Illuminate your garden year-round with these grow lights
As the seasons wax and wane, you might start worrying about adequate lighting for your plants. The solution to your illumination woes is to install grow lights. These LEDs simulate the various spectrums of light emitted by the sun. Choosing the right grow light will always come down to the same factors: price, versatility, and longevity. Our favorite, the Mars Hydro 600W LED Grow Light has every feature a budding grower would need, and a few others we didn’t expect. The search for the right grow light can feel daunting, so we’ve pruned back the overgrowth and found the best grow lights out there. Get ready to cheat Mother Nature and keep your garden thriving year-round.
Best Overall: Mars Hydro 600W LED Grow Light
This particular fixture stands out right away. Ultimately, the price is what caught my attention, but I stayed for what these lights have to offer. It has a well-rounded spec list, boasting features that will appeal to a broad range of gardeners. Beginners can feel secure knowing it’s safety-certified; it runs cool, providing a longer lifespan, and making it less of a fire hazard. Lightweight, silent, and fanless, it includes a highly reflective aluminum hood to reduce light loss. For gardeners specializing in flowers, finding a grow light that includes IR (infra-red) light can be challenging; that wavelength specifically encourages blooming. Luckily, this light’s got that too.
Indoor and hydroponic growers with expanses of square footage to cover may wish for higher wattage, dimmability, or a better selection of shapes and sizes. Its LEDs may be water-resistant, but they’re not fully waterproof. This manufacturer does offers a few other light models in various wattages, alongside compatible grow tents—you can mix and match to fit your garden’s needs.
- Lightweight and silent
- Full-spectrum includes IR
- Only 100W energy consumption
- Doesn’t include UV light
- Won’t fit shallow/narrow spaces
- LEDs not fully waterproof
Best Value: Juhefa Full Spectrum Panel Grow Lamp
Bigger and pricier isn’t always better; in fact, this pick is unquestionably the best bang for your buck. This lamp shines when it comes to versatile positioning and a small footprint; it can even be placed vertically as a side panel to support plants in bloom. You can hang or install it just about anywhere, and it’s very lightweight. An additional perk? This light runs quite efficiently as well, and at a very minimal cost to your electric bill.
Offering UV and IR light, which plenty of its competitors lack, is a massive plus for this panel. It also has a 30,000 hour lifetime and a thirty-day money-back guarantee. However, if you need a grow light that emits warmth if the plants need it like in a grow tent, this is not the one for you. It’s worth noting as well that buyers new to grow lights may find it confusing that the IR and UV LEDs will appear dimmer than the other colors, even when they’re turned on.
- Runs cool
- 30,000 hour lifetime
- Full-spectrum light with IR and UV
- Two-by-two feet lighting area
- Does not emit heat
- UV and IR LEDs appear dim
Best Space-Saver: Shengsite 75W Plant Grow Light
This ovoid lamp, reminiscent of a UFO, is an excellent solution for gardeners with minimal space and light. It’s only a foot across, runs cool, has a productive output up to three feet above your plants, and won’t tack on too much to your electric bill. You’ll need a hook to hang it from your ceiling, but with its 6.5-foot cord, there’s plenty of slack to play with. Peak wavelength combinations for blooms and foliage, 3:1 ratio, red to blue light, are built into this lamp, which is helpful if you’re rehabilitating stretched out plants. Suspend this space-saving light above your sad succulents, and you’ve saved them from an untimely beheading and shriveled demise.
It’s worth considering that this light might sway inside grow tents due to its singular hanging point. It also lacks a timer feature, which would be useful considering its 50,000-hour lifespan. I recommend picking out your own timer and using this lamp where it can hang freely instead.
- Small footprint, round shape
- Excellent heat dissipation and long lifespan
- Long cord, easier hanging
- No timer
- Cannot be daisy-chained
- Single hanging point
Best High-Wattage: Viparspectra Dimmable 3000W Grow Light
For pro growers with a bit of cash to throw around, this full spectrum lamp’s for you. This option’s top of the line dimmable, UL-certified, and daisy-chain-compatible grow lights start at 600W. This grow light easily adjusts in precise increments via rope hangers for optimal growth during germination and through the flowering and fruiting stages. Its robust cooling system aids in its long lifespan, clocking in at a whopping 50,000 hours, assuming an average daily runtime of 12-18 hours.
It would be best to use this high-wattage light in a nursery-type setting, rather than in closet-sized grow tents. Grow tents are generally constructed to be lightweight and portable. If you don’t have large or heavy plants inside them to counterbalance the light’s weight from above, they may get too top-heavy and damage your plants.
- Adjustable height and positioning
- Heat sink, high-speed cooling fans
- Coverage area up to five-by-five feet
- May be costly for casual gardeners
- Heavy compared to its wattage (17 pounds)
- Rope hangers sold separately
Best Clip-On: Ezorkas Dimmable LED Grow Light 80W
Not just a humble clip-on, this portable light is bursting with features usually found on pricier lamps. Its nine dimmable modes, four 360-degree flexible goosenecks, and three automatic on-off settings set your home or office garden up for success with minimum effort. USB isn’t the only connection method this light offers, either; with its AC adapter, you can connect it at home or on the go. Three basic spectral light modes provide support for plants in various growth stages.
A downside is that the design doesn’t offer the option of converting from a clip to a stand; you may want different positioning depending on your space constraints. Additionally, its clip can only span surfaces three inches or less in width. You’ll need to be diligent about the light’s connection to its charging source, too, because a weak connection can lead to flickering lights and improperly lit plants.
- Dimmable, inexpensive, easily automated
- USB or AC power
- Red, blue, and mixed light
- Clip has limited breadth
- No UV light output
- Lights flicker if USB is poorly connected
Best for Nurseries: Mars Hydro 2000W LED Grow Light with 4x4ft Coverage
Commercial growers and nursery owners will benefit from this high-wattage, water-resistant, and energy-saving grow light. It’s equipped with a unique reflective design, promoting improved light saturation and plant growth. It consumes only 300W output and is daisy-chain compatible. Noise-free, fanless, and surprisingly light, it’s perfect for individual use in grow tents.
With greater flexibility comes more complexity, so you’ll need a hex wrench, or an Allen wrench, to turn the M3 screw and manually adjust the lamp’s dimness. That small annoyance is an acceptable price to pay for broad-spectrum light with evenly bright coverage. You may want to pick out your own timer here as well; the included one is relatively bare-bones.
- Silent and lightweight
- Can use alone or daisy-chained
- Uniform lighting, no dark spots
- Needs wrench to change dimness
- No UV light emitters
- Timer is lacking
Best Heat Dissipation: KingLED King Plus 1000W LED Grow Light
With IR and UV light and available in three sizes, 600W, 1000W, and 1200W, these grow lamps are a smart choice if you’re concerned about heat dissipation. This lamp offers superior, silent cooling with high-speed fans and radiators. It runs an incredible 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than most lights on the market while promoting vigorous growth with less heat damage.
However, it runs so coolly due to its enhanced aluminum radiators that any remaining ambient warmth is insufficient for plants requiring heat to grow correctly. On the upside, that also means that growers won’t need additional ventilation to mitigate the usual heat output. This lamp isn’t recommended for use with dimmers, as they can significantly reduce the LED emitters’ lifespan.
- High-speed fans and radiators
- On/off switches for vegetables and blooms
- No ventilation system necessary
- Heat output is minuscule
- Dimmers not recommended
- Best suited for compact spaces
A Bumper Crop of Lights
Small spaces, commercial setups, nurseries, and home gardeners are equally catered to in today’s grow light market. First-time shoppers may find it frustrating to decide on the features they need or feel intimidated by installation processes. Hopefully, our selection above helps to shed some light on the matter and de-mystify the process.
In our quest for the best overall grow light, we focused on specific, user-friendly design elements. Water-resistance is another feature helpful for new users; fortunately, all of Mars Hydro’s panels provide that perk. Longtime green thumbs will appreciate a reduced likelihood of light damage/burning to their foliage, fruits, and blooms. Most importantly, its uniquely angled aluminum hood will appeal to commercial growers. The design provides even light distribution and 20% less light loss overall. Grow lights aren’t one-size-fits-all, but the Mars Hydro 600W LED Grow Light comes quite close.
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Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Lili Angrisano is a Freelance Contributor for TechnoBuffalo. You’ll find her designing her next cosplay, conquering her 700+ book (and counting!) Kindle library, or tending her apartment garden in her spare time.
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