Compare LED Grow Lights (2012 Version)

I recently went through and surveyed the options available to the indoor gardener who is interested in using LED lighting as their sole source of lighting on their site. After capturing all of the data in a spreadsheet I realized it would be worthwhile to put this up for anyone to review and perhaps help them save some time. I hate all of the flaming that can happen in forums so I decided to simply put it up on a basic one page site and see if anyone had an interest in the information, besides me of course. I am using the information to educate me about using LED grow lights for indoor growing as well as helping me to see what the different companies offer in terms of cost, power, wavelengths (or nanometers) used, claims made on web sites, return, warranty policies, etc.

Table Data and Sorting

The table started with only a few points of data being tracked such as company, product, wattage, and cost. As you can see as my knowledge evolved so did the table. I used data from web sites almost exclusively. If data didn’t exist for a specific product I left the cell empty and if I felt it appropriate commented on it. Some fields are calculated based on the data from web sites such as "Average Watts/LED". I tried to capture all of the companies that seemed pertinent to me. I did not include any straight up Chinese based companies who are drop shipping to the US although one or more could have slipped through. I would prefer to have some US presence and provide service since these lights are not cheap.

All columns besides the last two (Return Policy, and Warranty) are sortable ascending or descending. The table loads alphabetically by company, to change this just click on any column heading and a red arrow will appear that designates which column is sorted and which direction. I find this sorting functionality very helpful when reviewing the information.

Anywhere you see yellow highlighting you can hover over with your mouse to see a tooltip or you can click to jump to the footnotes where the same information is available.

Conclusions

The information in the table below is simply what I found. If you are interested in my opinion based on what I found then please look below the table and footnotes for my general conclusions. If you just want the facts then stay in the table. Enjoy!

Company Product Actual Wattage[A]Actual Wattage:Many sites post the “LED” wattage which is simply the number of LEDs used in a light multiplied by their maximum wattage (e.g. 3(wattage of LEDs) X 144 (number of LEDs) = 432. This is not a good point of reference and the actual wattage should be used. Some sights list actual wattage and I took it at face value and commented where I ran into issues. # of LEDs Avg. Watts/LED Bands[B]# of Nanometers: This is the number of different wavelengths used in a light, usually stated on a manufacturers site UV[C]UV (Ultraviolet): Whether or not the product is listed on the site as having UV. If blank then it is not clear one way or another IR[D]IR (Infrared): Whether or not the product is listed on the site as having IR. If blank then it is not clear one way or another Retail Price Cost Per Watt[E]Cost Per Watt: Simply the cost divided by the actual wattage, if no known actual wattage then unable to calculate so left blank and noted Footprint 1 (sq./ft.)[F]Footprint #1: When two footprint measurements were given such as Veg and Flower the larger (Veg) number was put in footprint #1 and the smaller (flower) number was put in footprint #2; if only one was given then it was put in footprint #2 Cost Per Sq./Ft. 1[G]Cost Per Square Foot: A ratio of the dollar cost per square foot based on the stated footprint and retail price Watts Per Sq. Ft. 1[H]Watts Per Square Foot: The number of watts a manufacturer is claiming based on the stated footprint and the actual wattage Footprint 2 (sq./ft.)[I]Footprint #2: When two footprint measurements were given such as Veg and Flower the larger (Veg) number was put in footprint #1 and the smaller (flower) number was put in footprint #2; if only one was given then it was put in footprint #2 Cost Per Sq./Ft. 2[J]Cost Per Square Foot: A ratio of the dollar cost per square foot based on the stated footprint and retail price Watts Per Sq. Ft. 2[K]Watts Per Square Foot: The number of watts a manufacturer is claiming based on the stated footprint and the actual wattage Return Policy Warranty
Advanced LED Lights Diamond Series 100w 100 50 2.00 11 Yes Yes $300 $3.00 7.5 $40.00 13.33 5 $60.00 20.00 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Advanced LED Lights Diamond Series 200w 169NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 100 1.42 11 Yes Yes $550 $3.19 8.35 52.38 18.78 7.5 $73.33 26.00 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Advanced LED Lights Diamond Series 300w 275 150 1.83 11 Yes Yes $800 $2.92 14 $57.14 19.57 9 $88.89 30.44 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Advanced LED Lights Diamond Series 400w 389NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 200 1.95 11 Yes Yes $1000 $2.57 13.5 $74.07 28.81 10 $100.00 38.90 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Advanced LED Lights Diamond Series 600w Top Pick 557 300 1.86 11 Yes Yes $1400 $2.51 15.75 $88.89 35.37 12 $116.67 46.42 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Advanced LED Lights Diamond Series 800w 758 400 1.90 11 Yes Yes $2000 $2.64 24.75 $80.81 30.63 15.75 $126.98 48.13 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Advanced LED Lights Extreme Flower 360 288 1.25 11 Yes Yes $1300 $3.61 30.25 $42.94 11.90 16 $81.19 22.50 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Advanced LED Lights Extreme Flower 740 576 1.28 11 Yes Yes $2400 $3.24 48 $49.90 15.42 24.75 $96.77 29.90 90 day 3 year[3]NOTE:According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix.
Black Dog LED BD360 Top Pick 318NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 144 2.21 15 Yes Yes $1000 $3.14 12.25 $81.63 25.96 6.25 $160.00 50.88 90 day[4]NOTE:One light per customer and a 10% restocking fee Limited Lifetime[5]NOTE:According to site 3 years full coverage then customer pays for parts
Black Dog LED BD450 Top Pick 432 216 2.00 15 Yes Yes $1250 $2.89 20.25 $61.73 21.33 9 $138.89 48.00 90 day[4]NOTE:One light per customer and a 10% restocking fee Limited Lifetime[5]NOTE:According to site 3 years full coverage then customer pays for parts
Black Dog LED BD700 Top Pick 560 288 1.94 15 Yes Yes $1500 $2.68 30.25 $49.59 18.51 12.25 $122.45 45.71 90 day[4]NOTE:One light per customer and a 10% restocking fee Limited Lifetime[5]NOTE:According to site 3 years full coverage then customer pays for parts
Black Dog LED Platinum XL Top Pick 718NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 288 2.49 17 Yes Yes $2050 $2.86 36 $56.94 19.94 16 $128.13 44.88 90 day[4]NOTE:One light per customer and a 10% restocking fee Limited Lifetime[5]NOTE:According to site 3 years full coverage then customer pays for parts
California Light Works Solarstorm 650NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 160 4.06 6 Yes No $2,000 $3.08 25 $80.00 26.00 16 $125.00 40.63 None[6]NOTE:Could not find any info on returns, however they do have an online application to get a test light for 90 days with a $1,000 deposit and a commitment to share weekly results, but they say it’s limited to a select few so not sure how easy to get a test unit. 2 year[7]NOTE:No details on site, just says 2-year limited warranty
California Light Works Solarflare 165NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 40 4.13 5 No No $450 $2.73     18.33 9 $50.00 18.33 None[6]NOTE:Could not find any info on returns, however they do have an online application to get a test light for 90 days with a $1,000 deposit and a commitment to share weekly results, but they say it’s limited to a select few so not sure how easy to get a test unit. 2 year[7]NOTE:No details on site, just says 2-year limited warranty
Grow LED Hydro Spectra LED 180[8]NOTE:New 2011 model 180 100 1.80 12     $500 $2.78 6.25 $80.00 28.80 2.7 $185.19 66.67 120 day with log[9]NOTE:Site says “In order to qualify for the 120 day money back guarantee you must keep detailed daily log of your grow with weekly pictures, when and how much and what nutrients used and pictures of end results. After review of the documentation if both parties agree that the light did not perform as stated, then you will receive a full refund after the light is sent back” 5 year[10]NOTE:No details, site only says 5 year warranty
Grow LED Hydro Spectra LED 290[8]NOTE:New 2011 model 290 160 1.81 12     $750 $2.59 16 $46.88 18.13 7 $107.14 41.43 120 day with log[9]NOTE:Site says “In order to qualify for the 120 day money back guarantee you must keep detailed daily log of your grow with weekly pictures, when and how much and what nutrients used and pictures of end results. After review of the documentation if both parties agree that the light did not perform as stated, then you will receive a full refund after the light is sent back” 5 year[10]NOTE:No details, site only says 5 year warranty
Grow LED Hydro Spectra LED 500[8]NOTE:New 2011 model 465NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 252 1.85 12     $1300 $2.80 20.25 $64.20 22.96 7.5 $173.33 62.00 120 day with log[9]NOTE:Site says “In order to qualify for the 120 day money back guarantee you must keep detailed daily log of your grow with weekly pictures, when and how much and what nutrients used and pictures of end results. After review of the documentation if both parties agree that the light did not perform as stated, then you will receive a full refund after the light is sent back” 5 year[10]NOTE:No details, site only says 5 year warranty
Grow Stealth 300w Quantum LED 240 144 1.67 5 Yes No $650 $2.71     32.82 7.3 $88.89 32.82 90 day[12]NOTE:Two lights maximum and 20% restocking fee on all returns. 2 year[13]NOTE:Will send parts to fix or you can send to them.
Grow Stealth 300w Quantum Pro Bloom 240 144 1.67 6 Yes Yes $750 $3.13     32.82 7.3 $102.56 32.82 90 day[12]NOTE:Two lights maximum and 20% restocking fee on all returns. 2 year[13]NOTE:Will send parts to fix or you can send to them.
Grow Stealth 600w Quantum LED 410NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 288 1.42 5 Yes No $1150 $2.80     29.29 14 $82.14 29.29 90 day[12]NOTE:Two lights maximum and 20% restocking fee on all returns. 2 year[13]NOTE:Will send parts to fix or you can send to them.
Grow Stealth 600w Quantum Pro Bloom 520 288 1.81 6 Yes Yes $1350 $2.60     37.14 14 $96.43 37.14 90 day[12]NOTE:Two lights maximum and 20% restocking fee on all returns. 2 year[13]NOTE:Will send parts to fix or you can send to them.
Hydro Grow Penetrator 168X-Pro 260[14]NOTE:Site says “estimated 305-315 watts power consumption” and also says “260 watts of extreme power” 126 2.08 6 No Yes $1350 $5.19     34.67 7.5 $180.00 34.67 90 day[15]NOTE:One light, less shipping fee which seems to be about 7-10% of original cost, sort of a restocking fee 3 year[16]NOTE:They require a photo of any problem and will send a part with instructions for some repairs
Hydro Grow Penetrator 189X-Pro 350 189 1.85 6 No Yes $1500 $4.29     38.89 9 $166.67 38.89 90 day[15]NOTE:One light, less shipping fee which seems to be about 7-10% of original cost, sort of a restocking fee 3 year[16]NOTE:They require a photo of any problem and will send a part with instructions for some repairs
Hydro Grow Penetrator 336X-Pro 462NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 336 1.38 6 No Yes $2200 $4.76     28.88 16 $137.50 28.88 90 day[15]NOTE:One light, less shipping fee which seems to be about 7-10% of original cost, sort of a restocking fee 3 year[16]NOTE:They require a photo of any problem and will send a part with instructions for some repairs
Kessil H350 Spectral Halo LED 73NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 2 36.50 2 No No $375 $5.14 12.57 $29.83 5.81 28.27[18]NOTE:Web site says 2-3 foot diameter for coverage, this is a huge difference in sq. ft. of more than 100% increase 13.26 2.58 None on site None on site
Lighthouse Hydro Blackstar 500w HO 239NOTE:Real watts provided by GP73LPC on icmag.com 168 1.42 6 Yes No $820 $3.43 12 $14.00 19.92 12 $68.33 19.92 None on site[20]NOTE:Nothing about this on the site and the page that should contain this is place holder text “lorem ipsum” 1 year[21]NOTE:Site says 1-year all inclusive but no details and the info page where this would be is all place holder text “lorem ipsum”
Lighthouse Hydro Blackstar 600w UV [19]NOTE:No actual wattage given on site 288 [19]NOTE:No actual wattage given on site 6 Yes No $820 [19]NOTE:No actual wattage given on site       12 $75.00   None on site[20]NOTE:Nothing about this on the site and the page that should contain this is place holder text “lorem ipsum” 1 year[21]NOTE:Site says 1-year all inclusive but no details and the info page where this would be is all place holder text “lorem ipsum”
Lighthouse Hydro Blackstar 900w UV 450[22]NOTE:Had one of these hooked up to a kill-a-watt meter and it registered 450 but no actual wattage given on site 288 1.56 6 Yes No $900 $2.89     28.57 15.75 $82.54 28.57 None on site[20]NOTE:Nothing about this on the site and the page that should contain this is place holder text “lorem ipsum” 1 year[21]NOTE:Site says 1-year all inclusive but no details and the info page where this would be is all place holder text “lorem ipsum”
Stealth Grow LED SG Veg 380 288 1.32 4 No No $1500 $3.95     15.83 24 $62.50 15.83 90 day[23]NOTE:Can return one light within 90 days, 35% restocking fee. Site says you can only return a “non-defective product” so not sure what happens with defective product in less than 90 days if you want to return it 1 year
Stealth Grow LED SG 602 400 270 1.48 4 No No $1600 $4.00     44.44 9 $177.78 44.44 90 day[23]NOTE:Can return one light within 90 days, 35% restocking fee. Site says you can only return a “non-defective product” so not sure what happens with defective product in less than 90 days if you want to return it 1 year
Stealth Grow LED SG 1250 HO 680 N/A[24]NOTE:Uses large square 50w modular leds, which looks a square with 50 1w diodes compressed into one square N/A 4 No No $3500 $5.15     42.50 16 $218.75 42.50 90 day[23]NOTE:Can return one light within 90 days, 35% restocking fee. Site says you can only return a “non-defective product” so not sure what happens with defective product in less than 90 days if you want to return it 1 year
Sunshine Systems Grow Panel Pro 300 300[25]NOTE:They don’t give number of LEDs on their site or give individual LED wattage, this and the fact they say you can daisy chain 5 of these together leads me to believe they do not pull an actual 300w Unknown   5 No No $850 $2.83 25 $34.00 12.00 16 $53.13 18.75 No return policy[26]NOTE:Would not buy since site says: “This site and the materials and products on this site are provided “as is” and without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied.” No Warranty[27]NOTE:Would not buy since site says: “This site and the materials and products on this site are provided “as is” and without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied.”
Sunshine Systems Grow Panel Pro 600 600[28]NOTE:They don’t give number of LEDs on their site or give individual LED wattage, this and the fact they say you can daisy chain 3 of these together leads me to believe they do not pull an actual 600w Unknown   5 No No $1400 $2.33 36 $38.89 16.67 25 $56.00 24.00 No return policy[26]NOTE:Would not buy since site says: “This site and the materials and products on this site are provided “as is” and without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied.” No Warranty[27]NOTE:Would not buy since site says: “This site and the materials and products on this site are provided “as is” and without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied.”
357 Magnum 357 Magnum 180 119 1.51 11     $850 $4.72 16 $53.13 11.25 16 $53.13 11.25 48 hour[1]NOTE:Also must pay 25% restocking fee and must be “unused” 3 year[2]NOTE:Could not find warranty info such as what it covers, only that the repairs take place in BC Canada
357 Magnum 357 Magnum Plus 357 230 1.55 11 Yes Yes $1200 $3.36 16 $75.00 22.31 16 $75.00 22.31 48 hour[1]NOTE:Also must pay 25% restocking fee and must be “unused” 3 year[2]NOTE:Could not find warranty info such as what it covers, only that the repairs take place in BC Canada
Company Product Actual Wattage[A]Actual Wattage:Many sites post the “LED” wattage which is simply the number of LEDs used in a light multiplied by their maximum wattage (e.g. 3(wattage of LEDs) X 144 (number of LEDs) = 432. This is not a good point of reference and the actual wattage should be used. Some sights list actual wattage and I took it at face value and commented where I ran into issues. # of LEDs Avg. Watts/LED Bands[B]# of Nanometers: This is the number of different wavelengths used in a light, usually stated on a manufacturers site UV[C]UV (Ultraviolet): Whether or not the product is listed on the site as having UV. If blank then it is not clear one way or another UV[D]IR (Infrared): Whether or not the product is listed on the site as having IR. If blank then it is not clear one way or another Retail Price Cost Per Watt[E]Cost Per Watt: Simply the cost divided by the actual wattage, if no known actual wattage then unable to calculate so left blank and noted Footprint 1 (sq./ft.)[F]Footprint #1: When two footprint measurements were given such as Veg and Flower the larger (Veg) number was put in footprint #1 and the smaller (flower) number was put in footprint #2; if only one was given then it was put in footprint #2 Cost Per Sq./Ft. 1[G]Cost Per Square Foot: A ratio of the dollar cost per square foot based on the stated footprint and retail price Watts Per Sq. Ft. 1[H]Watts Per Square Foot: The number of watts a manufacturer is claiming based on the stated footprint and the actual wattage Footprint 2 (sq./ft.)[I]Footprint #2: When two footprint measurements were given such as Veg and Flower the larger (Veg) number was put in footprint #1 and the smaller (flower) number was put in footprint #2; if only one was given then it was put in footprint #2 Cost Per Sq./Ft. 2[J]Cost Per Square Foot: A ratio of the dollar cost per square foot based on the stated footprint and retail price Watts Per Sq. Ft. 2[K]Watts Per Square Foot: The number of watts a manufacturer is claiming based on the stated footprint and the actual wattage Return Policy Warranty
[A] Actual Wattage: Many sites post the “LED” wattage which is simply the number of LEDs used in a light multiplied by their maximum wattage (e.g. 3(wattage of LEDs) X 144 (number of LEDs) = 432. This is not a good point of reference and the actual wattage should be used. Some sights list actual wattage and I took it at face value and commented where I ran into issues.
[B] # of Nanometers: This is the number of different wavelengths used in a light, usually stated on a manufacturers site
[C] UV (Ultraviolet): Whether or not the product is listed on the site as having UV. If blank then it is not clear one way or another
[D] IR (Infrared): Whether or not the product is listed on the site as having IR. If blank then it is not clear one way or another
[E] Cost Per Watt: Simply the cost divided by the actual wattage, if no known actual wattage then unable to calculate so left blank and noted
[F] Footprint #1: When two footprint measurements were given such as Veg and Flower the larger (Veg) number was put in footprint #1 and the smaller (flower) number was put in footprint #2; if only one was given then it was put in footprint #2
[G] Cost Per Square Foot: A ratio of the dollar cost per square foot based on the stated footprint and retail price
[H] Watts Per Square Foot: The number of watts a manufacturer is claiming based on the stated footprint and the actual wattage
[I] Footprint #2: When two footprint measurements were given such as Veg and Flower the larger (Veg) number was put in footprint #1 and the smaller (flower) number was put in footprint #2; if only one was given then it was put in footprint #2
[J] Cost Per Square Foot: A ratio of the dollar cost per square foot based on the stated footprint and retail price
[K] Watts Per Square Foot: The number of watts a manufacturer is claiming based on the stated footprint and the actual wattage

[1] Also must pay 25% restocking fee and must be “unused”
[2] Could not find warranty info such as what it covers, only that the repairs take place in BC Canada
[3] According to site, they will either replace light or will send parts for you to fix
[4] One light per customer and a 10% restocking fee
[5] According to site 3 years full coverage then customer pays for parts
[6] Could not find any info on returns, however they do have an online application to get a test light for 90 days with a $1,000 deposit and a commitment to share weekly results, but they say it’s limited to a select few so not sure how easy to get a test unit
[7] No details on site, just says 2-year limited warranty
[8] New 2011 model
[9] Site says “In order to qualify for the 120 day money back guarantee you must keep detailed daily log of your grow with weekly pictures, when and how much and what nutrients used and pictures of end results. After review of the documentation if both parties agree that the light did not perform as stated, then you will receive a full refund after the light is sent back”
[10] No details, site only says 5 year warranty
[11] Site says “actual power draw is 360w” and on same page says “draws 500w of power”
[12] Two lights maximum and 20% restocking fee on all returns.
[13] Will send parts to fix or you can send to them.
[14] Site says “estimated 305-315 watts power consumption” and also says “260 watts of extreme power”
[15] One light, less shipping fee which seems to be about 7-10% of original cost, sort of a restocking fee
[16] They require a photo of any problem and will send a part with instructions for some repairs
[17] Site says both 520w and 620w
[18] Web site says 2-3 foot diameter for coverage, this is a huge difference in sq. ft. of more than 100% increase
[19] No actual wattage given on site
[20] Nothing about this on the site and the page that should contain this is place holder text “lorem ipsum”
[21] Site says 1-year all inclusive but no details and the info page where this would be is all place holder text “lorem ipsum”
[22] Had one of these hooked up to a kill-a-watt meter and it registered 450 but no actual wattage given on site
[23] Can return one light within 90 days, 35% restocking fee. Site says you can only return a “non-defective product” so not sure what happens with defective product in less than 90 days if you want to return it.
[24] Uses large square 50w modular leds, which looks a square with 50 1w diodes compressed into one square
[25] They don’t give number of LEDs on their site or give individual LED wattage, this and the fact they say you can daisy chain 5 of these together leads me to believe they do not pull an actual 300w
[26] Would not buy since site says: “This site and the materials and products on this site are provided “as is” and without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied.”
[27] Would not buy since site says: “This site and the materials and products on this site are provided “as is” and without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied.”
[28] They don’t give number of LEDs on their site or give individual LED wattage, this and the fact they say you can daisy chain 3 of these together leads me to believe they do not pull an actual 600w

*All wattages with a blue highlight were obtained with permission from GP73LPC and his posts on icmag.com

Conclusions

Returns and Warranty

So after looking through all of this data I have concluded that there are more than a few companies I would not buy from. Some of the easy ones to eliminate in my mind are those that have a weak, missing, or just plain bad return or warranty. Also companies with what I consider to be an excessive restocking fee such as those over 10% since these are not cheap items. That cuts out the following in my opinion:

  1. California Light Works
  2. Grow LED Hydro
  3. Grow Stealth
  4. Kessil
  5. Lighthouse Hydro
  6. Stealth Grow LED
  7. Sunshine Systems
  8. 357 Magnum

Note: some of the companies that are still in the running say they will send you a replacement part but they also say the warranty is void if the product is opened. Not sure how this is handled if down the road you need additional service and the light was perviously opened at their request.

Wattage

The next thing I looked at was wattage. I come from the world of traditional lighting for indoor gardens, more 600’s than I want to think about with some 1000’s thrown in for good measure, so wattage means something to me. They all claim varying amounts of increased efficiency in terms of how many watts you need per square foot. What they actually give on their sites is footprint. This is what they claim the light will work with and also, hopefully, they give the actual wattage on the site. Many of the more informative sights stated two footprints which were named differently but we can safely assume they are for vegetative and flowering scenarios.

What I have learned about LED grow lights and wattage is that LEDs are without a question more efficient at producing light with fewer watts than traditional HPS/MH bulbs. Just how much more efficient depends on who you listen to. Where it gets more confusing is when you try to convert this efficiency to growing with LED grow lights to determine how many watts you need to obtain the same or better results as with traditional bulb lighting. I do not have nearly enough information to figure this out and it varies widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. As an indoor gardener who cares about optimal plant health and yields I decided to lean towards the higher wattage lights. This was based on reading a lot of info around the web where people claim the lower wattage works fine for vegetative growth but did not work for flowering or they would flower but they would not produce the yields they were looking for. My feeling this was simply due to unreasonable claims made on sites regarding effective footprints for LED grow lights.

Most indoor gardeners agree that we need about 50 watts per square foot to flower light intensive plants when using traditional HID bulb lighting, with many saying 60-65watts and some saying 50-100 watts. Many also use the rule of thumb that a 1000 watt bulb will cover a 4′ X 4′ area and a 600 watt will cover 3′ X 3′. These work out to 52.5 and 66.7 watts per square foot for 1000 and 600 watt bulbs respectively. I used this as my starting point for determining the minimum amount of watts per square foot for growing with LED lights.

From that starting point I had to make some assumption as to how much more efficient I would assume LEDs were when used to grow plants. So assuming 60 watts per square foot for traditional bulb lighting and an increase in efficiency of 30-50% depending on who you listen to. So the middle of the road would be 40% increase, which gives us 60 watts per square foot times 60% = 36 watts per square foot when using LED grow lights. If you want to do your own research or have a different number in mind then just substitute it to come up with your own benchmark.

With the wattage (where provided) and the footprint(s) I calculated the cost per watt, cost per square foot, and the watts per square foot in the table above. Since this is critical to me I would eliminate anyone claiming what I think is too little watts per square foot. I would also eliminate them if they do not give clear actual wattage or have conflicting information on their own site. The last thing I would eliminate when looking at wattage is any company that has a huge difference in what they claim for different products’ watts per square foot, which means to me they are just putting up marketing material. Using the 40 watts per square foot as the benchmark with the other items listed above would eliminate:

  1. Advanced LED Lights (most of their lights, see chart and sort by watts per sq. ft. column)
  2. California Light Works
  3. Grow Stealth
  4. Hydro Grow
  5. Kessil
  6. Lighthouse Hydro
  7. Stealth Grow LED
  8. Sunshine Systems
  9. 357 Magnum

Note: some of the companies above are duplicated from the previous section, this is in case you don’t agree with one of my conclusion categories as this will allow you to ignore one but use the others.

Bands, Spectrums, Nanometers, Wavelengths…

When I started this I didn’t know much about the different LEDs used and how they are each designed to provide light at a particular wavelength. I now understand that this is as important as the energy savings and reduced heat production if not bigger since with the old style bulbs the spectrum produced was set and based off of old technology. Different manufacturers offer different numbers of wavelengths and some vary by product.

I definitely need to do more research on this whole area and after spending time on the sites with more info about this aspect of LED grow lights I realize how little I know about spectrum and growing plants indoors. What I have learned so far is that having a good balanced spectrum is going to help. The goal would be to get a total spectrum that is as close to what plants want as possible. What plants want in terms of light is referred to as PAR (Photosynthetically active radiation).

There is no information that I could find regarding a minimum number of different LEDs to use since it would likely depend on the wavelengths used. For example if you had 10 different nanometers making up your lights spectrum but they were all in the red spectrum (600-700 nanometers) it would not be as good as 6 spectrums that were correctly distributed across the photosynthetically active range but of course 10 well selected LEDs would be better than 6.

Based on all of my reading on manufacturers sites as well as some other sources I feel anything less than 10 is selling yourself short on the spectrum you can currently buy. So this would eliminate the following:

  1. California Light Works
  2. Grow Stealth
  3. Hydro Grow
  4. Kessil
  5. Lighthouse Hydro
  6. Stealth Grow LED
  7. Sunshine Systems

Note: some of the companies above are duplicated from the previous section, this is in case you don’t agree with one of my conclusion categories as this will allow you to ignore one but use the others.

Final Conclusion (Top Picks) Top Pick

Based on everything I have read, analyzed, digested, and discussed with friends I feel the using the conclusions above is a good place to start. I will be making a purchase based on the information I gathered above. I may update this page but the goal was really to just put this up for other indoor gardeners who want to use LED grow lights or are already using them and want to upgrade. One thing I am sure about is that I would like to learn more about how light and different wavelengths effect my plants. I was always focused on nutrients, temperatures, light cycle, soil, etc. but didn’t ever stop to think about everything that could go into the perfect light.

I started this LED grow light comparison with eleven companies. In the conclusions I eliminated 24, most of which were duplicates. What I ended up with was one company that was not eliminated in any of the rounds and one which had some of it’s lights eliminated in only one round. The lights are tagged with a green check mark and the companies are:

  1. Black Dog LED
  2. Advanced LED (some of their lights were eliminated in the wattage conclusions)

Thanks for visiting my page. I hope you found at least some of this information helpful. If you are interested in contacting me the is an email address in the footer. Happy gardening!