Commercial LED Grow Lights
Natural light isn’t always adequate when growing inside or starting plants from seedlings, especially in colder regions and during the winter. While some indoor plants can thrive in low light, others require more than the natural light through windows. Years of science and research have brought us high-tech lighting systems that can not only replace but enhance light for indoor growth. Among these advancements, LED grow lights are the cream of the crop, excellent at mimicking direct sunlight and providing plants with everything they need to succeed.
With so many different commercial LED lights for sale, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. Here’s a rundown of the best LED grow lights, along with their features and each one’s unique benefits that make indoor growing a breeze.
LED Grow Lights: Why You Should Use Them
Many growers are skeptical about LED plant lights due to the various upgrades they’ve gone through over the years to get where they are now. High-intensity discharge (HID) lights have been around far longer than LEDs and have historically been reliable indoor growing lights. However, advancements made in the sector have proven the value of LED lights in the grow room. If you’re in doubt, here’s why you should consider horticultural LED grow lights for your next harvest:
Low Heat Generation
Unlike HIDs, high-end LED grow lights are the only lights that don’t need to heat metals or gases to high degrees to function. HIDs get extremely hot due to the energy and the heat they produce and can increase temperatures in your grow space that may damage your crops. The little heat created by LED plant lights is insignificant compared to the heat generated by HID lights. Extreme HID heat can create stressful, overheated circumstances for your plants if not controlled, while the low heat generation from LED growing lights is a more natural and pleasant addition to your environment.
Low Electricity Consumption
Commercial LED grow lights consume significantly less energy than HIDs. We all know how expensive it is to run a successful grow room, so if you’re looking to save money on utilities, stick to LEDs. With horticulture LED lights, your cooling and ventilation systems won’t need to work as hard, lowering your energy usage even further.
Identifying Light Wavelengths
LED grow lights are the leader in providing specific light wavelengths favorable for plant development. Because plants only absorb specific wavelengths of light, the disadvantage of HIDs and T5s is that they squander a lot of the light they offer. Full-spectrum LED grow lights locate and enhance the availability of various blue and red wavelengths — as well as infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths — that your plants require, ensuring they receive the maximum number of usable wavelengths.
Types Of LED Grow Lights
Understanding the benefits of LED hydroponic lights is important for selecting the right indoor growing lights for your needs. Let’s discuss the various styles of LED grow lights for sale, as each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The way the diodes on spread-style LED growing lights are distributed on their surface gives them their name. Despite their restricted wavelength choices, they’re very affordable compared to other LED grow lights and, in many cases, just as effective.
Although the chips in a spread-style LED grow lights panel are typically small, the amount of diodes on each panel allows for almost unlimited lumen output. This lumen output is the result of two crucial structural factors.
A single .25 to 1w chip (the surface which electricity runs along, giving off light) is contained in each diode, and a basic 50w panel with 50 chips can provide 3000 lumens of light, which is more intense than a 54w T5 6400k bulb with an average lumen output of 60 lumens per watt.
Domed lenses (lenses are used to focus the light) are rarely used in spread-style LED horticulture lighting. This frees up space on each panel so that as many diodes as possible can be installed. This will enhance the hydroponic light’s overall brightness, as well as the light footprint it casts.
While they may provide a wide, even light distribution, their coverage is less concentrated than other industrial grow lights. As a result, the coverage is softer, necessitating the use of more diodes to boost power. If you’re going to use spread-style LEDs, make sure you have enough space to adjust their height as needed. If you don’t have the space to elevate your lights, go for a spread-style LED with a dimming option.
The two primary spread-styles include:
- Quantum Board
Quantum board lights are made up of a huge number of tiny LEDs evenly distributed across a wide, flat surface area. They are full spectrum grow lights with white light-emitting diodes and, in most cases, passive cooling that allows plants to be placed under them right away without the risk of overheating.
The individual diodes on the spider-style LED grow lights are spaced out and tend to be on the smaller side, similar to Quantum Boards. However, their diodes are arranged on a panel with “arms” like a spider (giving the style its namesake) rather than a solid board. These are generally expensive, but many growers insist they’re among the top-rated LED grow lights.
Chip On Board (COB)
COB stands for “chip on board” and gets its name from how the diodes are built. Each diode comprises a number of small, low-wattage semiconductors that work together to produce a supercharged light from a single diode.
For example, 50w COB diodes often include fifty tiny 1w chips on one small surface, producing anywhere from 3000 to 5000 lumens from a single diode. While it’s true you can obtain the same intensity from one COB diode as you would from fifty 1w chips on a bigger panel, it will come in a more compact and convenient size. The smaller real estate is due to the fewer COB diodes required to produce the same lumens as a spread-style or conventional LED grow lights panel.
COBs have a restricted spectrum availability, which can be a problem despite their high intensity. Warm 3500k and cold 6000k spectrums are the most common. However, there are no multi-colored wavelengths, IR, or UV spectrums available. On the other hand, COBs are the way to go if you want LED grow lights with a lot of intensity from a tiny source.
These days, traditional LED grow lights have become the industry standard. Individual drivers manage up to 100w per cluster, making them some of the best commercial LED grow lights on the market.
Traditional lights are the most versatile of all LEDs. A typical LED includes 1 to 5w chips in each diode, depending on the overall light intensity, and 1 to 2 lenses to assist with light projection. A single lens will give you a 90° focus beam of light, and a secondary lens will add another 60° of focus to enhance it even further.
These quality lights also offer the broadest range of light. There’s practically no wavelength of light than traditional LEDs can’t provide, from cold and warm temps like T5s, to deep purples, all the way to UV and IR illumination.
However, traditional LED grow lights can be bulky. More equipment is needed with stronger lights, which adds weight to the system. Any light, regardless of size, falling on your plants will damage them, but a high-powered traditional LED grow lights panel, which can weigh over 30 lbs, would completely obliterate them.
When taking the traditional route, make sure your panel has the light spectrums your plants require and that your grow room is capable of securely mounting at least 25 to 30 pounds.
How to Choose the Right LED Grow Lights
Because plants can’t photosynthesize in regions with long winters, they can have a hard time growing during cold seasons. You may also opt for LED growing lights if you live in an area where your species doesn’t thrive naturally. In a nutshell, you can always use LED grow lights if you want to grow plants but don’t have enough natural light. Here are some tips for choosing the right LED grow lights for your crops:
Manufacturers employ a number of measures to evaluate wattage and the amount of light they generate, making it difficult to compare LED greenhouse lighting. However, the standard metric is lumens, used to measure the brightness. To flourish, seedlings require approximately 2,000 lumens per square foot, while blooming plants may require up to 10,000 lumens.
While lumens measure visible light, biologists frequently employ photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) or photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) to quantify light intensity in terms of the light plants absorb. The quantity of photons of light released per second is measured in mol/second, the unit of measurement for PPF. The density of light dispersed per square meter per second is measured in mol/m2/s, while the PPFD is measured in mol/m2/s. The more efficient the light is, the greater the PPF and PPFD.
Look for a light’s “real power draw” or “actual power consumption” to determine how much electricity it consumes. This is measured in watts and provides you with an idea of how powerful the light is. However, keep in mind that because LEDs are meant to be energy efficient, bulb wattage isn’t always a useful metric.
All of the colors in the electromagnetic spectrum are present in natural sunlight. However, some LEDs can only replicate a limited range of colors, whereas white full spectrum LED grow lights can generate all hues required at every step of the growth cycle.
Here are the most important color wavelengths to keep in mind when selecting your growing lights:
- Plants need blue light to grow in the early stages of their lifecycle. In their vegetative cycle, it’s the first hue plants can absorb.
- Purple light is also employed in the vegetative state, although it’s less effective than blue light for photosynthesis.
- Red light is beneficial in the last stages of growth and is required for buds to bloom.
- All of the hues of the spectrum are represented by white light. It can be useful at any developmental stage when used alone.
What’s Your Growing Environment?
Once you’ve decided which plants you wish to grow, it’s time to do some investigating. Find out what sort of environment your plants need so you can meet their demands. LED plant lights feature a variety of characteristics that can impact plant health, and plants react to different situations in different ways, so it’s important to understand the requirements for your harvest cycle.
When using industrial grow lights, one of the hazards is the heat generated by bulbs can harm your plants and disrupt their cycle. This is why LED grow lights are the preferred indoor lamp, as they generate extremely little heat compared to the quantity of light they produce. However, because they generate some heat, many come with built-in cooling systems to maintain adequate temperature management.
Some LED grow lights feature heat sinks made of metal, while others have fans. When choosing your lights, keep in mind that units with a fan may be noisy.
Most LED grow lights are designed to connect with other units in order to cover greater areas, a process known as “daisy chain connection.” This feature allows light systems to be interconnected, linked to one another from a single outlet, reducing the number of cables necessary for setup.
Best Rated LED Grow Lights
Here are the top-rated LED grow lights for any grower’s needs:
Best Overall – Raging Kush 2.0
LED grow lights are a critical component when nurturing a budding plant. Growers that require a high-powered, spectrum-adjustable, weatherproof vertical grow lamp that produces even PPFD onto the canopy should choose the Kush 2.0. Whatever crop, style, or strain you’re nurturing, the Kush 2.0 can transform your crop into a quality harvest every time!
Most Versatile – DRAGON alpha
The DRAGON alpha is the pioneer lighting system, providing complete spectrum control without sacrificing power. You can choose the type of white light given to your plants with up to 425 watts of any spectrum between 2700k and 6500k (warm to cool). The red/far-red channel produces 175 watts of energy, which may be equally distributed, moved to 660nm or 720nm, or shut off entirely. The DRAGON alpha generates 600 watts of on-the-fly configurable photonic power for plant growth.
Best Supplemental – Raging Kale
The Raging Kale is ideal for indoor and vertical farming because of its low profile. The RKa is the optimal solution for your early-stage growth needs, with an IP66 waterproof rating, wireless connection, and unique optics. The RKa is the go-to fixture when you need a sturdy, bright light at an affordable price since it was designed in conjunction with some of the most demanding botanists.