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Having trouble choosing a grow light? Check out our article - What is the best grow light for your needs? It covers all the main factors you need to consider.

Find The Best LED Grow Light For You (That Actually Works) in 2022

calculate how many led grow you need for you cannabis grow

There are too many choices!

How do you find the best LED grow light for weed (or any other plant), when there are so many options available?

And every brand provides different information. And it's usually incomplete and often misleading.

Of course you're finding it hard to choose the best LED light to fill your needs.

We do this for a living and it took us forever to research this guide. We spent weeks sifting through the different specs and features and making sense of it all.

That's why most people end up with the wrong light.

Due to information overload, they decide based on one of the following factors:

    1. It's cheap
    2. Misleading specifications (like really high "PAR" or listed wattage)
    3. It's a well-known brand
    4. Someone they trust recommends it

But all of those ignore the most important factor: your needs.

Just because a light looks good on paper, that doesn't mean it can actually grow.

And just because a light works great for your friend or for that famous YouTube grower, doesn't mean it will work for you.

Your garden is unique and you need a light that is right for your specific situation.

The good news: there's a solution.

 

The PoCoCo Method

PoCoCo Method For Buying LED Grow Lights

The groundbreaking PoCoCo Method ensures you get the right light at the right price.

It approaches the task of finding the best LED grow light from a different angle.

I'll tell you what PoCoCo stands for in a minute. First I need to explain why it works so well.

Remember the '90s?

Or the '80s or the '70s or any other decade before the internet took over?

Imagine you were shopping for a grow light back then.

You'd have to leave your house and go to an actual store.

Sounds like a lot of trouble, I know. But it did have one huge advantage over shopping online.

Can you guess what it is?

Imagine walking into a store knowing you need a grow light, but not really knowing which one is best.

Or even which brands are best. Or which type of light would best fit your needs.

So what do you do?

How to find grow lights

You find a salesperson. Let's call this one Dan.

Dan asks you some questions about your garden, your setup, etc. to get a better idea of your needs.

Then, based on his intimate knowledge of all the LED grow lights available, he shows you a few recommendations. The lights that best meet your needs.

And if he's a good salesperson (and we're going to assume Dan is great), he doesn't just recommend the most expensive light to every customer who comes in the store.

No, he knows that the most expensive LEDs are great for some people.

But most people won't need the most expensive lights. They would be fine (and often even better off) with a less expensive model. One that better meets their needs.

You see what I'm getting at?

Dan puts you first. Your needs are the only thing that matters. The only thing Dan considers when recommending an LED grow light.

That's the kind of personalized service you lose when you buy online.

The one big advantage of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.

In a brick and mortar retail store, you can walk in with nothing more than a vague idea to buy something.

You talk to a real-life expert like Dan. He helps turn that vague idea into a crystal-clear image. He helps you figure out exactly what you need and shows you the exact products that best meet those needs.

But you shop online, because it's so much easier and more convenient. You're fine sacrificing Dan's personal help. We all are.

But what if you didn't have to give up this personal touch?

What if you could have a Dan guide you from the comfort of your own home? Without ever needing to talk to an actual Dan?

The PoCoCo Method is your digital Dan.

And here's how he will guide you.

 

The PoCoCo Method (AKA The Digital Dan)

Digital Dan your virtual salesperson

You can safely ignore all the complicated specifications like PPFD, wavelengths, etc.

Dan is the expert. It's his job to worry about those.

You need to focus on the most important thing: your specific needs.

You'll take your needs and use those to figure out the strength and the spectrum of light you need.

In other words: the power and the color. Cost plays a role too, of course.

Power, Color, Cost. PoCoCo

With that information, you look up the best LED grow light for you in the table provided. The lights listed there all have high PPF/w ratios and spread the light out throughout the coverage areas.

In other words: they are the most efficient and most effective lights available.

The whole process couldn't be simpler. You just have to do a little math (don't worry, we'll help you through it).

And it works whether you are using your LED light for weed or for any other plant.

You'll get started in a second.

First, we'll address the elephant in the room: that third 'Co'.

LED grow lights are expensive.

At least good ones are.

But not as expensive as you think. Not anymore

They cost more than HID!

Yes, they do. The good ones anyway

But today's LED lights are better. In every way.

They give you better yields while using less power and generating less heat. They don't need bulb changes and they have much lower failure rates.

The result: most growers make their money back within the first year.

And they continue to save every year after.

I saw a light on Amazon for $100!

Yes, there are many of those Chinese branded lights. Some of them will even grow plants. A very small percentage can flower cannabis.

If you get one of the good ones, you could save a lot of money over a US brand, especially the highest quality US brands who only sell 100% American made led grow lights.

But we can't recommend those lights.

And we've turned down every Chinese brand that has contacted us to sell their lights (we get a minimum of 10 emails per day).

The reason is simple.

There are very few good ones and even those have issues.

There are 3 main problems with these budget brands:

  1. Their lights are never as powerful as they claim (and very few can flower anything)
  2. They have a high failure rate
  3. It is difficult to get a replacement for a broken light (which wastes your time and/or money)

 

Nevertheless, price matters. We know that.

The most common question we get is: "I have X dollars. Which light should I get?"

We take that into account in the PoCoCo method.

It's the final 'Co'.

We always recommend the lights with the best performance per dollar spent.

This assures you get your money's worth.

save money on LED grow lights

That said, I do know that budget can be an issue. That's why we always give a good budget alternative for each recommendation.

But, since it is such a popular request, we've also decided to list the best options available in each price range. You can find those recommendations below. (Again, we recommend following the method and choosing your light based on needs, not budget.)

Note, again, that none of our recommendations are the $100 you can find on Amazon. Few of those lights will meet expectations and we simply can't recommend them.

 PoCoCo: Find the Best LED Grow Light For Your Needs in 2022

PoCoCo Meaning

To find the perfect light for your situation, you simply need to answer some questions about your needs.

PoCoCo: Power, Color, Cost

Let's begin by determining how much power you need. 

What Size Grow Light Do I Need (Power)?

Question 1: Are you growing a plant with high light needs or low light needs?

Flowering/fruiting plants, like marijuana or tomatoes, need a lot of light. Plants that do not flower, like herbs or lettuce do not need as much light.

The calculations below assume you are growing plants that need a lot of light. If you are not, or if you are vegging only, cut the light requirements given below in half.

Question 2: How large is your grow space?

If you already have a tent or a fixed grow area, this is easy.

If not, you need to do a little math.

A lot of customers ask how much power they need for X number of plants. Unfortunately, this question is difficult to answer, since plant sizes vary so much.

If at all possible, try to determine how big your plants can get. This will help a lot.

If you are growing cannabis, you can figure each plant will take up 4 square feet of space. But again, it is best if you know how big your particular strain can get.

Using the number of plants and the size of each plant, calculate your grow space.

Lets say you have four plants that each take up 4 square feet (a 2 by 2 foot area). Your total grow space will measure 16 square feet (4 plants times 4 sq. ft.).

Now You're Ready To Figure Out How Much Power You Need

Cannabis Power Needs

To grow marijuana, you want between 30 and 40 watts per square foot of grow space. Of course, more wattage will give you larger yields (within reason) and less wattage will result in smaller yields.

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.

So, continuing the example from above, you need between 480 watts (16 sq ft x 30 watts) and 640 watts (16 sq ft x 40 watts) of actual LED power.

LED wattage needed calculation

Your best bet in this case is to go with a light that draws at around 600 watts of actual power for this grow area. In terms of listed wattage, that equates to around 1000 watts.

The table below shows the wattage needed for common grow area sizes. Naturally, most grow areas are far larger. Use the values below to calculate your requirement.

For example, a 1000 square foot space would need 30,000 to 40,000 watts in total.

You get this value by first calculating how many 100 sq ft areas are contained in one 1000 square foot area (1000 divided by 100 = 10).

A 1000 square foot area contains ten 100 square foot areas. This means it would need ten times the wattage.

From the table, a 100 square foot area needs 3000 to 4000 watts. Thus, a 1000 square foot area needs 10 times that, or 30,000 to 40,000 total watts.

Grow Area Actual Wattage Needed
4 sq ft. (2 by 2) 120 to 160 watts
6 sq ft. (2 by 3) 180 to 240 watts
8 sq ft. (2 by 4) 240 to 320 watts
16 sq ft. (4 by 4) 480 to 640 watts
24 sq ft. (4 by 6) 720 to 960 watts
25 sq ft. (5 by 5) 750 to 1000 watts
100 sq ft. (10 by 10) 3000 to 4000 watts

 

Note that these are the ideal power requirements. You can get by with less.

You've probably heard that a 1000 watt LED light (600-700 actual watts) covers a 5 by 5 area.

That is true.

But as you can see from the table above, you would ideally like 750 to 1000 actual watts, in order to maximize yields. This equates to approximately 1200 to 1500 rated watts.

If you're simply looking for the most powerful light on the market, that's the Black Dog PhytoMax-3 24SP.

 

What Spectrum Is Best For You?

Visible colors light spectrum

Question 1: Do you want a full-spectrum light?

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 to 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 Pro 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.

Question 2: Do you want all-white or multi-band light?

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.

NextLight make the best all-white LED lights. The following chart shows the NextLight spectrum:

 

NextLight spectrum

 

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.

Black Dog does the multi-colored spectrum better than anyone. The following chart illustrates their Phyto-Genesis Spectrum:

 

 

We generally prefer multi-band full-spectrum light, since they all (the LED plant lights for sale on our site anyway) include some white LEDs to round out their spectrum.

There are also far more options when it comes to multi-band lights, while there is really only one company that produces high quality all-white LED lights (NextLight). That said, NextLight is the best brand on the market at the moment (their after-sale service is unrivaled).

 

Use Your Power Needs To Find The Exact Lights That Are Best For You

You now have enough information to determine the best LED grow light for your situation. Take your wattage requirement from above and consult the table below to find the best LED plant light for your garden.

The lights listed in the table give you the best output for the money spent (both in terms of initial cost and power cost). That way you don't have to worry about the PPFD, the light distribution throughout the coverage area, warranties, etc. We did all that for you.

We also provide a budget alternative and an all-white option for each wattage, if a quality one is available for that wattage.

But what if your wattage requirement isn't in the table?

Never fear. Most growers will need more power than any one light can provide. Simply use a combination of several lights to get the wattage you need. So, a 10,000 watt requirement could be met by ten 1000 watt lights or by twenty 500 watt lights.

Directly beneath each light, we've listed the maximum coverage area for flowering. The lights will work for this area, but if you want to maximize yields, you'll want more power (as our calculation from above will have shown).

Dominator Coverage area

Let's look at a common example.

A common tent size for a home grower is 5 by 5 feet, which needs 750 to 1000 actual watts (as calculated above).

Most people cover this with a 1000 watt light, like the NextLight Mega (640 actual watts), which has a listed coverage area of 5 x 5. This will get you good results, but to maximize yields, you'll want to add some power.

Since the Mega draws 650 actual watts, you'll want to add 100 to 350 more watts to meet the ideal light requirement.

I'd do this by adding a few supplemental lights, like the Optic 1 XL (or the regular Optic 1) or by using several smaller lights in lieu of a Mega. Four Phytomax-2 200 lights (210 actual watts each) would work great, for example.

 Recommended LED Grow Lights in 2022

Actual Watts Best Overall Light Best Budget Light

under 50

TLED Bar Lights

varies

TLED Bar Lights

varies

50

Optic PhatSlim One

2 x 2 feet

Optic PhatSlim

2 x 2 feet

100

Optic PhatSlim XL

2 x 2 feet

Optic PhatSlim XL

2 x 2 feet

150

NextLight Core Pro

3 x 3 feet

Electric Sky 180

1.5 x 3 feet

200

Optic 2

2 x 3 feet

SolarXtreme 250

3 x 3 feet

300

Electric Sky 300

2 x 4 feet

Optic Slim 320H

2 x 4 feet

400

SolarSystem 550

4 x 3 feet

SolarXtreme 500

4 x 4 feet

500

Optic 4 XL

4.5 x 4.5 feet

Optic 4 XL

4.5 x 4.5 feet

600

Next Light Mega Pro

5 x 5 feet

Optic 8

5 x 5 feet

800

PhytoMAX-3 16SP

7.25 x 7.25 feet

SolarXtreme 1000

5 x 5 feet

1000

PhytoMAX-3 20SP

8 x 8 feet

None

 

 

Other Considerations

Using the PoCoCo Method, you don't need to worry about things like PAR, PPFD, Coverage, etc., because those are all factored into our recommendations.

Whatever your needs, we recommend the lights that give you the best PPFD output per dollar spent (i.e. the best bang for your buck) throughout the coverage area. And we only recommend lights with generous manufacturer warranties.

That said, we still wanted to mention a few of the other factors you might consider when trying to decide on a light.

Coverage

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.

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 8.75 by 8.75.

Black Dog PM-2 1000 Coverage

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

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 Mega PAR Footprint

NextLight LEDs are great at producing intense light throughout the coverage area (that's the NextLight Mega PAR footprint above), 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.

Warranty

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.

 

Best LED Plant Lights In Each Price Range in 2022

As promised, here are our recommendations for the top LED grow lights in each price range.

Staying within your budget is important, but remember, you also want to buy a light that meets your other needs as well. Don't sacrifice power or coverage or something else, just to save a few bucks. It will end up costing you more in the end.

That said, here are our recommendations for various price levels:

 

Best LED Grow Light Under $200

Lights in this price range are generally only powerful enough for 1 or 2 plants and even that can be a stretch. These lights are excellent for supplementing an existing system, though.

Optic has a few lights in the sub-$200 category: the Optic 1 XL COBOptic 1 COB, the Optic 1 Veg and the Optic 1 PhatSlim. Of these 4, the Optic 1 XL COB (pictured above) is our favorite and by far the most powerful  (100 watts) but still just under $200

The Optic Slim 100 Gen2 Dimmable LED Bar Lights are your best option for a bar light in this price range. These 39 inch bars cost just $199. It's dimmable, 100 watts, has Samsung diodes and 3000K and 4000K full spectrum white light, plus 660 deep red and 460 royal blue. What more can you ask for at this price?

 

Best LED Grow Light Under $500

SolarXtreme 500

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SolarXtreme 500 from California Lightworks (pictured above) is still the best sub $500 value for 2 years running. It does not need a LED driver, which lowers the cost considerably. You get a 400 watt light that covers a 4x4 area for around half the price you'd pay for similar lights.

 

The Kind LED X330 (pictured above) is an update on the classic Kind K3 grow lights. With precision control of UV and IR spectrums for veg and flower respectively and improved efficacy (2.55 umol/J). With a 5 year warranty and 330 watts for under $500 this light deserves it's place in small grow spaces.

 

Best LED Grow Light Under $1000

The best option under $1000 is the HLG Scorpion RSpec (pictured above) and it has been selling like crazy ever since we added Horticulture Lighting Group LED lights to our catalog.

The reason for that is simple: the Scorpion Rspec is a powerful 1000 watt equivalent light that sells for only $999 and it's fantastic for low ceiling height environments because of it's low profile.

It has 3500K full spectrum white light plus 660 nm deep red. It works amazingly well for the full grow cycle with added deep reds to give you a boost in the flower stage. 

 

The coolest feature of the Photontek X 600W Pro has got to be the magnetic detachable individual led light bars making this fixture super flexible and saves you a ton of downtime and money in case one of them dies. And for someone starting off with a smaller grow but they know they will expand later this is the ideal setup

It's a relatively new light in the U.S. and Canada but Photontek is part of Lumatech so you know you're dealing with a reputable brand

Aside from the convenience of the detachable bars it has a solid construction and they build their own driver and a remote dimmer.

     

    Best LED Grow Light Under $1500 (With Our Discount Coupon)

    This price range includes the best LED fixtures money can buy. Our top recommendation is full spectrum light with lots of deep red, royal blue, UV and IR

    With 3 way spectrum control and independent dimmers for red, blue, and white LEDs and Optic own touch screen master controller this grow light is built for optimum control of power and spectrum output.

    Optic Led also has the most generous warranty on the market attesting to their superior workmanship. The 720S has the most advanced Samsung diodes and is their latest light to hit the market. This is a fantastic light for commercial grow's and will do equally well in a 5 X 5 ft tent. For anyone still on the fence with the 720S - it delivers a whopping 2.6 grams per watt.

     

    The Luxx Lighting 860w LED Pro XR has a power input options from 120-480v and is clearly geared towards commercial growers who tend to buy these in very large quantities. It runs at very low temps (104 F) which will keep your cooling bills low.

    The 860w LED Pro XR has a unique feature - it can fold to use only 4 of the 8 bars and still operate at 860 watts (more than 1000 watts HPS equivalent)

    15 Best Selling Comparison Table

    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.

    If you need more help choosing an indoor light, call us at 800-660-8319 or email us at info@growlightcentral.com. We answer all emails within 10 hours and usually much sooner.

     

    Hint: The table is large. On mobile, scroll with your finger to see all the columns. On desktop, use the scroll bar beneath the table or click on the table somewhere, then use the arrow keys.

     

    Light Power Spectrum Coverage PAR Warranty Price
    TLED 26 Veg/Clone 23 watts 6500K White 1 x 2 ft 314 umol 1 year $72.99
    NextLight 150H 150 watts Full Spectrum White 3 x 3 ft 5 years $206.00
    Optic PhatSlim XL 104 watts Full Spectrum White + Red, Blue 2 x 2 ft 1730 umol 10 years $219.00
    Grower's Choice ROI-E200 200 watts 5000K Full Spectrum White 4 x 4 ft 500 umol/s 5 years $299.00
    NextLight 420H 420 watts Full Spectrum White 5 x 5 ft 5 years $506.00
    HLG 300L V2 RSpec 270 watts 3500K Full Spectrum White + Deep Red 4 x 4 ft 700 umol/s 3 years $399.00
    Optic Slim 320S 320 watts Full Spectrum + Red, Blue 2 x 4 ft 928 umol 10 years $599.00
    Green Sunshine Electric Sky ES300 V3 300 watts GS1 Wideband Spectrum 3.5 x 7 ft 3 years $625.00
    HLG 600 RSpec 600 watts 3500K Full Spectrum White + Deep Red 6 x 6 ft 1522 umol/s 3 years $699.00
    NextLight Mega Full-Spectrum LED Grow Light 640 watts Full Spectrum Bright White Light 7 x 7 ft 2185 umol/s 5 years $893.00
    HLG Scorpion RSpec 600 watts 3500K Full Spectrum White + Deep Red 6 x 6 ft 1584 umol/s 3 years $899.00
    HLG 650R Diablo 630 watts 4000K Full Spectrum White + Deep Red 7 x 7 ft 1700 umol/s 3 years $899.00
    Optic Slim 650S 650 watts 3000K, 4000K Full Spectrum White + Deep Red, Royal Blue, UV, IR 4 x 4 ft 10 years $1,249.00
    HLG Scorpion Diablo 650 watts 4000K Full Spectrum White + Deep Red 6 x 6 ft 1900 umol/s 3 years $1,174.00

     

     

    For a comprehensive comparison table of all our LED Lights, please click here

     

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