Last updated: February 2, 2022
Experienced growers know that the success or failure of your cannabis cultivation relies on three major factors: Soil, water, and light. No matter what other variables you’re going to tweak, you must get these three elements dialed in if you want to enjoy an abundant harvest.
For the overall cost of your grow, though, choosing the right light can make it all seem worth the time and effort… Or break your wallet and your overall yields. While LED grow lights may not have been a great option even 5 years ago, advances in LED technology have made them our hands-down favorite style of light for consistent, low-maintenance indoor grows!
The only problem with LED grow lights for growing cannabis? There’s a lot of imitators on the market, trying to sell bargain-bin lights at a premium price. That’s why today, in this review, we’re going to be presenting a comprehensive guide to choosing the right LED grow light for your indoor grow.
With every product taken from a well-vetted source, we’re presenting only the best of the best products from all three styles of LED grow lights. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
|Best Overall Panel Style||King Plus 2000W Double Chips LED Grow Light||
|Best Value Panel Style||BESTVA 1000W LED Grow Light Full Spectrum||
|Premium Choice Panel Style||BESTVA DC Series 4000W LED Grow Light||
|Best Overall Spread Style||Spider Farmer SF-1000 LED Grow Light with Samsung Chips||
|Best Value Spread Style||MARS HYDRO TS 600W LED Grow Light 2x2 ft||
Panel style LED grow lights were the first to come on the market, and have been a staple for indoor cannabis cultivation ever since. Compact and powerful, the best models rarely weigh in over 10 pounds – but can cover a growing area of up to 25 square feet!
Two thousand watts of power is a fantastic middle ground for indoor grows. It’s far from being underpowered, but not nearly as big of an initial investment as some of the ultra-bright options out there.
The King Plus offers a fantastic array of features to go along with this sizable power output: A veg/bloom switch for optimizing light frequencies during different grow phases, a full-spectrum option for maximum light penetration, excellent energy efficiency, a powerful cooling system, and a generous 3-year warranty.
Setup and installation are quite simple, too. The unit has attachment points built in, and comes with adjustable rope hangers already assembled. This way, you can change the height of the light to accommodate different grow phases – making the King Plus an excellent choice for just about any grow.
All panel style lights are already a great value among the different style of LED grow lights… But this 1000W offering from BESTVA just might be one of the best LED grow lights for growing cannabis for the money. If you’re looking to get maximum yields for a small initial cost, you should definitely consider this option!
Even at just 1000W, the BESTVA outperforms many competitors due to its dual-chip LEDs. Without going into too much detail, these are brighter and more efficient than traditional 3 or 5 Watt LEDs, and much less prone to burnout. For the price, this sort of performance is very difficult to find.
But the great features just keep coming: Veg, bloom, and full spectrum light modes make it suitable to any phase of a grow. An aluminum plate radiator and two fans make it run exceptionally cool. With an effective coverage area of between 3’ x 3’ and 5’ x 5’ (depending on your grow phase), they’re up to the task for any small to medium grow.
Put that together with a 3-year warranty and an estimated life span of 100,000 hours, and it’s easy to see why we chose this as our best value for a panel style LED grow light.
We are huge fans of the 1000W version of BESTVA’s panel-style LED grow light, reviewed above. Such big fans, in fact, that when we found out that they also offer a massively powerful 4000W version of the same style, we immediately jumped on the chance to try it out!
There’s no getting around one simple fact of choosing LED grow lights for cannabis: To really increase your yields (via more and/or bigger plants), you’ll need a more powerful light… Of course, this will come at a significant increase in price, as well.
With BESTVA’s proven track record in producing smaller lights and providing amazing customer service, though, it’s really a safe bet to invest in this behemoth of a light rig. Many of the features remain the same as their previous models: Veg, bloom, and full spectrum light modes for every grow phase, bright and efficient dual-chip LEDs, a powerful cooling system, and a stellar 3-year warranty.
Where it differs from the lower-Watt models, though, is in its effective coverage area: This 4000W panel light can cover an incredible 10’ x 10’ grow area at a height of two feet, making it an all-in-one solution even for larger grows.
Spread style LED grow lights do exactly what their name sounds like – spread a larger number of smaller LEDs out over a large area, effectively increasing the growing coverage. Also referred to as “quantum boards”, “racks”, or “spiders”, they’re an increasingly popular option among growers with larger indoor operations.
As far as these spread-style LED grow lights go, Spider Farmer is the go-to name in the field. With this, their flagship model, they’ve produced a grow light rig that’s just about the perfect light for beginner setups. The Samsung diodes are crazy reliable, and not nearly as prone to burnout as those you might find in most panel-style LED grow lights.
Combine that with a fan-less cooling system that uses huge aluminum heat sinks, full-spectrum bulbs, and a 3-year warranty, and you’ll see why this is our top pick overall for spread style grow lights. To sweeten the deal, the whole rig is ready to go straight out of the box – just hang it and plug it in!
Finding good LED grow lights at a bargain price is hard enough, but finding spread style lights at a discount? Almost impossible. So, when we saw that Mars Hydro was offering this 600W “starter grow” light at such an exceptional value, we just knew it had to make our list.
This full-spectrum light setup advertises a 4’ x 4’ coverage, but shrink that down to 2’ x 2’ for best yields. It’s equipped with full-spectrum light, a fan-less cooling system, and excellent reflectivity – but sacrifices the warranty found in so many of our other top choices.
In short, we love this light as an introductory spread-style LED grow light. It’s incredibly convenient and easy to set up, but is really only suitable for small grows. Its exceptionally quiet operation makes it very suitable to “stealthy” grows, though – if that’s something you’re looking for.
It should be a fine testament to Spider Farmer’s quality and value that we’ve chosen them for 2 out of 3 of our spread-style LED grow lights in this review! With the SF-4000, you can choose to upgrade to the largest, most powerful spread style light that’s available today – making it the choice of especially enthusiastic amateur growers as well as seasoned veterans.
With an incredible 4000W of power, the SF-4000 easily dwarves most other spread style LED grow lights. Equipped with the same Samsung diodes as its predecessor the SF-1000, it’s built to last for a very long time… And backed up with a 3-year warranty, too. It’s highly likely that this could be the only grow light you ever need to buy for a single-room indoor grow.
Of course, it’s just as energy efficient as everything else the company makes, and has amazing light penetration due to its exceptionally high power. Full-spectrum light makes it suitable for every phase of a grow, and it’s ready right out of the box. The only real downside? It’s a very large investment for beginning growers, making it more popular amongst experienced cannabis cultivators, instead.
Chip on Board, or “COB” style LED grow lights, are the most recent technological development in LEDs. Each COB “bulb” is packed with smaller LED chips, making them incredibly bright and intense… Even rivaling the coveted High Intensity Discharge lights favored by many horticulturists. They’re known for deep, penetrating light that reaches through even the densest plant canopies.
The 2000W COB grow light from AGLEX is an incredibly bright, exceptionally versatile option that comes in at a hefty price in comparison to panel or spread style LED grow lights. Veg, bloom, and full spectrum light settings make it appropriate for every stage of a grow, and a big heat sink combined with 4 fans means it gives off almost no heat at all. Their 3-year warranty and responsive customer service make it a long-term investment worth trying.
Well-designed lenses do a fantastic job of focusing all the ultra-powerful light that this unit offers onto your plants. If you’ve been growing with other styles of lights before this one, be sure to adjust your hanging height – these COB lights can cover a surprisingly large area!
It’s no secret that COB style lights are the most expensive of the three styles of LED grow lights. Their ultra-bright, high-tech lights don’t come cheap, after all! So, what’s a grower supposed to do if they want to try COB lighting without killing their wallet?
For that purpose, we’re big fans of the FSGTEK X6. It advertises at 1800W – only 200 short of our top pick for COB style lights – but uses slightly older technology that hampers its total brightness. Even with this taken into consideration, it’s still more powerful than comparable panel or spread style LED grow lights.
Unlike the other COB lights on our list, the X6 only has one light setting: Full-spectrum. For all but the pickiest of growers, this will do just fine – especially when combined with its 3-fan cooling system and 3-year warranty. Overall, it’s a fantastic light for the price… Even if it’s a little outdated for the style.
For extremely dense, high yield grows, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than this 3000W COB style grow light from Phlizon. Extremely bright, it has some of the most concentrated canopy penetration of any grow light available on the market today – making it perfect for strains that like to grow tall and thick.
With a core coverage area of 4’ x 4’, it’s not the widest coverage of any light in our review… But this is made up for by its previously mentioned canopy penetration. A full spectrum light, it forgoes any veg/bloom/full light switches in favor of maximum power, 100% of the time.
A whopping 6 fans and thick aluminum heat sink keep it cool as a cucumber, and the 2-year warranty is nothing to sneeze at, either. Phlizon is a very well-known name in LED grow lights, so expect only the best from their customer service should you need any repairs.
Among the many styles of grow light available today, LED grow lights continue to be our favorite for all but the most specialized grows. Some growers are biased against them because of their being relatively recent technology – but with the yields they offer at a minimum of effort and upkeep, we’re huge LED fans.
Before getting into the differences between the three styles of LED grow lights for growing cannabis, let’s consider some of their many benefits.
Of all the lights available today, LEDs are the most energy efficient for growing cannabis. In a day-by-day comparison of operating costs versus power output, they easily beat out fluorescents – and even the HID lights that have dominated the indoor growing scene for decades.
A big advantage of this efficiency is their cooler operating temperatures. With very little heat put off during their lighting cycles, using LED grow lights can often let you do away with ventilation systems altogether. Even if you’d prefer to keep a vent fan for humidity’s sake, you’re still able to position LEDs closer to your plants without fear of light burn.
While LED grow lights will often be a more costly initial investment, their return on yields is only the beginning of where they pay off. Overall, we consistently choose LED grow lights for our cannabis cultivation because they just make things simpler.
Plug them straight into an outlet (unlike the ballast needed for HIDs), and their low-heat operation will keep you watering and adding nutrients less… And trimming and harvesting more.
Now, with those benefits of LED lights as a category in mind, let’s look at how each different style emphasizes a certain feature:
The panel style is the O.G. of LED grow lights, and for good reason: It prioritizes versatility over everything else, wrapping tons of desirable features into a well-priced package. If you’re just starting out with LED grow lights, they’re a perfect option for beginners.
Think of panel style LED grow lights as the “Jack-of-all-trades” of the grow light world. They’re not going to get you eye-popping yields like a high-powered COB or HID light – but they won’t cost you the arm and leg that those styles usually demand. Instead, they’ll consistently produce excellent small- to medium-sized grows of classic strains, with no muss or fuss.
If you’re looking to accommodate a larger grow, though, it’s best to move on to our next style of light.
Spreads come in three related styles – quantum boards, racks, and spiders – that all serve basically the same function. By choosing to maximize the light spread, these LED grow lights often have the greatest potential coverage area. They’re also known for providing even light distribution in any shape of grow space, leading to more consistent yields across plants.
For especially large grows, the high-powered versions of these lights will often be used as a “centerpiece”. Then, any less well-lit corners will be filled out with panel style LEDs (or fluorescents). Even if you’re not looking to cultivate a huge indoor grow, a larger spread style LED grow light will guarantee that you’ll not need to upgrade to a larger light any time soon.
All LED grow lights are controlled by LED “chips” that determine a lot about how powerful and bright they are. In the case of “chip on board” or COB style grow lights, tens or hundreds of tiny LED chips are arranged into bulb-like structures – the perfect vehicle to deliver a maximum intensity of light.
Whereas spread style grow lights are optimized for wider coverage areas, COB style lights are all about intensity of light penetration. In fact, only the most powerful of HID lights can rival their canopy penetration (a description of how well light reaches even the lowest leaves of a grow). Instead of growing over a larger horizontal area, COB lights lead to amazing yields with high vertical-growth strains.
COB style lights also happen to be the most expensive of all LED grow lights, though. Their greater intensity leads to potentially greater yields, though – so you can consider their hefty price an investment in bud yet to come.
While every style of LED grow light for growing cannabis has its advantages and disadvantages, we’re partial to panel style LEDs like the King Plus 2000W Double Chips LED Grow Light, our #1 pick for most growers. If you’re looking to maximize the number of plants you can grow, consider the spread style Spider Farmer SF-1000 LED Grow Light with Samsung Chips instead. And if it’s maximum power and the highest yields possible that you’re looking for, you’ll need the brightness of a COB light like the AGLEX COB 2000 Watt LED Grow Light.
Thank you for reading this review on the best LED grow lights for growing cannabis! We’re passionate advocates and dedicated users of LED grow lights for our own indoor cultivation, and hope that we’ve been able to give you all the information necessary to navigate this complicated field. As always, good luck in all of your growing adventures!
Featured Image Credit: 22August, Shutterstock