Hydroponics

Indoor Grow Lights Beginner’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know

This post will investigate everything you need to know about selecting the best growing light system for your indoor growing needs.

Are you planning on growing vegetables at home? Setting up a hydroponic or organic garden indoors is a great way to grow fresh veggies to feed your family this year.

Growing indoors means that you don’t have to concern yourself with changing weather conditions. Not to mention, the chances of pests and disease attacking your plants is much lower than in an outdoor garden.

However, growing indoors means that you’ll need to simulate the growing environment using technology. The most challenging part about growing indoors is finding the right grow light for your garden. There are plenty of benefits and uses for indoor grow light systems.

  • Grow your plants from seedling to harvest, without any sunlight
  • Start seedlings early before transplanting to the garden in early spring
  • Use specialized lighting systems for propagating and flowering
  • Finish outdoor plants that don’t have enough light left in the season
  • Propagate your plants and your root cuttings
  • Grow plants inside all year-round

These are a few examples of the benefits of using a grow light and indoor growing system for your vegetables this year. So, what is the best indoor grow lamp for your garden?

This post will investigate everything you need to know about selecting the best growing light system for your indoor growing needs.

Grow Lights – Vital Concepts

Before you settle on a grow light for your indoor garden, we need to go over a few concepts regarding how light affects plants and growth. Understanding these basic concepts will give you everything you need to choose the right lighting system.

The Light Spectrum

All light waves, both visible and invisible, fall somewhere on the spectrum. Science measures these wavelengths in nanometers, corresponding to the specific wavelength on the spectrum.

The light we’re interested in using for our indoor growing falls on the 400nm to 700nm spectrum. Light waves of this intensity are also known as Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR). PAR refers to specific wavelengths that plants use for photosynthesis processes to inspire growth.

Within this PAR bandwidth, there are wavelengths plants use for specific biological functions.

  • 400nm to 490nm – This wavelength produces blue light used by your plants during the vegetative state as they grow.
  • 580nm to 700nm – This “orange-red” wavelength mimics the sunlight in the later summer and early fall, signaling your plants to start fruiting.

For those that are math geniuses, you’re probably wondering why we skipped over the light waves in the 490nm to 580nm range. The chloroplasts in plant cells reflect light at these wavelengths since its mostly green in the 510nm to 570nm range.

Light Intensity

Now you understand PAR and the types of light required to boost growth and flowering in your plants. The next step is to understand how much of that light we need to use to grow healthy plants and increase harvest yield.

The amount of light produced by the light source reaching your plants refers to its “intensity.” The type of light plays a significant role in the intensity of the light waves. The positioning of your light also plays a vital role. The closer it is to the canopy, the shorter the distance to the light, and the more intense the light waves.

Therefore, the proper positioning of your grow light is critical. Too close to the canopy results in the burning of your crops. Having the light too far away from the canopy means that the plants don’t get the light they need for optimal photosynthesis.

Grow Light Power Consumption

Your grow light draws electricity to operate the ballast and bulb. Grow lights can vary in wattage, from as little as 50-watt NIR bulbs to 2,000-watt HPS or LED setups. Some growers use multiple lights in series, boosting the power capacity of their setup to meet the harvest needs.

Some lights have higher wattages than others. For example, LED lights have lower wattages than HPS or metal halide bulbs. Therefore, these light sources consume more power than LEDs, cutting down on the costs of operating your indoor garden.

Lighting Footprint

Each growing light has a specific design to cover a growing area. Trying to grow outside of this light footprint will produce lackluster results. The wattage of the bulb, and it’s operating height are the two most significant factors to consider when deciding on the right light footprint for your garden.

For example, a 1,000-watt globe operates at three to six feet above the canopy, and it’s suitable for a growing footprint of up to 3-square feet. When setting up your grow light, we recommend you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for distance from the bulb to the canopy.

You can tweak these settings with small tests during your first harvest. It might take you the entire growing season to find the right setup for your garden. Finding the proper placement to provide optimal heat, intensity, and footprint takes some time and testing.

Plant Photoperiods

The photoperiod of your light refers to how much light you give your plants over 24-hours. If you’re growing outdoors, you have a limitation on the photoperiod, thanks to the sun. In the height of summer, you can get up to 12-hours of light each day, while the wintertime may shorten daylight to 6-hours.

When growing plants indoors, you can change the photoperiod to whatever length you desire. You can run a 24-hour photoperiod with consistent lighting if you want.

Some plants experience a change when they start to experience a shortening in the photoperiod window. This shortening of the photoperiod mimics the days of the harvest season, and the plants begin to flower.

Best Selling Indoor Grow Lights

Bestseller No. 1
Grow Light for Indoor Plants - Upgraded Version 80 LED Lamps with Full Spectrum & Red Blue Spectrum, 3/9/12H Timer, 10 Dimmable Level, Adjustable Gooseneck,3 Switch Modes
  • Efficient LED Combination: This LED lamp has grow lights made up of 80 efficient growing LEDs (36 red, 16 blue and 28 full spectrum). It meets the conditions of plant growth without sunlight. 1--Full Spectrum(380nm-800nm): Suitable for all plants to root and sprout. 2--Red(660nm)+BLUE(460nm) Spectrum: for blooming and fruits. 3--Red+Blue+Full Spectrum: A mix of Red+Blue+Warm White is best to fuel the growth of your plants.
  • Upgraded Auto ON/OFF Timer: Plant grow lights come with the circular memory timer function allows to automatically turn on/off every day according to your settings: 3H(Blue)/9H(Green)/12H(Red). Which requires no manual operation and takes good care of your plants when you on work or vacation.
  • 10 DimmableModes: Our grow lamps provides 10 dimmable modes to suit varied stages of plant growth. It has 10 levels of light intensity and has 3 spectral modes to meet different stages of plant-growing needs.
  • Visible Quality and Adjustable: The LED grow lights have a USB connector which makes it convenient to connect in your office or home to USB or AC power plug (includes adapter). The 4-head light has a 360-degree flexible gooseneck made from quality tubing to keep a fixed position. The metal clamp allows the lamp to be placed anywhere in your home or office.
  • Scientific Heat Dissipation Design: Indoor LED grow light is backed by an aviation-grade heat sink powered by a temperature control unit. This improved heat sink efficiently dissipates the heat generated by the lamp to the atmosphere.
Bestseller No. 2
LED Grow Lights for Indoor Plants, Full Spectrum Plant Light with Stand (Adjustable Tripod 15-60inch for Floor Plants, Red/Blue/White, 4/8/12H Timer with Remote Control)
  • 🌻🌱🌵Upgrade Grow Light with Stand--Stable tripod (extendable from 15in to 60in) with functional lights and 360-degree flexible gooseneck, solved the trouble of setup and inflexibility of traditional hanging grow light, and also provide a much wider coverage area than clip grow light.
  • 🌻🌱🌵Great Efficiency Full Spectrum--FEEL SHOW 4-head plant lights provide 3 supplemental light modes: 1--Red(660nm)+Blue(460nm): promote photosynthesis, rooting, germination, blooming, fruiting. 2--Warm White, 3000k high uniform light, similar to natural sunlight. 3--Red+Blue+White (380nm-780nm), universal full spectrum grow light for plant indoor grow, succulents, rose, hibiscus, petunia, clematis, strawberry, lettuce, butterfly orchid, lemon tree, etc.
  • 🌻🌱🌵Dual Control & Multi-Functional--Both line-in controller and RF controller (protect your eyes from looking at the lamps directly). Support 3 light modes, 10 dimmable levels, 4 lights independent control, auto on/off every day after setting the 4H/8H/12H timer. 80 effective LED Beads, provide brightness of 80W fluorescent lamp, consumes only 15W of electricity.
  • 🌻🌱🌵Scientific Heat Dissipation Design--Our indoor plant growing lamps are backed by an aviation-grade heat sink and excellent aluminum shell. This improved design will protect the grow lamp bulbs not very hot, which is important to reduce light loss and extend bead life to more than 50,000 hours, and aslo without burning plants.
  • 🌻🌱🌵✅Buy with Confidence--24 months warranty, 90 days return/refund guarantee with FCC, CE, RoHS certified support. Our Plant Grow Light Kit is perfect for flowers and vegs especially when raining, snowing, cloudy days and dark indoor. You'll also get a detailed User Manual with Operation Approach and advice on how to grow plants, useful product for planting enthusiasts!
SaleBestseller No. 3
Grow Light,GHodec Sunlight White 50W 84 LEDs Dual Head Clip Plant Lights for Indoor Plants, 4/8/12H Timer & 5 Dimmable Levels
  • 🌱【6000K Growing Light/Reading Lamp】Eqqiuped with 5 Red+37 Sunlight White LEDs in each bar,which is similar to the sunlight at noon,an ideal for all sorts of indoor plants at all growth stages.Also,this 6000K LED lights provides exceptional color-rendering up to 95 ,it is flicker-free and soft light,perfect for you to reading at night.
  • 🌱【Auto On/Off Timing Function】GHodec indoor plant lights offer 3 Timing Options-4H/8H/12h lighting time everyday. Auto on/off and no more manually operation everyday.Each LED bar can control its on/off separately. You can press the switch button multiple times -- one light ON, two lights ON, or all are off.You can also adjust the brightness of the led grow lamp according to your plants needs.
  • 🌱【Sturdy Gooseneck & Strong Clamp】With anti-slip clamp and 360-degree Adjustable gooseneck,it allows you to place the plant light in any direction to provide the best lighting angle for your plants.st coverage around the plants .
  • 🌱【Highly Efficient】 as for LED power draw this plant lamp is highly efficient. A good gift for your plants if you growing some small plants,like seedlings,succulents,house-plants,etc.
  • 🌱【Widely Used】Suitable for balconies,greenhouses,darkroom,office and so on.Widely apply to the culture solution,gardening,potted plants,especially when the plant needs extra light when raining,snowing,dark indoor,etc.
Bestseller No. 4
Grow Light with Stand, LBW Full Spectrum 150W LED Floor Plant Light for Indoor Plants, Grow Lamp with On/Off Switch, Adjustable Tripod Stand 15-48 inches
  • 2021 Upgraded Design - Adjustable tripod stand extendable from 15 inches to 48 inches , just set it at desired height for your preferred use, you can stand it on the floor and adjust the gooseneck at the desired angle according to the needs of the plant.
  • Full Spectrum - Compact grow light with high quality super bright LEDs, full spectrum 390nm-730nm, including White(3500K&6500K)Red&Blue. Plants can get the spectrum they most desire from this grow light. It's suitable for all stages of growth such as seedling, germination, vegetative flowering.
  • Energy Efficient - 30w power draw replace 150W HPS or HID grow light with only 30W consumption, saving your electric bill. Good for indoor use.
  • Easy to Install - Within just one minute! Screw up the tripod, gooseneck and the plant light, adjust the height and angle, done!
  • Widely Used - Widely apply to family balcony seeding/breeding, gardening, lower show, potted plants, especially tall and large plants. 12 months warranty plus 30 days satisfaction or return guarantee, 100% money back. Contact us first if any issues and we will make it OK.
Bestseller No. 5
EZORKAS 9 Dimmable Levels Grow Light with 3 Modes Timing Function for Indoor Plants
  • Auto turn on and off timing function
  • Red and blue led combination
  • 9 dimmable modes
  • 3 cycle timing modes
  • Suitable for indoor potted plants or indoor gardens

What are the Types of Indoor Grow Lights?

Now that you understand the basics of indoor lighting, it’s time to discuss the types of grow lights available. This topic is confusing for many indoor gardening newbies. Understanding the difference between the lights helps you choose the right light to match your needs.

Fluorescents

Fluorescent bulbs are a popular choice for starter gardens. The blue-white spectrum of the light is ideal for starting seedlings and growing young plants. Best of all, these fluorescent globes are cheap to run, using hardly any electricity.

CFL bulbs are an excellent choice for vegetative gardens, and there’s no chance of this light spectrum burning your plants. You can leave the bulbs within a few inches of the top of the canopy, and the tips of your young plants won’t burn.

The CFL bulbs don’t put out much heat, and if the leaves of your plants touch the lamps, it won’t result in a burn. Both commercial and hobbyist farmers use fluorescents to start plants before moving them into the flowering phase.

Some plants, such as leafy greens like spinach and kale will do well under these lights, and they don’t require any transition to another light source for additional growth. T5 bulbs are the most popular type of CFL bulb available.

You’ll need several of these lights over one growing area, and we recommend packing in as many as you can fit.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

LED grow lights are the new gold-standard in indoor growing. These lights were the next evolution from the high-pressure sodium and metal halide globes. However, LED costs a fraction of the price to operate when compared to HPS and MH globes. LEDs produce less heat and consume less electricity.

The early stages of LED technology were skeptical, and many growers were hesitant to use them due to the technology’s unproven nature. However, over the last 10-years, LED technology has made remarkable progress, and todays LED lighting systems are as effective as HPS or MH, without the sizable energy bill.

Some LED models also feature dual-spectrum output. You can start your plants on a vegetative light spectrum, and they turn them to flowering with the click of a switch. These lights are typically more expensive, but the dual operation comes in handy.

Bestseller No. 1
HYPHOTONFLUX HPF4000 LED Grow Lights 5x5ft with Samsung LM301B & MeanWell Driver,Full Spectrum Growing Light Plants Grow Lamp,Dimmable Daisy Chain Commercial Grow Lights for Indoor Plants 2.7μmol/J
  • TOP COMPONENTS BRING AMAZING YIELDS:HYPHOTONFLUX led plant growing light is equipped with Samsung LM301B diodes and built-in MEANWELL driver.It draws 480 watts from the wall,achieving the efficiency 2.7 μmol/J and higher average PPFD with 1300 μmol/s at 4'x4' flowering coverage,completely beat the 800w HPS/MH grow lamp
  • RUNNING QUIET AND COOL: Simple structure,detachable driver,no fan,no noise. Six aluminum light bars(90mm/3.54’’ wide,wider than any other led bar lights) for better heat disappear and stay cool while enabling even light spread.Save you a lot at ventilation and exhaust
  • DIMMABLE DAISY CHAIN COMMERCIAL GROW LIGHT:The most powerful daisy chain-max up to 80 lights can be connected,controller available,especially beneficial for home,grow tent,grow room,greenhouse,garden,vertical Racks,hydroponic,soil growth
  • MAXIMUM YIELD FULL SPECTRUM GROW LIGHT:Proven high-yield full spectrum(Top-bin Samsung LM301B 3000k+4000k) with enhanced deep red 660nm. Born for big buds,Rapid plant response from seed to flower,speeds up flowering time and boost yields.Easy dimming design meets needs of indoor plants at different stage of growth
  • CHOOSE HYPHOTONFLUX TO SAVE HALF AND SATRT PROFESSIONAL GROWING:ETL,FCC listed, IP66-Waterproof.We provide 3 years warranty and US after-sales service,email us if you have any questions before purchasing.Backed by our strong R&D team!
Bestseller No. 2
TORCHSTAR Indoor LED Garden, Kitchen and Herb Plant Grow Light Kit with Timer Function, 24V Low Voltage, Indoor Harvest Elite for Gourmet or Plant Enthusiasts, Pots & Plants Not Included
  • 💡Flexible Usage: The 21 high-quality LED bulbs promote photosynthesis in most plants with a full-spectrum solar simulator. Grow plants you like, such as succulents, sweetgrass, mint, leavy, vegetables and much more
  • 💡Stylish Decoration: Our LED Indoor Garden With 4000K cool white glow, 900lm brightness and 95 ultra high CRI, plant under this light will be displayed vividly, makes an elegant decoration for your room or office.
  • 💡Smart Timer: The Indoor Garden light loops in the working mode of “16 hours on and 8 hours off”, imitating the normal routine of plants under natural condition. Grow your plants more healthily with lower consumption even nobody takes care of them.
  • 💡Safe and Convenience: No needs for screws, easy to install. Durable plastic material won’t be affected by water, keep its elegant appearance. UL listed power adapter for safety .
  • 💡Well Arranged Space: A size of 16.54"×11.42" ×5.43" may place several plants according to your needs. The plants during photosynthesis produce negative oxygen ions which are beneficial for your health, suitable for kitchens, offices, living rooms, etc. Pots and plants are not included

Metal Halide (MH)

MH lighting is a favorite choice for indoor gardeners during the vegetative phase. This light produces the growing spectrum, providing plenty of power and intensity to supercharge the growing period.

However, these lights consume plenty of power, making them an inferior choice to CFL in terms of value for money. MH produces the blue light plants that need to grow, and they are suitable for wattages up to 2,000-W

High-Pressure Sodium (HPS)

The HPS bulb produces light in the red range between 600nm to 700nm. This spectrum mimics the waning days of summer and spring, and the daylight hours start to get smaller. If you’re growing vegetables that rely on changes to photoperiods to flower, turning on your HPS bulb after the vegetation cycle will induce flowering.

These lights push out plenty of heat, and you’ll need an external ballast you can set up outside the growing area to keep the temperature down. HPS is an intense light and comes in power ranges from 400-watts to 2,000-watts.

These bulbs are notoriously expensive to run. Many growers decided to leave their HPS systems in favor of LEDs in recent years.

Bestseller No. 1
VIVOSUN Hydroponic 1000 Watt HPS Grow Light Air Cooled Reflector Kit - Easy to Set up, High Stability & Compatibility (Enhanced Version)
  • Buyers must peel off the inner blue protective film before using; 6" Air Cooled Reflector: Over 90% high reflectivity aluminum ensures soonest flourish of your plants
  • UL Listed 1000W Dimmable Ballast: Runs on 120~240V power supply, comes with 8ft 120V power cord, 600w/750w/1000w/super lumens optional
  • HPS Grow Light Bulbs: High PAR value (Photosynthetically Active Radiation), Superior quality & optimized spectrum to promote growth
  • 24-Hour Mechanical Timer: 15-minute On/Off, 24 hours settings; 125V, 15A, 60Hz, 1/2HP, 1875W Heavy duty construction; Timer mode can be turned off
  • US Patented 1/8" Rope Hanger (1 Pair): 8-ft long & 150lbs/pair weight capacity, solid braided polypropylene rope & reinforced metal internal gears to ensure top-safety
SaleBestseller No. 2
iPower 600 Watt HPS MH Digital Dimmable Grow Light System Kits Wing Reflector Set with Timer
  • 600W Digital Dimmable Electronic Ballast: Support 120V/240V Input; Dimmable Options: 50%, 75%, 100%; 8 Feet heavy-duty power cord included; Stable power output ensure flicker free light
  • 1 x 600W Super HPS Bulb 2100K; 1 x 600W MH Bulb 6000K; Optimized spectrum and high PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation) to promote healthy plant growth and soonest flourish
  • 1 x Pair of 8-ft adjustable Ratchet Clip Hanger Rope: hold up to 150 lbs; 24-hour Plug-in Mechanical Timer: 15 minutes increments
  • 19-inch Wing Reflector: up to 4' x 4' light coverage; Built-in 15 feet heavy duty lamp cord with E39 Ceramic Mogul Socket and standard Hydroponic S-Plug; highly 95% reflective textured German aluminum maximizes the light reflected to the plants
  • CAUTION: This system will generate too much heat to be used in an enclosed area without ventilation. Adequate ventilation is required for all iPower grow light systems. We recommend the use of an iPower inline fan

Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH)

These globes offer indoor growers the best of HPS, and MH roiled into one platform. These lights have a balanced spectral output, providing a mixture of red, orange, and blue light. As a result, you can grow with one bulb year-round without the need to switch to different spectrums.

Plasma

Plasma bulbs are the new evolution of LED. These systems are gaining traction with growers due to the efficiency claims around the power consumption of these models. They offer the same one-size-fits-all growing spectrum, but they are considerably more expensive to purchase than most LED systems.

SaleBestseller No. 1
SPIDER FARMER SF-1000 LED Grow Light Use with Samsung LM301B LEDs Daisy Chain Dimmable Full Spectrum Grow Lights for Indoor Plants Veg Flower Greenhouse Growing Lamps with MeanWell Driver
  • LOWER RUNNING COSTS & HIGHER-QUALITY YIELDS: SF LED Grow Lights utilize the latest in high yielding LEDs technology today-Samsung LM301B diodes, high Energy Efficiency with 2.5 umol/J, delivers powerful light output and uniform canopy penetration to resulting maximum higher yields. Only consumes 100w, running 50% less power than the HPS or other SMD LEDs or Blurple lamps. Veg footprint is 3 x 3 ft, Flowering footprint is 2 x 2 ft.
  • CUSTOMIZED DIMMING DESIGN: Upgraded SF series growing lights have a dimming knob and light switch. A single light can be adjusted the light intensity at liberty. Multi-light Connection with unified dimming especially beneficial for large area of indoor growing and commercial planting.
  • IDEAL FOR ALL GROWTH STAGES: Excellent full spectrum- white, blue, red and IR (3000K, 5000K, 660nm and IR 760nm). 3000K providing more reddish light and the 5000K providing more blueish. The 660nm red and IR light is especially useful during bloom, where it speeds up flowering time and boost yields. Uniformly across the surface and deep into the roots and bottom of canopy for consistent, highest quality flowers.
  • WELL MADE & SOLID CONSTRUCTION: No Fan Noise Free. High Efficient and reliable MEAN WELL Driver. Aluminum heat sink is thick and sturdy, protective covers for cables; User-Friendly Packaging. Quality components mean the light lasts longer, SF Light takes good cares of you with more considerate design, you can easily save money without purchasing lights frequently.
  • VALUE FOR THE MONEY: SF LED Plant Lights are often copied but will never have our quality or commitment, we provides 3 years of after-service of local maintenance center(US/CA/UK/DE). Make sure you purchase authentic SF grow lights, really can give you need from a high-quality grow lights – at a price that is affordable. For any questions, feel free to e-mail us and we will help you resolve it. Quality backed by our ironclad!!!
SaleBestseller No. 2
VIVOSUN Latest VS1000 LED Grow Light with Samsung LM301H Diodes & Sosen Driver Dimmable Lights Sunlike Full Spectrum for Indoor Plants Seedling Veg and Bloom Plant Growing Lamps
  • Lower Cost & High Efficiency: The VIVOSUN VS1000 LED grow lights use the latest high-efficiency (2.75 umol/J) LED plant light technology, the Samsung LM301H Diodes for extremely high output that consumes only 100W of electricity, making it more efficient than traditional HID lamps and other plant lamps on the market
  • Dimmable Ballast: The VS1000 LED plant lamp has a dimming knob that makes it adaptable to different growing periods for your plants; It can adapt to the growth needs of different plants in different periods; The first choice for beginners and professional growers alike
  • Full-Spectrum Sunlike Lighting: These VS 1000 full-spectrum LEDs deliver optimal light-spectrum coverage—more power for your blooms and maximum PAR output at various distances, with super-bright lights that your plants will love; Increases yields while decreasing costs, especially if you compare it to traditional HPS/CMH combos
  • Low Noise & Low Heat: The VS1000 LED has a unique appearance, with power supply and ventilation holes; No fans are needed so your set up is low noise, and ambient heat is very low, so there’s no need to worry about burns or damage to your plant; The heat is low enough you can place the lamp directly above your plants and give them all the light they could possibly want
  • Warranty: Super durable and reusable, these grow lights come with grow glasses, a pair of VIVOSUN US-patented rope hangers, and 3-Year after-sales service; If you face any problems with the item you receive, please do not hesitate to contact us

Cooling and Heating Effects

One of the byproducts of running indoor growing lights – is heat. CFL bulbs and LEDs put out very little heat during operation. As a result, you’re not going to notice any changes in your indoor growing temperatures.

However, MH and HPS bulbs do produce significant amounts of heat. As a result of the light intensity produced by these bulbs, you might notice that the temperature inside your growing room may increase by up to 12-degrees. The increase depends on the size of the lamp and your growing conditions.

To mitigate this effect, you’ll have to install fans or an air-conditioner to lower the heat back to reasonable growing temperatures.

How Do You Maintain Your Grow Lights?

There are a few basic principles you can follow to maintain your lights. In most cases, the ballasts will only require some minor cleaning, and you might have to open the ballast once a year to blow out the dust.

Watch Out for Bulb Light Degradation

All grow bulbs will start to lose efficiency and power over time. A degraded bulb doesn’t produce the necessary amount of light to create the best crop effects. As a result, you’ll need to swap out bulbs at least once a season to prevent degradation.

However, different types of bulbs provide different service life, depending on the type, wattage, manufacturer, and use in the garden.

T5 Fluorescent Bulb Degradation

Fluorescent light degrades the slowest out of all the options you have. These bulbs will lose around 10% of lumen capacity for every 20,000-hours of working time.

LED Bulb Degradation

LEDs degrade the slowest. For example, an incandescent bulb using filament, lasts for around 6 to 9-months, depending on your frequency of use. In contrast, a LED will last you between 15 and 20-years.

Most manufacturers will rate LED systems at 50,000 to 100,000-hours of operation before the diodes require replacement.

When Do I Replace My Bulbs?

You’ll have to replace your bulbs sooner or later, and we recommend sooner than later. Replace MH and HPS bulbs after they reach 50% degradation – we recommend after each harvest season, or every 8 to 10-months.

Indoor Grow Light FAQs

Do you have a few more questions about using indoor grow lights? Check out this FAQ for the answers you need.

How much light do indoor plants need to thrive?

Some plants are different than others. We recommend you run your lights for 16 to 20-hours on vegetative crops. You can use an MH or CFL bulb for this purpose. If you’re flowering vegetables or fruits, you’ll need to drop the photoperiod to 12-hours on, and 12-hours off.

Try to avoid running your lights for 24-hours; plants need time to rest and recover – just like you. We recommend you buy a timer and link it to your lighting system. You can use the controller to nominate your lighting hours, without the need for manual intervention.

How close can fluorescent bulbs come to my plants?

CFL bulbs won’t damage your plants. Even if the foliage ends up sitting on the lamp directly, you shouldn’t notice any burning or damage to the leaves or flowers of your plants. However, we recommend that you always keep the lights around 2 to 3-inches away from the top of the canopy.

Don’t move them any higher than that, or you’ll start to experience a slowdown in your plants’ growth. As mentioned, change your CFL bulbs at least once a year to avoid bulb degradation and keep your garden thriving.

How often must I replace HID lighting like HPS and MH bulbs?

It depends on how often you use the light and the duration of the photoperiod you’re trying to emulate. As a good rule of thumb, we recommend replacing MH and HPS bulbs after each season for the best results.

HPS and MH bulbs are expensive, so you’ll need to account for the costs of the bulbs in your gardening budget. Ceramic metal halide bulbs last a bit longer than the other HPS and MH variants. You might get away with two growing seasons before you notice severe bulb degradation occurring.

Is growing under LEDs worth it?

Many indoor gardeners swear by LED systems, while others steer clear of this tech. When selecting your LED grow light, make sure you look at the PAR, lumens, and the wattage of the light before finalizing your purchase.

Follow the directions and guidelines for growing under these lights, placing the light too close to the canopy results in the burning of the plants. For seedlings and sprouts, we recommend you keep the light at least 24″ to 28″ above the canopy. You can drop the lights to 18-24″ overhead during the transition phase, and 12″ to 18″ during the flowering cycle.

Wrapping Up – Get Professional Advice

If you’re thinking about starting an indoor garden this year, you need to get the best advice possible. We recommend signing up for a forum.

You’ll find plenty of experienced growers willing to give you some advice. Get recommendations on the best equipment brands and avoid making the same mistake novice gardeners make in their first season.

There are dozens of grow lights out there to choose from. However, only a select few provide the best light for your garden. Make sure you select a device that suits your gardening needs and your budget.

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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