All light is not created equal when it comes to plants. Grow lights are your best option for providing adequate light to your plants unless you have a greenhouse or an infinite number of south-facing windows. Though nothing beats natural sunlight, grow lights are designed to provide Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR) to the plant, allowing it to perform photosynthesis just like it does outside in nature. We wanted to see if they were effective enough to keep plants alive and thriving, so we tested the most popular models on the market.
We tested the plants and grow lights on a variety of plants, from houseplants to herbs to flowering seedlings, in areas that were otherwise too dark for plants to grow. We kept track of the plant’s overall health, growth, and the development of new leaves. Learn what to look for when choosing the best grow lights for your indoor plants, and weigh the pros and cons of the models listed below before making your decision.
What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing the Best Grow Light
Whether you’re looking for a grow light to supplement natural light for indoor overwintering of potted patio plants or to start seeds indoors for spring transplanting to the garden, a grow light can help. The prices of today’s options range from under £20 to £150 or more, depending on the quality and light range.
Full-spectrum, cool, and warm
Grow lights are labelled with numbers such as 2,500K or 6,500K, which indicate the temperature of the light in Kelvin units. The cooler the light, the higher the number. A bulb with a Kelvin rating of 6,000K will have a white or bluish tint, whereas a bulb with a Kelvin rating of 3,000K will be yellower. Warm or cool light stimulates different plant behaviours.
Choose a cooler spectrum bulb around 6,500K if you want to improve foliar growth in your houseplants or grow leafy greens or seedlings. Warm light has a lower Kelvin rating and is ideal for flower production in houseplants as well as fruit production in citrus plants. When in doubt, full-spectrum lights eliminate the guesswork by providing a mix of cool and warm light for the best of both worlds.
Fluorescent Bulbs vs. LED Bulbs
Standard fluorescent bulbs are a poor source of light in the home, but they’re ideal for supplementing natural light for houseplants or seedlings. Because their cooler light makes them one-dimensional, they’re ideal when lush foliage, rather than flowers, is desired. Because their light cannot penetrate plant leaves with high intensity, the grower must position the light within a few inches of the plant’s top to be effective.
Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) with a full spectrum are a better choice. CFL grow lights, which are available in tube and bulb forms, are brighter than standard fluorescent lights.
LED grow lights, not to be confused with regular LED lights, are more expensive than fluorescent lights, but they compensate with increased longevity and energy savings. LEDs have both blue and red lights to mimic the sun’s full-color spectrum and may emit a bright, purplish glow. That’s not a big deal if the lights are in a basement or garage, but it’s something to think about if they’re in a living room. LEDs, like fluorescent bulbs, are available in tubes for lighting a tray of seedlings or as bulbs for lighting a specific plant.
Bulb or Stand Option
The number of plants or seedling trays you want to grow is a good indicator of the type of grow light that will work best for you. During the winter, a single bulb is ideal for placing above a sun-loving succulent, but seedling trays are better suited to a stand system that allows you to raise the light as the seedlings grow taller. So, whether it’s a prefabricated stand with lights attached or one you build from scratch with an inexpensive wire rack and a hanging grow light bar or two, your budget will ultimately have the final say.
Premade stand setups are expensive, so if your seed-starting budget is limited, consider building your own system. Houseplant enthusiasts, on the other hand, may prefer a more aesthetically pleasing premade grow light stand that is better suited to indoor living spaces.
Consider a full-spectrum grow light attached to a bendable or gooseneck arm that allows you to position the light directly above the plant for houseplants. Some are tabletop lamps, while others have a clamp at the end of the bendable arm that allows you to attach the light to the edge of a desk or table. These lights are intended for use with one or two houseplants and often include timers so you can cater to a plant’s specific light needs as well as a USB connector for plugging into a computer.
Some full-spectrum grow light panels come with timers and remotes that allow you to change the type of light emitted based on the plant’s growth stage—cool light for seed starting, warm light for flower production, and full spectrum when you’re not sure what type of light you need.
Consider how many plants you’ll need to cover when deciding on the size of your grow light. Also, if you intend to move your light from place to place, you may want something lighter and more portable, whereas if you know it will stay put, this may not be as important. Also, consider the space where you intend to put it and ensure that there is enough room for it to operate safely without collapsing against furniture, drapes, or other items.
When it comes to grow lights, wattage isn’t as important as you might think, but it’s still a factor to consider. The more important metric is PPFD, or photosynthetic photon flux density, which measures the amount of light emitted by a lamp. 2 Wattage is a useful tool for determining the correct fixture for your plants because this is a bit complicated to figure out. According to the rule of thumb, you need 32 watts per square foot, so most indoor plants (especially herbs) will do fine with a lower-watt light.
The Best Grow Lights To Buy In 2022
Hytekgro LED Grow Light 45W Panel (2 Pack)
- 🌹[Classical Full Spectrum] Compact grow light that puts out the needed light, includes 163pcs (620-660nm)+58pcs blue leds(450-460nm) +4pcs white leds (6500k), which is ideal for all kinds of indoor plants seeding growing and flowering at all growth stages.
- 🌹[Easy Set-up] This led grow lights are lightweight and very easy to use with the upgraded hanging brackets, system can be built in perfect sturdy condition within one minute. Built in 59’’ power cord could really stand another two feet of length though and make your plants happy.
- 🌹[Low Heat] ABS plastic material molding hydroponic grow lights panel , excellent Heat control, runs cool and quiet, no harm to your plants. Square shape design maximizes the beam to cover 3ft by 3ft area of plants, recommended to hang at around 6-10 inches for seedling.
- 🌹[High Efficiency] Plants grow fuller with much stronger and straight stems with these led grow light bulb. Most of the seeds are germinated and sprouting in 2 weeks. Low power consumption save your electric bill, 2 pack design are value for the dollar.
- 🌹[Worry-Free Warranty] We offer 12 months warranty plus 30 days satisfaction or return guarantee for this grow light kit. Please contact us first if there’s any issue, we promise to response within 24 hours.
The Hytekgro LED light panel is lightweight and simple to install, and it emits a full spectrum of colour to support plant growth at all stages. Steel hanging brackets are included in the two-panel kit for proper height adjustment. When suspended 18 inches from the top of a seedling tray, each 12-inch by 12-inch panel distributes light across approximately 3 square feet. The light emitted has a purple glow, which should be considered if it will be used to illuminate plants in a living space.
We hung the Hytekgro lights over flowering seedlings we bought for transplanting in the garden and left the panels turned on for 16 hours per day. During the weeks we tested the lights, the seedlings didn’t grow much in height, but they did fill out and more blooms appeared.
We watered but did not fertilise the seedlings during the testing period, so the majority of any growth that occurred could be attributed to the lights. The Hytekgro lights were great because they didn’t heat up the space, but they didn’t come with a timer, so we had to set an alarm and manually turn them on and off. The square shape allows them to be hung over square and rectangular flats of seedlings, and we noticed that the plants’ health improved while they were under the lights.
SPIDER FARMER SF-1000 LED Grow Light
Despite its name, the Spider Farmer light is not intended to propagate arachnids. Instead, it’s a serious grow light that can be used in conjunction with other Spider Farmer lights to provide healthy lighting to a large area of plants. This grow light has a built-in dimmer, timer, light colour selection, and a complex hanging system that allows us to raise and lower the light via a corded pulley system.
Although we only tested one Spider Farmer grow light, it was impressive. According to the instructions, the system could support up to 11 additional lights—all on a single circuit. The top of the light has an outlet for plugging in additional lights. It also has a continuous dimmer, allowing us to choose the exact brightness we desired. The light emits blue, white, red, and infrared wavelengths (IR). We put all of the colours through their paces on the potted herbs we were growing.
Before I put the herbs (thyme) under the Spider Farmer, they were quite gangly. To begin, we increased the brightness to maximum. Wow! This light illuminated the room. That’s how bright it is. We chose a dimmed mode and left the light on for 16 hours because we were only testing it on one plant. This one doesn’t have a timer, but that’s because it’s intended to be used in a horticultural setting, in conjunction with other lights and add-on timers.
The herb plant appeared to perk up a little under the light after 3 weeks, but it didn’t show much new growth. It did, however, turn greener in colour. This is an impressive light, and we would recommend it to anyone who is serious about developing a commercial-worthy system.
LBW Grow Light with Stand, LBW Full Spectrum 150W LED
The LBW Grow Light requires only a small amount of space on a countertop or table. It comes with an adjustable tripod stand that can be adjusted to heights ranging from 15 to 48 inches. The LBW light can be placed on the floor if desired, but we placed it on a table and turned the gooseneck light downward to illuminate our plants from above.
The LBW light does require some assembly, but it’s straightforward, and the manufacturer includes the wrench needed to tighten the nut that secures the LED head to the tripod. Because of the flexible gooseneck, we were able to turn the light in any direction, making this grow light suitable for lighting plants from a variety of angles. The LBW light shone brightly a 1.5 feet diameter at 18 inches above the plants—not a large area, but it wasn’t designed to compete with some of the hanging grow lights we tested. It’s ideal for individual houseplants or small seed-starting projects, and it doesn’t generate much heat.
The LBW emits white, blue, and red light, and we were able to choose which colour we preferred. We put this grow light through its paces on various plants, manually turning it on and off because it lacks a timer. We thought it helped perk up straggly plants, but because it’s not as strong as some, its benefits were less obvious. Nonetheless, it’s a cost-effective option for those looking to supplement light for overwintered houseplants or start seeds on a tabletop.
BESTVA Dimmable Pro 1000 LED Grow Light
The BESTVA Dimmable Grow Light is designed for serious indoor growers. The 224 powerful LEDs in this panel illuminated the room nearly as brightly as daylight, making this grow light ideal for starting seedlings or growing plants indoors year-round.
The BESTVA light has a dimmer dial with marked increments, so the quality of the materials is obvious right out of the box. Permanent anchors are drilled into the stainless steel top, which connects to a hanging pulley system, allowing us to lower and raise the light as needed. When turned on, this bright grow light illuminates an area about 3 feet by 3 feet at a height of 18 inches above the plants. It provided more light than we required for our tests, but a pair of sunglasses is included, which would be useful for anyone who used the light at maximum intensity.
Although it appears white, the light emits red, blue, and white light waves. The BESTVA light is a popular choice among those who live in states where marijuana cultivation is legal, and the light itself is marketed for marijuana cultivation—its logo is a marijuana leaf. It would, however, be beneficial for growing a wide variety of other plants. It didn’t generate much heat.
GrowLED LED Umbrella Plant Grow Light
- Full Spectrum Plant Grow Promoter: GrowLED designed full spectrum LED grow umbrella light promotes the photosynthesis of most plants, grow better and faster. 4000K cool white makes it more suitable to see and to place in your indoor space.
- Height Adjustable: The lighting part can be adjusted in height in order to provide the right amount of luminosity for each plant. Ensure your plant gets enough light.
- Stylish Design:Got the inspiration from umbrella. Refine the function of umbrella. GrowLED umbrella is not only a plant light, but also a stylish decoration for any indoor space as long as there is pot with solid and socket nearby.
- Automatic Smart Timer: GrowLED Umbrella Plant Light is automatically 16hours on and 8hours off, this mode make sure plants absorb enough light to do photosynthesis and enough time to rest. No worries for forgetting to turn the light off!
- 2-Step Easy Installation: 2-Step installation, no tool required. Quite easy to assemble and use.
The GrowLED Umbrella Light is the only grow light that has a right to be called cute. This small light comes with a telescoping spike that we placed in the soil of our pot to direct light downward—directly on the plant. The Grow LED only emits cool white or red light, but it’s sufficient to supplement ambient light in a home office or another room.
The ability to power this tiny grow light by plugging it into a USB port or a standard outlet is what distinguishes it. Even on the highest setting, the light intensity is dimmable, and it does not generate heat. The umbrella has a diameter of 4.5 inches and a telescoping spike that adjusts from just over 8.5 inches to nearly 30 inches, making it suitable for both short and tall plants. However, we felt it was best suited to smaller plants due to its lack of intensity.
The light comes with a timer, which we used to programme it to turn on for 16 hours and then turn off for 8 hours. While it is insufficient for seed starting or large-scale growing operations, it is sufficient for overwintering a favourite potted plant or supplementing year-round light for an indoor houseplant.
Phlizon 2022 Upgraded 600W LED Plant Grow Light
- NO REFLECTOR NO DANGER- Many others' grow lights are used led spotlight reflector to make the light look beautiful, but we don't use it because the led reflector is not heat-resistant. If a short circuit occurs，reflector at 80℃ is easy to melt and fire. we do not use the reflector, we can not give up the safety beause of beauty.
- FULL SPECTRUM- We did lots of experimentation to ensure that this full spectrum design promotes plant growth. It includes universal Blue Red IR UV and white light provide everything plant desire in the natural sunlight. The expensive IR UV led promote plants to defense mechanisms, blue and red led is essential light for plant growth.
- DOUBLE SWITCH- Veg and Bloom button have different function. Veg switch: It's blue and white led. For seeding or young vegetative growth,you can use Veg switch only. Bloom switch: It's red and white led.for flowering/blooming,you can use both Veg and Bloom together. Angle of LEDs: 90°and 120°
- COMPARE TO HPS/MH- The 600W LED grow light can replace traditional 400 watt HPS/MH while consuming only 108 watts! More effective coverage area than any reflector series lights. perfect for a 2x2ft growing area at 24" height. The difference of us is that we use double cooling fans. Can most extend the light life.
- BEST SERVICE- We are a professional LED light manufacturer with strong R&D team and many light tester. 2 years warranty plus 30 days money back guarantee. If you have any problems, please feel free to contact us. We will provide you with completely satisfing reply.
The Phlizon Grow Light is ideal for indoor growers who are concerned about the heat and humidity of their plants’ environment. It includes a temperature and humidity module that can be placed anywhere near the plants.
The light itself emits a spectrum of blue and red light waves. The Phlizon light was placed over a potted ivy plant that was showing signs of exhaustion after a long winter indoors. To stimulate new leaf growth and improve the colour of the leaves, we used a combination of blue, red, and white light. We saw a significant improvement in the ivy’s overall health after 3 weeks under the light. Along the vining stems, new, tiny leaves appeared, and the foliage colour improved dramatically.
However, rather than boosting the health of a single houseplant, the Phlizon is probably better suited to growing multiple plants. Users can choose between red and blue light, depending on the needs of their plants. The oblong light, which stands 18 inches tall, illuminates a 1.5-foot by nearly 3-foot area. It includes everything we needed to hang it from an overhead support and has a handy pulley system for raising the light as plants grow taller.
How We Tested the Best Grow Lights
How We Went About Testing the Best Grow Lights
After reading about the benefits of grow lights, we wanted to see for ourselves if the hype was true. While we’re not professional growers by any means, we do enjoy starting seeds and have several houseplants that are always a little leggy due to insufficient light.
We tried to keep the testing as scientific as possible by using grow lights that provided the recommended amount of light for each plant type. To determine the practical coverage of each light, we darkened the room, turned on the grow light, and measured the distance between the brightest part of the light pattern.
We tested the timers that came with the lights to see how accurate they were, and we frequently tested for heat generation by placing our hands beneath the grow lights to see if they were producing heat or not. Throughout the testing, we recorded our observations and awarded points based on a rubric.
We observed the plants and noted any significant changes, but keep in mind that this part was subjective because we used a variety of plants, including seedlings, houseplants, and patio plants that overwintered. Furthermore, they were all in varying states of health when we started the testing.
We chose the grow lights for testing based on the reputation of the manufacturer, such as the GE Hydrofarm light. Nonetheless, we didn’t automatically rule out lights made by smaller manufacturers as long as they provided enough light and were well-made.
Following the tests, we tallied the points and used them to create the best category for the individual grow lights. While each model is better suited to a specific situation, any of the models in our lineup will benefit a variety of growing situations.
Grow lights open up a whole new world of possibilities for indoor gardening. Grow lights are a popular and cost-effective way to keep all types of plants healthy, even if they’re tucked in the back corner of a dimly lit room, from starting seeds to transplanting outdoors to overwintering houseplants. Those considering using grow lights to improve the health of their plants are likely to have questions.
What is the best LED grow light brand?
Today’s best grow light brands include well-known names like GE and Phillips, as well as up-and-comers like Hydrofarm.
What is the best colour grow light for houseplants?
Cooler, white light is good for producing healthy foliage in houseplants, but if you want to see some blossoms or fruit, expose your indoor plants to warmer, yellower light.
What colour light is best for plant growth?
While plant requirements vary, most plants thrive in full-spectrum light, which includes red, blue, green, and yellow waves. Full-spectrum lights, despite containing a variety of colours, often appear white to the naked eye.
How far away from the plants should grow lights be?
To avoid overheating, grow lights should be placed at least 2 feet away from your indoor plants, depending on the wattage and light wavelengths. However, because LEDs and fluorescent lights produce less heat, they can be placed closer together.
How long should grow lights be left turned on?
A grow light should be on for eight to sixteen hours per day to effectively mimic the sun’s natural light, depending on where you live, the time of year, and the type of plant. If your plants get some natural light, they won’t require as much artificial light, whereas a plant that doesn’t get any natural light may require the full 16 hours.
Is it necessary to use LED lights?
LEDs are typically recommended for grow lights, though fluorescent and incandescent bulbs can also be used. The most important aspect is that the bulbs provide full-spectrum illumination and generate waves of red and blue light, which are frequently required for plants to thrive indoors.
How do I know if my plants require more light?
If your plants thrive in the spring and summer but struggle the rest of the year, it may be time to bring in some extra light. Adding a few hours of light in the winter can re-energize houseplants and keep overwintering outdoor pots alive until the next growing season. It can also aid in the flowering and fruiting of certain plants.
Because stressed plants have problems, here are some signs that your plants require more light:
Leaves that are dying or yellowing.
Leaves that are smaller than normal.
New pests and diseases have emerged.
Growth that is tall and leggy.
Variegated plants are losing their variegation.
Which type of bulb is the best?
Grow lights are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, with varying prices and lifespans.
LED bulbs, or light emitting diode bulbs, are the most effective at producing light and the most energy efficient of all home grow lights. They last up to five times longer than many other bulbs and have dropped in price so dramatically that there’s little reason not to choose them if you want a long-term, sustainable, and non-toxic option. Choose a full spectrum LED bulb for your desk lamp or grow fixture, or one of the many red-blue light combinations available to meet the needs of specific plants.
Because these bulbs are less efficient than LEDs, they are more expensive to operate. They are less expensive to buy initially, but they have a shorter lifespan and contain mercury, which can be released as vapour if broken. Choose full spectrum compact fluorescents for a wide range of plant needs if using compact fluorescents.
While halogens are not the best choice for growing plants, they are brighter than standard incandescent bulbs and can meet some of a plant’s light requirements. They lack the blue light required for healthy growth because they produce light farther along the red spectrum. They can, however, contribute to overall requirements when combined with other types of light. Keep in mind that halogens can get quite hot when activated, so avoid burning or damaging the leaves.
Incandescent bulbs are unsuitable for growing plants indoors. When turned on, they become quite hot, necessitating a distance between them and your plants, reducing their effectiveness. They also emit light that is further along the red spectrum. Finally, they are inefficient and have higher operating costs.
What are the best grow lights for flowering and fruiting plants
Choose a full spectrum bulb that can be adjusted to provide more red spectrum light for flowering and fruiting.
What are the best grow lights for seedlings and starter plants
Anything that normally requires full sun will require 2000 to 3000 lumens of light–including seedlings. Choose a full-spectrum bulb or one that leans toward the blue end of the spectrum. To avoid legginess, hang your chosen grow light as close to your growing trays as possible. LED bulbs are ideal because they do not overheat and burn tender seedlings.
What are the best grow lights for tropical houseplants?
Full spectrum bulbs with a good balance of green and blue light are required for standard tropical house plants. Most houseplants thrive with 20 to 25 watts per square foot, or approximately 500 lumens per square foot.
What are the best grow lights for indoor herb cultivation
Most herbs require direct sunlight to thrive. While some herbs may thrive in a south-facing window, bringing in additional light will almost always improve herb growth, making plants less leggy and more productive. Select a full-spectrum bulb that produces more than 1000 lumens per square foot.
Tips to Grow Plants Under Lights
Plants with similar lighting requirements should be grouped together so that they can benefit from the same amount of light.
To save money, buy grow lights that will fit into your existing light fixtures. Desk lamps are ideal for illuminating houseplants. Tube lights are ideal for seedlings and plant groups.
Select lights with variable intensities and/or spectrums. Alternatively, for a cosy, ambient light in your home, select a grow light with a slightly warmer spectrum.
Set your grow lights on a timer to ensure that your plants receive the appropriate amount of light every day. Many grow lights include a built-in timer. If they don’t, use a plug-in timer to get consistent, even lighting.
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