Conclusion: The Best LED Grow Lights of Winter 2015 / Early 2016

After spending hundreds of hours reading 22 different sellers' websites, collecting and condensing data, it pretty much boils down to this:

Good Choice Questionable They Lie To You
Black Dog LED Area 51 Advanced LED
Build My LED (BML) Heliospectra Apache Tech
Illumitex Apollo Horticulture
1st Choice = Excellent Choice
2nd Choice = Good Light, With Caveats
3rd Choice = Questionable
Last Choice = They Lie to You
California Light Works
G8LED
Hydro Grow
Kessil
Kind LED
Lighthouse Hydro
LumiGrow
Lush Lighting
Mars Hydro
Platinum LED
Pro Max Grow
Pro Source Worldwide
Spectrum King
Truth Lighting

In order to reach this conclusion, I compared 158 lights from 22 companies in 14 different categories:

If a company was found to be lying in any of these categories, they were put in the "They Lie To You" column. Companies which weren't found to be lying but with short warranties or other highly questionable claims– other than not allowing returns– were put in the "Questionable" column. The remaining companies were put in the "Good Choice" column, though one of them has notable caveats (explained below).

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Good Choice

With this update, only two companies– Black Dog LED and Build My LED (BML)– were put in the "Good Choice" column.

Black Dog LED has UV, IR, and isn't exaggerating footprint sizes or lying about anything that I could find. Their warranty fully covers their lights for 3 years with payment for parts up to 5 years, and their 90-day return policy offers you a full flowering period to test their light to see results for yourself.

Although I find BML's stated policy of not allowing returns and their lack of quality-enhancing UV and photosynthesis-enhancing IR in their spectrum concerning, at least they aren't lying about anything (that I have noticed) and their warranty covers 85% of the LEDs in each fixture for 5 years. Their Spydr 1000 and 1200 may more-evenly distribute light over a 4×4 lighting footprint than any other fixture I'm comparing due to their large physical size, but without active cooling (and especially with the Spydr 1200 not "under-driving" the LEDs like the Spydr 1000), it is unclear how long the LEDs will stay bright.

Other Contenders

Of the 22 companies I'm comparing, 3 neither stand out as excellent or outright liars: Area 51, Heliospectra and Illumitex.

Area 51 seems to have switched entirely to all-white, large COB LEDs, which seem to have no end of problems from everyone that has tried them before. Combine the problem-prone COBs with no UV and only a 2-year warranty, and I cannot recommend them.

Heliospectra has an impressive UV and IR LED light in the RX30, but at more than 2X the cost and half the warranty of other lights with UV and IR, I wonder if the gimmick of adjustable spectrums is worth it- even Heliospectra seems to agree with their latest offering, the completely un-adjustable (though also no UV or IR) E60. Possibly a company to watch in the future, but I think you can do better for now.

Illumitex is still selling a 2'x4' light that they claim covers a 4'x4' area, with no UV, no IR, and no return policy. With that and the high cost of their lights compared to other options, I believe you can make a better choice.

The Rest

17 of the 22 companies I'm comparing here (over 77%!) are outright lying about one or more things, which is why LED grow lights have a bad reputation. If their light actually worked as advertised, they wouldn't need to be lying about what their light does or doesn't do, how long it lasts, how long they'll honor their warranty, that they have a return policy, or even their own lights' specifications.

The LED grow light industry is still plagued with companies all too happy to lie about their lights- that's why I made this site, because LEDs can work well if you choose the right ones!

Conclusion Graph

Getting all of the data compared on this site in one simple graph is impossible, but this summarizes most of the important things. The details are all in the data table below.

Loading graph…

Compare for Yourself

Don't trust my opinion? That's healthy skepticism- one of the biggest points to this site is that you can't trust all the claims you hear. I've put a ton of information on this website; you can examine it all to come to your own conclusion.

All of the information I used in the comparison categories was current as of November 2015, and is based purely on information the sellers themselves provide on their websites, with the exception of some actual wattages provided by people on forums. (Note: these buyers were usually upset because they had been lied to by the sellers.)

Ultimately, the best way to determine which light is best for you is to try out several in a side-by-side test. If you can afford it and the seller has a decent return policy, you can run your own side-by-side test to see which light really lives up to the claims without permanently being out all of the money. Because LED grow lights are a relatively new industry, you never know when someone is going to come up with a truly innovative light that really kicks ass!

For now, my hope is to help put an end to all of the outright lies and highly misleading claims being made so that growers everywhere can discover for themselves just how much better LED grow lights really can be, when properly designed by a reputable company.

Conclusion Data

The summary of all 158 lights I compared is below. You can sort on any of the columns, or click on the links to see the full breakdown with more information about each of the lights. In each of the breakout comparison sections, you can see all the raw data to do your own analysis as you see fit.

The data table is very large- you may need to scroll side-to-side as well as up and down to see the whole thing. Larger screens help! If you're only looking for one company or light model, enter the name in the search to only show those results.

CompanyConclusion RankingProductActual WattageOutright LiesHighly Questionable StuffBe AwareLight TypeFlower Power (Effective W/ft2)Likelihood of Sufficient Power to Flower Cannabis Within all of Smallest Advertised FootprintLED TypeMSRP$/WattCost Per WattClaimed Wavelengths# Colors# of Different LED Colors
4
Diamond Series DS 100 - Extreme 3w
3W
4
Diamond Series DS 200 - Extreme 3w
3W
4
Diamond Series DS 300 - Extreme 3w
3W
4
Diamond Series DS 400 - Extreme 3w
3W
4
Diamond Series DS 600 - Extreme 3w
3W
4
Diamond Series DS 800 - Extreme 3w
3W
4
XTE Series DS XTE 100 - 5W LEDs
3W / 5W mix
4
XTE Series DS XTE 200 - 5W LEDs
3W / 5W mix
4
XTE Series DS XTE 300 - 5W LEDs
3W / 5W mix
4
XTE Series DS XTE 400 - 5W LEDs
3W / 5W mix
4
Diamond Series EX-Veg DS200
5W
4
Diamond Series EX-Veg DS300
5W
4
Diamond Series XML DS XML 150
4
Diamond Series XML DS XML 350
4
Diamond Series XML DS XML 650
4
AT-120WB (White and Blue LEDs)
1W
4
AT120RB (Red and Blue LEDs)
1W
4
AT120W (All white LEDs)
1W
4
AT120WR (White and Red LEDs)
1W
4
AT-600-WR2 (White and Red)
?
4
GL100LED Full Spectrum 300W LED
?
4
GL80x5LED Full Spectrum 400W LED
5W
4
Full Spectrum 600 Watt LED
5W
4
GL140x5LED Full Spectrum 700W LED
5W
4
Full Spectrum 900 Watt LED
5W
4
Full Spectrum 1200 Watt LED
5W
4
GL25LED Full Spectrum 75W LED
3W
4
GL25LED Full Spectrum 135W LED
3W
4
GL25LED Full Spectrum 180W LED
3W
3
W90-3000K
3
W90-4000K
3
W90-5000K
1
PhytoMAX 200
5W
1
PhytoMAX 400
5W
1
PhytoMAX 600
5W
1
PhytoMAX 800
5W
1
PhytoMAX 1000
5W
2
SPYDR 600 START-MAX Spectrum
3W
2
SPYDR 600 GROW-MAX Spectrum
3W
2
SPYDR 1000 GROW-MAX Spectrum
3W
2
SPYDR 1200 GROW-MAX Spectrum
3W
4
Solar Storm 880W
5W
4
Solar Storm 440W
5W
4
Solar Flare 220W LED VegMaster
5W
4
Solar Flare 220W LED BloomBooster
5W
4
Solar Flare 220W LED FullCycle
5W
4
Solar Flare 110W LED VegMaster
5W
4
Solar Flare 110W LED BloomBooster
5W
4
90 Watt LED All RED G8 Flowering BOOST
?
4
240 Watt Full Spectrum G8LED BLOOM only
3W
4
450 Watt Full Spectrum G8LED BLOOM only
3W
4
240 Watt Full Spectrum G8LED Grow Light
3W
4
450 Watt Full Spectrum G8LED Grow Light
3W
4
600 Watt Full Spectrum G8LED Grow Light
3W
4
900 Watt Full Spectrum G8LED Grow Light
3W
3
E60
?
3
RX30
?
3
L4A Series 10 (refurbished)
?
3
LX601 C-plate
?
3
LX601 G-plate
?
3
LX602
?
4
21X-PRO 36W
3W
4
84X-PRO 120W
3W
4
126X-PRO 200W
3W
4
168X-PRO 270W
3W
4
189X-PRO 290W
3W
4
336X-PRO 500W
3W
4
420X-PRO 600W
3W
4
Sol 1 (45 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 1 (85 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 2 (45 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 2 (85 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 4 (45 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 4 (85 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 6 (45 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 6 (85 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 9 (45 Watt Configuration)
4
Sol 9 (85 Watt Configuration)
3
NeoSol DS
0.34W (arrays of 16 LEDs totalling 5.4W)
3
NeoSol NS
0.34W (arrays of 16 LEDs totalling 5.4W)
3
NeoSol LS
0.34W (arrays of 16 LEDs totalling 5.4W)
4
H380
4
H350 (Magenta or Purple models)
4
H150 (Magenta or Purple models)
4
H150 Blue
4
H150 Red
4
K3 - L300
3W
4
K3 - L450
3W
4
K3 - L600
3W
4
K3 VEG L600
3W
4
K5 - XL750
4
K5 - XL1000
4
90 watt LED Grow Light UV
1W
4
90 watt LED Grow Light HO (Vegetative Model)
1W
4
BlackStar 480 watt LED Grow Light HO V2.0
3W
4
BlackStar 480 watt LED Grow Light UV V2.0
3W
4
BlackStar 180 watt LED Grow Light HO V2.0
3W
4
BlackStar 180 watt LED Grow Light UV V2.0
3W
4
BlackStar 240 watt LED Grow Light HO V2.0
3W
4
BlackStar 240 watt LED Grow Light UV V2.0
3W
4
Lighthouse Hydro ION 8 426w FSF LED Grow Light with UVB
6W / 10W mix
4
Lighthouse Hydro ION 8 1546w FSF LED Grow Light with UVB
6W / 10W mix
4
BlackStar Chrome 180w LED Grow Light FSF
3W
4
BlackStar Chrome 270w LED Grow Light FSF
3W
4
BlackStar Chrome 405w LED Grow Light FSF
3W
4
BlackStar Chrome 720w LED Grow Light FSF
3W
4
BlackStar 600 watt LED Grow Light UV
2W
4
BlackStar 900 watt Commercial Grade LED Grow Light UV
3W
4
LumiGrow Pro 650
?
4
LumiGrow Pro 325
?
4
DOMINATOR
3W
4
DOMINATOR XL
3W
4
DOMINATOR 2X
3W
4
DOMINATOR 2X XL
3W
4
Luminator
3W
4
Luminator 2X
3W
4
Vegetator
3W
4
Vegetator 2X
3W
4
Herbalvador
3W
4
Herbalvador 2X
3W
4
Mars II 400w LED Grow Light
5W
4
Mars II 700w LED Grow Light
5W
4
Mars II 900w LED Grow Light
5W
4
Mars II 1200w LED Grow Light
5W
4
Mars II 1600w LED Grow Light
5W
4
Reflector-48
5W
4
Reflector-96
5W
4
Reflector-144
5W
4
Reflector-192
5W
4
MarsPro 160LED Epistar-160
5W
4
MarsPro 320LED Epistar-320
5W
4
MarsPro Cree-128
5W
4
MarsPro Cree-256
5W
4
P150
3W
4
P300
3W
4
P450
3W
4
P600
3W
4
P900
3W
4
P1200
3W
4
P4-XML2
3W / 10W mix
4
P9-XML2
3W / 10W mix
4
MAX-600
?
4
MAX-1200
?
4
Illuminator 100W
3W
4
Illuminator Jumbo 200W
3W
4
Illuminator Commercial 400W
3W
4
Mother Keeper 100W
1W
4
300 Series 90° reflector
?
4
300 Series 120° reflector
?
4
400 Series 60° reflector
?
4
400 Series 90° reflector
?
4
400 Series 120° reflector
?
4
400+ Series 60° reflector
?
4
400+ Series 90° reflector
?
4
400+ Series 120° reflector
?
4
M6
3W
4
M9
3W
4
M16
3W

Comments

50 thoughts on “Conclusion: The Best LED Grow Lights of Winter 2015 / Early 2016”

  1. There are two other companies missing from your list. BML Horticulture with their Spyder 1200 and also Par Force which makes LED lights out of Oregon. I would be very interested in what you have to say about those.
    Also how do you test the intensity of each light? The only measurement I am looking for is the PPF and PPFD.
    I like Blackdog but they have a big problem with hot spots… Their PAR readings are very high on the first square foot but drops when you past the second square foot.
    Thank you
    PM

    1. Hello,

      There are lots of companies missing from my list- there are literally hundreds of different LED companies! BML has been requested several times and will be included in the next update.

      You're the first to request Par Force, but I will add them to the request list. Just giving them a quick glance it looks like their lights have no UV, are white dominant, and have a very short 30-day return policy.

      Measuring intensity is tricky; the best way to do it is not at a spot under the middle of the light, but in every inch of the coverage footprint. If you're measuring the Black Dog LED lights 1 foot beneath the center of the light, and then 2 feet under the center of the light, the reading is going to fall off dramatically because of the inverse square law of light. Companies that use narrow secondary lenses that focus the light into a very bright spot under the center of the light won't have as much fall-off under the center of the light with distance, but they have a very small effective footprint (because there is an extreme "hot spot" in the center). If anything, I think the Black Dog LED lights have less of an issue with hot spots than any other light I've yet grown with.

      1. Hi awesome website. Can you review King LED products next time you update. Its a cheap led but i have a 300w one that was only 100 bucks and it works really good for my cloning and pre-veg, it even worked great for a couple 4-5 week old girls.
        I specifically want to know about the 800w and the 1000w models with the “10w double chip technology”.

        1. I'll add King LED to the list of requested lights. The "300W" model you already have apparently only uses about 100 watts of actual power- 1/3 what they claim. The "800W with 10W double chip technology" apparently only really pulls 160 watts- so it is less than 1/4 the advertised wattage. The "1000W" model is only 190 actual watts- less than 1/5th the advertised power! Seems like false advertising to me, and the lights are so cheap that I wonder how long they will last- please keep us updated on yours!

  2. Thank you for this website!!! I personally own a BML 1200 and Black Dog LED 750XL. The Black Dog 750 is by far the best at flowering cannabis but the BML 1200 is well built and decent for veg. BML is way more expensive and does not have the canopy penetration the BD750 does. I would just buy 2 of the new Black Dog LED PhytoMAX 800 if I were buying today. Please update this site with both BML and the new PhytoMAX 800 when you get a chance. Thanks again and very nice update on the new site!

    B.H.

    1. Thanks! I'm in the process of updating the site again now (there's a lot of reading websites to do that!) but I've had enough requests to add BML that they will be included. All 19 companies on here now (well, except 357 Magnum, R.I.P.) will have any new lights included in the coming update as well, including the new PhytoMAX from Black Dog LED.

  3. Great website, I’ve been looking for a site like this for awhile now. Finally a site with good unbiased information. Yes! please get the BML spyder info up as quick as possible. Also since you’ve already tryed many of the lights yourself how bout a page where you rank the lights you’ve already used. As a side note have you noticed that Illumitex has all there lights at 50% off? this was supposed to be a summer sale starting in July, was supposed to end aug 1st but as of now everything is still 50% off, maybe they are trying to clear everything out cuz they have a new model coming out? or maybe there lights are just crap and thats the only way to move them, lol who knows. Thanks a bunch

    1. Thanks for the praise; I’m trying to keep all the information up here unbiased, which is why I don't have a page with my own personal experiences– yet. It takes an annoyingly long time to read through all of the vendors' websites to gather all the information for this website, but I'll be adding pages for each individual light so people can post their own experiences with the lights, myself included.

      The Illumitex lights are good for certain situations- namely growing low-light, short, leafy plants like green leaf lettuce, where you don't need UV light to generate pigments or flavor. Really the only reason they are included on this website is because they were advertising their lights as being good for higher-light plants like Cannabis.

    1. Hello!

      I've had several requests to add Spectrum King; they will be included on the next update. So far they seem to have more lies than anyone else, but I'm still working on the full update.

    1. Hello!

      You’re the first to request Intelligent Light Source information. I haven’t included them in the comparison because these are fairly low-power lights, suitable for low-light plants such as lettuce and African Violets. I have seen their lights in person and they seem to have about the same intensity as a T5 fluorescent fixture. They seem to place a lot of their sales emphasis on their adjustable spectrum and dimming in the morning and evening, both of which I feel are gimmicks that will only hurt your plants.

  4. I use the Intelligent Light Source units as T5 replacements for side lighting. The side lighting is to show the plant it is in an open field instead of crowded, less upward growth. The ILS provides the low intensity light more efficiently than the T5’s do and does it without restricting airflow.
    An analysis of intensity and spectrum would be nice. Not all light hitting a plant is for flowering, testing of appropriate supplement lighting would be helpful as well. They seem more effective than T5 but I worry about the lack of deep red.

    Phil

    1. Hello!

      Side lighting can certainly help. It’s been my experience that light movers and lights with enough intensity and the right spectrum can eliminate the need for side lighting, but it also depends on your growing style.

      I do have something of an analysis of intensity on the PAR and Lumens page, and the spectrum page contains an analysis of that. Intensity is very tricky; most companies give only single numbers or carefully choose the numbers and way they give them to make their lights look good, as I explain on the PAR and Lumens page. Spectrum is tricky as well- the update I’m about to put up shows that a lot of the companies are lying with their spectrum graphs. I did just receive an awesome StellarNet spectrometer which will allow me to do independent testing of both intensity and spectrum– now I just need to get a lot of LED lights to test! Companies that have a decent return policy will be tested soon.

  5. Have you ever considered doing a comparison of diode manufacturers? Or maybe including that info in your comparisons. Or do you think it’s not relevant?
    Thanks, Tom

    1. Hello Tom,

      Diode manufacturers are important- but it isn't the most-relevant thing about evaluating LED grow lights. If I had infinite time I would love to put together a comparison of LED diode manufacturers, but it takes enough time to just keep up with the LED grow light vendors.

      Evaluating an LED grow light based simply on which companies’ diodes it uses is certainly misleading. No diode manufacturer I am aware of makes LED diodes in UV, blue, red, and IR– the most-important spectrums for LED grow lights in my opinion- so basing a light on only one diode manufacturer’s LEDs is going to result in a light without full spectral coverage. The diode manufacturers tend to specialize in making one or two colors of LEDs, with some throwing phosphors on top to change the spectral spread. For example, Cree makes some of the best blue diodes out there, and they cover them with phosphor to make “white” LEDs. They also sell red LEDs, but they get these dies (the actual chip in the diode) from Epistar, which specializes in making red dies- it is my understanding that Epistar produces almost all of the red LED dies on the planet. And Cree does not sell any UV diodes at all.

      In addition, who makes the LED diodes doesn’t matter if they aren’t mounted and cooled correctly to ensure a long lifespan. Even the best LED diodes can be put in a package which will make them lose efficiency and burn out quickly.

      When LED grow light companies advertise that they are using only one manufacturer’s LED diodes (which they inevitably claim are the best), or if they are basing their claims to be the best LED grow light on the diode manufacturer they are using, they usually seem to be trying to mislead you. The best components don’t matter if they aren’t the right components installed in the correct way.

      Obviously, poor-quality diodes will make a poor-quality LED grow light. But using high-quality diodes doesn’t automatically mean it will be a good grow light.

  6. Hi. I own trulite led light. I have good result but after reading ur Web. Page I’m not sure is this good company. Do u know something about trulite lights ? Thanks

    1. Hello,

      Trulite is not included in my comparison but they are the same light as the HydroGrow XPro series, which is included in my comparison. Basically the lights should work OK for growing, but because of the hot spot the secondary lenses create and the lack of UV and IR light, you can certainly do much better with an LED grow light.

  7. You include Cost of $ per Watt of electricity used, but you aren’t saying Cost per amount of usable light produces i.e. umol / W of electricity = efficiency.

    I predict blackdog wouldn’t be top of the list if that was considered.

    1. I'd love to compare all of the lights based on cost per amount of usable light produced! Unfortunately, I don't have all the data to determine that. I need to know how much light is produced by each light (and how much of it is truly usable by plants) and this information is simply not available. Sure, some companies give a PAR number (or 10) for their lights, but these numbers are often deceptive; see my breakdown of a PAR deception to see how. Basically, I would need to get each of the 150+ lights I'm comparing, measure the light output fairly (as in at many, many points across the entire advertised footprint), rate it on both average PAR and consistency of coverage, and only then could I actually rank the lights based on cost per amount of usable light produced. I don't have the money or time to be able to do that for all lights.

      However, I did recently get an awesome StellarNet spectrometer and I will be analyzing the PAR output of as many lights as I can. The new hands-on review section is coming very soon!

      When ranking companies based on PAR output per dollar, I also doubt that Black Dog LED would be at the top of the list; there are a lot of really cheap LED grow lights out there that would certainly be less expensive per light output. However, the really cheap lights also tend to be of poor quality, and at least to me it doesn't matter if I can get a lot of light for a low cost if the light breaks or degrades quickly, has a poor spectrum, has extreme hot spots, has a poor warranty, etc. The whole point of this site is that there are a lot of different things to consider when making a purchase, and I feel it is important to consider all of the different categories I am comparing things on to get a fair overall picture. This is where Black Dog currently comes out at the top- compared across a broad range of categories. If you're only interested in comparing lights on one thing, that's why I have all the categories broken out- go look at the one category you're interested in and pick the best light for you!

  8. Good information!!!
    Can you put in the list Lemnis Oreon?, It is starting experience with cannabis crop. They have a different type of cooling, water cooling. Is very useful for greenhouses heat. They say they can make the spectrum you need!!

    1. You’re the first person to request the addition of Lemnis Oreon, but I will add them to my potentials list and if enough people request their addition, they will be added. A first glance at their website shows that it might be difficult though; they provide almost no actual information on their lights that I can find- they say their spectrum is "blue and deep red" but have no information on wattage, warranty, what other colors they can provide, etc… Without this information it makes it almost impossible to compare their lights to the rest!

    1. Hello,

      You are the first to request Amare to be added to the comparison; if enough other people request them, they will be added. They have a lot of different LED options, but at first glance their SolarECLIPSE lights look to be white-dominant, meaning they are better suited for humans than plants. Other than the SolarECLIPSE SE450+UVB (which just has fluorescent UV bulbs instead of UV LEDs), all of their lights have no UV. All lights seem to be using secondary lenses, which may create hot spots. I can't find any real details on their warranty and they don't seem to have a return policy.

  9. Most well performed comparison I’ve ever seen. Keep it up – we need you!
    Alright, I didn’t manage to find this at all, which makes me wonder a lot, seen 2 copies of it in action, and they seem BRIGHT!

    Apparently the producer is BossLed

    Looking forward to test them, also, the Stellarnet, would you recommend getting that? At what cost, and/or do you know other good tools/equipment for making own comparements/meassurements (Watt use etc etc etc etc).

    Best regards.

    1. Hello,

      You are the first person to request BOSSLED added to the comparison; if more people request they be added– and the company lasts for more than a year (see below)- I will add them to the site! At first glance, the descriptions/product specifications for the lights they offer are inconsistent; it isn't clear what you would actually get if you were to order one of their lights. They appear to be mixing and matching descriptions and specifications to get all of the "key words" that people look for, hoping that people won't notice that they are inconsistent. They are also stealing images from other companies and using them as their own; at least most of the images on their site showing plants growing under LED lights I have seen on other seller's sites, and in many cases these images were posted a long time ago by the other sellers. There are no real details on their warranty, but they do say that returns are only allowed if the light is dead-on-arrival.

      While I cannot say for certain, this looks like one of the many LED grow light companies that springs up, sells lights for a few months, and then goes out of business so they don't have to honor their warranty. I see this happen all the time, and the BOSSLED website looks like it is another one of these sellers. If you look at the "whois" information for their website domain as well as their contact information, you can see it is a Chinese company selling lights direct from China, only started in May 2015. Because they are so new and are following the pattern of so many other (now-dead) companies I am reluctant to add them to the comparison unless they actually last a year or more.

      Their lights may look bright, but the human eye is actually a very bad judge of light intensity. Given that the lights' specifications are inconsistent (so you have no clue what you are really getting), returns are forbidden, and you really have no idea how they will honor their warranty I would not recommend purchasing these lights.

      I did get a StellarNet spectrometer recently and I am very, very happy with it. They have many different models that have different wavelength limits, but I got a Black Comet that can discern 190nm (UVC) through 1088 (way into IR); it also measures PAR and is far more accurate at PAR measurements than some cheaper PAR meters that the manufacturers warn you against using with LED grow lights. I am adding a new "hands-on review" section soon showing the results for all the lights I can get my hands on from my StellarNet spectrometer for spectrum and PAR and a Kill-a-Watt meter for testing wattage.

      The only better way to really test out lights is to actually grow with them- but I don't have the money, space or time to test out the thousands of different LED grow lights available on the market now!

  10. Great site. I’ve been wanting to try LED grow lights for a few years now but as an electronic engineer by training myself, I’ve always been skeptical of the claims of most of the manufacturers. In my opinion, any LED light that needs fans is basically badly designed–proper heatsink design should be enough. The existence of passive systems essentially proves the truth in this. Fans are just an additional point of failure, and of course draw additional power.

    Additionally, as an avid gardener as well, I’m of the opinion that grow lights should imitate nature as far as possible, and therefore only true full spectrum LEDs should be used. I believe that despite the claims of mainstream science in general, our understanding of the true nature of light is basically still only in the pre-kindergarten stage and therefore as far as plants are concerned we should bow to the superior knowledge of nature and copy it instead of ignorantly trying to “refine” it. In my own research over the last 3 or 4 years one of the very few companies I’ve found that offer a fully-passive grow light that also claims true full spectrum is Super Grow LED.

    The reviews and comments I’ve found on the Internet are generally very positive and seem to confirm the claims of the manufacturer. They also highlight the quality of communication and customer service as well as the 5-year warranty. Note that I’m not plugging this company–I don’t own one their lights and have never seen one “in the flesh.” My point is essentially that their template seems to me to be generally the one that I would choose as an electronic engineer, it’s basically how I found the company, because they are (or were) the ONLY one that offered a passively-cooled full-spectrum grow light for a reasonable price (currently $867). I’m still wary of shelling out the dosh as I live in central Europe and the shipping would be a killer, and returns naturally will be a bugger in the event of failures. I’ve even considered designing and building my own but so far time, money and distractions have prevented that.

    So yeah. If Super Grow LED is not on your list, it would be appreciated if you could add it if/when poss.

    Thanks muchly, and keep up the good work!

    1. Hello,

      Thanks for the compliments- this site takes a lot of work to keep current, but hearing from people that find it useful motivates me to do so.

      You are the first to request Super Grow LED be added to the comparison, but if more people request they get added, I will put them in. A quick look at their website shows a few discrepancies; they say they cover 420-750nm but then provide spectrum graphs showing more than that. These spectrum graphs are also self-inconsistent in that they are labeled as "Relative Intensity(%)", but none of the curves hits 100% (to be relative to themselves)- some are above 100% and some are below. If they were relative to one of the curves, then at lest 1 would have to hit 100%. They also state (in the first link above) that they use 425nm base blue LEDs coated with phosphor to make them "full spectrum" (this would be consistent with the 420-750nm coverage claim), but the spectrum graphs from the second link make it look like 450nm blue LEDs coated with phosphor. In short, either their statements or the spectrum graphs are incorrect; I'm betting the spectrum graphs were just drawn by hand, and not from real data.

      Many people think fans are bad, and it is true that cheap fans can break before the LEDs do. However, with LEDs, the cooler they are kept, the more efficiently they put out light and the longer they last, which means fan-cooling is probably a good thing because it will always help keep them cooler. I have a whole section on this site dedicated to fans in LED grow lights.

      "Full spectrum" is an often misused and meaningless term in the LED grow light industry. Which is the "true full spectrum" light: one covering every wavelength from 380nm to 750nm, with peaks in the blue and red output, or one covering 420nm to 750nm with peaks in the blue and yellow output? Different LED grow light vendors give different answers depending on what they are selling. Most (but not all) of the "purple" LED grow lights I'm comparing actually include some of the phosphor-coated blue LEDs in their panels, along with red and blue diodes. Super Grow does the same thing, saying they include 25% red LEDs along with their "full spectrum" LEDs, but then they talk down on the "discrete color" LEDs others use, even though they are using them as well.

      The jury is still out on what mix of colors is best for growing plants, but in my own (limited) test grows, the better full-spectrum LEDs that look purple to my eyes have out-grown every LED grow light I've tried yet that look "white" to my eyes (because they have a lot of yellow light in them), when comparing equal wattage. I have not tried Super Grow LEDs yet so I can't say the same thing applies, but it is true that the phosphor-coated blue LEDs are less efficient than discreet color LEDs.

  11. This is really a well researched site that is extremely helpful! A real eye-opener.

    I too would like to see what you think of Amare Technologies and their “white light revolution.” The thing is I am not interested, nor care at all about growing cannabis. But it seems (at least from I can see on-line) that the grow light business is entirely pushing for that market. I am just looking to find the cheapest, most efficient way to grow some tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers in the winter for a hobby. Fluorescents won’t produce flowers/fruit and I don’t like the idea of the high heat HID systems.

    I see that a company like Advanced is in your “they lie to you” category, but are you saying that their DS100 (or lights like these) will not produce flowers/fruit for say a 2’x2′ set up?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hello,

      Amare Technologies has been requested repeatedly and will be included in the next update. Until I have time to do a comprehensive review of their site and lights, the first things I notice are that their lights are white-dominant, meaning they are probably better suited for humans than plants. Other than the SolarECLIPSE SE450+UVB (which just has fluorescent UV bulbs instead of UV LEDs), none of their lights have UV. All lights seem to be using secondary lenses, which usually create "hot spots" in the growing area. Because they don't have a return policy, I would be reluctant to purchase one of their lights.

      Growing tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers under LED lights is certainly possible; I have grown them all. Advanced LED is in the liars category for lying about the heat their lights put off and lying when they say they have a 90-day return policy on all lights, not because their lights won't work. The DS100 probably has enough power to get some peppers / tomatoes from a 2'x2' area, but the plants won't be getting enough light to produce a decent amount of fruit. Especially for taller plants like tomatoes, you probably want to get at least 200 watts of LED light over a 2'x2' area to get a decent crop.

  12. another vote for Amare tech comparison for me! they have a 5 year warranty. just ordered the 450, thinking of getting a BML or blackdog to compare Thank you!

  13. I’m stuck between 3 lights can you steer me right? Advanced 650, kind 750 and the apache at600. Which of these would be the best choice for bud?

    1. I wouldn't recommend any of those lights; I think you can do much better for the same or less cost with other brands. However, if you have your heart set on one of those three lights, The Apache AT600 has the most power, over 700 watts. The Kind K5-XL750 light is only 430 watts and the Advanced XML 650 is 618 watts. Only the Kind light has a return policy (only if you buy directly from them); with the other lights if you buy it and are disappointed (as I think you will be, based on all the research I give on this site!) you cannot return it.

      Update: Apparently I was wrong in my interpretation of Advanced LED's return policy- which explicitly says that the XML 650 lights are one of their "non-stock items and are not offered as part of the 90 Day Risk Free Trial"– which I took to mean they did not offer returns. Apparently there is a 20% restocking fee on the return of the XML 650. As I state on my returns page, you need to be aware that many of the companies which have return policies charge shipping or restocking fees, or limit the return to 1 light. Kind has an extra restriction that you must purchase directly from them as well.

  14. Excellent site. I have been researching for months-on-end now and this site pulls alot of the info together and answers alot of questions people may have when shopping for LED grow lights. I especially like the honesty. I have also found alot of companies make false claims and have sketchy return / warranty policies. I am living in Europe and have stummbled across a Polish LED grow light manufacturer – it looks like most of their product is more for suppliment lighting source but one or two of their products look interesting. Any chance of someday getting a review on one of their products the NEONICA GROWY LED – 354 ? Thanks.

  15. Really helpful info, thanks! Any opinion on Hydroponics Hut / Pro Grow X5 LED lights? Hydroponics Hut Pro Grow LED X5600 Grow Light From the limited research I’ve done they seem legit, and work closely with experienced growers to improve their products. I hope it’s not all smoke and mirrors. The number of potentially gimmicky features and lowish price point may be warning signs? I don’t know.

    1. You're the first to request any Hydroponics Hut LED light information; I've never seen the lights myself or heard anything about them. The information they give on the light you link to does look fishy.

      They say it uses 610 watts with 112 5 watt LEDs, plus an "accelerator chip" (COB) of unknown wattage. If they were running all 112 LEDs at 5 watts each it would use 560 watts, leaving 50 watts for the COB LED- these numbers add up correctly. However, most 5 watt LEDs are actually run about half of their rated power to prevent them burning out quickly; even if they were run at 80% of their rated wattage (4W each) the 112 LEDs would only pull 448 watts, meaning that the COB would need to be 162 watts- which is beyond anything I've seen for as small as it looks. Basically, it looks like they are lying about the wattage.

      Secondly, their spectrum graph is deceptive. They label the red curve as "Natural Sunlight", but this doesn't match up with the actual spectrum of natural sunlight– Hydroponics Hut is implying that there is a significant dip in natural sunlight at 530nm, when there isn't. The graph just doesn't line up- in fact if you notice, the wavelength numbers on the bottom of the graph don't line up either- there is more distance between 630 and 660 than between 400 and 430, despite the number pairs both being 30 apart. If you look closely, none of the numbers actually line up right- they are just making this graph up.

      So, certainly some warning signs for sure; if you do purchase this light and have access to a Kill-a-Watt meter to test it with, please let me know! If you have access to a spectrometer to test its actual spectrum, that would be even better- I'm almost certain they are lying about that as well as the wattage.

      1. Thanks for the input, I really appreciate it! I’ve dug a bit deeper on them, and from what I’m reading, internal build quality is pretty bad, warranty service is spotty at best, and one guy even got a unit with generic white LEDs instead of the advertised spectrum. Most of the positive reviews are essentially. “it turned on and my plants didn’t die.” Looks like it’s Black Dog or bust for me.

        I really appreciate your website, no way I would have been able to make an informed decision without it!

  16. I’ve been considering a new LED vendor–King. This is not Spectrum King. They have a line of unbelievably high wattage lights (1600W, 1200W, 1000W, and others). They claim to use double LED chips (10W) and are full spectrum (using only 7 bands). At $313 for the 1600W model, I figure if it is really only a third of that, I’m still good. I’m sure this is inflated, and they are new enough to not have many reviews. However, it is a tenth the cost of the best models, so how could I go wrong?

    1. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! According to the Amazon page for the King 1600W model, the actual power draw is 350 watts- so it is less than 1/4 the advertised power draw. The reviews on Amazon also have a lot of people complaining that things broke and they couldn't contact the company for repair. Seems like this is a case of "you get what you pay for".

  17. great research and thanks for the info. i’ve been looking into the lush lighting and was hoping you can add them to the list? their sales pitch is great, but i’m still skeptical. can’t find any solid reviews on it. thanks,

  18. Hello/To Who It May Concern,

    I bought a Diamond Series XML 650 and I just returned it for an exchange within my 90 Days. They also offered for a Refund, however, they have the 20% restocking fee which is in their terms and conditions which I read before I purchased. I see that you stated they do not offer returns. That is incorrect. I returned my 650 and got 2 – 350’s without an issue within my 90 days and when I called in their staff were very nice and professional and advised me of my options and I quote what you stated on 02/24/2016
    The Kind K5-XL750 light is only 430 watts and the Advanced XML 650 is 618 watts. Only the Kind light has a return policy (only if you buy directly from them); with the other lights if you buy it and are disappointed (as I think you will be, based on all the research I give on this site!) you cannot return it.
    Kind Return Policy:
    90 days begins from date of purchase
    Offer valid for up to two lights
    Offer valid for original purchaser only
    Offer valid for first purchase of Kind LED products only
    Offer valid for returns only, exchanges are subject to a 30 day return policy and restocking fee
    Product must be returned in “like new” condition and in original packaging
    Offer valid for direct purchasers only. Customers purchasing via authorized resellers are subject to policies of reseller

    So what you did not tell that person on your comment on 02/24/2016 is that 1. If They purchased more than 2 then they would be subject to a restocking fee just like Advanced. 2. That if they ordered now and then ordered 2 weeks later they would be charged a restocking fee if they returned the second order.

    Please be accurate in your comments to your viewers. I look forward to seeing my comment on this page without being edited. Oh also the Kind company scammed me for $2,000.00 and I chargebacked them because they refused to warranty their light.

    I also bought an California Lightworks Light and I still have that one too. They have been good to me also. They have not lied to me one bit, everything they stated to me has been 100% accurate and true.

    Concerned about your research. Post this comment and let us know this is a true site about true facts. Also you should fix your comment on 02/24/2016 with the true facts since I have brought that to your attention.

    Thank you,

    John Stillwell

    1. Hello John,

      I was wrong earlier about my interpretation of the Advanced LED return policies; the way they are worded on Advanced LED's website is confusing and self-contradictory and can be interpreted to mean that some of the models are not returnable at all or that these models have a 20% restocking fee. I have a full discussion of that here. As you point out, apparently Advanced LED is allowing returns on their "non-stock" models with the 20% restocking fee. As soon as this came to my attention I had updated my website content to show that the lights were returnable- but I missed the 2/24/2016 comment you are referring to.

      I have put a note on that comment now pointing out my earlier error.

      I always try to have the most accurate information possible, but with as much information as I am collecting and collating (and with the companies' websites changing all the time!) some mistakes are made- I do try to fix them as quickly as possible though.

  19. I’m going to be running a 16 pot Under Current system using 4 x 1000W units. I had decided on the Kind Led XL 1000, but after reading all of this information I am obviously lusting after the Black Dog Phytomax 1000. However, it may be cost prohibitive to buy four of them depending on other factors. I have also been looking at the Lighthouse Hydro ION 8 1546W with the funny UVB attachment. Finally, I have looked at the BBL1000 by Big Bud LED which looks promising but seems to have very limited specifics. What do you think of these options? Is there something else I should be looking at for this configuration? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Hello,

      The Kind K5 XL1000 light is actually 650 watts, not 1000. The Lighthouse Hydro lights seem very sketchy to me- they have no information on warranty or return policies, and the ION 8 isn't really going to run at 1546 watts– you'd be lucky if it was half that actual power. I've looked at the Big Bud LED lights before; they probably aren't lying about the wattage like Lighthouse Hydro, but as you point out they have very little actual information about their light online, which seems a bit sketchy. I'm also not convinced the high-power COB LEDs are a good thing.

      The lights you'll need depends on the size of your setup. For the Under Current systems I've seen 4 lights seems like it might not be enough- but it depends on the spacing of the pots and how big you are letting the plants get.

  20. I really like black dog phytomax 800 and 1000, im looking to start up my first 5×5 grow tent and was considering the black dog led but seen a review on Kind k5-xl1000 and they claim its better than black dog. Platinum led and Lumigrow are my other options i kept open. What is the very best for my 5×5 text? Black dog? Phytomax 800 or 1000? Thanks for all your help and time. This site is great for all led growers!

    1. Of the lights you listed (Kind, Platinum, LumiGrow and Black Dog) the Kind and Platinum lights are designed with secondary lenses to focus their light to a central spot to make it very bright there. Both market their lights based on having the highest PAR rating- which is true, but only for the center spot right under the light; the corners get almost no light at all.

      The largest LumiGrow light only claims to cover 16 square feet (a 4×4 area) for sole-source lighting, so you would need at least 2 to fully cover your 5×5 tent (25 square feet).

      The Black Dog 800 will cover a full 5×5 area and is higher-wattage / higher-power than the largest lights of any that you mentioned; their 1000 will do an even better job. For your tent I think a PhytoMAX 1000 would be the best single-light option, and the 800 would be my second choice.

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