Last updated: April 12, 2021
Aiming to keep lighting rigs for cannabis growing on a budget is a very achievable goal these days. The tech has advanced—what was once quite expensive can now be had for much less.
However, not all budget lights are made equal. You need to be on the lookout for lesser manufacturers trying to pass off bunk product onto the market. Reviews help to a certain extent but misinformed advertising has led many astray when dealing with complex products such as LED lights for growing cannabis.
Dead diodes, misleading power statements, and non-optimal light spectrums are some of the many issues with cheaper LEDs on the market. We have gone through quite a few products in our time, and we have a pretty good list going on the best budget LEDs on the market currently.
Let’s check it out and go over our reasoning why these products are the ones to check out.
|Best Overall||VIPARSPECTRA V300LED Grow Light||
|Best Value||iPlantop LED Grow Light||
|Premium Choice||Giixer LED Grow Light||
|MARS HYDRO TS LED Grow Light||
|Barrina 504014650Dc LED Grow Light||
One of the sturdier and long-lasting budget LEDs on the market, the 300W equivalent LEDs are plenty to take a cannabis plant all the way to harvest.
This is a full-spectrum light system with a fair number of red diodes included, which is great. It also stays cool and quiet even under the long hours needed for vegetation.
Use this for a grow of a couple of plants, and you’ll be happy with the results. More than three plants will start to have diminishing returns, though, and supplementary lighting will be required to hit that explosive flowering growth we like to see.
Still, this seems pretty much ideal for most grower’s needs when keeping things on a budget. Limit the size of your operation and your light options really open up.
A very powerful lamp that lacks a bit in structural quality, but still lands as one of our best LED grow lights under $100 for the money. iPlantop’s LED grow light here has a very wide light spread that hits both vegetative and bloom spectrum colors very well, allowing for the extra red power needed for big buds during flowering.
It runs a bit hotter than we’d like for an LED system, and the fans are noisy, but nothing compared to something like an HPS system.
Not ideal for small stealth grows or a very enclosed space with a lack of ventilation, but otherwise, this can take care of a medium grow with spectacular results.
Lacks a bit on overall brightness compared to the likes of the iPlantop LED grow light, but it is a bit cheaper. Overall, this and the iPlantop listing are very similar products, with the Giixer being slightly weaker on brightness.
This wouldn’t really be an issue, but it’s advertised as a 1000w equivalent system and it really isn’t. It’s the budget option, though, and it is still quite powerful for the price of the LED and it will handle a small box very nicely.
The good news is it runs somewhat cooler, though it retains the noisiness of the other similar model. The veg and bloom light works well for taking a few plants, say about three, all the way to flowering and the results are pretty great for the amount of money put into the light.
A daylight spectrum light that provides efficient coverage in a no-noise, low-heat set up but is less than ideal for blooming plants. This light suffers the same problems a lot of daylight spectrum grow lamps have, which is they work well for seedlings and vegetation but don’t provide large buds at the end of the flowering stage.
It will work technically, but better results are possible even for similar prices. However, this combined with a supplementary red light for blooming can be a good combo as the lack of noise and heat from this Mars Hydro light is second to none for stealth grows.
Barrina has a few different offerings of T5 style LEDs here, that are a great choice for a large-scale organized grow but are a bit much for smaller box or closet setups.
Build quality is excellent, the reflectors do their job well, and the lights are plenty powerful for a row of healthy plants.
The reason this sits halfway down the list though is that these are not really ideal for most home growers. These lights are 4 feet long, which is way too big for either closet or most grow boxes, and the benefits only start to show when there are multiple lights being used in a larger grow room.
If that’s what you’re planning, then we have found an actual budget option for you and look no further. Otherwise, stick to something a bit smaller and easier to use.
Efficient daylight spectrum T5 style grow lights that work great for the early stages of growth, but don’t provide enough red light for blooming plants to really take off.
We like this lamp in a large scale nursery or for clone farming, but its use for growing plants all the way to blooming really is lacking. Beyond that, they are T5 lights and have the same space issues that the Barrina products have.
If you’re looking to have a large nursery, these are probably the best LEDs out there for a budget build. However, most people aren’t looking for that and we don’t recommend these for anything else.
Fauna’s grow light is a flexible choice for supplementary lighting, but probably isn’t the best to take care of an entire grow. The good thing about this product is how easy to adjust the light direction is due to the arms on this stand. We like this as a way to get some day-light spectrum on hard to penetrate areas of the plant.
On the other hand, the amount of light produced isn’t enough for large explosive growth throughout either the vegetative or flowering stages of the plant. It’s still a cool choice if you’re trying to add some extra light underneath or on the sides of the grow, but best left alone if being considered as a sole light source.
A very budget option for small grows, that lacks the light spread needed for more than one or two plants. This is actually an interesting choice for those looking for micro grows, as finding a good full-spectrum that has a fair amount of red light can be difficult to find in this size.
For a bit more, you can get a lamp that will provide a lot more light, but if this is all you’re going to need, the price is pretty solid.
You’ll need to provide your own hanging rig as well, as what is included here is little more than a poorly made carabiner.
When you need just a bit more full-spectrum lighting, then this might push your growth over that edge. Otherwise, the weak power here just isn’t going to do much for your plants.
If this is combined with another powerful LED system, and used solely to light specific areas of a plant, there is a use to be found here. They’re flexible and fairly reliable and well-built, while also being very cheap. The problem is they’re too weak to provide much to a larger plant.
Ideally, use this as a backup to pinpoint very specific points on a plant when they have grown in a way you didn’t foresee or plan for. It can help a couple of buds that are being snuffed out by a thick overhead canopy. Otherwise, there’s not much use here for a cannabis grow.
Budget LEDs need a few considerations before purchasing. Nowadays, they’re a legitimate way to grow cannabis but it’s important to plan out a few aspects of the grow before purchasing any kind of system.
You’re going to want something that has thought out the blooming process of cannabis. Red light is the biggest problem as a lot of the lights on the market tend to exclude this part of the spectrum since it’s not very useful until the flowering stage.
The difference between buds getting a lot of red light versus other spectrums is fairly huge at the end of the harvest, so keep this in mind before making a purchase.
Ideally, grab an LED that has a switch to swap between vegetative and bloom colorations, otherwise, make sure the “full-spectrum” they are using definitely includes a fair amount of red light.
Being said, if you’re looking to use an LED in conjunction with a different light for blooming or simply are setting up a seedling or clone nursery then a brighter light spectrum may actually be better.
Probably the most common place to cut corners on when manufacturers are making lower-priced LEDs are the fan and heat sinks.
Noisy LEDs are very common due to this, and the tolerance you have to this is up to how stealth you want your grow to be. If it’s not a big deal to hear it in the background in an adjoining room, then don’t worry about this. Otherwise, take care to check how loud the unit you’re looking at is going to be.
Heat can also be an issue in an enclosed space. Though LEDs produce far less heat than similar HPS systems, it can still act as a small space heater when ventilation is at a minimum. Combat this with either an additional type of cooling for the room, or picking a low power, cool running light system.
Getting a worthwhile LED grow light for under $100 is definitely possible, just be careful when making a purchase so that you don’t run into any big issues during your grow.
For smaller grows, where you want an all-in-one solution for all stages of growth, then the VIPARSPECTRA V300LED Grow Light is really a great way to go. It runs cool, is smart about its color spectrum, and will last for many grows to come.
Slightly larger grows can benefit from the additional light the iPlantop LED Grow Light provides, though noise and heat need to be considered when adding more powerful lights like this into a small or enclosed area.
This should help out some when going through the many different budget LED grow lights on the market. It’s a great way to start out, as the potential grows can rival even more expensive setups as long as you take care of your plants and keep the number of plants on the low side.
Featured Image Credit By: Barrina LED Grow Light, amazon
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