The Best for Indoor Plants – LED’s, What to Look for

So you’re thinking of buying yourself a grow light.  Well, you are in the right place. I happen to have hands-on experience and I’ve done tons of research on LED’s, I know why they’re the best for indoor plants.

Where do I start?

The Best Grow Lights For Indoor PlantsFirst, how many plants are you planning on growing? If you are growing for the first time, I suggest you start small, 1-4 plants max. This will allow you focus on the individual needs of your particular plants as well as minimize potential losses. Once you’ve decided on what and how many plants you plan on growing, you can go ahead and buy your light which is the best for indoor plants that you are harvesting or growing.

What do I look for?

There are so many to choose and everywhere you look there’s a LED grow light sale. Well, there are many different options, so the decision can be tough but I will do my best to break it down for you and get you headed in the right direction.

Wattage

First off, you need to look at wattage. As I pointed out in another section, the optimum output for each plant is 50-watts. You can use less and sacrifice potential growth resulting in smaller yields but that’s not our goal here. If you are like me, the best for indoor plants is what you want, so 50 watts per plant is what we shoot for.

Light SpectrumThe Best Grow Lights For Indoor Plants

The second most important thing to take into consideration is the spectrum of light produced. To plants, the two most important colors of light in the spectrum are blue and red (The optimum frequency for blue light being around 470 nanometers or nm and red around 650nm). These colors are readily absorbed in the process of photosynthesis which controls the growth of your plant.

There are some uses for other colors in the spectrum, for instance, green is mostly reflected (which is where plants get their color), but what little is absorbed deeper in the leaf and aids in the plant’s architecture. IR light plays a role in the blooming of flowering plants and UV light helps get rid of certain bacteria. In short, make sure red and blue are your primary sources of light because those in combination are the best for indoor plants whether it be houseplant, herbs, vegetables, fruit or cannabis.

Build Quality

The third important factor to look at when buying a light is build quality. But how can you tell when you are buying online?……. Reviews! Take some time and read up on what you are going to buy. I promise there will be numerous people commenting on the particular grow lights integrity in both the reviews and/or questions sections.

LED TypeLED Grow Light Veg/Bloom

The fourth and the more confusing thing to look for is the LED type. They can be 3-watt to 10-watts and the higher the wattage, the more heat gets generated, which isn’t much of a problem for LED’s anyway.

You’ll notice the true wattage output is lower than the lights overall wattage potential as listed. Example: Light is advertised as a 300-watt light and the true wattage or power output is listed at 200-watts.

This simply means that each LED is not running at maximum capacity which is better because it increases the lights lifespan (100ea x 3-watt LED’s at max capacity is 300-watts of total power, 100ea x 3-watt at 66% capacity is 200-‘true’ watts).

You will see max wattage is also used as a point of comparison with Metal Halide (MH) and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights which are lights of the past but nonetheless, they get compared. LED’s are the best for indoor plants, no question about it.

Extra FeaturesLED Grow Light Cooling System

There are additional important features to look for like reflectors, daisy chain option, the number of fans, aluminum heat sinks, veg/bloom switches, and dimming features to name a few.

Reflectors redirect potentially lost light towards the plant. The daisy chain option allows two or more lights to be linked together with a power cord eliminating excess cordage.

The more fans the light has, the cooler it will run. The lower operating temperature, the longer the light will last. Aluminum heat sinks help dissipate the heat generated by the light, they are pretty standard in any light.

Veg/bloom switches allow the grower to change the light to more suit the particular growth cycle. Dimming features are similar to the veg/bloom switch by allowing the grower to differentiate light between cycles.

Please note that you may see references to PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation) and lumens which are units of LED Grow Light Daisy Chainmeasure for visible light intensity. Lumens are not whats best for indoor plants because they are inaccurate when measuring the intensity of the LED light plants need. Lumen measures all visible light, even what plants don’t need and PAR measures the light that’s the best for indoor plants photosynthesis functions.

Warranty

Another important thing to look for isn’t for the benefit of the plant per se, it’s to our benefit. One word, warranty. I’m not implying your new light is going to go bad, I’m telling you a warranty will help if something happens. I’ve never had a light go bad so I’ve never needed to use a warranty but it’s best to be prepared for any situation.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Now you know what to look for, and how to look for it, right? Lesson learned? LED’s are the best for indoor plants! Good to hear, I’m glad I was able to help.  Please take a minute and leave a comment on your thoughts or if you have any questions, let me know, and feel free to move on to the next section where I explain what you need to start your grow project.

 

11 Comments

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  1. Dr. Doug

    Very informative article. I take it that the 50 watts per plant is to be calculated using true wattage as opposed to advertised wattage? I have heard different heights that lights should be hung above plants. What would you say is the optimum height for a 50 watt hung above one plant?

    • Karl Hosch

      The height of the light varies, this is because some lights have secondary optic lenses that focus the light directly beneath the light itself. This is good and bad. It is good because the light is more concentrated so your plant can readily absorb it and it is bad because the light is too intense and burns the plant if placed to close also the area outside this direct light is weaker allowing poor growth with surrounding plants. With secondary lenses, I suggest 24″ of height and with regular lenses I suggest 18″. If you have any more questions I would be happy to answer them. Thank you for stopping by! 

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