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I'll admit, I was never really considering this light.
It is the perfect replacement for a 1000 watt HID system and I was looking to replace two of them in my 4 by 8 foot tent.
But there's a problem. It uses all-white LEDs.
I wanted an LED fixture with SOME white light, but not ONLY white light.
Despite that, the NextLight Mega LED grow light (link goes to product page) made my final four list. And after weeks of research, I have to admit, I was close to buying two of them, despite the all-white light.
This thing is impressive. Here's a light that finally delivers the kind of results we've been expecting from LED, but have only seen from very few lights so far. It matches a double-ended 1000 watt HID system in terms of coverage, canopy penetration and spectrum, but emits far less heat and consumes only 650 watts.
Like I said, I was close to getting it, but I ended up buying Black Dog lights instead.
Read on to find out why I almost changed my mind and if the Mega is the right light for you (hint: if you want a full-spectrum white light, it almost certainly is).
Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead)
The Mega slightly outdoes a 1000 watt HPS light in terms of PAR, has a better spectrum and has the same coverage area, but only consumes 650 actual watts. NextLight actually bill it as being equivalent to a double-ended 1000 watt HPS bulb.
650 watts is at the top end of similar lights, which range in power consumption from 530 (during veg) to 680 watts.
As a full-spectrum panel using all white LEDs, the Mega does not have separate settings for veg and bloom. This means it uses the same amount of power any time it is operational, unlike lights with different settings, which consume less power during veg (more on this in the 'spectrum' section below).
Update: NextLight now offer a dimmer for the Mega that is available upon request. It costs an additional $100.
NextLight use a full-spectrum white light in their fixtures. It was designed to mimic the sun. In terms of HID light, it is basically a combination of HPS and MH—in other words, it has an HPS spectrum with added blue light.
This spectrum is ideal for every stage of growth, but there are differing opinions when it comes to white LEDs. It also contains no UV or IR light. There are differing opinions on that as well.
Proponents say white diodes offer the most natural light for plants, since they have a spectrum very similar to the sun. And plants grow best in their natural environment. Plus, white light makes it easy to inspect your plants, because they look the way they would outdoors and aren't discolored by an unnatural pinkish glow.
Opponents say you can improve on sunlight. It contains a lot of yellow and green light, which plants only use minimally. Most of the yellow and green light from the sun goes to waste, but since the sun is a free and unlimited light source, that doesn't really matter.
When you are paying to power your lights, however, you don't really want to pay for light that isn't used. Therefore, it makes more sense to include far less green and yellow light and to pay for more reds and blues instead, since those are the colors that stimulate growth and flowering in plants.
Furthermore, white LEDs don't actually exist. In order to create white light with LEDs, manufacturers use blue LEDs (the most efficient color) and coat them with a type of phosphor to turn the light white. This coating absorbs some of the light, which further wastes energy.
Personally, I can definitely see the appeal of white light, but I also understand those who say using only white LEDs negates the main advantage of LED lights: the ability to give plants the exact light they need and nothing more. You don't pay for unused light and you save money.
How you feel about white LEDs will determine if this light is for you. If you want to go with an all-white fixture, this is the best one. If not you can probably skip the rest of this review, to be honest.
One more advantage that needs mentioning: having the same spectrum throughout all grow cycles avoids growth stalling. Changing light mid-grow (i.e. going from MH to HPS or from veg to bloom mode on an LED unit) shocks the plants and they stop growing for up to 2 weeks.
Obviously, you will still have to pay for nutrients and to power your lights and other equipment during that time. Those costs add up. Plus, you have to wait longer until your plants are ready to harvest. This isn't something a lot of people consider when buying lighting, but it can make a big difference.
The Mega has no UV or IR diodes. To some this is a huge disadvantage, but it is not something I care much about personally.
Nevertheless, I did talk to a NextLight sales rep to ask why they did not include UV or IR light. His answer basically summed up my feelings on the subject.
He said that neither UV nor IR light has been definitively proven as being of much benefit. In addition, the studies that do say it helps, specifically mention UV-B as being helpful. UV-B diodes are extremely expensive, which is why all LED lights contain only UV-A diodes, which are not really of any use at all.
NextLight's thinking (and mine as well) is that you are better off just buying a separate fluorescent UV-B bulb, if you want to add UV light to your grow. The same goes for IR light.
The mega has a 5 by 5 coverage area, which is the largest among 1000 watt equivalent LEDs (for a larger version of the PAR chart, head to the product page).
Several competitors claim a 5 by 5 coverage area, but upon further digging, it turned out they could only give you 5 by 5 for plants with low light requirements. For flowering cannabis or other plants with high light requirements, they could cover 4 by 4 maximum.
NextLight is one of the few manufacturers that provide full PAR footprints for their lights. The Mega and the Black Dog PM-2 600 are the only fixtures in this price range that can top a 1000 watt HPS bulb in terms of PAR and coverage.
A better measurement than PAR of a grow light's effectiveness is PPF (Photosynthetic Photon Flux). PPF measures the number of photons a light emits per second and thus gives a good representation of a light's output. The Mega has a PPF of 1400 umol per second. That works out to 2.15 PPF per watt, making the Mega the most efficient full-spectrum LED grow light available.
But remember: the NextLight spectrum contains a lot of yellow and green light which is not used by plants. This means that not all of the light emitted is actually useful. HPS and MH bulbs face the same issue, which is why it is difficult to compare white light to LED light using multiple colors in terms of PAR or PPF.
The Mega will grow and flower plants equally as effectively as metal halide and HPS light.
A common complaint about most LED lights is poor canopy penetration. Most LED diodes simply don't give you the same penetration as a powerful 1000 watt HPS bulb. This was actually my biggest worry in switching to LED.
That's not an issue here, though. NextLight uses weak chips that each draw only about a quarter of a watt, but it uses over 2500 of them to create a powerful light that penetrates as deeply as a 1000 watt HPS bulb (in large part because the fixture can hang much closer to the canopy).
As mentioned, the NextLight Mega has over 2500 white LED diodes that draw around a quarter watt each. This is very different from its competitors, who use 3 watt or 5 watt chips and are looking into using more powerful ones in the future.
Yes, it works very well. 2500 weak diodes combine to create a powerful and evenly distributed light that matches the output of a double-ended 1000 watt HPS bulb.
NextLight does not provide information on the type of diodes they use, but that is not uncommon. Many manufacturers guard that information to keep the knock-off companies from China from copying their spectrum.
What is certain is that they are extremely high-quality diodes. They have a rated lifespan of 100,000 hours. That means you will probably never need to replace them. Running 12 hours a day, 100,000 hours is over 20 years.
One huge advantage of using so many weaker diodes is that they do not emit much heat. The Mega fixture doesn't even include any internal fans and relies solely on heat sinks.
An external fan blowing beneath the unit is enough to deal with the heat output and will also help increase the lifespan of the diodes. That's great, because every grow room I've ever seen already has several fans anyway, for air circulation.
In terms of numbers, despite not having any fans, the Mega light fixture has a heat output of 2200 BTU. That's about average for lights this size. Of course other lights this size have several built in fans, so 2200 BTU is actually pretty incredible.
I probably could have skipped this section altogether for this light. You just need to hang it (v-hook hangers included), plug it in and turn it on. That's it.
Since the Mega does not have separate modes for veg and bloom, there's no need for a control panel or a remote control.
I run my lights off 240 volts and NextLight is the only company I know of that includes both a 120V and a 240V power cord. It's a small thing, but a nice touch nonetheless. It saves you having to find a separate cord.
Here is some info you might need (more specs on the product page):
The Mega LED panel measures 37 by 37 by 2.5 inches and weighs 23 pounds. It is by far the lightest and thinnest LED fixture in its class, which is in large part due to the lack of internal fans. Weight is not a big factor for me, to be honest, but I do like how light this fixture is compared to its competitors.
When you buy NextLight Mega, you also get easy-to-use V-hook hangers and two power cords, a standard 120 volt cord and a 240 volt cord. This is the only company I know of that ships their lights with both power cords. It's a nice touch.
When you buy a NextLight fixture, you also get a 5-year warranty. I talked to someone whose Mega arrived damaged from shipping. He said they actually overnighted a replacement light along with a pre-paid return label. When his replacement arrived, he used the label to ship back the damaged unit.
This is amazing. I know of no other LED company that does this. It is especially important if you're in the middle of a grow. Instead of waiting weeks for your replacement, you only have to wait a day or two. And you don't have to pay any shipping charges.
NextLight is definitely head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to their warranty.
Their return policy is less impressive. You can return your light within 30 days, but you have to pay for the shipping, plus a 25% restocking fee. I suppose it's better than the average LED company, but it definitely lags behind the industry leaders: Kind LED and California Lightworks basically let you give their lights a try for 90 days for free (update: this is no longer true, as they also have restocking fees now).
The NextLight Mega costs $1525.50. This price is the lowest among the lights I was considering (the California Lightworks SolarSystem 1100 at $1599, the Kind K5 XL1000 at $1695 and the Black Dog Phytomax-2 600 at $1549).
That price makes the Mega the best bargain among grow lights. Period. The only reason I didn't buy this fixture is that I didn't want all-white LEDs.
You can actually get this light for even less at the moment.
We are trying to see how many people buy the NextLight Mega LED panel after reading this review, to see if it's worth paying to get more reviews like this written.
To accomplish this, we'll be offering a special discount code for a week or two until we've collected enough data. The code is 'nextreview' and can only be found right here (so good job for reading this far!).
Enter 'nextreview' in the discount field during checkout to get an additional $230.55 off the NextLight Mega. Please don't share this code, since it would impact our data collection.
If you are looking for a full-spectrum white LED grow light, the NextLight Mega is the light for you. No question.
It costs less than its competitors, but has a larger coverage area, more output per watt and runs cooler and completely silent. And it comes with the best warranty.
This is easily the best LED grow light you can buy for this price.
But only if you want white LEDs.
I wanted colored LED diodes. I believe they are more efficient. And while I admit that the Mega is very tempting and it almost got me to rethink my position on white LEDs, I wasn't swayed in the end and went with the Black Dog Phytomax-2 600 instead (Black Dog review here).
If you're not sure whether colored or white LEDs are best, I recommend this light despite my personal thinking on the colored vs. white issue (update: I've since come around a bit on this and now feel that white light might be the way to go after all...if making this purchase now, a year later, I would go with the Mega).
Because one thing is certain. This light grows.
It will get you the same results as a double-ended 1000 watt HPS light. And in the end, results matter.
Check out the product page or simply