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
- 1 Grow Lights – Vital Concepts
- 2 Best Selling Indoor Grow Lights
- 3 What are the Types of Indoor Grow Lights?
- 4 Cooling and Heating Effects
- 5 How Do You Maintain Your Grow Lights?
- 6 Indoor Grow Light FAQs
- 7 Wrapping Up – Get Professional Advice
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.
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.
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.
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
- Auto turn on and off timming function
- Red and blue led combination
- 9 dimmable modes
- 3 cycle timing modes
- Suitable for indoor potted plants or indoor gardens
- 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.
- Grow light can be timed to 3, 6, 12 hours as the plant needs, bringing enough but suitable brightness to your plant. With auto on/off function. Plant light will be restarted automatically the next day without manual operation.
- LED growing lamp can provide 10 brightness level. You also can choose one, two or three lamps on.
- Grow light has a strong desk clip, and 3 adjustable gooseneck between the clip and the lights which you can move the light to the position you need. (Note: This grow light could not stand on its own, please clamp the clip on stable object to prevent the plant lamp from falling.)
- Vogek Grow light can offer full spectrum light. The plant bulbs are replaceable, so you can replace new bulb instead of buying a new light when the life time of bulb is end.
- Our plant growing light is made of 144LED beads, which can provide strongand uniform intensity of light to plants. This Grow lamp has more larger lighting area.
- Flexible Timer with LCD Display: This plant grow light equipped with the flexible auto-on and off timer of which working time can be set from 00:10 to 23:50 according to the actual need of plants. The indoor plant grow light also has a display screen that you can check for the timing setting easily. Note: When using the lamp, please clamp the clip on stable object to prevent the plant lamp from falling.
- Red & Blue Spectrum Grow Light: Indoor plant light provides your plants with light in red and blue spectrum from 380nm up to 800nm which plants can absorb all lights it needs. And this plant light includes three different LED light beads. Red light can bring about better result of flowering and fruiting. Blue light can help your indoor plant to sprout. Besides, white light can enhance the photosynthesis of your plants.
- 4 Lightness Modes & 10 Brightness Levels: VOGEK LED Growing Light comes with a power button with which you can easily turn on all, three, two or only one light bulb of the whole plant lamp. The Brightness level also can be simply adjusted from 100% to 10% level by pressing the “+” or “-” button. With the flexible adjustment of the brightness, this plant growing lamp can take good care of your plant throughout whole course of its growth.
- Strong Clip & Adjustable Gooseneck: Featured a strong clip, our grow light can be clamped on your plant shelf stably and arbitrarily. The flexible gooseneck allows you to regulate the height and angle of the gooseneck as you wish, which can help your plant gain the desired light with ease.
- Great Compatibility: The replaceable bulbs are made of 192 LED lamp beads, this plant grow light provides your plant with bright and even light. With larger illuminated area, the plant growing lamp is more suitable for your plant through its whole growth circle.
- 🌱【Plant Light Full Spectrum】 LED grow light for indoor plants, full spectrum from 380 to 800nm, When attempting to Grow lights are quite effective at replicating the light from the sun to give your plants what they need to grow and is suitable for every plant growth stage.This grow light contains 150leds, 150w output, provide a strong and uniform intensity lighting for 4~5 plants.
- 🌱【Plant Light with Tripod Stand】 Emiral LED plant grow light and assembly tripod stand, compares with the clip plant lights. Provides larger and brighter lighting area. The stand plant grow light can apply to different types of plants, such as indoor tall plants, greenhouse plants, but the clip ones are only suitable for table plants.
- 🌱【Upgraded Plant Light Kit】 360 rotation adjustable goose-neck is UPGRADED with more advanced design, allows you to adjust to any angle to light up your plants, can WELL SUPPORT the three-head lights, prevent from falling down, Also, better cable organizations makes the installation easy. The tripod stand height can be extended from 15.7 to 42.7in. Widely use for indoor plants with different height.
- 🌱【Safety Durable Plant Light】 Plant grow light is made with upgraded tube, not easy to fall down, and the LEDs are qualified, with Heat sink shell, provides long lasting usage time. The power adapter is 5V, low voltage, energy-saving and user safety.
- 🌱【Plant Light Widely Use】 LED Plant Lights is for all indoor Plants, and acts as indispensable role for every plant growth stage. Widely use to family balcony seeding/breeding, gardening, flower show, potted plants. Especially, when the plant needs extra light in raining, snowing, dark indoor etc. conditions.
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.
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.
- New Upgrades: Compare with the traditional 1000 watt grow lamps, this new Dual-Chips 10w led lights is bigger, brighter and efficient, but consuming only 110 watts.
- Perfectly help you to save the energy and improve the environment of plant growing. DOUBLE SWITCH- Veg and Bloom button have different function. Veg switch: It's blue led and white led. For seeding or young vegetative growth,you can use Veg switch only. Bloom switch: It's red led and white led.for flowering/blooming,you can use both Veg and Bloom switches.
- Most LED lights are rated at somewhere 50000 hours of use. For comparison, many other grow lights tend to last for around 20,000 hours before needing to be replaced.Protecting diodes are added to make sure one chip out, others still work.
- Full spectrum: the light include red,blue,yellow,white,and so on etc. which is similar to the sunshine,ideal for all kinds of indoor plants veg and flower at all growth stages.
- 【Warranty and Customer Service】24 monthes quality guarantee and 30 days refund
- Full Spectrum(White color) - Barrina LED grow lights provide indoor plants with full-spectrum sunlight replacement. They provide the most reasonable grow light wave based on the ratio of the absorption of the plants
- Super Bright - Consume only 96W with 384 LEDS totally, replacing 600w general plant lights. Over 95% light energy can be absorbed by plants. It is a great option for plants that in seedling, vegetative and flowering cycle
- Reflector - The light efficiency can be increased by 17~20% with reflector. The shell of our light was made of 100% aluminum which provides the high-efficiency heat dissipation. Ensuring the longer service life of the led chips
- Easy Installation - Plug and play. And could link up to 12 grow lights in a series by inclueded 48 inches connecting cords. Using clips or Double-sided tape to mount on ceiling, using cable ties to tie on grow light stand, or using hang ring to hang the lights, multiple installation methods provide the best way that you need.
- What You Get - 2 years warranty. 4 x Barrina LED Grow lights, 2 x Power cords with ON/OFF switch, 4 x Connecting Cords(48''), 4 x Small Connectors, 4x Installation Clips, 8 x Double-sided tape, 16 x cable ties
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.
- 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
- 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 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.
- UPGRADED COMMERCIAL LED GROW LIGHT, easy dimming & daisy chain function, up to 15 multi-lights connected, convenient main light controlled; 2 auto sensing power supply works on both 120VAC and 240VAC and 277VAC, suit for Large Rooms and Commercial Setups
- HIGH EFFICIENCY ENERGY SAVING PLANT LIGHT, Only 300 watts true output with 684 PCS LEDs, more scientifically and energy-efficient! Perfect for 3' x 5' veg stage, 2' x 4' bloom stage, higher intensity in a MARS HYDRO grow tent, reflective area, or by crossing over using multiple TS2000
- SUNLIGHT FULL SPECTRUM LED GROW LIGHT, Infinite close to natural sun light, suit for all plants whole stages indoor growing, rapid plant response from seed to flower, achieve maximum quality and quantity, much better than traditional HPS grow systems
- HIGH REFLECTIVE & NOISE FREE-Fanless QUANTUM LIGHT BOARDS design, quickly heat dispersing material aluminum reducing light lost to aisles and walls, increase the light intensity up to 20%, allowing your plants receive more energy and without burning your plants for maximum headroom
- Much better yields when our grow lights move because more leaf area is reached with better light, so no hot spots and no shadow patterns. Plus we cover about 30% more area, and that’s per grow light. See Ppfd chart in photos. You can only get this with Light Rail.
- Includes a 10 RPM IntelliDrive Robotic Motor, two piece 6ft 6in in total Rail, hdw and instr; adjustable travel distance and with a 0-60 second adjustable time delay. Light Rail 3.5 IntelliDrive works with 110v, US and Canada compatible.
- Only Light Rail performs over many years like a workhorse with the power and endurance for any light at any weight. Beware of cheaply made imitations.
- Genuine Light Rail, the one that meets important guidelines (see below) and solidly made in the USA since 1986. Manufactured by Gualala Robotics.
- Now with Extreme Duty Trolley Wheels as standard; If it does not have the Light Rail logo, see Motor photo, it is not a Light Rail. Keep it Real, Keep it Light Rail.
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.