How To Choose The Best Plant Grow Lights?

The right plant grow lights are one of the most important pieces of equipment you can purchase for your hydroponics system or for your indoor garden. Without it, you risk stunted growth and less quality produce. However, with so many different plant grow lights options to choose from, how do you make a decision?

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This blog post discusses the pros and cons of common plant grow lights such as fluorescent lights, HPS, MH, CMH, LEDs, etc. We'll also look at what factors are important when choosing a grow light to ensure you select the best grow lights for your specific needs!

Types of plant grow lights for indoor plants

Below is the most popular plant grow lights.

plant grow lights-succulent grow light-small grow light-grow lamp
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Fluorescent Grow Lights (Best Grow Lights For Indoor Slow Growing Plants)

Durolux T5 Ho Grow Light - 4 Foot 4 Lamps - DL844 Fluorescent Hydroponic Indoor Fixture UL Listed - Bloom Veg Daisy Chain with Bulbs

The most popular grow lamp used in hydroponics systems and indoor gardening is fluorescent grow lighting, which is relatively inexpensive compared to other plant grow lights. They are available in many sizes and shapes, including T12 tubes (traditional fluorescent), CFLs, or compact fluorescents.

Most people prefer to use either T5 grow lights or T8 lamps (T8 bulbs) because they emit more light while using less energy than other lighting technologies as they are energy efficient.

Fluorescent light comes with different color temperatures from cool white, similar to sunlight at about 3500K-4100 Kelvin up through warm whites around 2000 -3000 Kelvins.

When purchasing these sorts of lamps, be sure to get them as full-spectrum lights to help supplement other parts of the color spectrum necessary for plant growth if you wish to change the light color spectrum.

Other options are available, including high-output T5 lamps, which are believed to emit more light than standard T8 lamps, but keep in mind that they also cost more, so you may want to spend your money on other components within your garden instead.

The most common indoor plants, such as Sansevieria (snake plant), Spathes, and Pothos, can do well under fluorescent lights. These plants grow at a slower rate and also require less light.

High-Pressure Sodium Plant Grow Lights (HPS) (Best Grow Lights For Flowering and Blooming)

VIVOSUN Hydroponic 1000 Watt HPS Grow Light Air Cooled Reflector Kit - Easy to Set up, High Stability & Compatibility (Enhanced Version)

High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights are one of the most widely used types for indoor cultivation. The mediation of xenon and mercury in these lamps, which produces a whiter light, makes it look more natural.

They emit a yellow/orange light that is perfect for promoting flowering and fruiting in plants like tomatoes, peppers, or cucumbers. They also work well with many houseplants such as ferns which need more red spectrum lighting than other plant species do.

These lamps can be paired with standard fluorescent bulbs for growing purposes if you are on a budget.

However, HPS plant grow lights emits a lot of heat, so it may need to be paired with an air conditioning unit if necessary.

Since these lamps emit a very bright light, they should only be used during certain stages of plant growth - keep in mind that they may also promote leaf burn over time.

It is believed that these types of lamps can also be used for the vegetative stage of plant growth.

Metal Halide (MH) and Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) Grow Lights (Best Grow Lights For Veggies and Leafy Greens)

VIVOSUN 400 Watt Vegetative Metal Halide MH Grow Light Bulb Lamp - Enhanced Blue and Violet Spectrums CCT 4200K, 36,000 Lumens

Another option is Metal Halide (MH) and Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH), two common plant grow lights for indoor gardening.

They produce a blue and white light spectrum that is great for encouraging vegetative growth in plants like lettuce, herbs, or other leafy greens. They also work well with many houseplants, such as orchids, that need more blue spectrum lighting than other plant species. 

The light that these lamps emit can be more intense than any other type of lamp, including LED grow lights, but the color spectrum is a bit whiter, promoting leaf growth instead of budding.

If you want to use metal halide lamps for flowering purposes, then it may be best to purchase them with a ceramic coating that emits a color spectrum that is more balanced and beneficial for flowering plants.

Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) Grow Lights

Grower's Choice Full Spectrum 315W Ceramic Metal Halide Light All in One Grow Light Fixture for Indoor Plant Grow Include cmh315 4K Bulb/Controller Compatible/Full Spectrum Grow Light Fixture

CMH grow light was specifically designed to emit more full-spectrum light than standard metal halide lamps but still provides high lumens per watt levels and a balanced color spectrum. CMH lamps may be a good choice for those who require more growth than flowering.

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) Grow Lights

MARS HYDRO TS 600W LED Grow Light 2x2ft Coverage Sunlike Full Spectrum Grow Lamp Plants Growing for Hydroponic Indoor Seeding Veg and Bloom Greenhouse Growing Light Fixtures Four for 4x4 Footprint

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a new type of grow light that is quickly becoming popular in the hydroponics industry. LEDs emit an all-white, full-color range and can be used for any stage from seedling to harvest.

They have become good options because of their longevity, thus fewer replacement costs over time when compared against fluorescent lamps like T12 tubes, where you will replace them more frequently. 

This type of plant grow lights uses semiconductors to emit specific wavelengths of light that can be better suited for certain stages of plant growth, but they may also cost more than other types of light. 

Light Emitting Diode (LED) grow lights are the future of indoor gardening because they provide a natural color spectrum closer to sunlight, but you will pay more for higher quality brands and models.

LED grow lights emit lower heat levels, so they don't need to be paired with a cooling system like HPS or MH grow lights do.

Blue LED light

HQRP New Square 12" LED Grow Light System 225 Blue LED 14W + Hanging Kit

Blue light is a specific wavelength of light necessary for photosynthesis and growth in plants, and it's excellent for seedlings and young plants. Green, leafy plants that do not bloom, like salad vegetables and leafy houseplants, benefit the most from blue light.

Red LED light

HIGROW 36W All Deep Red 660nm LED Grow Light Bulb for Indoor Plants Flowering Bloom and Fruiting, Grow Spectrum Enhancement

Plants require red light to trigger blooming and fruit production. African violets (Saintpaulia spp.) and begonias (Rieger begonias) are examples of houseplants cultivated for their flowers, while tomatoes (Lycopersicon spp.) and peppers (Capsicum sp) are examples of fruit-producing plants. However, these plants also require additional blue light to promote healthy growth.

If cultivated under only blue or white LEDs, these plants would not grow as they should.

A plant grow light with a mixture of red LEDs and blue LED lights is most beneficial to houseplants grown for their flowers or fruits. Still, the intensity of each color may need to be adjusted according to the specific plant species being grown indoors.

According to studies conducted by NASA, lettuce (Lactuca sativa) radishes (Raphanus sativus) and other plants that were grown in red or blue light alone did not flourish as well. And they were more prone to disease as those cultivated under grow lights with a mix of red and blue light.

There are several Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights available to buy online such as BESTVA Dimmable BP1000 LED Grow Light, which provides excellent results with hydroponics or indoor gardening.

BESTVA Dimmable BP1000 LED Grow Light-Led-grow light
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Read more about "The 9 Best Clip on Grow Lights For Indoor Plants".

Plants Grow Lights | Light Placement & Distance

When deciding on the optimal placement of your plant grow lights, it is important to remember that you want them as close to your plants' canopy without exposing them to too much heat, or they may burn.

The most common mistake made while choosing a location for your plant grow lights is placing them too close to the tops of plants, where they will cause burning and may significantly reduce plant growth.

You can determine if your light is too close by checking the leaves closest to the plant grow lights for signs of discoloration or damage. If this occurs, move the plant grow lights away from plants about two inches at a time until there are no signs of discoloration or damage.

Other lighting options include induction lights, plasma lights, and lasers. Some of these newer lighting options can be expensive to purchase and install, so you must research before deciding.

plant grow lights-succulent grow light-small grow light-grow lamp
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​Light Accessories

Grow light accessories include rope ratchets, chains, adjustable height hanging bars, and simple hooks. It's important to choose the right equipment when installing grow lights.

Make sure they are strong enough to hold your particular lighting set up and that you can adjust their height as plants grow; also, make sure your lighting system is securely fastened in place just to ensure no harm comes to your plants if the lighting is to fall.

Here are some common light accessories you can use for your plants.  

Light Hangers 

VIPARSPECTRA 48 Pairs of 1/8 inch Heavy Duty Adjustable Grow Light Rope Hanger for Grow Light Fixtures & Gardening, 150lb Capacity

Light Hangers can suspend lights from the ceiling or other surfaces. 

Hooks are adjustable to ensure that you can position your lights at the perfect height for your plants. 

Rope ratchets are another useful hanging accessory; they allow you to adjust the height of plant grow lights with ease.

As always, before purchasing any lighting solution, it is important to do extensive research, so you know what will work best in your plant grow room. 

Light Reflectors 

Apollo Horticulture GLRGW19 19" Gull Wing Hydroponic Grow Light Reflector

Light Reflectors can be placed on top of a light fixture and are typically made out of metal foil that reflects all available wattage onto plants for increased efficiency.

They also help prevent hot spots where heat could damage plant leaves near fixtures.

While placing the light reflectors, it is important not to cover up air circulation vents that provide fresh oxygen-rich airflow around each leaf. Without these ventilations, plants will suffocate and die.

Grow Room Glasses 

VIVOSUN Indoor Hydroponics LED Grow Room Glasses with Glasses Case

Grow room glasses are safety equipment designed to protect your eyes against powerful plant grow lights.

They reduce discomfort caused by bright light, and their wraparound style helps prevent side glare that may cause eye damage.

You can choose from various lenses, including mirrored glass or photocatalytic (anti-fog) glass, depending on the environment in which you plan to use them.

Reflective Enclosures 

VIVOSUN 60"x 60"x 80" Hydroponic Mylar Grow Tent with Observation Window and Floor Tray for Indoor Growing – 5’x 5’

Reflective enclosures are typically made of metal foil covered up in a mirror facing outward toward your garden. The idea behind reflective enclosures is to help redirect light back down where you need it most - near hanging plant foliage!

Reflective enclosures are inexpensive and easy to install. Still, they can also be made from other types of material such as aluminum, white paint (spray or brush-on), or even shiny things like tin foil, to name a few, potentially creating your very own version of custom reflective enclosures for cheap!

Just be careful not to place them too close to any bulb that gets extremely hot, as this could cause fire or serious burns if touched by bare hands.

Grow tents, and reflective mylar enclosures are another way to ensure that all the energy from your plant grow lights is absorbed by plants rather than escaping as wasted heat.

These enclosures increase light efficiency and help prevent plant damage caused by excess heat and humidity. 

Grow Light Timer 

BN-LINK 24 Hour Plug-in Mechanical Timer Grounded Aquarium, Grow Light, Hydroponics, Pets, Home, Kitchen, Office, Appliances, UL Listed 125VAC, 60 Hz, 1875W, 15A, 1/2HP (1)

A grow light timer can be used in your garden to keep track of when lights should come on and when they should go off.

It is essential for helping you wake up each morning without having to worry about checking the clock to see if the next round of lighting should start-up or not!

Many timers are accurate to the minute, which is great for anyone who wishes to keep track of time used - all you have to do is enter in numbers ranging from 0-59 every week or day depending on how often you change the lighting cycle.

Ensure that your timer can handle at least 15 amps before using it within your garden, or you could damage it over time!

If you have a very large garden, consider getting two timers for your lights while the other is used to keep track of water pumps.

Note: Please keep in mind that some growers prefer to turn off their plant grow lamp during night hours since bugs and insects will be drawn to any light source, and you may end up with pests in your garden if this is done for longer periods.

What Type Of Light Is Best For Growing Plants Indoors? 

Based on functionality and structure, there are different types of plant grow lights. Some of the most common ones are:

Read this article to find the best led grow lights for indoor plants on amazon!

Conclusion

Grow lights are commonly used in hydroponics systems to help plants grow indoors, even off-season. Many lighting options are available, but an ideal choice will always depend on your growing area. Fluorescent, High-Pressure Sodium (HPS), Metal Halide (MH) and Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH), Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), and others are all options discussed in this article. Still, there is no single best light source to use for growing plants indoors. Before purchasing any plant grow lights, consider what you will be using them for, where they will go inside your garden, and how much money you want to spend on the lights.

Read more about "9 Best Grow Lights For Plants".

FAQs

What Are Some Best Grow Lights For Indoor Plants?

LED grow lights or fluorescent lights would be best for growing plants indoors.

Are LED grow lights good to use for growing indoor plants?

You can use LED grow light for growing indoor plants, but only if it has more than one color spectrum and emits a lot of light.

What is the best light bulb for growing plants indoors?

The best light bulb for growing plants indoors is either the fluorescent or LED grow lights bulb.

How do I power a hydroponics plant light?

You can use an electric plug to power your hydroponics plant light. However, if you are using an HID lamp, you will need to get an electrical ballast. Plant lights can also be powered by a battery, such as solar lighting.

How do I make a plant light for my hydroponics system?

Use a fluorescent lamp with the correct voltage to power your plant light. Plant lights can also be purchased from many retailers. Plant lights can also be powered by solar cells too.

What is the best way to use a metal halide lamp for plant growth?

The best way to use a metal halide lamp for plant growth is to keep them at a safe distance from plants. A 600w Metal Halide light should be placed at a distance of at least 50cm away from your canopy. If you put the bulb too close, the plant may burn up.

Is it better to use cool or warm lights for growing plants indoors?

When looking for plant grow lights, you'll see that they have letters like "2700K" or "4000K." This indicates the light's warmth or coolness on the color spectrum – the higher the value, the colder the light is. Vegetation development or foliage growth is typically optimal around 6500K, however many plants require a warmer phase of light, around 3000k for blooming and fruit production.

Can I use metal halide lights to grow indoor plants?

If you're growing seedlings or clones, metal halide lights are not recommended because of their intensity. Seedlings and clones must be kept 3 or 4 feet away from a halide light for this to be acceptable. Fluorescent grow lights are a better option for this work since they offer more control over the temperature inside the tent. It will also give the young seedlings time to adjust if they are sensitive to greater light intensity. A 600w Metal Halide lamp should be kept at least 50cm away from your canopy. The plant may burn up if the bulb is placed too near.

How do I grow indoor plants with HPS lights? What is the best way to use HPS lights for growing indoor plants?

You can grow indoor plants using the HPS lights by limiting the amount of heat produced by the HPS lights and placing your plants within 12-18 inches away from the bulbs.

Can I use light emitting diode lamps for growing plants indoors? What is the best type of LED lamp to use as a grow light for indoor plants?

Yes. One of the best LED lamps to use as a grow light for indoor plants is the UFO LED lamp because it has more than one color spectrum and emits a lot of light.

What is the best way to use fluorescent lights for plant growth?

Fluorescent lights are a great way to grow plants indoors, and they come in a variety of types, including full spectrum grow lamps. When using fluorescent grow lights for plants, be sure to place the light close to the plants but not too close, as this can damage them. In addition, make sure that the light is on for at least 12 hours per day to help your plants grow.

Can I use LED grow lights as an alternative to HPS bulbs?

LED grow lights are a great alternative to HPS bulbs as they are more energy-efficient and emit less heat. LED grow lights also come in various types, including full spectrum LED grow lights, which are perfect for growing plants indoors.

Can I use normal led lights to grow plants indoors? Can any LED light be used as a grow light?

Even though regular LED lights may produce some of the same wavelengths that plants require, they can't be utilized as plant grow lights. Regular LEDs don't provide enough of the light that plants need. Plant growth is dependent on red and blue light, which LED grow lights are built to maximize.

What is the difference between a grow light and regular light?

Regular light is just a light source, whereas a grow light is designed to emit specific wavelengths of light that promote plant growth. Plant growth and development depend on the red and blue portions of the color spectrum. This is why the grow lights are built with these colors in mind to be utilized as an efficient indoor growing option. A regular light may be fine for you growing plants indoors, but it's best to get grow lights because they are specifically designed to help your plants thrive better.

What is the difference between LED light and LED grow light?

LED light is a type of light that is used for general illumination. LED grow lights are designed to emit more intense light that is specifically beneficial for plant growth. Plant growth is accelerated under LED grow lights because they emit more intense, more balanced light that helps your plants grow faster.

Is white LED light good for plants?

White LED lights are not strong enough to be used as a replacement for a grow light at this point. While they may look bright when lit, they don't produce the same wavelengths as red and blue LED lights. Plant growth is dependent on visible light in the color spectrum, which is why it's best to use a full spectrum grow light.

Is it good to provide a full spectrum led grow lights for indoor plants?

Full spectrum LED grow lights are perfect for indoor plant growth because they emit the visible light that plants need to grow and survive. Plant growth is dependent on red and blue portions of the color spectrum, which is why it's best to use a full spectrum LED grow light.

How to use grow lights for indoor plants? How are grow lights used for indoor plants?

Plant grow lights supply the light that plants need to thrive indoors. Plant growth is dependent on visible light in the color spectrum, which is why it's best to use a full spectrum grow light for plants to help them reach their potential in your home. Also, the distance of the grow light to your plants is very important, so be sure that you place them within proximity but not too close; otherwise, they may burn. There are varying degrees of indoor plant growth that depend on how much lighting you provide them with. Most plants like to receive 12 hours of light each day to grow and thrive indoors.

What type of LED lamp is required for growing plants? Does LED grow lights work for houseplants?

The type of LED lamp required for growing plants indoors depends on the lighting needs of your houseplants. In general, it's best to provide them with a full spectrum LED light because they emit the red and blue light that plants need to grow. Plant growth is dependent on visible light in the color spectrum, which is why a full spectrum LED grow light is best for houseplants.

How high do I hang T5 fluorescent grow lights above my plants?

T5 fluorescent grow lights should be hung above your plants anywhere from 6-8 inches, depending on the size of your plants. Plant growth depends on the amount of lighting provided, so it's best to hang T5 Fluorescent grow lights as close as possible to your growing area without burning your plants.

Hydroponics 101 For Beginners

The ultimate starter guide to start your own hydroponic garden.
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Written by AgFunnel

AgFunnel is the only hydroponics and home gardening website that helps you become proficient in growing plants in your own space.

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