I finally decided to make the switch.
I grow 8 plants in a 4 by 8 foot tent and have been using two 1000 watt MH and HPS lights. Those lights have been great (though 600 watts would have been better), but I finally decided take the LED plunge. Heat was the main reason, but I like the idea of spending less on power, too. And not needing to change bulbs.
After weeks of research (seriously, I tend to overthink buying decisions), I narrowed my choice down to four lights. One was the Kind LED K5 XL1000 (link goes to product page).
Before my research, I already knew that it's the best selling 1000 watt LED grow light on the market and its main selling point is a fully customizable, 12-band color spectrum. You can dial back any colors your plants don't need in their current stage of growth and save electricity.
But is it everything it's cracked up to be (hint: not quite)?
More importantly, is the light for me? Or for you?
Read the rest of the Kind K5 XL1000 LED grow light review:
Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead)
Actual Wattage and HID Equivalent
The XL1000 is billed as equivalent to a 1000 watt HPS light, but most growers report lower yields. Much of that is due to the differences in growing with HPS light and with LED light. Once you've gotten used to the differences, you can expect yields close to those of a 1000 watt HPS bulb, but probably a little less. The quality will be higher, though.
The XL1000 uses 630 watts when run at full power, so you'll definitely see a lower electric bill versus HPS, but maybe not quite as low as some would have you believe. Remember: 630 watts is still a lot of power. It's also important to note that you only need to use full power during flowering (see next section).
Kind K5 XL1000 LED Grow Light Spectrum
Kind lights have a 12-band spectrum that includes reds, blues, whites, UV and IR. This is more than any other LED plant light and is pretty awesome. It basically gives your plants the complete spectrum of light they get from the sun, but with less green and yellow light. They don't need as much of this light, so why pay for the electricity to provide it.
It sounds good in theory, but does this spectrum actually work in real life?
It does, though it falls a bit short of some of the claims. Since the spectrum is heavy in blue and red light, you do get fast and robust growth and great yields. It's better than a metal halide light during vegging, but it falls short of an HPS bulb for flowering.
That said, you do get higher quality buds than you would with HPS. The ideal color ratio increases bud quality (this is something you see with all quality LEDs) and the addition of ultraviolet light increases THC production.
Now we come to the XL1000's best feature and what distinguishes it from its competitors: Kind gives you the ability to separately adjust the intensity of the reds, the blues and the whites. This means you can dial back the power (and save money), during stages when your plants don't need as much light.
For seedlings, for example, you'd use only 15% power for the reds and 30% each of the blues and whites. During veg, you'd increase the power to 45 – 60% for the reds and 80 – 100% for the blues and whites. During flowering you'd run all three at full power, at least until the final stage, when you could dial the blues back to 70% or so.
Don't worry if you're thinking you don't know what percentages would be best for the individual stages. The instruction manual has recommendations for most common plant types, so you don't have to be an expert to use this (I admit, I looked up the ratios myself).
PAR and Coverage Area
Kind does not give PAR ratings for their lights. PAR values are often quite misleading and do not give an accurate picture of a light's ability to grow plants, so I understand where they are coming from. Nevertheless, it would be nice if they could provide a PAR footprint for one or two common hanging heights. It would help compare the light, even if many manufacturers use very misleading PAR values.
I'm a little disappointed with Kind when it comes to coverage, too. Their website, and every other site I've seen, state the XL1000 covers an area of 5 by 5 feet. This is misleading.
I contacted Kind and asked about this and they said it can give you 5 by 5 feet of coverage if you're growing plants with low light requirements. For plants with high light requirements (like cannabis, tomatoes, etc), the coverage area is 4 by 4 feet max.
A 4 by 4 foot coverage area is similar to what you'd get from most 1000 watt LED lights. It's smaller than the coverage area provided by almost all HID reflectors. It's not bad for a light this size; I just don't like the misleading information.
A common complaint about Kind lights (and most LED lights in general) is poor canopy penetration. Most LED diodes simply don't give you the same penetration as a powerful 1000 watt HPS bulb. This is actually my biggest worry in switching.
I read a lot about this and learned you can help the light out by trimming any large fan leaves that are blocking light from lower flowering sites (Henry wrote a post that talks about this).
Bottom line: it won't match the penetration of a 1000 watt HPS bulb. If I want the equivalent canopy penetration of HPS, I'd need to hang the light so close that the coverage area would be 3 by 3 feet.
If you're growing in a tent or any other space with reflective walls, the light would cover a larger area, due to light reflecting back onto the outer parts of the coverage area.
So this light is perfect for a 4 by 4 foot or a 5 by 5 foot tent and two of them would be ideal for my 4 by 8 foot tent. If you're growing in a non-reflective space, 4 by 4 would be the maximum for one of these lights.
It would work great in a 3 by 3 tent as well, but for this size, you could save some money and go with the K5 XL750 instead. It's the same light, but less powerful.
LED Type and Configuration
The XL1000 has a mix of 3 watt and 5 watt diodes, with 320 in total. 5 watt diodes are more intense and penetrate deeper into the canopy, but they create a lot of heat. 3 watt diodes run cooler but their light is less intense. They also use less power.
Their mixture of 3 watt and 5 watt diodes gives Kind lights a distinct advantage over LED grow lights that only use one wattage. They went for the perfect balance between making your plants happy and your wallet. They did a good job too. Still, I personally wouldn't mind paying a higher electric bill and dealing with a bit more heat in exchange for more power.
I do have one complaint here, though. Kind doesn't tell us how many of each diode it uses. Why not?
Since there are 320 diodes in total and the light uses 630 watts when all diodes are running at 100%, we can deduce that most of the diodes are 3 watts. Are they trying to hide this? If they're using the perfect ratio, as they say, who cares if it's mostly 3 watt diodes. If that's what's best, that's what I want.
I don't know, maybe they're just trying to prevent some Chinese brand from copying them, but it would be easy enough for them to just buy a light themselves and figure it out. With Kind's return policy, they could even send it back for a full refund!
Anyway, moving on. Each diode is outfitted with a 60 degree secondary lens. These lenses focus the light to give increased intensity and better penetration (but, as mentioned, they still can't match the penetration of a good 1000 watt HPS setup).
One complaint I saw a few times in my research is the fact that Kind does not use name brand diodes. Considering the price, you would expect them to, so that is also a bit disappointing. That said, the diodes are rated for 50,000 hours and I haven't heard of anyone having any fail on them, so they do seem to be top quality.
During my research, I noticed a lot of comments from people who were disappointed in the heat output of this light. They were expecting it to not generate any heat at all, but at 630 watts, of course it will give off some heat: 2100 BTU to be exact.
That is still far less heat than a typical 1000 watt HPS bulb (3400+ BTU) and about average for an indoor LED light of this size. While this helps a lot in the summer months, in my case, I'm actually going to have to heat your grow room in the winter, since I live in eastern Washington (though I think I may just use some supplementary HPS lighting in lieu of a heater).
The XL1000 can be operated from a control panel on the unit or using the handy remote control. In fact, a single remote can control up to 100 of these lights.
I love the remote and I was surprised to learn almost no other LED companies include remote controls with their products. Without one you have to lean over your plants to change a setting, which risks damaging them. It's just so much easier with a remote.
I mentioned this feature earlier in my review, but it's one of the top features of the XL1000, so I'll bring it up again. The remote (or the control panel on the unit) allows you to separately control the light intensity of the reds, blues and whites, so you can dial back any light your plants don't need and save some money.
Kind LED lights also feature an advanced timer. It includes an 8 stage ‘mother earth’ timing function that perfectly mimics a day out in nature. The 'day' begins with gentle light (sunrise) and gradually increases to full intensity (midday), before dialing back the intensity (late afternoon and then sunset).
Of course you get full control and can customize the length and intensity of each of the 8 stages. This sounds like a brilliant idea! Imagine how your plants will respond when getting the exact light they are used to out in nature. I can't wait to play with this feature!
I heard and read some concerns about the red digital readout on the control panel potentially affecting the plants during their dark hours. This worried me, so I called and asked Kind about this.
They assured me the readout is nowhere near bright enough to have any effect on plants. And to be fair, while I found questions about the readout, I never heard or read anyone actually noticing any negative effects.
Getting this light set up and operational seems incredibly simple. Hang it, plug it into any outlet and start growing. Of course many of us will be running these lights off 240 volts (like me), so we would actually need to get a separate cord (it ships with a standard 110 volt cord). Here is some info you might need (more specs on the product page):
- Input voltage: 100 to 240 volts AC
- Amperage: 5.25 amps at 110 volts (so half that at 220)
- Output voltage: UL standard – less than 76 volts DC
- Operating frequency: 50/60 hertz
The Kind XL1000 measures 26 by 20 by 3.5 inches and is quite heavy at 36 pounds. The weight surprises some people when they first pick it up, although it is actually lighter than many comparable lights.
Many people have pointed out the similarity to the older (and much cheaper) Apollo lights. Kind actually uses the same housing as Apollo did, but what's inside is completely different. They are not the same lights at all, they just use the same housing.
When you buy an XL1000, you also get heavy-duty, easy-to-use hangers and a standard 6 foot 110 volt power cord. You can run this light at 220 or 240 volts, but you would need to buy a separate power cord.
Speaking of cords, that is the most common complaint about the XL1000: the power cord is simply too short. Unless you have outlets or a power strip on the ceiling near your lights, the cord probably won't reach and you'll need to buy a separate extension cord. For a light in this price range, that simply isn't good enough.
When you buy a Kind light, you also get a 3 year warranty that guarantees you will be able to get your light fixed for free. But it does have some limitations. In the first 90 days, Kind will incur all costs, but after 90 days, you will be responsible for the cost of shipping the light to Kind. They will cover the cost of shipping it back, but only up to $50.
They also offer a full 90-day money back guarantee (only good for up to two lights and for first-time customers). No other company offers this that I know of and it allows you to give Kind LED lights a try risk-free. This is what finally sold me on giving this light a try.
Pros and Cons
- 12-band spectrum provides perfect light for plants
- Customizable spectrum allows you to cut back on unneeded light, saving money and reducing heat output
- Remote control (that can control up to 100 units)
- 90-day full money back guarantee
- High Price compared to HPS (but not when compared to similar LEDs)
- Short (6 ft) power cord
- Smaller coverage and less canopy penetration than 1000 watt HPS
- Exaggerated claims and lack of transparency on Kind's part (I know almost all LED companies are guilty of this, but what did all of our parents always say? "If everyone else jumps off a bridge....")
The XL1000 costs $1695. This price is on the lower end among the lights I was considering (the California Lightworks SolarStorm 880 at $1789, the Black Dog Phytomax 600 at $1799 and the NextLight Mega at $1525). This is another reason why I ended up getting the Kind lights.
Summary of Kind LED K5 XL1000 Review
The XL1000 has been the best-selling LED grow light on the market for the past several years and Kind has won the High Times STASH award for best grow light 3 years running. There's a reason for that.
While it does have its problems, most notably a smaller coverage area and less canopy penetration than a 1000 watt HPS light, those are a problems shared by most LED lights. The other 3 lights I was considering all have slightly larger coverage areas, but since I only need each light to cover 4 by 4 feet inside a tent, this wasn't a huge issue for me.
What really sets this light apart is the customizable 12 band spectrum. Competing lights offer fewer bands of light (usually no IR and UV) and they only allow you to switch from veg to flower mode. I just love the idea of having complete control over everything.
This one feature alone (along with the return policy) was enough to swing my decision in favor of the K5 XL1000. And I highly recommend it to anyone else growing in a tent and looking to reduce heat and/or operating costs.
That said, if you are currently growing successfully with HPS lights and don't have a problem with heat or your electric bill, I would not recommend switching. Your yields with this light might come close to HPS, but they won't top it. Plus you would probably suffer through a few grows with much lower yields before getting used to the differences between HPS and LED.
New growers, on the other hand, will have to learn the ins and outs of growing anyway, so you might as well learn with LED from the start. For you, I highly recommend this light, since it makes getting started so easy.
Check out the product page or simply