrix Count: Not Listed.
Type: Proprietary.
Timer: No.
Form Factor: Chunky panel.
Wall Mountable: No (fans).
Hangable from Ceiling: No (fans).

Effectiveness: 9

Making Your Plants Grow Taller and Faster

Light is particularly essential to plants as it is converted into energy through photosynthesis and determines the direction of their growth, the size of their leaves as well as the moment when the plant starts to flower.

Thus, different kinds of light and the way they are mounted result in a different response. In fact, this is about the wavelengths, with the visible longer ones being of the red color and the shorter ones being violet.

At the same time, there are kinds of light that cannot be seen but are physically felt by humans. It is these longer wavelengths, known as infrared light, that generate warmth. On the other hand, we have ultraviolet (UV) lights that are smaller than those of the violet color and are able to burn the exposed surfaces.

Andrew McAllister, a PhD student in the Applied Physics program at the University of Michigan, specifies what kinds of light should be used depending on what a farmer wants to achieve. So chlorophyll, a pigment giving the plant its green color, is used in producing energy. You might be surprised but most leaves typically have a green color because this chemical prefers blue and red light.

In order to change the direction of the plant growth as well as the size and the number of leaves, use red light. This is due to phytochromes, the plant's photoreceptors that are responsible for detecting light. Another chemical compound, cryptochromes, responds to blue light and determines the time when the plant starts to flower.

How to Maximize Cannabis Yield

According to Lighting Research Center, at present, 48% of growers use supplemental lighting to grow crops, what makes these technologies particularly valuable for those who make produce marijuana indoors. Apart from helping to yield crops, LED lights are energy efficient, allowing to reduce your energy bills. On top of that, this results in the increased cannabinoid content in plants grown under light.

Scientists from Dominican University have conducted a study and tested 45 marijuana plants grown with the use of this technology. The tests have shown an impressive range of full spectrum lighting for cannabis.

“To do the job, the correct PAR value in consideration to plant photosynthesis is critical. Further analysis will show the correct red and blue spectrum required by plants to gain nutrients and photosynthesis,” the researchers concluded.

The idea is that you get a color range that is perfect for marijuana to grow, without any excess illumination. In addition, such cannabis plants have elevated THC levels.

Using a hydroponic environment that includes dehumidifiers, lighting and irrigation facilities is essential for growing marijuana indoors, says Mel Thomas in his book “Cannabis Cultivation. A Complete Grower’s Guide.” This fact is supported by experience of cannabis growers who managed to yield large crops in an enclosed space.

A 50-Pint Dehumidifier with Humidity Control for some $200 is designed for a continuous operation. However, in this case you should place it near a low-level drain. You may want a an electric Mini Dehumidifier that covers an area of 150 square feet. This option is 4 times cheaper but is lightweight and portable. A wise choice is to acquire a temperature controller that comes with a humidity controller. Both gadgets have the calibration function and emit an alarm signal when either temperature or humidity fall outside a specified range.

Before anything else, check you state to make sure it is legal there. Cannabis is permitted in 33 states but this is about using the plant for medical purposes, while recreational marijuana is only legal in 10 states. On top of that, just some of these state allow for its production at home and there are certain limitations. So in the District of Columbia, it is legal to grow no more than 6 plants for recreational purposes. The same rules are applied in Alaska.

Residents of Arizona may produce up to 12 plants at a time but the crop must be intended only for medical purposes. On top of that, the farm can be located at least 25 miles away from a medical cannabis dispensary. In California, only medical marijuana can be produced at home, with the number of plants amounting just to six ones. Cannabis production in Colorado is limited to 12 plants while selling the crop to other people is forbidden there.

As you can see, policies regarding the medical and recreational use of marijuana vary significantly depending on the region. In addition, some states prohibit transportation of home-grown marijuana to another state, even where cannabis is legal.

How to Use LED Grow Lights Properly: My Personal Experience

I won’t lie and say I’ve ever used an LED grow light to actually grow a garden in a hot house or the like. I am not a nature man, nor an agrarian sort. Sure in college I grew something, you know, but never very well. However, I have used this concept.

Being a nerd, I am not a huge day time and bright light fan. I tend to like to keep sunlight coming in to a minimum. However, I liked having live plants in my house in various places. They were constantly sun starved, and would die. I didn’t like the idea of a bunch of hot UV bulbs being in my house, and they ate a lot of power as waste heat.

So, I got hold of some early UV/white light LEDs. They weren’t popular because this particular type didn’t make a very bright white light – about on par with twilight in brightness. I preferred this. So, I built some panels of these, small and concentrated, that are positioned tastefully on little stands next to plants, angled at their leaves. For 10 hours a day (12 would cook them due to its persistence), they would feed my plants some UV light.

Later designs, as I tinkered with this, had clusters of white and UV, just white, red, green and blue. This was a costlier thing to design but still not bad enough to matter. These could do other lighting when the UV cycle was over, which allowed some colorful mood lighting to be done.

I want to leave you with some warnings I became aware of with this, that these commercial panels may still have. Be careful about over doing the UV you give your plants. Yes, day and night are more or less 12 hour cycles on earth, but remember that this light is gradual, brightest at midday, but climbing and then reducing the rest of the time on a broad gradient. UV lights are putting out a constant amount of energy. Some plants don’t mind it, but others don’t like that much overload. I did kill a few plants before I realized a shorter cycle at that constant power was ideal.

FAQ

Which LED grow lights are the best?
It depends on the plant you’re growing.

Do they use less electricity?
Than what? Old sun lamp bulbs? Oh yes.

Will they hurt your eyes?
Not generally. Why, are you planning on staring into it? Don’t do that to any LED unless it’s a display.

Do LED grow lights work for weed?
Yes. Yes, they do. Plants are plants.

Pros & Cons of Using These Products

Pros

  • Allow “natural” light in controlled environments.
  • More power-smart than UV bulbs or the like.
  • Less taxing on a grow house’s heat.
  • Affordable technology.
  • Well-understood implementation of a technology.

Cons

  • Most of them make ugly light.
  • They’re affordable, but that’s not the same as “cheap”.
  • They usually have to hang from ceiling suspension to breathe.

LED Grow Lights: Explaining the Technologies Behind

Illumination is an interesting hallmark of technology. Before the digital revolution, people often demarked the “modern” world from the “ancient” world via the presence of artificial light. It still sounds surreal to realize that electric lights are well over a century old. Of course, the early devices were a hellish nightmare in actuality. Edison’s first bulb had a vacuum. The filament oscillating in a vacuum, where heat energy couldn’t be conducted, resulted in x-ray emissions to shed the energy. 

Neon, or more accurately, fluorescent options are almost as old as bulbs. Tesla famously invented them while working with Edison, and was one of the two disagreements that split them up ultimately.

LEDs, conversely, are somewhat newer. They’ve existed since the 1960s (arguably 50s), but had minimal practical uses until multiple colors of them at a small enough size, became affordable.

I gave you this brief glance at lighting for a reason – what’s happening to lighting now is very interesting.

LEDs are such a powerful and effective innovation, that they’re reshaping our world. We’re moving into a period of tech history where we illuminate our homes and devices, and display our graphics all with the same technology, with scale being the only real difference across them.

In the near future, they will be able to produce LEDs as small as a human cell. This will result in flexible displays, woven-in lighting for clothing, exterior coating that can render images, and much more. Backlights will not be needed as the pixels will be luminous.

Currently, though, another implementation of LEDs is quite fascinating, and has a lot of potential. The big struggle with LEDs hasn’t been the miniaturization – once the LED type was designed, making small versions wasn’t too big a deal, comparatively speaking. It’s always been about the light they can emit. It wasn’t until the 1990s that blue LEDs were finally figured out (thus opening up their use for displays). Other wavelengths have proven easier or more elusive.

Infrared turned out to be easy, and is used to this day for a lot of remote controls, pulses of infrared light being sensed by the device. This is gradually being phased out by Bluetooth and other high-end wireless technologies.

Ultraviolet, however, has been a struggle. Today, full-spectrum LEDs can produce infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. Being a powerful wavelength, getting LEDs to emit strong UV is an accomplishment of note. But, what’s more interesting with these, is the practical applications that this technology can allow.

Presently, sun lamps require special bulbs that emit UV, a critical component that makes sunlight as powerful and necessary as it is. Plants require a UV rich light to grow, and humans need some exposure to it for health.

With lighting panels that can emit UV and visible light, literally any light source could potentially be a source of controlled “sunlight”. For the far flung future, imagine what this could do for the space program? For now, this has immediate ramifications for agriculture.

Conclusion

This technology’s real appeal is how easy it is to implement, and how affordable it is. This opens up a once tricky enterprise to people in all climates, able to grow things in controlled environments that are much easier to control.

In the future, this technology will play a much bigger role, helping to feed people better, a big problem in the modern world. Space exploration and colonization will rely very much on future versions of this concept as well.

One of these will work for your needs, for certain.