Choosing The Best LED Grow Light For Marijuana (Or Other Plants) In 2018
Choosing the best LED grow lights for weed (or any other plant) is impossible.
Different brands each have unique advantages, so the real question is: "What's the best light for MY needs?"
In this guide we'll look at the features that differentiate the LED grow lights for sale, so you can choose one based on the features most important to you.
Feel free to jump straight down to our popular comparison table for an overview of all our lights.
We'll start our guide with price, but it is not the best way to choose an LED light.
They are all expensive and you don't buy one to save money on your setup. You buy them for higher quality yields and to save money on power and replacement bulbs down the road.
That said, if you're looking for supplemental lighting or you only have a plant or two, a cheaper light will do the job. Why spend more on power you don't need?
Here are our recommendations for various price levels:
Best LED Grow Light Value Under $200
Lights in this price range won't be powerful enough to light your whole grow, unless you only have a plant or two. Even then, you would get better yields with more powerful lights. These lights are excellent for supplementing an existing system, though.
The bar lights from Kind LED are the best option in this price range. The 2 foot bars cost $116.97 and the 3 foot bars cost $170.97. Four foot bars are also available, but they cost more than $200. Kind makes two main types of bars: one with a specialized spectrum for flowering and one with a vegging spectrum.
A much cheaper option are LED grow bulbs. By far the best one is the Cirrus EVO. It only costs $59.99 and draws 24 watts. It simply plugs into any regular light socket and is a great supplemental light, with three different wavelengths, two red and one blue. As a standalone light, it's not powerful enough to flower marijuana, but can work for a small herb garden.
Best Value Under $500
The SolarSystem 275 series from California Lightworks (pictured above) is the best sub $500 value. It comes in two versions: Full Cycle and Veg. Both cost $489 and feature extremely high-quality OSRAM SSL LEDs.
The Advance Spectrum MAX 360 (pictured above) gives you the most power per dollar spent in this price range. It runs at 216 watts and costs $497.
Best Value Under $1000
As of August 2017, the best LED grow light under $1000 is a no-brainer: the Cirrus 1K. This is a true 1000 watt light that costs under $1000. That's unheard of (the only other true 1000 watt light we sell, the PhytoMax-2 1000, costs $2944).
We've been waiting for LED prices to come down for years and it looks like one company at least is finally making it happen. That alone makes the Cirrus 1K the best light in this price range. When you consider its performance, it's not even close.
It draws 1000w, but gives you an output equivalent to 1500w of HID power, while running much cooler. It has a spectrum perfectly tailored for all stages of growth.
The one drawback is power usage. If you don't need 1500 watts of HID power, there is no reason to get an LED light that uses 1000 watts. In that case, the best bang for your buck is the Advance Spectrum MAX 900.
The best light under $1000 is one of our newest brands and one that we, and our customers, are very excited about. It is the Optic 6 and it has been selling like crazy ever since we added Optic LED lights to our catalog.
The reason for that is simple: the Optic 6 is a powerful 1000 watt equivalent light that sells for only $749. It sells for such a low price, because it's made in China, unlike the two more expensive brands listed below in the "over $1000" category.
Although the light is manufactured in China, the company is American, based in Seattle. This means you still get American quality control and an American warranty (5 years). Plus you get an incredibly powerful light that comes in two versions: one with 3000K COBs that is a bloom specialist and one with a mix of 3000K and 5000K COBs, making it ideal for every stage of growth.
Best Value Over $1000
This price range includes the best LED fixtures money can buy. We'll give separate recommendations for fixtures using all white LEDs and those using multiple colored LEDs.
Multi-Color Full Spectrum Light
The brand-new Black Dog PhytoMax-2 line of lights are the most powerful lights on the market and easily the best in this price range. We'll focus on the PhytoMax-2 600 here, since it is equivalent to 1000 watts of HID power.
It costs $1899 and only consumes 630 watts of power, but is equivalent to a 1000 watt HPS system (while also including the blue-spectrum light of an MH system). It also runs much cooler than an HPS light, despite having powerful 5w chips that penetrate deeper into the canopy than other LED lights.
White Full-Spectrum Light
The NextLight Mega is the best all-white LED light. It costs $1525.50 and is equivalent to a double-ended 1000 watt HPS light, but includes more blue-spectrum light, making it ideal for all stages of plant growth.
Both the NextLight Mega and the Phytomax-2 600 made our list of the 4 best 1000 watt LED lights. That article has in-depth reviews of all four lights and is worth a read if you're considering a 1000 watt fixture. We have a similar article for 600 watt LED grow lights.
To grow marijuana, you want a minimum of 25 watts per square foot of grow space. Of course, more wattage will give you larger yields.
So if you have four plants that each take up 4 square feet (2 by 2), you need a minimum of 400 watts of actual LED power (16 square feet x 25 watts/sq.ft. = 400 watts).
If you can afford it, go with more power. At least 600 watts for the 16 square foot area in the example.
Here are our suggestions:
|Coverage Area||LED Units|
|2 by 2 feet||one 180 to 240 watt unit|
|2 by 3 feet||one 300 to 400 watt unit|
|2 by 4 feet||two 180-240 watt units|
|4 by 4 feet||
four 180-240 watt units OR
two 300 to 400 watt units OR
one 600+ watt unit
|4 by 6 feet||
three 300-400 watt units OR
two 600+ watt units
NOTE: We are using the actual power here (and also in our table below), not the rated power. LED diodes are never run at full power, as this would considerably shorten their life. A 3-watt chip for example, will only run at approximately 60% of full power.
So if a fixture has two hundred 3-watt diodes, it is technically capable of producing 600 watts of power, but it will actually only draw about 300 to 400. Most manufacturers will list the rated power (600 watts), but this is obviously a bit misleading.
If you're looking for the most powerful light on the market, that's the Black Dog PhytoMax-2 1000, but it is not cheap. The new Cirrus 1K is also a true 1000w light. Although it is not quite as powerful as the Black Dog, it comes close and costs about a third of the price.
We recommend a full spectrum light in almost all instances, unless you're just looking for a supplemental light with a specific color spectrum.
The only time we'd consider a light tailored specifically for one grow cycle is if you're only cloning or vegging. Even then, most growers will just use fluorescents for their cloning room, but the new NextLight Veg8 may change that.
Designed to replace a 8 tube 4 foot fluorescent fixture, the Veg 8 actually outperforms it in every aspect and will save you money within the first year. This light is a true game-changer.
White or Multi-Band?
When it comes to full-spectrum LED grow lights, there are two options: white LED lights and those using multiple color bands.
Proponents of all-white LEDs, claim they best approximate natural sunlight and are a perfect combination of HPS and MH light.
Proponents of multi-band LED lights say white LEDs include too much light in the green and yellow spectrum range. Since this light is not usable by plants, it goes to waste, making white LEDs less efficient.
We prefer multi-band full-spectrum light, since they all (the LED plant lights for sale on our site anyway) include white LEDs as one or two of their bands.
No one combines multiple LED colors better than Cirrus LED Systems. Unlike other brands that combine many diodes that each give off one color, EACH of Cirrus' mCOB LEDs emits the complete spectrum (pictured above), resulting in a perfectly even spectral distribution—each part of your plants get the exact same light, maximizing yield quality and quantity.
If you prefer all-white LED lights, NextLight lights are the best. They are incredibly powerful and outperform their HPS equivalents.
Coverage is difficult to put into a single number, since it depends on the distance from the light to the top of the plants. And as you increase coverage by moving the light back, you also decrease the PAR output and the canopy penetration.
For the values in the table below, we used the coverage provided when the light is 18 inches to 2 feet from the canopy. This is generally where you want it during flowering, in order to deliver maximum power.
During vegging, you can move the light back and get a much larger coverage area.
Since you can increase coverage by moving the lights further from the plants, the coverage values given by manufacturers are all over the place.
No matter the claims, the most powerful LED lights will give you a maximum coverage area of 4 by 4 feet (maybe 5 by 5), if you're trying to deliver enough power during flowering to maximize yields. The only exception is Black Dog, whose largest light gives you a coverage area of 6.5 by 6.5.
Because the PAR values (see next section) are much higher in the middle of a light's coverage than around the outside, the plants around the outside of the coverage area will not get as much light.
Make sure you rotate the plants regularly to ensure every part of every plant enjoys the same light intensity. You can also overlap coverage areas if using multiple lights.
PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation and is used to measure the amount of light given off that is usable by plants. It differs from lumen, which measures the amount of light visible to humans.
Unfortunately PAR figures can also be a bit misleading, which is why some manufacturers don't even provide them. The ones that do will usually measure the PAR value in the center of the coverage area, directly under the light.
But having a high PAR value directly beneath the light is only good for the plant in the center. The plants on the outside of the coverage area might be getting considerably less light.
Don't be fooled by an amazing PAR value. The best lights actually have lower PAR values, because they don't concentrate all their power in the center and instead spread it throughout the coverage area.
NextLight LEDs are great at producing intense light throughout the coverage area, but they use only white LEDs. If you prefer a multi-colored LED fixture, Black Dog's new lights cover a large area with powerful light throughout.
We included this here, since the length of the warranty generally signals how confident the manufacturer is about their lights. All of the brands we carry give you a minimum warranty or 3 years for their higher-priced products and a minimum of 1 year for the lower-priced lights.
Our comparison table has helped many satisfied customers buy LED grow lights for weed or for any other plants they might be growing. It includes all the features discussed above and is sorted by price, from the lowest to the highest.
The highlighted entries are our best-selling lights.
If you need more help choosing an indoor light, call us at 800-660-8319 or email us at email@example.com. We answer all emails within 10 hours and usually much sooner.
|MAX 36 Blue Bulb||21 watts||430 nm||1.5 x 1.5 ft||not given||1 year||$49.95|
|MAX 36 Red Bulb||21 watts||660 nm||1.5 x 1.5 ft||not given||1 year||$49.95|
|MAX 36 Dual Bulb||21 watts||430, 660 nm||1.5 x 1.5 ft||not given||1 year||$49.95|
|Cirrus Evo Bulb||24 watts||460, 620-630, 660 nm||2 x 2 ft||not given||2 years||$59.99|
|Cirrus DUO Clone Stick||38.4 watts||5000 K||1.5 x 4 ft||181 umol||2 years||$69.99|
|Kind Veg Bar||27.6 watts||varied veg||2.5 x 1 ft||364 umol||3 years||$116.97|
|Kind Flower Bar||27.6 watts||varied flower||2.5 x 1 ft||413 umol||3 years||$116.97|
|Optic 1 3500K||54 watts||3500 K||2 x 2 ft||470 umol||lifetime||$199.00|
|Optic 1 Veg||54 watts||5000 K||3 x 3 ft||470 umol||lifetime||$199.00|
|Optic 2 Veg||150 watts||full spectrum plus IR and UV||4 x 4 ft||not given||5 years||$279.00|
|Max 225 Multi-Band UFO||135 watts||430, 465, 630, 660nm, 6000K||3 x 3 ft||not given||3 years||$295.95|
|Optic 2 3000K + 5000K||205 watts||full spectrum plus IR and UV||2 x 3 ft||1004 umol||5 years||$299.00|
|Max 180 Panel||108 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||3 x 3 ft||not given||3 years||$299.95|
|Lush Lumenator||190 watts||full spectrum||2 x 2 ft||600 umol||3 years||$346.75|
|Herbal Vador||180 watts||full spectrum, but for veg||3 x 3 ft||300 umol||3 years||$346.75|
|Cirrus Flower Bar||105 watts||heavy red for flower||1.5 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$349.00|
|Cirrus Veg Bar||105 watts||heavy blue for veg||1.5 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$349.00|
|Lumenator 2x||190 watts||full spectrum||2 x 2 ft||1000 umol||3 years||$355.30|
|Herbal Vador 2x||180 watts||full spectrum, but for veg||3 x 3 ft||500 umol||3 years||$355.30|
|SolarSpec 150||150 watts||full spectrum white||2.5 x 2 ft||628 umol||5 years||$355.50|
|Max 270 Panel||162 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||3 x 3 ft||not given||3 years||$399.95|
|Max 360 Panel||216 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||3 x 3 ft||not given||3 years||$429.00|
|SolarSystem 275||200 watts||red, white, blue, UV, IR||3 x 3 ft||350 umol||5 years||$489.00|
|SolarSystem 275 Veg||200 watts||full spectrum, but for veg||5 x 5 ft||350 umol||5 years||$489.00|
|Optic 3||170 watts||3000 K||2 x 4 ft||870 umol||5 years||$499.00|
|Cirrus UV-B Bar||65 watts||UV-A and UV-B||18 x 81 in||not given||5 years||$499.00|
|NextLight Veg 8||190 watts||full-spectrum white||2 x 4 ft||365 umol||5 years||$535.50|
|NextLight Mini||150 watts||full-spectrum white||2 x 2.5 ft||760 umol||5 years||$535.50|
|Optic 4 3000K||415 watts||full spectrum plus IR and UV||3.5 x 3.5 ft||980 umol||5 years||$549.00|
|Optic 4 3000K + 5000K||415 watts||full spectrum plus IR and UV||3.5 x 3.5 ft||980 umol||5 years||$549.00|
|Kind K3 L300||220 watts||12 bands||2 x 3 ft||not given||3 years||$595.00|
|Max 450 Panel||270 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||3.5 x 3.5 ft||not given||3 years||$597.00|
|Lush Vegetator||330 watts||full spectrum, but for veg||4 x 3 ft||480 umol||3 years||$603.25|
|Vegetator 2x||330 watts||full spectrum, but for veg||4 x 3 ft||800 umol||3 years||$617.50|
|SolarSPEC 260||260 watts||full spectrum white||3 x 2 ft||1168 umol||5 years||$625.50|
|SolarPro 300||300 watts||full spectrum white||2 x 4 ft||not given||5 years||$625.50|
|PhytoMax2 200||210 watts||full spectrum (365-650nm)||3 x 3 ft||330 umol||5 years||$664.00|
|Max 540 Panel||324 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||3.5 x 3.5 ft||not given||3 years||$697.00|
|SolarECLIPSE 300||313 watts||full spectrum white||3 x 3 ft||1046 umol||5 years||$715.00|
|Kind K3 L450||270 watts||12 bands||2.5 x 3.5 ft||not given||3 years||$745.00|
|Optic 6 3000K||620 watts||full spectrum plus IR and UV||4 x 4 ft||1550 umol||5 years||$749.00|
|Optic 6 3000K + 5000K||620 watts||full spectrum plus IR and UV||4 x 4 ft||1550 umol||5 years||$749.00|
|Lush Dominator||435 watts||full spectrum||3 x 3 ft||650 umol||3 years||$765.70|
|Dominator 2x||435 watts||full spectrum||3 x 3 ft||900 umol||3 years||$787.55|
|SolarSystem 550||400 watts||red, white, blue, UV, IR||4 x 3 ft||620 umol||5 years||$799.00|
|SolarSystem 550 Veg||400 watts||full spectrum, but for veg||8 x 6 ft||642 umol||5 years||$799.00|
|Max 720 Panel||432 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||3.75 x 3.75 ft||not given||3 years||$797.00|
|SolarPRO 400||400 watts||full spectum white||2.25 x 4.5 ft||not given||5 years||$805.50|
|Kind K3 L600||320 watts||12 bands||3 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$895.00|
|Kind K3 L600 VEG||320 watts||12 bands||3 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$895.00|
|Max 810 Panel||486 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||4 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$897.00|
|Pro Max Grow MAX 600||125 watts||full-spectrum white||4 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$987.00|
|Max 900 Panel||540 watts||430, 460, 630, 660, 710nm, 10000K||4 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$995.95|
|Cirrus 1K||1000 watts||full spectrum||5 x 5 ft||not given||3 years||$999.00|
|SolarECLIPSE 500||500 watts||full-spectrum white||4 x 4 ft||2118 umol||5 years||$1075.00|
|Dominator XL||650 watts||full spectrum||4 x 4 ft||550 umol||3 years||$1098.20|
|Dominator XL 2X||650 watts||full spectrum||4 x 4 ft||1200 umol||3 years||$1124.80|
|NextLight 525||525 watts||full-spectrum white||3 x 3 ft||919 umol||5 years||$1165.50|
|Cirrus T250||250 watts||full spectrum||4 x 4 ft||1672 umol||5 years||$1199.00|
|Kind K5 XL750||430 watts||12 bands||4 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$1245.00|
|PhytoMAX2 400||420 watts||full spectrum (365-650nm)||4.25 x 4.25 ft||not given||5 years||$1279.00|
|Optic 8||500 watts||full spectrum plus IR and UV||4 x 4 ft||1828 umol||5 years||$1395.00|
|NextLight Mega||650 watts||full-spectrum white||5 x 5 ft||1400 umol||5 years||$1525.50|
|SolarSystem 1100||800 watts||red, white, blue, UV, IR||4 x 4 ft||1285 umol||5 years||$1599.00|
|Pro Max Grow MAX 1200||250 watts||full-spectrum white||4 x 4 ft||not given||3 years||$1617.00|
|Kind K5 XL1000||650 watts||12 bands||5 x 5 ft||not given||3 years||$1695.00|
|SolarPRO 900||900 watts||full-spectrum white||5 x 5 ft||1962 umol||5 years||$1795.00|
|PhytoMAX2 600||630 watts||full spectrum (365-650nm)||5.5 x 5.5 ft||not given||5 years||$1899.00|
|Cirrus T500||500 watts||full spectrum||5 x 5 ft||608 umol||5 years||$2199.00|
|PhytoMAX2 800||840 watts||full spectrum (365-650nm)||6 x 6 ft||not given||5 years||$2469.00|
|PhytoMAX2 1000||1050 watts||full spectrum (365-650nm)||6.5 x 6.5 ft||not given||5 years||$2944.00|