There is no substitute for natural light. However, when it comes to growing cannabis, the farmers still will not deny that the gentle warmth of sunlight needed for their plant’s growth is not always available. That is why there have been innovations, inventions, and discoveries to turn unfavorable conditions into favorable ones.
To achieve optimal light for plants, the best option is LED grow lights. These are the most effective source of providing adequate light for growing indoor plants. They improve the deficiency of the sunlight, which passes through windows and on the plants.
The salient features of LED grow lights are adequate energy production, less energy consumption, and the spread of full-spectrum color light. They do not only provide light and energy to the plants, but they also provide ambiance. It is pertinent to clarify that they are entirely different from other High-Pressure Sodium lights, commonly known as HPS or CFLs, which are the compact fluorescent lamps.
LED grow lights are so common that almost everybody who has even a little know-how and experience about farming is well acquainted with their nature, function, and availability. Above all, they are the most effective artificial substitute for sunlight.
Despite being new to horticulture, LED grow lights have proven to be better than all of the available sunlight substitutes. Now, what actually makes them better?
Although the type of crops and the economics matter, there are still many reasons why LED grow lights prove themselves to be better than other ordinary LED lights.
Some of them are mentioned below:
- Energy-Saving: They are highly efficient in terms of saving energy. They produce the same amount of light, but their energy consumption is less than the others.
- Ideal Alternative to Sunlight: They act just like sunlight for the crops, as they have a broad range of wavelengths that are needed to grow healthier crops with higher yields.
- Cost-Effective and Reliable: They only require a one-time, high-cost investment, but they save you a lot of money in terms of less and affordable power bills in the long run. They are also very durable.
- Less Heat Production: LED grow lights produce significantly less heat than traditional LED lights. The main advantage is that it eliminates the need to install exhausting and cooling systems and ventilation fans.
- Non-Contaminating: Even after the LEDs have been removed, you will not have to worry about any kind of contamination, because they leave no traces of chemical contaminants behind in the soil or air.
- Long-Lasting: The LED grow lights last longer than other lights. LEDs last for about 50,000 or more hours. While, on the other hand, any other bulb would not last more than 10,000 hours, which is a huge difference.
- Non-Damaging: Since LED grow lights emit a meager amount of heat, you can install them closer to the plants without the fear of causing any damage to them.
Top 3 Best LED Grow Lights of 2021 [Full Review]
#1. Spider Farmer SF Series – Budget-Friendly
The Spider Farmer SF Series comes with the famous Samsung LM301B diodes but at a cheaper rate than HLG’S 650R and Gavita Pro 1700e.
To be honest, Spider Farmer SF’s quality is not as good as HLG’s and Gavita’s, but the light efficiency and intensity compensate for that. This is the most effective LED grow light featured in this article.
The leading products of Spider Farmer SF are:
- Spider Farmer SF – 1000W
- Spider Farmer SF – 2000W
- Spider Farmer SF – 4000W
Canopy light penetration of Spider Farmer SF is way better than most of the renowned brands.
- Spider Farmer SF – 1000W: Veg and flowering footprint of 2.5 x 2.5 ft and 2 x 2 ft.
- Spider Farmer SF – 2000W: Veg and flowering footprint of 3 x 4 ft and 2 x 4 ft.
- Spider Farmer SF – 4000W: Veg and flowering footprint of 5 x 5 ft and 4 x 4 ft.
Efficiency and Full-Spectrum
With 2.9 micro-mole/j of lighting efficiency, it beats all of the other best-known brands like HLG and Gavita.
With its LM301B diodes, it covers a wide range of Photosynthetic-Active-Radiation, or PAR, but unfortunately lacks the red-spectrum of PAR. The Spider Farmer’s diodes have been supplemented with deep-red LEDs and infra-red chips to overcome this deficit.
The Spider Farmer series is also very power-efficient because it is dimmable, just like Gavita’s and HLG’s.
The exceptional full-spectrum of the SF series speeds up the flowering phase and, thus, increases the yields.
Absence of Cooling Systems
Spider Farmer SF’s lack a passive cooling system, unlike others. So, there is a need to install separate cooling systems (fans) during the hotter days.
- Lifespan of 100k hours
- AC100-277V of input voltage
- 50 to 60 Hz of frequency
- Equal to or more than 90% of humidity
- LED view angle is 90 to 120 degrees
Review About Official Website
The official website of Spider Farmer SF is straightforward for its customers. It is easy to navigate, and all of the necessary product information is provided. In case of any questions or issues, you can reach out to their excellent customer care service.
- Cheaper than others on this list
- High potent yields
- Low running expenses
- Produces no noise
- Replacement and return guaranteed within 30 days of purchase
- Warranty of 90 days and free repairing services
- Offer quality packaging so you will not get damaged products
- Requires installation of separate cooling fans
#2. HLG 650R – Overall Best Option
The Horticulture Lighting Group’s LED Grow Light is the best option among all. The power of the HLG 650R is unmatched; however, the company recommends its users hang the lights at least 2.5 feet above the canopy during the flowering. Otherwise, it can turn your plants crispy.
It has been upgraded recently, and the upgrades are:
- The intensity of light is made more robust at 1770 micro-moles/sec.
- The efficiency of light — the rate of conversion of electrons into photons — is increased to 2.81 micro-moles/joules.
Now, let us look at the specifications.
Unmatched Light Efficiency and Spectrum of HLG 650R
The HLG 650R is mainly made and designed as a substitute for a double-ended, high-Intensity discharge lamp of 1000 watts.
HLG’s specifically-designed, highly-efficient, four full-spectrum white light quantum boards are used in combination with the diodes of Deep Red LED 660 nanometer and Samsung LM301H in this LED grow light.
Keeping in view all of the specifications mentioned above, Horticulture Lightning Group’s 650R has no competition in the market to date.
The HLG’S 650R comes with a dimmable lighting unit, which means you can adjust it to your preference. Its wattage range varies from 60 to 630 watts.
Unlike other LED lights, HLG’S 650R does not only emit red and blue spectrum lights, but it emits a “full-spectrum” light that also includes different color spectrums such as deep-red, far-red, green, and yellow.
How Is This Helpful?
Now, let us discuss what role Samsung’s LM301H diode performs. So, Samsung’s diode emits the light of the color temperature 3500k, which is a warm light. This warm light contains a sufficient amount of red-spectrum light, which aids in flowering and vegging.
The red spectrum contains the deep-red and far-red spectrums that act as a trigger for “The Emerson Effect,” which is a combined effect of both the spectrums — the deep-red and the far-red. It promotes the electron transport and photosynthesis process, especially during the flowering stage. This is how the red spectrum makes the flowers bloom.
Because of this full-spectrum light, the cannabis plant’s flowering cycle is shortened by at least three to four days in comparison to the 3000K standard spectrum.
On the other hand, if we compare the HLG’S 650R to the HPS lighting, the flowering cycle is reduced by 12 to 15 days by 650R.
In simpler words, a balanced spectrum as one of the HLG’s 650R positively influences a cannabis plant’s growth in terms of value and quality.
Samsung’s LM301H diodes in the 650R have the best PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiations) coverage and light intensity to date. Despite the money it initially costs you, it does actually save a lot for you in the long run.
The diode and board placements of the 650R are so perfectly designed that it ensures your crops receive just the right amount of light. Consequently, the yield is improved, and the cost is reduced.
In simpler words, with these lights, you receive higher yield at a lesser cost.
The HLG’s LED Grow Lights have a built-in heatsink system, which passively keeps it cool. This feature eliminates the need for a cooling system to be installed separately.
- Voltage ranging from 120 to 277 VAC
- Wattage ranging from 60 to 630 Watts
- Efficiency of light: 2.8 micro-mole/joule
- (PPF) Photosynthetic Photon Flux: 1770 micro-moles
- Measurements: 26” x 21.5” x 2.75”
- Listed in UL/ETL/CSA: Yes
- Footprint for Flowering: 5′ x 5′ at 30″
- Footprint for Vegging: 7′ x 7′ at 48″
Verified and Lab-Tested
Light Laboratory Inc. tests every collection of the product themselves. On the other hand, Intertek is a famous multinational, London-based product testing and certified organization that has verified and certified it as well. The product is also verified by UL standards.
Review About the Official Website of HLG
Horticulture Lighting Group’s official website has proven to be a great help for its users since it contains all of the useful information about the 650R. The site’s information includes its key specifications, dimensions, output, manual, and more.
- Three-year warranty
- Weighs 23 pounds
- Power can be dimmed
- Light penetrates onto a wider area with a diffused light option
- It comes with a built-in passive cooling system
- Plants may become crispy if lights are hung too close
#3. GHL’s Gavita Pro 1700e LED – Most Durable
LEDs basically refer to energy-efficient lighting systems that cost you less than other lighting systems.
The Gavita Pro 1700e LEDs are not the most advanced, but they still have the most famous and the best diodes — Samsung LM301B.
These are the same diodes that power the 650R, but the diode is not all that makes it different. There are a lot of other key features as well.
Initially, this lighting system is quite costly. But, when you dive deep into what specifications it has, you will know that it is worth the money.
The Gavita Pro LED grow lights are built with technology that does not put all of the pressure on its diodes. This increases its lifespan as compared to other LED grow lights. Since the diodes do not have as much pressure on them, they do not expire quickly, and, thus, you do not have to change as frequently.
Efficiency and Full-Spectrum
THe Gavita Pro 1700e has an efficiency of 2.6 micro-moles/s1/watt. Gavita Pro has proven to be better than other different technologies available in the market that focus on the “white-only-spectrum.” The light that it emits closely resembles that of natural sunlight.
The temperature required for the device to work perfectly is 20 to 40°C. The system is made for indoor purposes only, such as in greenhouses and climate rooms.
The system of Gavita Pro 1700e is built in a way that light is spread evenly throughout the plant canopy and with equal and even intensity.
Passive Cooling System
All of the eight bars of the Gavita Pro 1700e distribute the light evenly and with equal intensity across the whole plant canopy without being heated up or making any sort of noise. This feature of the product rules out the need to install cooling systems separately.
- 645 watts of the input wattage
- Input voltage of 240VAC
- Weighs 28.4 lbs
- Measurements are 112 x 111 x 8.5 cm
- Maximum output for high intensity: 1700 micro-mole/s1/watt
- Can be dimmed up to 50%
- Comes with an external dimmer
Verified and Lab-tested
UL8800, CE, CB, and FCC-compliant, IP66 and IP56 waterproof and DLC-listed.
Review about Official Website
The official website of the Gavita Pro 1700e is straightforward to navigate and easy to use. It informs and guides you about the product, and in case the product is out of stock, it gives you the option to pre-order it.
So, if you do not find your desired items online, you can easily pre-order through their official website. Once they are available, they will contact you and ship the items to you.
- Suitable for use in wet environments
- Has a built-in protection system that keeps the dust, water, and oil from entering into it
- Passively cooling LED bars leave no need for fans
- Up to 1000 LED fixtures can be connected at a time
- Accessories include power cords, sun grips, interconnect cables, and an E-series adapter
- More costly than other brands
- Suitable for indoor use only
Choosing the Perfect LED Grow Light Brand
The ability to pick and choose is an art. You have to be sensible enough to choose the best product for yourself, which is the case when selecting an LED grow light. In this regard, one common feature you should look at when choosing an LED grow light is that it is durable and long-lasting, with a life-span of about ten years.
Do not forget that the LED you intend to buy will be in use for eight to ten hours every day, mainly if you are an indoor grower. So, you have to plan as to how to reduce your utility bill to the minimum extent.
The following tips concerning product specification should be considered as a guideline before purchasing an LED:
The HLG’s 650R’s full-spectrum white light is what makes it the best of all. The main drawback of the others is the poor spectrum they have. The full-spectrum provides the closest resemblance to sunlight, allowing the plants to grow as if they would naturally outdoors.
So, how can we check the genuineness of high-quality LED grow lights? It can be checked through PARS (Photosynthetic-Active-Radiations) and PPFD reports available on the renowned brands’ websites.
- Area to Be Covered and Len’s Angle
You can choose the best LED grow light only if you know the exact length of the area that needs to be covered. A lighting system must cover the range of the full area so it can reach every plant with its effects and potency, such as light spectrum, heat, coverage, and intensity.
Both the angle and the lens of the LED are equally essential to determine how straight or spread out the rays of light are and the intensity of heat they would produce. Considering all such variations and complexities, if you buy an LED, it can bring about the required results and can prove its effectiveness.
- Wattage – The Measurement of Power
Checking out the light’s wattage before buying an LED can save you from future troubles. It is not wise to buy a high-wattage LED blindly, as it may not serve the intended purpose.
It would be best for you to purchase an LED with a wattage according to the area of the crop and the number of plants required. Buying more than you need is not wise at all. Sometimes, an LED of only 300 watts serves the purpose and also saves you a lot of money. Therefore, the conditions of your farm will determine the wattage of your LED.
- Heat Output
Fixing the lighting system at a proper place is highly important. The appropriate place for installing the lighting system is the point where you can cover all of the required areas of the plants or where the light can reach the plants with its full intensity.
Therefore, the coverage area should not be overlooked. Only the safest and most effective heat output can be beneficial to your farm.
- Lab Tests
One of the reliable credentials of the best brands is a lab test policy. The lab test is the criterion on which you can judge the credibility of the product and the brands’ claims. The traits like honesty, effectiveness, and durability cannot be proved by claims. They can be proved only by action.
A lab test is the best action that can make a brand trustworthy, loyal, and honest among the clients. This practice builds confidence in the customers to buy an LED grow light willingly and confidently.
- Return Policy and Warranty
One of the essential policies of good brands is the warranty of their products. In case something goes wrong with the product, the brand will compensate for the loss or damage of the product.
With a product, there is a specific period of time, during which if any defect occurs, the brand has to take it back and replace it or offer a refund. You must be aware of all such policies, as you will need them if the product does not work as expected.
You will find a large variety of LED lighting systems to pick and choose from in the market. These include highly expensive ones, very cheap ones, and ones at an affordable cost. Always keep in mind, however, that the most expensive product may not necessarily be the best product.
You will also need to consider the cost of the increase in your utility bills that the LEDs will cause, along with the overall maintenance expenditures.
Maintaining a reasonable balance between your income and expenses is a matter of common sense, and it needs to be strictly practiced. It does not mean you should be persuaded to compromise on quality.
Features like light output, efficiency, and coverage are the necessary requirements. Cost and quality are also co-relative. So, you must compare and contrast different options before you decide to purchase an LED system.
Miscellaneous Common Factors
- Kinds of Plants and Their Growth Stages
There are different types of plants and their strains, and they all need different wavelengths of light for their different periods of growth.
If you are a cannabis plant grower, you might need to add far-red radiations (750nm to 780 nm) to the blue light radiations to help the cannabis stem grow and bloom.
Blue light is required in minimum quantities to save the stems from uneven and unwanted lengthening or elongation. Excess of blue light radiations can cause leaf shrinkage too. Therefore, a better cannabinoid yield is obtained from different variants of red light.
- Indoor and Outdoor Requirements Vary
Indoor cannabis growers generally fall back on artificial lighting, while outdoor growers get natural light from the sun, though only for a few hours.
In this case, while selecting your LED light sets, you need to ensure the LED lights you are going to choose must conform to your lighting conditions’ needs. Obviously, there is nothing common between indoor and outdoor conditions. Therefore, nothing can be replicated in either case.
- Types of LED Grow Lights
There are a number of types of LED grow lights from which to choose. These include COB grow lights, Quantum Board, Spider LED lights, Traditional Panel lights, and more.
Light Spectrum and Its Importance
How is it possible for you to understand the efficiency of the grow lights you have, or plan to buy? Well, most have the misconception that the efficiency and quality of grow lights depends on the lumens and wattage. In reality, however, it is the range of products and the proportion of the wavelengths it produces. Additionally, the light intensity matters a lot as well.
With wavelengths, PPFD, PPFD/WATT ratio, and PAR are the things that play a key role.
Let us make it easier for you to understand.
When cannabis is grown in natural conditions, the plants get all of the required radiation in an adequate amount under the natural sunlight. The chlorophyll absorbs that sunlight for photosynthesis. It is a natural process, and nature is unbeatable.
However, humankind has to come up with strategies to cope with the situations when adequate sunlight is not available. So, to understand what it takes for plants to grow with LED grow lights just as they do in natural sunlight, we need to know what PAR and PPDF are and what their importance is.
The importance of PAR and PPDF is explained below:
- PAR and Its Importance
PAR stands for Photosynthetic-Active-Radiation. It refers to the amount of light needed for photosynthesis to take place naturally.
The range of the light spectrum of PAR is 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers. This is mandatory for photosynthesis to take place. Photosynthesis is basically the process through which plants make their own food using soil, water, and sunlight. But, in order to produce cannabis in inadequate conditions, help is needed, and LED manufacturers understand this.
So, they design their LEDs in such a way that they include the most essential wavelengths such as:
- The wavelengths required for the Vegetative Growth (ranging from 400nm to 500nm)
- The wavelengths required for flowering (ranging from 620nm to 700nm)
The LEDs are made in such a way that they promote vegetation and flowering processes.
Whereas, if we compare LEDs with the standard HIDs like HPS, LEDs produce and emit all of the wavelengths in all directions across the plant canopy; but HPS, on the other hand, does not do this, which makes them relatively useless and a waste of power and money.
However, PAR is not the only thing you need to get healthy plants. This is where PPFD plays its role.
- PPFD and Its Importance
PPFD, or Photosynthetic-photon-flux-density, is basically the number of photons that come in contact with the plant’s surface (per square meter) at a particular time (one second).
- During the growth and flowering time, a strength ranging from 600 to 1000 micro-moles/m²/s suits the most.
- During the spread and growth of branches, a strength ranging from 400 to 600 micro-mole/ m²/s suits the most.
- During the phase in which clones and seedlings are developed, a mild strength of 200 to 400 micro-mole/m²/s suits the most.
Your plant’s normal and healthy growth can be disrupted if you do not keep in mind the importance of PPFD. That would eventually be a significant loss for you. So, you must keep these important values in mind.
A lot of other factors like temperature and level of carbon dioxide matter as well.
- Red Light Wavelength
Red Light Wavelength (620 nm to 720 nm) is suitable for growth and flowering as a whole. Red grow lights have the capacity of developing and fostering heavier budding and flowering.
However, only using red is not suitable if it does not have a natural and overall normal growth, especially in early vegetative growth. For this purpose, you can switch over to blue wavelengths.
- Blue Light Wavelength
Blue (400nm to 500nm) basically leads the plants to grow. It provides the plants with the strength and direction to grow and also to become adults. Blue spectrum plays a vital role in the growth of the vegetative parts of the plants.
Otherwise, in the absence of blue light, they can become short and stunted, giving them a squat appearance with underdeveloped branches.
Some brands make LED grow lights which are mainly designed for the farmers so they may adjust red and blue lights according to their needs in different phases of plant life.
As a cannabis farmer, you may not like to take up the blue too much, particularly during the flowering phase. It may cause the buds to become longer and leaner, which can cause lower cannabinoid strength.
- Ultraviolet Rays
Ultra-violet radiations below 400nm generally include long-wave, Ultra-violet-A (315nm to 400nm), short-wave, Ultra-Violet-B (280nm to 315nm), and UCV (180-280nm). The latest LED grow lights usually contain some Ultra-violet ranged bulbs/diodes.
UV Lights contribute to accelerating cannabinoid production. The interesting point is that whereas human bodies produce pigments (melanin) which serve as natural protection shields against the sun’s harmful rays, cannabis makes trichomes filled with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to serve the same purpose.
Ultra-violet radiations are harmful to the health of all living species.
All forms of life are naturally designed to protect themselves from harmful UV radiation. So, while the cannabinoid trichomes protect the plant, we get the much-needed cannabinoids.
- Infrared Rays
The range of both the infrared rays and near infrared light wavelengths is above 700nm. The human eye cannot see these rays, but they produce a lot of heat. Like all other living beings, the plants also need a bit of warmth to bloom, and that heat for them comes from IR radiation.
There is another light-sensitive system in the plants called a Phytochrome. Its duty is to respond to the infrared and far-red wavelengths and regulate plants and other photosensitive changes like blooming.
Using LED Grow Lights to Grow Cannabis Plants
The cannabis plant requires a particular atmosphere to grow, especially in the budding and blooming phases. This process needs specific colors of the spectrum, like red and infrared, to nourish the health and development of the plant and its all-component parts.
This is the purpose the LED grow light makers have served. The characteristics of the LED are designed in a way that the LED’s light focuses on the plant rather than spreading pointlessly.
The spreading of light in all directions is a waste of light and energy. Directing light on the focal point is the exact penetration that is ensured by these specially designed LEDs. In this way, the farmer can expect the best yield of the plant.
Choosing the most suitable lighting option depends on what you are doing and the lighting system you need, however, our first recommendation is Spider Farmer SF Series. LED lighting systems can prove to be a great investment in your business, as cannabis plants growing under LEDs yield extremely potent buds.