Are you an indoor horticulturist looking for the best indoor grow lights for your plant babies? Maybe you want to put the “farm” in farm-to-table, but don’t have the space or perfect climate for growing fresh fruits and vegetables outside. No matter what your needs, we’ve scoured the market for the best indoor grow lights money can buy.
Don’t make the mistake of setting up a complex hydroponic system or indoor garden, only to use the wrong lights for your operation. In this guide we’ll discuss the most important features to look for in indoor grow lights, as well as our top picks.
10 Best Indoor Grow Lights Comparison Guide
Important Features for the Best Indoor Grow Lights
Many of the best indoor grow lights these days use LED lights, as opposed to incandescent or fluorescent. LED lights are smaller and lighter than the alternatives, and provide a more specific color range optimal for plant growth. They don’t produce as much heat, either, so there is less risk of burning your plants. LED lights also last an incredibly long time (>50,000 hours) and are much more energy efficient.
Incandescent light is cheap, and can be helpful to developed house plants, but won’t be sufficient enough to nurture seedlings. The bulbs also don’t last very long, and are archaically energy inefficient. Full-spectrum fluorescent light is a better choice for growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers from seeds, but it’s only half as energy efficient as LED light, and the bulbs will last fewer than 20,000 hours.
Other features to consider for the best indoor grow lights include:
- Light Color. Most plants absorb red and blue light the best, and require different amounts of each depending on the point in their life cycle. The best indoor grow lights offer full-spectrum, and/or red and blue bulbs for optimal growing environments. Full-spectrum fluorescent lights provide better efficiency and “plant-friendly” light production than traditional fluorescent lights, but still waste energy by emitting unnecessary wavelengths. LED lights typically come with a mix of red, blue, and full-spectrum white lights.
- Size and Wattage. Depending on the size of your indoor garden, you may need large or small, simple or complex lighting systems. Light needs to be evenly distributed over your plants, so both the size of the fixture and the wattage are important. As a general rule, you will need 50 watts per square foot of vegetation. PAR, or photo synthetically active radiation, is area of the light spectrum which plants absorb best, so the amount of PAR energy expended per watt is equally important.
- Energy Efficiency. Plants can crave anywhere from 12-18 hours of light a day, which means your indoor grow lights will be working double time, day in, day out. Keep your energy bills low by ensuring your grow lights are energy efficient. LED lights are ultimately the most efficient, best indoor grow lights, but lights using T5 fluorescent bulbs are acceptably efficient.
- Controls. The best indoor grow lights feature helpful controls which let you alter brightness and color depending on the changing needs of your plants. Some LED grow lights allow you to control wavelength by the nanometer, offering multiple-band wavelengths and settings for different plant life stages.
Even the best indoor grow lights can overheat, so a solid cooling system is also important. For those who have large indoor gardens, the ability to daisy chain lights together without the need of additional power cords may also be essential.
Top 3 Best Indoor Grow Lights Reviews
Caring for indoor plants presents plenty of obstacles, but with the Advanced Platinum Series P300, proper lighting won’t be one of them. This inclusive lamp is easily one of the best indoor grow lights available today, featuring state of the art LED bulbs which emit optimal, high PAR/watt light with an astounding 12-band, full spectrum of color. Users also get the choice of selecting “Bloom” and “Veg” settings, which automatically alter wavelengths for perfect growing conditions.
The 100 ultra-bright LED bulbs remain cool using two large fans and an aluminum heat sink. While some users complain that the warm air from the sink is too close to the fans, causing warm air to be sucked back in, this should not be a problem in well ventilated areas and most users didn’t have a problem. These bulbs boast a 100,000-hour life span, while proprietary voltage drivers work to make these lights as efficient as possible.
When your plants demand the best, this grow light will not disappoint. The Advanced Platinum Series P300 is made in the USA, and is backed by a convenient 5-year warranty, and represents the perfect grow light for indoor gardeners of all kinds.
If the Advanced Platinum Series P300 is out of your price range, but you still have a large area of hungry plants to feed, VIPARSPECTRA has you covered. With many of the same features as its more expensive competitor, it’s also less than half the weight, coming in an incredibly light 5.5 pounds.
This unit features 60 5-watt, LED bulbs set for perfect growing conditions with a balance of reds, blues, and full-spectrum whites. Like the Advanced Platinum Series P300, these bulbs are built to last 100,000 hours, and each unit is fit for daisy chain connections. Unlike its competitor, the VIPARSPECTRA Reflector Series V300 only features one fan along with its aluminum heat sink. There is also no option for “Bloom” or “Veg” stages, only an On/Off switch.
Reviewers are thrilled with the results of this light, reporting happier, fuller, more abundant plants after just a few days of use. Backed by a 3-year warranty, this light is a fine choice for those in need of professional results on a budget.
For those with smaller indoor gardens, or who choose to give plants the individual attention of their own light, the Sandalwood LED Plant Grow Light 12W fits the bill perfectly. At about $2/watt, it’s easily one of the most expensive grow lights available, but also represents some of the most effective PAR technology.
In this light, 12 single-watt LEDs provide ultra-targeted, highly specialized 3-band light, programmed with optimized plant growth in mind. This unit will never overheat due to its highly conductive aluminum alloy board and passive heat sink, as well as its open design. Despite its size, and weighing in at just 12 ounces, this light comfortably covers a 2’x2′ area by itself.
The most obvious downside of this unit is that you will need your own light fixture. It’s recommended that this light be kept 18”-24” above plants for best results. If your indoor garden has space restrictions, the Sandalwood LED Plant Grow light is your solution.