Written By
Published Sep. 29, 2021

Setting up a few plants indoors can help improve the appearance of the home and it’s a great hobby that can yield edible results, like tomatoes, cucumbers, or even strawberries. For the more avid growers, there are sealed tents that you can invest in for the purpose of growing a larger volume of plants without taking up space all over the home.

However, for plants to grow and thrive indoors, it’s necessary that they receive enough light for photosynthesis, so you may need one or more LED grow lights to help facilitate any natural light that comes in through the windows. The best LED grow lights are designed to be high-efficiency devices that bathe the plants in light without producing excess heat that could harm the development of your plants. Consider these top products, then keep reading for additional information on how to choose the best LED grow lights for your plants.

How We Picked the Best LED Grow Lights

Methodology

We brought years of experience setting up and operating home grows in vetting the best LED grow lights. We researched more than 35 different LED grow lights to determine the best five for this list. Careful consideration was given to the light output and the available light spectrum for each product, as well as the specific type of LED grow light. 

Indoor plants and those that are being grown in a grow tent cannot thrive without light. In particular, they have difficulty growing without access to the entire spectrum of light, though red and blue are the most important for strong and healthy growth. With this in mind, we gave preference to LED grow lights that were able to provide the plants with the full light spectrum at a high enough photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) to best facilitate photosynthesis in the plants. The type of LED light was used to differentiate between similar products and provide a variety of top options, as opposed to five LED lights with very standard specifications. It should also be noted that any additional features, like a remote control or a built-in timer, were used as a basis for selecting between products that had similar base features. If all product factors were essentially equal, the LED grow light that came with special features was given priority.

Best LED Grow Lights Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: SPIDER FARMER SF-4000 LED Grow Light

Ideal for Broad Coverage

The Spider Farmer LED grow light produces the full spectrum of light in the PAR zone, including blue, red, white, and infrared LEDs. Spider Farmer

Check Price

Why It Made the Cut: These easy-to-use LED grow lights are suitable for beginners and experienced growers, with full-spectrum light exposure and a dimming knob to control light intensity.

Specs: 

  • Type: Spread quantum board LED grow lights
  • Brightness: PPFD (Photosynthetic photon flux density) of 1156 μmol/m²/s
  • Light spectrum: Blue, red, infrared, and white lights

Pros:

  • Full-spectrum exposure
  • Broad coverage for large grow tents
  • Dimming knob to adjust light intensity

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a cooling system, lights may get too hot

Dedicated home gardeners that are looking to upgrade their setup will enjoy the broad light coverage and full-spectrum output of this spread quantum board LED grow light. The lights contain red, blue, white, and infrared light-emitting diodes, ensuring that the plants receive all of the necessary illumination to regularly create energy through photosynthesis. This array of lights also aids in the healthy growth and development of stems, branches, and leaves.

It’s best to use the SPIDER FARMER LED Grow Light at a height of about 24 inches above the plants for optimal light distribution and to avoid ill effects from the heat of the lights. The grow light produces 1,156 μmol/m²/s, though the intensity of the light can be customized with the built-in dimming light. Additionally, this grow light can be connected to identical lights in order to chain the dimming feature, so that users only need to adjust one light to dim the entire series, making this grow light ideal for large setups.

Best Value: LECLSTAR LED Grow Light Indoor Plants

Affordable and Effective

Adjust the height, angle, and position of each of the four arms for customized plant lighting. LECLSTAR

Check Price

Why It Made the Cut: Provide adequate lighting to seedlings, blooming plants, and even small, indoor trees with these versatile spread spider-type LED grow lights.

Specs: 

  • Type: Spread spider-type LED grow lights
  • Brightness: 452 μmol/m²/s
  • Light spectrum: Red, blue, and white light

Pros:

  • Comes with remote control and timer
  • Versatile light arm placement
  • Height-adjustable tripod stand

Cons:

  • Can be hard to get even lighting
  • Low light density 

The LECLSTAR LED Grow Lights is an affordable lighting option that comes with both a timer and remote control so that users can set the ideal light level and duration, then leave the plants to grow. The remote makes it easy to adjust the lights without having to enter the grow tent and the versatile light arms can also be moved independently in order to simultaneously provide better lighting to plants at the bottom of the tent and those that are fully grown. 

Additionally, the spread spider-type light arms are suitable for lighting above and below the main canopy of leaves to help ensure that light reaches every level of the plant. This LED grow light sits on a height-adjustable tripod stand and the light produces a PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density) of about 452 μmol/m²/s. The full spectrum of light is available to the plants with this LED grow light, due to the white, red, and blue LEDs. However, the low level of light density and the flexibility of the lighting arms can make it difficult to get strong, even lighting.

Best Spread: MARS HYDRO TS 1000W Led Grow Light

Basic Full-Spectrum Lighting

Ensure the health of the plants by bathing them in light from this spread quantum board LED grow light. MARS HYDRO

Check Price

Why It Made the Cut: Designed for beginners, the MARS HYDRO LED grow light uses only white LEDs to provide the plants with adequate full-spectrum lighting throughout the entire growth cycle.

Specs: 

  • Type: Spread quantum board LED grow lights
  • Brightness: 743 μmol/m²/s
  • Light spectrum: White

Pros:

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Dimmer system included for customizable control
  • Lightweight and inexpensive
  • Works with both 120V and 240V systems

Cons:

  • Suitable for a 2.5- by 3-square-foot area only 

The goal of indoor growing is to cultivate plants in a controlled environment away from storms, damaging pests, and fluctuating temperatures. This type of setup even allows the users to control the exact amount of light that the plant gets on a daily basis, which can be used to facilitate growth, extend the growing period, or prompt early blooming. The MARS HYDRO LED Grow Light is an excellent option to provide plants with the full spectrum of light throughout the entirety of the growth cycle, ensuring that they are never lacking for energy to continue ongoing photosynthesis. 

The spread quantum board LED grow light can be plugged into either a 120V or 240V system, though it should be noted that this light is only large enough to provide adequate lighting for an area of about 2.5 by 3 square feet. It has a PPFD of 743 μmol/m²/s, but users can customize the light intensity with the included dimmer system.

Best Chip-On-Board: Phlizon CREE COB Series 2500W LED Plant Grow Light

Powerful PPFD Rating

Focused lights ensure that even the branches and stems get an adequate amount of light through the canopy of leaves. Phlizon

Check Price

Why It Made the Cut: Built-in presets make it easier to quickly adjust from the growing stage to the blooming stage for enhanced results.

Specs: 

  • Type: Chip-on-Board (COB) LED grow lights
  • Brightness: 2,668 μmol/m²/s
  • Light spectrum: Red, purple, blue, and white LEDs 

Pros:

  • High light density
  • Offers the full spectrum of light
  • Powerful light penetrates canopy leaves for enhanced stem growth
  • Built-in presets for various growth stages

Con:

  • Light density causes increased heat 

One of the main benefits of the Phlizon LED Grow Light is that it is able to use the full spectrum of light with a combination of red, purple, blue, and white lights. This assortment of LEDs allows the grower to customize the specific light wavelengths that are optimal for the plant during its current stage of growth, then switch to an alternate configuration that is better suited for the next stage of growth. The chip-on-board (COB) design increases the density of the LEDs, which in turn increases the density of the light produced by the LED grow light, allowing the PPFD to reach a maximum of 2,668 μmol/m²/s.

However, the powerful light that is emitted by these LEDs can generate more heat than other grow light types, so make sure to have an available fan to help keep the plants at the optimal temperature. This model is best used at a hang height of about 24 inches and it’s suitable for an area of about 9 by12 square feet.

Best Traditional: VIPARSPECTRA 1200W LED Grow Light

Traditional Multicolor Lights

Easily transition between germinating seedlings and promoting flowering and fruiting with the preset lighting channels. VIPARSPECTRA

Check Price

Why It Made the Cut: Optimize the growth and vitality of the plants with this traditional LED grow light that comes with 12 different lighting wavelengths, from infrared to bright, white light.

Specs: 

  • Type: Traditional LED grow lights
  • Brightness: 1,718 μmol/m²/s
  • Light spectrum: 12 different wavelengths of light for full-spectrum coverage

Pros:

  • Advanced cooling system
  • Preset light configurations
  • 12 individual light colors

Cons:

  • Must take growth stage into account to properly set lights

Enhance indoor plant growth with this VIPARSPECTRA LED Grow Light that has an impressive PPFD of 1718 μmol/m²/s, allowing the light to penetrate through the top canopy of leaves in order to reach the stem and branches. It offers 12 different LED colors that range on the spectrum from infrared to bright, white light through other colors, including pink, red, blue, orange, purple, and yellow light. This assortment of lights is intended to provide the plants with a full spectrum of light to help facilitate growth through the entirety of the growth cycle.

The LED grow light also has preset configurations that make it easy for the user to switch between germinating seedling or promoting early vegetation when it is set to VEG, and when it’s set to BLOOM the light configuration is shifted to enhance the flowering and fruiting stage. Just keep in mind that because of the wide array of different lights, growers must pay attention to the growth of the plant to adjust the light configuration when necessary. 

Things to Consider Before Buying LED Grow Lights

To ensure that your plants get the appropriate amount of light to facilitate photosynthesis, it’s necessary to have a better understanding of the various types of LED grow lights, what lights on the light spectrum are beneficial to the plants, and the appropriate light density or brightness of an LED grow light.

Types of LED Grow Lights

There are several different types of LED grow lights that are differentiated based on the appearance, light output, and light spectrum. The most common types include spread, chip-on-board (COB), and traditional LED grow lights.

  • Spread LED grow lights are recognized by the large number of light-emitting diodes that are spread across the surface of either a quantum board or spider-style narrow arms. The quantum board design is essentially a square or rectangular board that typically uses full-spectrum white LEDs, while the spider-style lights feature densely packed LEDs on several different arms that can be maneuvered to the best location for lighting.  
  • Chip-on-Board (COB) LED grow lights are newer technology that have a superior light density to other LED lights. This is because the bare LED chips are mounted directly to the substrate, allowing multiple chips to form a single module within a tight area. The increased density of the physical LEDs enhances the density of the light emitted. However, it should be noted that these LED grow lights often produce more heat than other types, so it’s important to ensure the air is cooled if necessary. 
  • Traditional LED grow lights are more compact than spread LED grow lights, making them great for small grow tents. They feature many multicolored LEDs that work together to provide the full spectrum of light to the plants. Some types of traditional LED grow lights can also be quickly adjusted between preset light patterns to get the best spectrum of lights depending on the current stage of growth.

Light Spectrum

When plants are grown outside, they are exposed to the natural light of the sun and by absorbing this light they can create energy to grow through the process of photosynthesis. Natural light contains all the colors on the visible light spectrum, with certain colors being more integral to the growth of your plants than others. With this in mind, many LED grow light manufacturers may use either full-spectrum white lights to try to mimic the natural light from the sun or they may use a series of colored lights in an attempt to better control the various growth stages of the plant.

  • Blue light is necessary for plants to grow and thrive throughout their lives, but it’s also the first color on the spectrum that many plants can absorb while in the vegetative state. It helps with photosynthesis, leaf expansion, photoperiodic flowering, and leaf curvature towards light.
  • Purple light is also used when the plants are young to aid in the process of photosynthesis, though it isn’t as necessary as blue light.
  • Red light can be used while the plants are seedlings, though it is more useful to the plants during the later stages of growth and budding.
  • White light contains every color on the spectrum, which is why it is referred to as a full-spectrum light. These lights lack the precise balance and control that experienced growers can get from blue, purple, and red lights, but they are ideal for new growers because they can be used to encourage growth throughout the entire lifecycle of the plants.

Brightness

While a standard LED light would be measured in lumens, the brightness of an LED grow light is typically measured in photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) or photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD). This difference is because lumens measure only visible light, but plants can absorb a wider array of light for photosynthesis known as the PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) zone. So, it becomes necessary to measure the PPF and PPFD to determine the quality and output of a grow light. 

  • The PPF is a basic measure of the amount of light within the PAR zone that is produced by a given light source per second. This amount is measured in micromoles per second (μmol/second).
  • The PPFD is a more focused measurement that is intended to indicate the amount of light within the PAR zone that will actually reach the plants or fall within a given surface area each second. PPFD is measured in micromoles per meter squared per second (μmol/m²/s).

FAQs

Q:

Which is better for plants, LED or fluorescent?

In most cases LED grow lights are a better option than fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lights use more energy, emit less usable light to the plants, and they produce more heat than LED grow lights, which can do damage to the plants if a fan is not used to cool the area.

Q:

Can I use normal LED light to grow plants indoors?

Yes, you can use normal LED lights to help plants grow indoors, though the results are going to be difficult to determine because these lights are not specifically designed to provide the plants with the optimal spectrum of light. It’s better to invest in LED grow lights that take into consideration the various effects created in plants by different lights on the spectrum.

Q:

How long should you leave grow lights on seedlings?

Seedlings typically receive about 14 to 16 hours of natural light per day when they are grown outside, however, when the seedlings are grown indoors the LED grow lights can be set up from about 12 hours to 16 hours, depending on the needs of the seedlings.

Q:

What color LED is best for plants?

Plants should be provided with the full spectrum of light to get the best growth potential, so a white light is the best LED for your plants because it combines every light on the spectrum. However, the two most important individual colors on the spectrum would be red and blue light. Red light is necessary for photosynthesis and it helps to prevent stem elongation inhibition. Blue light also helps to prevent stem elongation inhibition, but it also aids stomatal opening, leaf expansion, photoperiodic flowering, and leaf curvature towards the light.

Final Thoughts

The impressive SPIDER FARMER LED Grow Light has red, blue, white, and even infrared lighting to give your plants a broad spectrum of light to enhance growth, though you may want to consider the affordable LECLSTAR LED Grow Light for lighting various different plant types due to the versatility and maneuverability of the spider-type arms.

MORE TO READ