As the seasons wax and wane, you might start worrying about adequate lighting for your plants. The solution to your illumination woes is to install grow lights. These LEDs simulate the various spectrums of light emitted by the sun. Choosing the right grow light will always come down to the same factors: price, versatility, and longevity. Our favorite, the Mars Hydro 600W LED Grow Light has every feature a budding grower would need, and a few others we didn't expect. The search for the right grow light can feel daunting, so we've pruned back the overgrowth and found the best grow lights out there. Get ready to cheat Mother Nature and keep your garden thriving year-round.
Best Overall: Mars Hydro 600W LED Grow Light
This particular fixture by Mars Hydro stands out right away. Ultimately, the price is what caught my attention, but I stayed for what these lights have to offer. It has a well-rounded spec list, boasting features that will appeal to a broad range of gardeners. Beginners can feel secure knowing it's safety-certified; it runs cool, providing a longer lifespan, and making it less of a fire hazard. Lightweight, silent, and fanless, it includes a highly reflective aluminum hood to reduce light loss. For gardeners specializing in flowers, finding a grow light that includes IR (infra-red) light can be challenging; that wavelength specifically encourages blooming. Luckily, this light's got that too.
Indoor and hydroponic growers with expanses of square footage to cover may wish for higher wattage, dimmability, or a better selection of shapes and sizes. Its LEDs may be water-resistant, but they're not fully waterproof. Mars Hydro offers a few other light models in various wattages, alongside compatible grow tents—you can mix and match to fit your garden's needs.
Lightweight and silent
Full-spectrum includes IR
Only 100W energy consumption
Doesn't include UV light
Won't fit shallow/narrow spaces
LEDs not fully waterproof
Mars Hydro 600W LED Grow Light
$80 from Amazon
One size (almost) fits all
IR and UV light, a silent heat sink, and lightweight build make this grow light the cream of our crop.
Best Value: Juhefa Full Spectrum Panel Grow Lamp
Bigger and pricier isn't always better; in fact, this slim Full Spectrum Panel Grow Lamp by Juhefa is unquestionably the best bang for your buck. This lamp shines when it comes to versatile positioning and a small footprint; it can even be placed vertically as a side panel to support plants in bloom. You can hang or install it just about anywhere, and it's very lightweight. An additional perk? This light runs quite efficiently as well, and at a very minimal cost to your electric bill.
Offering UV and IR light, which plenty of its competitors lack, is a massive plus for this panel. It also has a 30,000 hour lifetime and a thirty-day money-back guarantee. However, if you need a grow light that emits warmth if the plants need it like in a grow tent, this is not the one for you. It's worth noting as well that buyers new to grow lights may find it confusing that the IR and UV LEDs will appear dimmer than the other colors, even when they're turned on.
30,000 hour lifetime
Full-spectrum light with IR and UV
Two-by-two feet lighting area
Does not emit heat
UV and IR LEDs appear dim
Juhefa Full Spectrum Panel Grow Lamp
The price is right
$22 from Amazon
This compact, versatile lamp is so efficient that your electric bill should only be a couple of dollars extra.
Best Space-Saver: Shengsite 75W Plant Grow Light
Shengsite's ovoid lamp, reminiscent of a UFO, is an excellent solution for gardeners with minimal space and light. It's only a foot across, runs cool, has a productive output up to three feet above your plants, and won't tack on too much to your electric bill. You'll need a hook to hang it from your ceiling, but with its 6.5-foot cord, there's plenty of slack to play with. Peak wavelength combinations for blooms and foliage, 3:1 ratio, red to blue light, are built into this lamp, which is helpful if you're rehabilitating stretched out plants. Suspend this space-saving light above your sad succulents, and you've saved them from an untimely beheading and shriveled demise.
It's worth considering that this light might sway inside grow tents due to its singular hanging point. It also lacks a timer feature, which would be useful considering its 50,000-hour lifespan. I recommend picking out your own timer and using this lamp where it can hang freely instead.
Small footprint, round shape
Excellent heat dissipation and long lifespan
Long cord, easier hanging
Cannot be daisy-chained
Single hanging point
Shengsite 75W Plant Grow Light
Fits in small spaces
$20 from Amazon
This discoid panel will help to discourage dimly-lit succulents from becoming too leggy.
Best High-Wattage: Viparspectra Dimmable 3000W Grow Light
For pro growers with a bit of cash to throw around, this full spectrum lamp's for you. Viparspectra's top of the line dimmable, UL-certified, and daisy-chain-compatible grow lights start at 600W. This grow light easily adjusts in precise increments via rope hangers for optimal growth during germination and through the flowering and fruiting stages. Its robust cooling system aids in its long lifespan, clocking in at a whopping 50,000 hours, assuming an average daily runtime of 12-18 hours.
It would be best to use this high-wattage light in a nursery-type setting, rather than in closet-sized grow tents. Grow tents are generally constructed to be lightweight and portable. If you don't have large or heavy plants inside them to counterbalance the light's weight from above, they may get too top-heavy and damage your plants.
Adjustable height and positioning
Heat sink, high-speed cooling fans
Coverage area up to five-by-five feet
May be costly for casual gardeners
Heavy compared to its wattage (17 pounds)
Rope hangers sold separately
Viparspectra Dimmable 3000W Grow Light
$255 from Amazon
Broad coverage, dimmable light, and a long lifespan round out this high-wattage find.
Best Clip-On: Ezorkas Dimmable LED Grow Light 80W
Not just a humble clip-on, this portable light by Ezorkas is bursting with features usually found on pricier lamps. Its nine dimmable modes, four 360-degree flexible goosenecks, and three automatic on-off settings set your home or office garden up for success with minimum effort. USB isn't the only connection method this light offers, either; with its AC adapter, you can connect it at home or on the go. Three basic spectral light modes provide support for plants in various growth stages.
A downside is that the design doesn't offer the option of converting from a clip to a stand; you may want different positioning depending on your space constraints. Additionally, its clip can only span surfaces three inches or less in width. You'll need to be diligent about the light's connection to its charging source, too, because a weak connection can lead to flickering lights and improperly lit plants.
Dimmable, inexpensive, easily automated
USB or AC power
Red, blue, and mixed light
Clip has limited breadth
No UV light output
Lights flicker if USB is poorly connected
Ezorkas Dimmable LED Grow Light 80W
Growing at a fast clip
$31 from Amazon
Surfaces under three inches in thickness are all fair game for this clippable LED hydra.
Best for Nurseries: Mars Hydro 2000W LED Grow Light with 4x4ft Coverage
Commercial growers and nursery owners will benefit from this high-wattage, water-resistant, and energy-saving grow light. It's equipped with a unique reflective design, promoting improved light saturation and plant growth. It consumes only 300W output and is daisy-chain compatible. Noise-free, fanless, and surprisingly light, it's perfect for individual use in grow tents.
With greater flexibility comes more complexity, so you'll need a hex wrench, or an Allen wrench, to turn the M3 screw and manually adjust the lamp's dimness. That small annoyance is an acceptable price to pay for broad-spectrum light with evenly bright coverage. You may want to pick out your own timer here as well; the included one is relatively bare-bones.
Silent and lightweight
Can use alone or daisy-chained
Uniform lighting, no dark spots
Needs wrench to change dimness
No UV light emitters
Timer is lacking
Best for Nurseries
Mars Hydro 2000W LED Grow Light with 4x4ft Coverage
Wide open spaces
$270 from Amazon
With daisy-chain compatibility for up to fifteen additional light panels, these lamps satisfy high-yield, indoor nurseries' needs.
Best Heat Dissipation: KingLED King Plus 1000W LED Grow Light
With IR and UV light and available in three sizes, 600W, 1000W, and 1200W, KingLED's King Plus grow lamps are a smart choice if you're concerned about heat dissipation. This lamp offers superior, silent cooling with high-speed fans and radiators. It runs an incredible 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than most lights on the market while promoting vigorous growth with less heat damage.
However, it runs so coolly due to its enhanced aluminum radiators that any remaining ambient warmth is insufficient for plants requiring heat to grow correctly. On the upside, that also means that growers won't need additional ventilation to mitigate the usual heat output. This lamp isn't recommended for use with dimmers, as they can significantly reduce the LED emitters' lifespan.
High-speed fans and radiators
On/off switches for vegetables and blooms
No ventilation system necessary
Heat output is minuscule
Dimmers not recommended
Best suited for compact spaces
Best Heat Dissipation
KingLED King Plus 1000W LED Grow Light
Grow light and chill
$86 from Amazon
Get glacial with this grow light's enhanced UV/IR emitters and high-efficiency cooling system.
A Bumper Crop of Lights
Small spaces, commercial setups, nurseries, and home gardeners are equally catered to in today's grow light market. First-time shoppers may find it frustrating to decide on the features they need or feel intimidated by installation processes. Hopefully, our selection above helps to shed some light on the matter and de-mystify the process.
In our quest for the best overall grow light, we focused on specific, user-friendly design elements. Water-resistance is another feature helpful for new users; fortunately, all of Mars Hydro's panels provide that perk. Longtime green thumbs will appreciate a reduced likelihood of light damage/burning to their foliage, fruits, and blooms. Most importantly, its uniquely angled aluminum hood will appeal to commercial growers. The design provides even light distribution and 20% less light loss overall. Grow lights aren't one-size-fits-all, but the Mars Hydro 600W LED Grow Light comes quite close.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Lili Angrisano is a Freelance Contributor for TechnoBuffalo. You'll find her designing her next cosplay, conquering her 700+ book (and counting!) Kindle library, or tending her apartment garden in her spare time.