Growing plants indoors—especially cannabis—isn’t always easy. Although LED grow lights have been around for over 50 years, they’re still considered a relatively new technology.
LED marijuana grow lights are making the lives of hobbyists and professionals much easier. Thanks to technological advancements, LED lights are increasing in power while becoming more affordable.
The best LED grow lights don’t just encourage growth and produce higher-quality yields. They’re also durable and will help you save on electricity. They do this by replicating the wavelengths and spectrum of the sunlight.
With many options available and a lot of misleading information out there, choosing the best LED grow light can quickly become overwhelming. I’m here to help—by sharing some general information and things you should consider. And of course, to give you my top recommendations.
Do LED Lights Make Good Grow Lights?
LED lights are the most popular choice of grow lights for weed. Before selecting your specific set of LED grow lights, let’s take a look at what makes them so popular to growers.
Benefits of LED Grow Lights
What are the benefits of adding LED lights to your growing room? There are actually quite a few—for your plants, for your wallet and for the environment.
Fluorescent and incandescent lighting emit light in a 360-degree direction. LED lights, however, emit light in only one specific direction. As a result, LED lights use 90 and 60 percent less energy (respectively) than their counterparts.
Compared to incandescent or fluorescent lights, LED lights are also able to withstand higher levels of shock and vibrations.
A typical LED light should last about 50,000 hours. This is two to three times longer than fluorescent lights, and 50 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Some of the best LED lights for growing cannabis can even have a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours.
Fluorescent lights can take some time to reach their full brightness, which could result in wasted time. LED lights, on the other hand, light up fully as soon as they are turned on.
Most LED grow lights for cannabis don’t contain mercury or any toxic materials. This makes them easier to dispose of, as well as causing less of an environmental risk.
Don’t forget that they last longer and are more energy efficient. This makes them less wasteful, and of course they don’t have to be replaced as often. In an age where we are trying to minimize waste, this is a big plus.
LED lights typically come with one to four fans to keep your lamp—and therefore your plants—from overheating. By reducing the risk of fire, it also makes them safer. Cool lights mean a longer lifespan and improved plant health.
“Do It Yourself” LED
If you’re keen on DIY and wish to have a go at building your own LED light, this video might be helpful.
Worth the Higher Price
While LED lights are the number one choice for growing marijuana, they are not without their limitations. The best LED grow lights, unfortunately, represent a significant initial investment. Most growers find that the results are well worth it in the end, though.
Are LED Grow Lights Better Than HPS?
You might speak to some growers who have a preference for HPS (high pressure sodium) lights. Since I prefer LED lights for growing cannabis, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the reasons why.
Less Heat Output
LED lamps produce 90 percent less heat than HPS lights. The decreased heat will contribute to healthier plants. In the summer or in warmer climates, this also means savings on air conditioning or other cooling costs.
Energy and Cost Saving
The bestLED grow lights also consume less energy than HPS lights. Most users who switch see a noticeable difference in their electric bills.
Some people argue that you need to use more LED lights in order to match the output of HPS lights. Even so, the energy savings means that LED lights, even if you use more of them, still save you money.
LED lights last longer and often have warranties, which means additional savings. HPS lights usually need to be replaced every year. They also don’t come with built-in fans, so you’d need to purchase an exhaust system.
LED lamps are easier to install and can simply be hooked to a wall, without heavy duty equipment.
When using LED lights, growers report higher quality buds, with better taste and brighter colors. HPS lights seem to grow bigger yields, but not at the same level of quality.
If you’re transitioning from HPS to LED, both types of lamps can be used in a single grow room—HPS lights are mostly used during the flowering stage.
What Size LED Grow Light Do I Need?
Spacing will be key when it comes to choosing the best LED grow lights. Because each light is only able to cover a specific surface, it’s important to know the precise measurements of the area you plan to grow. To grow properly, each cannabis plant usually needs one square foot.
If you’re unsure of exactly how much space you have, take measurements. Your available growing space will determine the number and the size of LED lights you’ll need.
During the vegetative state of growth, most growers use 32 watts of power for each square foot. During the flowering stage, however, your plant needs additional lighting and 50 watts of energy per square foot will be required.
Let’s take an example. If your canopy measures 3 feet wide and 4 feet long, your growing space equals 12 square feet. Multiply this number by 32 and you find that 384 watts are required during the vegetative growth. Once the plant is about to bloom, increase the lighting to 600 watts minimum (12 square feet x 50).
Here is a table for of energy requirements for the flowering cycle that I think is very helpful.
Number Of Plants
Minimum Energy Required
Should My LED Light Contain UV Wavelengths?
Some of the best grow lights for weed also provide infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths. UV lights are known to damage the plant’s DNA. As a way of defending itself against this, the cannabis plant raises its production of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) by 20 percent.
This defense mechanism actually increases the potency of the yield.
To avoid harming the plant, the key is to find the right balance. When UV lights are used frequently, they bring smaller but more potent yields. Used from the seedling growth stage, UV light will grow your plants into strong and resistant yields as they mature.
It’s important to know that UV lights lower CBD (cannabidiol) levels, and are therefore not for every grower. If you’re trying to grow a crop with that’s stronger in CBD, you should probably avoid ultraviolet lights.
Finally, UV lights can keep your crop strong and healthy by reducing the development of fungal bacterias.
Best LED Grow Lights: Key Points to Consider
I hope you now have a better understanding of the comparative advantages of using LED grow lights for cannabis. Before I give you my product recommendations, here are some key points you should be taking into consideration.
What Are You Growing?
Before purchasing any grow light, you’ll need to consider the type of cannabis you’re planting. Some of the most popular weed varieties are ruderalis, hybrid sativa dominant, pure sativa, pure indica, and hybrid indica dominant.
Depending on the species, you may have to adapt your lighting. For instance, the indica species only require eight hours of light per day, while sativa species require almost 13 hours of daily light.
Will you be planting seeds or already matured crops? Your cannabis plant needs different types of wavelengths depending on their maturity level—seeds, young plants, or a fully grown crop.
Choose Quality Materials
The wrong lighting has the power to destroy your crop in only a few days. Investing in high-quality indoor grow lights might be an investment, however, it will ensure the optimum health and growth of your cannabis in the long run.
Each bulb should contain at least 3 watts of power, therefore the chip needs to be durable and well built. In most cases, manufacturers state the light’s lifespan on the packaging. The best LED grow lights will last from 50,000 to 100,000 hours, so you won’t have to worry about replacing them for quite some time.
Many of the best LED lights for growing cannabis are manufactured in the United States, meeting stringent quality standards. They’re mainly made of steel, aluminum or other sturdy materials. To improve nutrient penetration by 25 percent, an optical lens is sometimes added.
Are you looking at two lights, with a similar look but vastly different costs? The quality of materials is usually the reason why.
What Kind of LED Light?
As the industry is moving towards fully automated lighting systems, the best LED grow lights come with the ability to customize spectrums and intensities. Marijuana grow lights can also come in several shapes, each fitting different types of crops.
Quantum board lighting is a term used when lights are set up on a large board spread out over your canopy. They seem to have a fairly low wattage power, while still providing good results for the number of watts used.
Spider style lights are similar to quantum boards, and the small diodes are positioned in a large flat surface. The panel, however, is spider-shaped, expanding in different directions. These tend to have a slightly higher price tag.
COB Style LEDs have larger diodes. Instead of using many small diodes, this lighting system uses fewer but stronger lights with lenses. These lenses allow a deeper light penetration within your growing space.
The traditional panel contains slightly larger diodes than quantum, and benefits from features of both quantum board and COB style lighting systems.
While saving electricity is important, you also want to make sure you get the right amount of power to grow your cannabis. Panels help spread the light over your grow area. If you have a substantial growing surface, a minimum of two panels is recommended.
Electricity Consumption & Output
Your marijuana grow lights will be running for 10 to 18 hours per day. Too much light and you run the risk of burning your plant; not enough light and your cannabis won’t grow as expected. A good balance is crucial to obtain the best quality yield.
You’ll find grow lights for weed available from 12 watts of power, all the way up to 3000 watts. It’s best to have a close look at the labels before making a decision. To compare different full spectrum LED grow lights, look for the “actual power consumption” or “actual power draw” on the product description.
Unless you’re growing a single plant, your light’s electrical output shouldn’t be less than 300 watts. The higher the output, the more light your plants will receive.
It’s best to spread the light throughout your canopy. You will likely have better results with several smaller LEDs rather than a single larger one. For instance, it might be best to purchase two 200-watt LED lights than one 400-watt light.
Always keep in mind that a fraction of the power might get lost before it reaches your plant. This means that your cannabis won’t receive 100 percent of the power announced on the label.
What Is PAR?
Manufacturers often use the term PAR, or photosynthetically active radiation. PAR represents the actual amount of light available for the photosynthesis process. This is a very import measure when growing your cannabis.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind for each stage of the plant’s growth:
Using a grow light with a lower PAR than indicated above won’t kill your crop, but will slow down its growth. The best LED grow lights will have the highest PAR.
Lumen, on the other hand, measures the amount of light—or brightness—that the LED generates. This isn’t always relevant for us because the plant won’t be necessarily using the full amount of light for photosynthesis.
Which Beam Angle Do I Need?
When looking at the product description, you’ll see information such as 60, 90 or 120-degree beam angle. What does it mean and which one should you choose?
If you’ve owned HPS lights, you’ll know that they’re all made with a 360-degree beam angle. With no control over the angle width, they’re wasting a lot of unnecessary energy—which is why reflectors are needed.
With the best LED grow lights, each diode’s beam angle can be controlled. Note that the beam angles don’t represent the angle from the light fixture, but the angle from each LED diode.
A 120-degree beam angle—the largest width—will cover a larger surface yet with the less intensity. A 60-degree beam angle is more focused and concentrated in one particular area, allowing the light to penetrate deeper in the canopy. Most growers prefer a narrow beam angle with higher intensity.
What Are Primary and Secondary Lenses?
Primary lenses are located right where the light is emitted by the diode, enabling the light to leave the silicone efficiently. Without this primary lens, the light would never reach your plants.
Placing a secondary lens just underneath the primary lens will change the direction of the light stream, creating a narrower—or wider—angle. Secondary lenses are also sometimes called “optics” by manufacturers.
A lot of incorrect information circulates about secondary lenses. It’s important to understand that they don’t increase the overall intensity of the light, they simply redirect the energy into a specific direction. In fact, you could actually lose eight to 15 percent of the total energy in the process.
If you’ve chosen the right LED light with the appropriate brightness, secondary lenses might not be necessary.
Quality Semiconductor Chip
Would you consider purchasing a car with a weak engine? Not very likely. The same concept applies to your LED light.
The semiconductor chip is considered your light’s engine. It transforms electricity into light, affecting the wavelength. Each chip should use at least three and up to 10 watts, to provide the necessary lighting.
Full Spectrum Lights
While most cannabis plants grow under all spectrums of lights, they grow best under full spectrum lights.
These full spectrum lights are fairly new to the market but are quickly gaining in popularity. They’re able to emit different wavelengths necessary throughout the different growth stages. The best LED grow lights will provide both red and blue lights.
Blue lights imitate the sunlight typically found in summer and help the plant spread its leaves for optimum photosynthesis and growth. Cannabis plants need this wavelength—400nm to 500nm—throughout the vegetative state. When used through the whole growing period, your crop might develop short stems and large leaves.
Fall sunlight is imitated by red or yellow lights—640nm to 660nm—which are needed during the flowering cycle. These wavelengths encourage your crop to grow high and produce the flowers and buds you’re longing for.
One of the main advantages of full spectrum LED grow lights is the ability to customize the wavelength and amount of light needed just at the push of a button.
They also tend to emit less heat, not only saving you the cost of buying extra fans, but also on electricity.
For optimum growth, LED grow lights are hung just above the plant. Lights generating high heat can burn the leaves or make them turn into a yellow-brownish color. Low emission grow lights can be placed in closer proximity to the plant without the risk of burning it.
High heat LED lights also tend to dry up the air. Cannabis grows best in tropical climates and environments, and low heat lights help you maintain a good humidity level throughout your growing area.
Low heat lights give you an extra hand keeping the room temperature under control, which will help you save on electricity. They also tend to have a longer lifespan, since high heat outputs burn out the lights faster.
Internal fans should be built into your LED light. In addition, to allow good ventilation, an aluminum heat sink should be attached to that back area, preventing the chip from overheating.
Usability and Flexibility
Time is money, and the last thing you probably want is to spend hours installing your brand new lights. The best indoor grow lights can be installed without effort, and allow easy height adjustments. Many grow lights for weed even come with a power cord and a hanging hook, and can be used straight out of the box.
This isn’t relevant only for the initial installation. You might find that you want to adjust your LED lights’ positioning according to the growth stage.
LED Grow Lights for Grow Tents
Grow tents are great for growers with limited space, and for beginners new to growing cannabis indoors.
Many grow tents only come with a growing room, and it will be up to you to choose the ventilation, lighting system, and everything else.
Keep in mind, however, that if you’re growing your crop in a 4-foot by 4-foot tent, you’ll end up with a real growing space of 3 feet by 3 feet. This will be the volume to consider while choosing your LED light.
For beginners, I recommend grow tent kits. They come with everything you need for your plants’ optimum growth, including the proper LED lights.
Return Policy and Warranty
The best LED grow lights should last for about 10 years. Manufacturers who guarantee a shorter period of time should be treated with caution. You should be especially wary of LED grow lights that that only have a one-year warranty.
The good news is that the best LED lights for growing cannabis are composed of several parts which can function independently. You should still be able to use your light while waiting for your spare part replacement.
Safety & Certifications
There are a few different safety certificates you should be aware of. Restriction of hazardous substances, or RoHS, is a good indicator of the LED safety and quality, yet not always the most relevant.
It only restricts the use of specific materials used in electronic products. These include cadmium, lead, chromium, mercury, polybrominated biphenyls, hexavalent, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
ETL or UL safety certificates are from third-party organizations. They provide independent quality and safety certifications, both under the name of nationally recognized testing laboratories (NRTL).
Avoiding Common Mistakes With LED Lights
Once you’ve selected your LED grow lights, it will still take time and experience to obtain the best yield. Here are tips I wish I had been given when I acquired my first LED lamp.
Burning Your Cannabis Plant
If the leaves are turning yellow or brown, or if they’re curling up, this is a sign that your plant is getting too much light.
It usually starts from the outer side of the leaf, making its way to the center. If immediate action is taken-—less light and good ventilation-—it can be reversible.
Because plants feed on the light source to produce photosynthesis, providing insufficient lighting will slow the growth of your crops.
Calculate your growth area and make sure that you have enough LED lamps to cover the entire surface.
Proper Light-to-Plant Distance
To ensure the right lighting, LED lights shouldn’t be placed too close or too far from your crop. This can lead to overheating or insufficient lighting.
It’s recommended to position them 12 inches (for 1-watt chips) to 18 inches (for 3-watt chips) away from the plant. If you’re unsure, it might be best to contact the manufacturer.
Improper Light Schedule
During the vegetative state, cannabis plants need about 18 to 24 hours of direct light. They require around 12 hours during the flowering cycle. Even a slight change in this schedule can have a major impact on your plant’s health.
On a similar note, a lighting regimen excluding a dark period decreases the ability of the plant to undergo photosynthesis. Weak development and lack of strength will result. Don’t forget to turn the lights off at the end of the day!
As your plant grows, the light should be adjusted with the proper wavelength. Pots should also be moved around to avoid the plant leaning toward one side or another, trying to reach for the light.
The best LED grow lights represent a certain investment, yet requiring minimal maintenance. I’d recommended setting up a power stabilizer. This will help to ensure that all the lights receive the same amount of power, protecting the chip.
Try keeping your lights away from bugs, smoke, or even dust. Their accumulation inside the lamp will make the light heat up more than it should, potentially burning the diode.
The best LED grow lights won’t generate a lot of heat. Not much water is lost through evaporation and irrigation should be kept to a minimum. Many growers going from HPS to LED lights have accidentally harmed their crops initially, due to overwatering.
When the plant is over saturated with water, oxygen isn’t able to enter through the root system. Bacteria can also develop, eating up not only the roots of your crops but also the nutrients found in the soil. I’d recommend allowing the soil to dry before watering again.
If you notice the leaves wilting, you’re probably over-watering your plant.
Plant Chemistry: Nutrients, pH and Carbon Dioxide
While LED lights are a great help when it comes to growing indoor plants, other factors will make or break a successful yield. It’s important to understand the full picture and complete cycle to reach optimum growth.
Without the proper nutrients, your plants won’t reach their full potential. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are considered the main food source for cannabis. Sulfur, calcium, and magnesium are also important, and fertilizers can be added if needed.
An optimum growth can be reached, with a pH ranging from 5.8 to 6.5 and a temperature between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures drop below 60 degrees or reach 88 degrees Fahrenheit, this can impact the THC potency.
For the plants to grow efficiently, the levels of carbon dioxide should be sufficient and maintained. CO2 can be made at home using dry ice, a milk jug and a yeast solution mixture, carbon dioxide generators, vinegar and baking soda mixture, or even by using a bottled carbon dioxide.
LED Grow Lights Yield and Production
Many new growers ask how much cannabis they will yield using LED grow lights. Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer to this question; many factors need to be considered.
The yield will largely depend on your experience growing cannabis, the strain of weed you’re growing and the quality of the lighting provided. Many hobbyist growers generalize that obtaining 0.5 grams per watt is a good yield, while 1 gram per watt is an excellent yield.
The Best 10 LED Grow Lights
I know that I’ve already given you a lot of information to take in. If you’re growing cannabis for the first time, you still be might be unsure of which products to buy. I’ve done a lot of research, and put together this list of the best LED grow lights for you to choose from.
Viparspectra V600 is specifically designed to give you the highest PAR output to grow your plants throughout the different cycles. This high-quality light—which is also UL certified—features an advanced cooling system to keep your growing room cool, and fire-resistant reflectors.
Because they’re full spectrum lights, you can easily switch their settings from seedlings to the flowering growing stage. The reflector design allows a 50 percent increase of the PAR output, meaning that more light reaches your plants.
If you get hooked into these lights, the daisy chain function allows you to attach several lights together without the need of additional cords, wires or accessories.
It has 120 diodes and 5-watt, high-quality Bridgelux and Epileds chips, which can be controlled by a timer. This means the light should last you 100,000 hours or more. This LED light is also reasonable priced, making it the best combination between costs, quality, and functionality.
Are you just getting started growing indoor weed and looking to try things out before bumping up your investment? In that case, TaoTronics is a great light for you to consider. It gives you the ability to get your feet wet without the high initial financial investment.
If your growing area is small—up to 5.46 square feet—this TaoTronics LED light might be ideal. It also provides a narrow but intense beam angle of 60 degrees.
This light contains fewer diodes—12 diodes and 3-watt chips. Yet they’re still providing you with needed energy output and wavelengths to grow your plants during all life stages.
The umbrella design allows heat dissipation, which is a big plus in a low cost light. Even after 24 hours of use, the light remains cool.
Looking for a high-quality lamp with automated functionality? The Roleadro 1000W grow light has been around for over 10 years and we’ve seen noticeable improvements over this time. All materials used are high quality and the manufacturer makes a special effort to build a lamp that lasts.
This light is ideal for busy growers. The timer function gives you the ability to set up your own automated cycles, from 3 hours to 18 hours. You will never have to worry about your plants getting too much or not enough lighting.
These full spectrum lights don’t only provide the regular blue and red lights, but IR and UV lights as well. This in turn increases the potency of your yield. Additional red lights have been added, boosting your production by 30 to 50 percent.
The company has put a lot of thought into perfecting and maximizing the cooling system. High-speed cooling fans, a built-in temperature controller and aluminum heat sink keep your lights cool for a long lighting life.
The G8LED grow light has received countless awards—and for good reason. It’s built to last and growers rave about this light’s durability and high-quality materials. If you’re looking to step up your game and invest in a top-of-the-line LED light, this might be the one.
This full spectrum grow light is able to cover a growth area of 24 square feet. The IR and UV lights allow the plants to turn on their defense mechanism. This will result in a yield containing a higher amount of THC.
With a PAR of 1540 umol, G8LED lights are known to produce one of the highest yields. Although this lamp comes with a steeper price tag, the money saved on energy and maintenance might well be worth the investment.
Are you just getting started with indoor growing? Are you searching for a strong and efficient LED light capable of handling your crop’s growth? The Morsen 2400W LED light is a great option for less-experienced growers.
This light contains a total of 240 diodes with 10-watt dual chips: 176 red, 40 blue, 16 white and 8 IR and UV lights. These allow optimum growth during all stages. In fact, this light is so bright that grow room glasses might be needed.
The two on/off buttons control the lamp’s brightness, and can be dimmed without modifying its height. The 120-degree wide beam angle means it can cover a large growing surface. If you decide to expand your crop over time, the light will continue to meet your needs.
This truly is an easy to use and easy to install LED light . It provides beginners with the ideal configuration, quality, and price point to get their indoor cannabis started.
Wondering how powerful an LED light can get? With its double chips totaling 10 watts, King Plus 3000W will maximize your plants’ photosynthesis processes and growth, from seedlings to flowering.
With this level of brightness, it’s important to keep your light 4 to 6 feet above your crop. The four quiet fans—with aluminum heat sinks—ensure that the heat and noise are kept under control. Remember that overheating doesn’t only cause damage to the plant, but can burn your light’s diodes as well.
The additional UV and IR diodes make this light a complete package for a potent and strong yield.
For those with a modest budget but still needing a high-quality LED light, Advanced Platinum Series offers great options. This light can be used in smaller growing areas or in combination with other LED lights for larger surfaces.
Although affordable, you’re not giving up on quality. The light can easily replace 400-watt HPS lights and provides 12 brand spectrums, from red, blue, white, IR and UV lights. The light comes with secondary lenses, allowing a 90-degree beam angle.
These lights should last you up to 100,000 hours and, with a 5-year warranty, Advanced Platinum Series also offers one of the best warranty coverages in the market.
They’re such a breeze to use and great for experienced as well as beginner growers, making them the runner up among the best LED lights available.
Do you like the little extras? Things that make life easier, making good products great? Then Phlizon might just have what you need. Not only does the company deliver in terms of quality, but this purchase includes a clock, humidity monitor and a thermometer. No more manual monitoring to ensure your plant is getting the right amount of light.
Hobbyist growers also love this light for its sturdiness and durability, and only the best quality materials are being used. One of the best-LED chip brands—Epistar and Bridgelux—are used on the panel, and zener diodes will prevent your light from going off if one single diode burns out.
All raw material used is UL certified. The light itself is FDD (Federal communications commission) certified, ensuring that it won’t electromagnetically interfere with other products or harm growers.
Are looking for the best of all worlds? A lamp that can be utilized in all types of environments and conditions, while still providing high-quality lighting? The Ledgle LED grow light is probably one of the most versatile lamps available in the market.
When most LED lights are built with one or two switches, this light comes with three different switches. Each individual switch activates different sets of diodes—including IR and UV lights. This allows it to meet the plant’s nutritional requirements throughout its full life cycle,
It has a 120-degree beam angle, which allows a wide surface coverage. Unlike many other LED lamps, the Ledgle LED grow light can be used both indoors and outdoors. It also comes with high-quality six-watt chips.
To increase the overall life expectancy, the lamp’s electrical consumption decreases when its temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Apollo Horticulture is one of the most well known and trusted names in the LED light industry. The company takes pride in providing eco-friendly lighting solutions to all gardeners. Professionals and amateurs alike turn to them to help grow their plants and food.
One reason the company has achieved such a respected status is that it runs comprehensive tests. This ensures that each grower gets the most light using the least amount of energy possible.
This lamp is suitable to any indoor environment, from greenhouses and hydroponic systems, to grow tents. The diode’s beam angle of up to 120 degrees will cover a surface up to 16 square feet.
LED grow lights offer hobbyist growers many advantages. These range from eliminating the need for reflectors, airflow system, air conditioning, or heavy equipment setup. They help produce denser and more potent yields, while reducing your electricity bill.
After reading this article, you’ll understand that when selecting the right grow light for your weed, there’s a lot to consider. The wrong light can ruin your efforts and plants, that is why we chose the Viparspectra V600 Relector Series as our top pick.
I’m hopeful that the information I’ve provided has answered many of your questions. It’s my goal to help you make the right decision as you set out to choose the best LED grow light for your space. Also, be sure to check out our homepage if you would like to learn more about cannabis.