Indoor grow lights are an essential part of an indoor garden, especially if you live in an area without much natural sunlight. A grow light lets your plants engage in photosynthesis so they can get bigger. But picking the right light can be challenging, especially with so much conflicting information available.
Full spectrum LED lights are all the rage among indoor gardeners. But some are better quality than others. We've taken a look at some top market recommendations, plus written a quick guide for how to understand full spectrum LED recommendations.
Top 4: Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights
Best Grow Tents
This grow light from Philzon is our top recommendation because of the number of advanced features. Not only does it have the spectrum of light necessary to help your plants with photosynthesis, but it also has monitors and an adjustable rope for easier handling.
The light is built with sixty 10-watt LED bulbs, creating a total of 600 watts of light. It is optimized for the indoor growth of plants including flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
The setup is much more compact than many competing HID lights. The LEDs don't need a reflector to give plants the full spectrum of light, so they don't take up as much space. In addition, the lack of a reflector helps to keep the heat low in the grow tent.
It's common for manufacturers to include a spotlight reflector inside the LED bulb itself, but this manufacturer has chosen not to. This is because that component isn't resistant to heat the way the rest of the LED is. If an electrical problem occurs, it could overheat and melt, which might start a fire.
The lamp emits much less heat than traditional lighting, and it also consumes less electricity. You can use this grow light to replace an existing 100 watt traditional setup. There's no more need for any complicated reflectors.
When placed at 24 inches above the plants, it can illuminate a 2 by 2 square foot area. Every plant underneath the light will receive a full spectrum of warm light necessary for photosynthesis.
This is a relatively small growing area, so this light might be a good choice for people with a lot of small plants to keep safe. If you're worried about larger plants, you'll want to look for more complex setups.
LEDs naturally generate less heat than the competition. But this manufacturer also takes it a step further. Inside the lamp are two cooling fans, which keep the temperature consistently neutral. This allows for a longer overall lifespan for the light, and it prevents your plants from overheating.
Another helpful aspect of this light is that you can toggle between different spectrums for different parts of the plant growth. Plants take in different levels of sunlight during the spring and summer. In keeping with that, you can switch between "veg" and "bloom" phases with the touch of a button.
When you're working with new seedlings and young plants, it's time for the vegetative option. If the plant is in the growth phase that corresponds with spring, use the veg button.
The "bloom" button is for when the plant begins to blossom. It produces flowers and bears fruit. This summertime growth phase needs to be accompanied by stronger and more aggressive light.
Veg lights use blue and white spectrum colors, while bloom uses red and white. You can also turn both switches on simultaneously to give all of your plants a taste of the entire light spectrum. The LEDs are set at viewing angles of 120 and 90 degrees.
The manufacturer worked hard to create a light that would allow plants to grow indoors during every part of their life cycle. Their efforts have clearly paid off. Thousands of gardeners have asserted that this is the best grow setup they've had indoors.
Phlizon creates LED lighting fixtures to suit a variety of purposes. Their research and development team is constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to use LEDs in gardening, light therapy, the arts, and other areas.
Every purchase comes with a full money back guarantee for the first 30 days. You also get a 2 year warranty on the lamp. If any of the lights burn out, or the switches begin to malfunction, you can get a repair or replacement free of charge.
This is another one of the most solid grow lights on the market. It features 80 LED lights that boast a full spectrum of light, including both red and blue light for different plant phases.
Also part of the design is a programmable timer. You can set the light to shine for 12, 9, or 3 hours at a time. The right amount of light will vary depending on the plant. Some need shady conditions, while others need a lot of time in direct sunlight.
You can also brighten and dim the level to 10 different settings, plus toggle between three different modes. An adjustable gooseneck makes it easy to shine the light directly where it's needed without having to do complicated rearranging of your plant babies.
The combination of growing LEDs gives plants an experience similar to being out in true sunlight. There are 36 red lights, 16 blue lights, and 28 white lights that cover the entire spectrum. The full spectrum lights are ideal for each phase of growth, while the red and blue ones are optimized for the fruit season.
Some manufacturers choose to use specific wavelengths or full spectrum lights, rather than both. But this product uses both so that plants get the exact attention they need.
Once you set the timer, your lights will operate automatically on their own. You don't need to remember to turn them on every day. They will turn off at the end of their lighting period, then turn on again when the plants have been in shade for long enough.
The time periods are based on a 24 hour cycle. The plants can either spend half of their time in shade, 15 hours in shade, or most of the day in shade. This automatic function saves a lot of time and energy. It's also great for people who work outside the home or who want to go on vacation without abandoning their plants.
The ten dimmable modes allow you to dim the light intensity depending on the type of plant you're growing. For example, a plant native to a northern climate will be used to dimmer light than a plant from the tropics. You can toggle between three different spectrums to target plants based on their growth phase.
Connecting the lights to power is simple. Since they come with a USB adapter, you can either plug them into a computer or into a wall outlet with an AC plug.
The gooseneck will rotate 360 degrees, allowing you to position the lights wherever you need them. At the same time, the firm base will keep the light from overbalancing and falling over. You can use the included metal clamp to keep the lamp on your desk, shelf, counter, or wall-mounted space.
The lights are engineered with a scientific approach to heat. The heat sink is powered by a cooling mechanism, which prevents the lights from overheating. Since the heat dissipates into the cooling mechanism instead of being projected outward, your plants won't overheat.
How To Use Grow Lights For Indoor Plants
If you're looking for something a little simpler, these grow lights from GE Lighting might be exactly what you need. Instead of being a fixture or a lamp with several dozen LEDs, these packages come with the bulb and nothing else.
If you already have a lighting setup, but you need new bulbs to put in it, this is the place to turn. These grow lights can be hooked into most basic lighting rigs. They are optimized for indoor plant growth, using a full spectrum of light to bring plants from seedling to fruit.
Rather than having multiple complicated settings for each phase of growth, these bulbs just provide the entire necessary spectrum of light to plants on an ongoing basis. They also have a pleasant appearance for human eyes, creating a natural warmth in a room that's not as harsh as direct sunlight.
The LED technology in the bulbs allows them to burn at a full spectrum of light while only consuming 9 watts of energy each. By comparison, most fluorescent bulbs have to consume at least 100 watts to reach an intensity necessary for plant growth and development.
This will save you quite a bit on your electric bill each month. It will also keep your grow tent or greenhouse cool, since the lights don't generate heat the way traditional lighting does.
The bulbs look white when you view them head-on. But they actually contain all of the red and blue wavelengths necessary to help plants thrive during their life cycles. You can use them to help flowers and fruits and vegetables alike grow. Farmers have had success using these to grow indoor produce like cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.
You don't need any fancy extras to grow plants indoors. As long as you don't have finicky needs with regards to timing and light intensity, these bulbs have everything you need.
This 80 watt grow light is a good choice if you need a full spectrum light for several different areas. Maybe you need to shine light on multiple shelves, or multiple parts of your grow tent floor. Whatever the case, the four lighting heads of this model have you covered.
The unit is designed with adjustable goosenecks attached to each of the heads, which means that you can customize the lighting at the exact angles you want. It also allows you to choose from five different dimming levels, three spectrum modes, and three timer options.
You can set your timing cycle to turn off and on automatically for 3, 6, or 12 hours of every 24 hour cycle. No more worrying about doing it by hand! And no more worrying about accidentally leaving your plants in the light for too long if you forget.
The dimming options allow you to choose how much direct light each plant receives. Some plants need more indirect light, while others need the brightest and most intense level. It's important to be aware of the growing conditions that best suit your plants.
The full spectrum of lighting can carry plants through every stage of growth. You can use it for a variety of different plants, such as potted plants, indoor seedlings, vegetables, and succulents.
The lamp can also be mounted almost anywhere in your home. The gooseneck heads are attached to a clip, which you can hook onto your desk or chair or wall shelving. Wherever you need the lamp to be, you can put it there.
The model uses an array of full white light spectrum LED bulbs arranged to shine on different plants. The total output of the bulbs all together is 80 watts. Since there are four different heads, this should be enough light to illuminate a moderate grow tent or part of a small room.
Gorilla Grow Tent Review
The best LED grow light is one that will provide the light intensity that plants need throughout their entire lifespan. Some lights aren't intense enough to see plants through the blooming phase.
Overall, our top recommendation is the Phlizon 600 watt light. Phlizon is dedicated to new LED technology, and their grow lights have been scientifically proven to work.
This particular light allows you to switch between intensities for different growth phases. It's also easy to set up and has a similar intensity to sunlight.
For those seeking a more maneuverable and customizable option, we recommend the Leoter light. This light can be mounted anywhere and plugged into any device with a USB charging cable. It has three spectrum settings, ten dimmable settings, three timer settings, and a flexible gooseneck.
If you've been concerned about making sure your plants get the right amount of light for their environment, the customizable settings of the Leoter model should ease your worries.
Some people aren't looking for a fancy, customizable lamp. Some people just want the basic LED bulbs so that they can set up their own rigging. For these people, we recommend the GE Lighting bulbs. They're low-energy designs that emit a full spectrum of light for indoor plant growth, but they don't have any complicated switches.
Finally, for people who need to illuminate several areas at once, we recommend the Ezorkas light. It boasts four different heads that can all be adjusted to the angle you need. The bulbs consume just 80 watts of power all together. You can also toggle between different timer, light spectrum, and dimness settings.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most important thing to know is that an LED light will not benefit your plant if the light is not intense enough. You need to pick the right model.
Not all LED lights will affect your plants the same way. People often have a misconception that LED lighting will expose their plants to a "full spectrum." But the number of lights you have and the quality of their bulbs also makes a big difference.
It helps to get familiar with the technical terms surrounding LEDs, their intensity, and their effect on plants. It's also helpful to understand exactly what happens during the photosynthesis process. Once you understand why plants need certain types of intense light, you can seek it out more easily.
"Full spectrum" is used to refer to certain LED models. It is a term that is most often used by advertisers and manufacturers, rather than a deeply scientific term.
You might see some of these advertisements reference the spectrum chart for how plants absorb chlorophyll. But this chart isn't actually relevant to living plants. It's about extracted chlorophyll. So this chart doesn't have anything to do with the growth process for your plant.
The spectrum of light will never be powerful enough to override the intensity. A 100 watt "full spectrum" LED bulb isn't as powerful or effective as one with 1,000 watts. The intensity of light is more important than the type of light, but it is possible for plants to respond differently to different types of light.
Lumens are a measure of light. They measure how intense the light from a bulb is. You can take lumen measurements by using a tool called a lux meter. With this meter, you'll determine how intense the lighting is at different distances away from your lightbulbs.
This meter isn't the most effective for measuring grow lights, though. It will give you some of the data you're looking for, but not enough for action. If you want better information about how to adjust your indoor lighting conditions for your plants, you should use PAR meters.
PAR is an acronym that means "photosynthetically active radiation." A PAR meter measures a very specific type of light: the spectrum that plants use to undergo photosynthesis. You can have a bright light according to the lux meter, but if that light isn't in the right range, it won't help your plants.
PAR meters take a different approach to lighting than lux meters. A lux meter typically focuses on white and yellow light, since these are most intense to human eyes. PAR meters take red and blue light intensity into account, because these are necessary for plants.
Humans perceive light in a flawed way. Our brains tend to filter out the blues and reds to make room for the yellow and white. So we can't always identify whether our plants are receiving the type of light that they need.
The hard thing about the term "full spectrum" is that there isn't one set definition. It isn't based in science, and it's not a guarantee of a product's quality.
When most companies say that they have full spectrum lightbulbs, what they mean is that the bulb continuously shines light in the PAR range necessary for photosynthesis to occur. Manufacturers with a trusted reputation and background in gardening are more likely to use the term correctly.
If you see something branded as full spectrum, that is not an automatic guarantee that it's the best grow light. Since the term doesn't have any official meaning, advertisers can use it wherever they want.
Instead of trying to reach specific wavelengths of lighting, most manufacturers of LED grow lights are creating broad spectrum lights. They are manufacturing white LEDs instead of purple, pink, and red lights.
The white light gives both you and your plants access to a broad spectrum of every different kind of wavelength.
An ideal grow light will mimic the light that the sun gives off. Plants have evolved to grow in direct sunlight, and so the closer your artificial light gets to those conditions, the better your plant will do.
There are several factors to take into account when you buy a grow light. You can't guarantee that every "full spectrum" light is created equal, so you need to evaluate other aspects of the light too.
First and foremost, consider the cost. LED grow lights are pricey, much pricier than standard lights with lower intensity bulbs. You will need to pay more to put the system together than you would if you used a different kind of bulb.
But with that said, LEDs are significantly more energy efficient. If you can weather the cost of setup in the first place, then you'll pay significantly less as time goes on. You won't need to replace the LED bulbs for thousands upon thousands of hours. In addition, they will run with a fraction of the electricity of traditional lighting.
When you buy one of these LED lights, you can expect it to last for at least a decade before needing replacement. Many last 15 to 20 years. So as long as you're able to afford the pricier setup, you'll get rewards in the long term.
Another factor is the size. Traditional setups tend to be relatively bulky. If you have an entire room or building dedicated to a greenhouse, this might not be a problem. But it can be an issue for people who don't have a lot of extra space for a complicated lighting rig.
An LED rig tends to be less cumbersome. You also don't need any reflectors or ballasts for your plants to get the most out of your setup. As such, LEDs are a better choice for those who want to save space in a cramped area.
You'll also need to take heat into account. Traditional bulbs emit heat while they emit light. If they're on for long periods of time, they can raise the temperature of your grow room significantly. If your grow tent or room isn't properly ventilated, your plants could overheat and die.
But LEDs don't emit heat. Or at least, they don't emit enough heat to affect the temperature of a room. Some longtime gardeners have found that after switching to LEDs, they had to invest in winter heating that they'd never needed to use before.
This makes LEDs a favorable option for people who are trying to grow in a warm indoor area.
Most traditional setups use lights called HIDs. Some people also use compact fluorescent bulbs for their lighting.
HIDs actually encompass three kinds of lights: ceramic metal halide, metal halide, and high pressure sodium.
LEDs have distinct advantages when compared to all of these lights. Let's take a look.
High Pressure Sodium
High pressure sodium bulbs are more inexpensive to install than LEDs, but they cost significantly more to maintain in the long run. They also give off more heat than LEDs, and they need a reflector and ballast installed in order for the plant to receive the maximum growth benefits.
Another advantage of LEDs in this situation is that they encourage growth during the whole life cycle of the plant. High pressure sodium lights are best for when the plant is flowering, but not when it's propagating or first growing.
Metal halide bulbs are best for the vegetative part of the plant growth. But they also have a high heat output, and they aren't good for other parts of the plant life cycle. In addition, you need a reflector and ballast.
As mentioned, LEDs provide the right light for the entire cycle of the plant. They also have significantly less involved rigging systems.
Ceramic Metal Halide
Ceramic metal halide bulbs are the best option of the traditional HIDs, at least when they are compared with LEDs. They have a better light spectrum for the plants, and their price tag is about even with LEDs.
However, LEDs still have a lower heat output and better overall efficiency. They also don't need a specialized ballast for setup. Since the two types of light are priced so similarly, it just makes sense to go with an LED fixture.
Compact fluorescent bulbs have a similar efficiency level to LEDs. However, their light spectrum is only good for plants in the vegetative period of growth. They aren't intense enough to support plants that are flowering.
LEDs are a little pricier, but their light spectrum makes them good for use in the flowering period.