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LED GROW LIGHTS EXPLAINED, Which Choice is Best For You?

How To Select the Perfect LED Light For Growing Vegetables, Medical Cannabis and Many More Plants!


I am sure by now, you are at the stage to finding the perfect LED Grow light for your requirements.  This can be a hard decision as there are so many LED Grow Lights on the market now, all claiming to be the best around.   We foudn that there is plenty of information circulating around on "How to choose the best LED grow light" but the problem is that most of the information on these websites are rather incomplete, packed with outdated information or simply not helpful enough.  LED Grow lights have evolved in the past few years and most information you find today pertains to older LED technology and does NOT apply to the modern high power LED grow lights we see flooding the market today.  The decision can be tough, so read on and educate yourself a little on the modern day LED grow light and the benefits and downfalls of many types available.  We will do our best to address and fix these problems with alot alot of the older information to help you select and shop for the perfect high quality LED grow light to meet your needs and requirements.


Plant Strains and Phase Cycle

Low light verses High light conditions

One question to ask yourself is do my plants or does my garden require FULL sunlight or low-light conditions for optimal plant growth?  Or maybe you have a mix of both types of plants?  We highly recommend a LED grow light with dimmable features if this is your needs, however, not many LED grow lights today have the dimmable feature as most people just mount them higher to get the same effect.  If you have a grow tent or limited height that may not be an option for you to raise your light.  So if you were to buy a powerful LED grow light and a shallow roof, you may run into probelms.   This is where a dimmable feature would be benefical to you.  Finding a dimmable LED grow light is a challenge and some are not that good, so we suggest going the cheaper route and buying the LED grow light you love and meets your requirements, then buy yourself a 'led dimmer' to put inline with the power.  This MUST be a "LED" dimmer, not the one we all see in the walls dimming regular bulbs.  These work different, so please check before you buy one, they are cheap! and give you full dimmable features so you dont have to constantly move your light and you can adjust the light as required by your plants as each strain and plant has its own unique characteristics as well.

Vegetation verses Flowering Cycle

Do you plan to do more vegetation?  flowering?  both?  This is important to know as companies are designing LED grow lights specifically for vegging your plants which will have more of the blue spectrum (430-470nm, blue spectrum) and others carry the red spectrum (640-670nm, red spectrum) which induces and promotes flowering.  Back in the day, we used to use MH (Metal Halide) to take the place of the blue spectrum, and HPS (High Pressure Sodium) to take the place of the red spectrum for flowering plants.   You can use one of these specific spectrum LED grow lights in parallel with your Full Spectrum light to 'boost' whatever stage you are working on.  These single spectrum lights are great for additional, supplimental light to boost the plant cycle it is in, or to penetrate the canopy better as most LED grow lights have a challenge doing that due to design.

 Plant Cycle of Life, Seedling to Flower - PHOTOSYNTHESIS LED GROW LIGHTS

Growth Cycle of the Plants Life Cycle

Blue (430-470nm) and Red (640-670nm) are CRITICAL for photosynthesis

If you plan to grow the complete plant cycle, from seedling to flowering - then we HIGHLY recommend a Full Spectrum LED Grow light.  A higher quality LED grow light that is full specturm will cover the entire PAR range of the required spectruml.  A full spectrun LED grow light provides plants with the red and blue spectrums they are seeking for a healthy, vigorous growth.  Wth the blue spectrums in the LED grow lights, this mimick the long spring or summer days and stimulates vegetative growth in stem, leave, etc (years ago we used MH(metal halide) to provide the blues needed).  Red spectrum is also super improtant as this is what stimulates and promotes flowering using the red spectrum (years ag we used HPS(high pressure sodium) to provide the red spectrums to the plants. If the company places a few blues in with the reds, then a hormone cascade is born and flowering will be encouraged greatly.

UV (and UV LEDs!) is a plants supercharger!

While we have learned up to this point that blues and reds are critical in proper photosynthesis, you may want to take into consideration looking for a LED light that has the UV spectrum range in it.  UV itself activates the plants defence mechanisms, it affects the development of the plan, stimulates growth and metabolism.  The UV wavelength has also been proven to increase THC levels in marijuana cannabis plants alot.  If you are seeking a LED grow light with UV wavelength, you should be seeking 315-400nm (350 is common


Do plants use "White" wavelength emissions at all?

Today, some LED lights in the higher end models, commercial models and industrial models would choose to add white to their custom spectrums.  If these are quality White LEDS and they are at the proper temperature they should be fine!  High quality LEDs that are white, and adjusted accurately to the proper Kelvin in a mid-temperature range of 5500k or thereabouts would be a perfect balance of cool/warm that will provide the blues required for growth and the reds required for the flowering cycle. Our Signature Series Infuzer 600MAXX++ is a perfect example of a professionally balanced whites and full spectrum working together to create the perfect lighting that light thirsty plants are seeking.  Our entire line of INFUZER MAXX+ models are perfect for all plants stages and proven to provide optimal photosynthesis and penetration not only in, but THROUGH the thick canopy many have troubles penetrating with larger crops, super cropping or monster cropping.   There are only 2 industry-grade LED grow lights available today that are capable of deep penetration through thick canopies while providing excellent PAR value, plus true sunshine spectrum to the plants... these are the SPECTRUM KING 400 and the INFUZER 600MAXX+.   For most gardeners and medical marijuana growers, a Spectrum Kng will be more than enough for a larger area with deep canopy penetration, but, when you are requiring even deeper penetration and wider coverage, then you have to move up to the INFUSER 600MAXX+ which is the worlds first 600 watt full sunshine, full par & UV beast everyone has been waiting for.   If your plants are LIGHT HUGNRY, then you need to feed them the light that will make them grow quicker, more healthier.

Quick note - the specific  wavelengths do not only target the wavelength they are tuned to. LEDs have about a 20nm ‘bleed-over’ on each side of the wavelength (varies with color.) For example, a 380nm diode will fall in the ranges of 360nm-400nm, with 380nm as the peak level. 

Whats The Best LED spectrums for Fastest Plant Growth?

To conclude, the very best LED grow lights for growing medical cannabis or any other crops will always include reds and blues at the very least for sure.  If you decide to go with the best, there is nothing better than a SPECTRUM KING or INTENZE MAXX+ series LED Grow light.  These 2 brands have been proven to be the best for MAXIMUM canopy penetration, super growth, extrememly healthy plants, vigorous growth spurts and huge flowering with massive trichomes unmatched by any other grow lights LED or not.  Spectrum King is a great choice for 4x4 or smaller coverage, when you need more you need to move up to a INFUZER 600MAXX+ which is the most powerful LED grow light available today for commercial gardeners, greenhouses and larger grow areas.  You can also use the Infuzer 600Maxx+ in smaller areas as it runs very cool to the touch.  YOU CANNOT PUT A SPECTRUM KING or INFUZER 600MAXX+ closer than 18" to the top of the canopy as these are very intense lights and will damage your plants if you have them too close..  


Whats My Coverage Area

LED Grow Light sizing

It really depends on how much area you are planning to cover, as to what LED grow light would work best for your needs.   A smaller light will do great for a 1x1 coverage, but when you have larger plants or multiple plants, we strongly recommend an Infuser 600Max++ to easily do the job of many smaller LED grow lights.  Watt for watt, it is much cheaper to buy a larger LED Grow light.  If you find it cannot be moved more than 18" from the canopy top, then you can choose to buy a LED dimmer and problem is solved.  Backing the light off too much, any light, will reduce the PAR that reaches you garden, so be aware when placing the light.

A larger light will cover a larger area with more even and intense coverage than a smaller light that spreads the light over a greater distance. 

Beam Angle & Reflector Degree

In addition to the size of the LED grow light, the beam (or lens) angle matters too. A small angle (30 degrees) decreases coverage area, but delivers more PAR value to your plants. A large angle (65 degrees) expands the overall light footprint, but reduces the light density delivered to the plants. You might consider larger angle lenses if the light is hung close to the plants. The coverage area will also vary between brands, by the size and shape of the grow light, and the LED wattage.   If you are purchasing a Spectrum King or a Infuzer Maxx+ we stongly suggest a 90 degree shade/reflector as that is optimal and beneficial for many placements and locations in your garden.


Is The Advertised LED Chip Wattage Correct?

1 to 3 watt LED chips

Almost all plant growth studies and research strongly suggests that the best wattage for an LED chip is 3 watts. Its true that 1 watt chips give off the least amount of heat, and are the most stable and long lasting. However, most 1 watt chip lights may not pack the power required to penetrate deep into the plant canopy. 3 watt LED chips possess the perfect balance between cost, size, and heat generation (or lack-there-of). The light energy that the 3 watt chips expel are able to penetrate up to 5 feet into the plant canopy, which is desired by most commercial growers.

5 watt LED chips

The problem facing 5 watt chips is that they are more expensive than 1 or 3 watt chips. They also tend to give off more heat, require larger heat sinks, and must be spaced further apart due their size. Therefore, they can make for an all-around bulky and heavy LED grow light, and can become more expensive due to the larger heatsink, etc.  BUT! should not necessarily avoid 5 watt chips without some considerations. As the technology advances and prices drop, more and more LED manufacturers are incorporating them into their lights.

6, 10, 50 watt LED chips and beyond

The big brothers of LED chips are the 1 watt, 3 watt, and 5 watt chips; 6, 8, 10, 50, 100, 200 and even 500 watt chips are available. Though these are super high wattage LEDs, we do not recommend any LED grow lights that incorporate these powerful LEDs. The LED grow light industry is still young by comparison and many companies are making use of the current and developing technology. Many LED grow light companies will begin to incorporate these high-powered chips into their lights in the form of COB - chip on board - LED design.  As LED technology advances and moves forward, COBs are being added to more LED grow lights.  

The truth about chip wattages

Does chip wattage even matter that much if the design is correct? The very best LED grow light manufacturers will have patents on their LED diodes or reflectors and lens technology. For example, some LED lights use 1 watt diodes that draw 156 watts total. But, these panels put out super high-intensity PAR for the small amount of wattage that they use!  Likewise, theres some LED light bars that contain 190 LEDs and run off of 10 watts, however, it deliver great growth results. Some other companies LED arrays draw 5-6 watts, but their LED grow lights are some of the best on the market. On the opposite side of the spectrum (no pun intended), there are some LED grow lights that use 50 and 100 watt integrated chips in their lights. These lights have been shown to deliver intense flowering with their strong intensity, however with improper cooling, they wont last long at all so you hear alot of stories on them burnign out and FAST.  Some chinese cob LEDs are horrible and are wired in series meaning if one led goes out, a whole string of them do!  So they lose brightness fast until they improve on their design and connections within the cob itself.


How About the Actual LED Output Wattage

You don't always get what you pay for and see

The ‘actual LED output wattage’ differs from the ‘advertised LED output wattage’ by up to 50-75%. Most companies may advertise that they use 3 watt chips in their LED grow lights, however, the diodes are not powered to full capacity whatsoever.  So basically, a 3 watt LED is usually driven between 500mA and 700mA, with most LEDs running at 550mA in order to increase the lifespan of the diode, meaning they are not actually running at the calculated add-up of all the power of the LEDs themselves.

Comparing LED grow light power

When comparing LED lights to HID lighting (HPS/MH), use the actual LED output wattage.For example, to get an equal amount of photosynthetic active radiation from LEDs as you would HID lighting, use about 50-75% less wattage than a HID setup.  Another example, to get 1000 watts of actual LED power you could use 2 LED panels that draw 500 watts of power in place of a 1500-2000 watt HID system. These numbers represent a wide range, and the actual power will differ depending on the brand, diodes, lenses, etc. Most importantly, do not use the advertised wattage of, say, a panel that has 350 x 3 watt chips. This does not equal 1050 watts of actual power. It is closer to 500-600 watts of actual LED power. LED lights will last you 50,000-100,000 hours before the light intensity reaches 70% (L70) and will save you a lot on energy costs compared to HID lighting.   The savings are crazy and you finally get to make use of ALL the visual light output rather than 90% of the light being wasted like in conventional lighting (MH, HPS, HID, T5, etc..)


Cooling Systems on LED Grow Lights

LED chip bases and heatsinks

Be sure to select an LED grow light that contains a metal core printed circuit board (MCPCB). These LEDs incorporate a base metal as a heat spreader and keeps the chips running at a lower temperature. This is important in extending the life of the LED. The LEDs should be mounted to a thick, finned, aluminum or copper heatsink. Most, if not all common LED grow lights on the market have this quality, so it should not be an issue when deciding on and LED grow light.  The absolute best LED modules available in any LED grow light today for maximum cooling are only available in the Spectrum King and Intenze INFUZER MAXX++ LED grow lights, which only use premium LED modules custom designed and optimal cooling in its designing.

Cooling Fans or No Moving Parts?

The Lower and Mid-End LED grow lights almost all contain internal cooling fans to rid any excess heat that may shorten the life of the diodes. However, only about 15-25% of the energy that LEDs output is turned into heat! This is extremely efficient compared to HPS and MH bulbs that expel 80% of their energy as heat. Some greenhouse and research LED grow lights do not have cooling fans due to the low-heat emitting LEDs and/or design. This is convenient because the lights require less power since they are not running internal cooling equipment.  Many growers prefer no cooling fans, because it is one less part that could potentially break on the unit.  Again, the SPECTRUM KING and INFUZER MAXX++ both have no moving parts, and better cooling and rapid heat transfer compared to any other LED grow light.


Construction of the LED Grow Light

Outter Unit Housing

High-quality LED grow lights are made with a metal (typically aluminum) housing. If the unit is plastic do not purchase it. Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and helps transfer excess heat that is produced by the LEDs.  Again, do not purchase any plastic LED grow lights as this is an indication of its internals also, which means you might be better off using a standard light bulb and achieve better results.

LED Drivers

Look for grow lights that contain a ‘constant-current’ driver, as opposed to a ‘constant-voltage’ driver. An LED's voltage tends to drop as they get warm. A constant current driver will keep the current steady as the LED voltage changes with the increasing temperature. This will extend the life of the diodes.  You can find higher end models with 'adjustable' current *and* voltage, but these are more money of course but a nice feature.  We strongly advise anyone thats purchasing a powerful LED grow light to be certain it has 'external' LED drivers as some of these larger LED drivers get warm if they are boxed up, even with vents and fans.. which in return will equal shorter lifespan, burning out etc.. so the problems are solved and your LED grow light will last a very long time, and efficient if the LED drivers are mounted free to the air so its heatsink can release excess heat fast.


Return policies, Guarantee and Warranty

Return policies on LED lights will vary and range from no returns to 30- 90 days (most common). A 3 year warranty on your grow light is ideal. Some companies even offer 5 year warranty (or more) which usually gives you some sort of idea how long you can expect your new LED grow light to last :).


Branding -  is eBay or Amazon ok to buy from?

You get what you pay for, its simple as that

Basically when you are buying an LED grow light, you will get what you pay for. Good companies make good lights. If you buy ‘no-name’ lights from eBay, Amazon, or Alibaba (china) you will get a unit that burns out fast. If you need a LED Grow Light to last years and years trouble-free, then you have 2 choices again, which are the Spectrum King and Infuzer Maxx++ as they are designed for Industry and Commercial heavy duty use - they are even resistant to water and can be WASHED or sprayed without harming them! Our lights are super high quality and have made many growers happy worldwide --- just check out the reviews of some of these lights online and do your research. Some are smaller companies, some larger, other from China, and some are U.S. made. Many well-constructed LED grow lights are designed in the U.S. or Canada and manufactured in China. Some of these brands include Black Dog LED, Kind LED, Illumitex, and Lighting Science. There is nothing wrong with this, because often they are made to an American company’s specifications and whether they are or not, these lights have proven their worth. Other brands, such as Mars Hydro are designed and manufactured in China and are great lights - especially considering their inexpensive cost compared to other LED grow lights if you are in a pinch or dont require superior lighting.  Our Signature Series Infuzer Maxx+ is designed, built and shipped from CANADA from the highest quality parts and highest quality control imaginable.


Lumens and PAR, Whats this all about?

Lumens are for Humans?

You may have seen LED grow light information listed in Lumens and PAR.  Lumens do not matter --- at least not to a plant anyways. Lumens are a measure of the amount of visible light emitted from a source. Chlorophyll mostly absorbs light in the blue range, red range, and far ranges of the visible spectrum. Chlorophyll does not absorb green or yellow wavelengths (although evidence suggests that green light helps drive photosynthesis). In sum, lumens do not tell us how well plants will respond to visible light whatsoever.

Par is where we Are

PAR, or photosynthetically active radiation, is a measure of photosynthetic light energy (400nm-700nm range) that falls on the plant each second. PAR does matter. It is important for plant growth, yet, many cheap PAR meters read the entire PAR range and not just the wavelengths required for photosynthesis, so using any PAR meter for light spectrum thats under $2000 is probably not very accurate but will give you a general idea.

A spectroradiometer is by far the best tool used to measure PAR, especially for when comparing LED grow lights to fluorescent, HPS, or MH systems. A spectroradiometer measures the energy at each specific wavelength, however, you may have to sell your boat or car to buy one, and for what its worth, the average gardener will not use it much at all or benefit from its results without alot of studying.

Spectrometer PAR Meter Advanced For GROW LIGHTS, GARDENERS Spectograph

It is best to ask the manufacturer how they obtained their PAR readings. When you know the umol readings (PAR/PPFD) for a grow light you are able to place it at the correct heights for optimal PAR coverage.


Do LEDs Work well for Growing Plants / Flowering Cannabis?

Yes! Absolutely they do. Keeping the above points in mind when purchasing an LED grow light will ensure that you buy a light that will grow your plants well, and to its full potential.  Many growers who have not used a professional LED grow light have no idea what they are missing out on, and the savings in hydro costs is amazing and pays for the light in no time, plus more. Remember that LED grow lights can be designed for different uses (veg / flowering / full cycle), so make sure that you are purchasing the correct LED spectrum for your growing requirements. It is always best to go with a full cycle light (all brands offer a full cycle light) if you are unsure of what you need, as this will cover all stages of a plants life with one light!


LEDs from the past... until today

You may have seen many claims on the internet stating that LED grow lights do not work that well for flowering marijuana or cannabis. This is not true anymore whatsoever!  In the past, which is years back when LED grow lights were becoming popular, the LEDs were not adjusted for proper growth and flowering when they first arrived on the market.  Many older LED grow lights had the wrong wavelengths and improper placements and electrical issues and overheating and most didnt work well at all for their time.  Small-operation growers lost money and valuable harvests, and shunned away from LED lights fast. They stated that these lights were a waste of money and do not work.

Hearing their claims, more testing was done at LED manufacturers, LED labs etc and the correct researched LED spectrums for plant growth and flowering were developed.  These LED producers actually design LEDs to the specific wavelength you require.   Now there are many LED grow lights that successfully grow and flower marijuana plants 10x better than a HPS or MH and the results are way better too. If you decide to purchase lights for growing medial marijuana, please double-check that they have some backing --- that other growers have had success with these lights. Do not believe the marketing hype that many companies shout. Reviews, testamonials, forums, and word of mouth will be your best references!  The internet is your kingdom of information.

All of our customers who purchase our Signature Series Infuzer Maxx+ are not necessarily all growing medical marijuana.  Our developers have specifically designed our LED grow lights for all types of plants, with Medical Cannabis being at the top of our list, so yes, our LED grow lights are geared more towards medicinal growers, however, we have customers that grow everything from lettuce to various flowers & herbs with our lights. That is to say, that some are used in greenhouses and hydroponic systems for growing vegetables. If you want more information on the best LED grow lights for growing cannabis or for other horticultural purposes, please contact us or see our blg or faqs.


Are LED Grow Lights the Future of Growing 

The LED grow light market is taking off and FAST!  At first, many insufficient LED grow lights were sold to consumers. These days, we have many superior LED grow lights that grow better than HPS and MH systems. As time goes on, the market will drive the ‘bad’ LED grow lights out and favor the LEDs that perform well, such as our Signature Series. Also, LED technology will continue to improve and costs will drop, passing the savings on to the consumer. Right now, start-up costs for growing using LEDs can be high, but the investment of a quality light should last you at least 10+ years! You can’t say this about traditional grow lighting. The cost savings of an LED light will usually come after about two-three years, but sometimes less than one! However, this number will depend on many other factors, for example: the size of your grow and HVAC system. Given some time, LED grow lights will replace traditional HPS and MH bulbs in nearly every grow room and greenhouse.

With all of the above points in mind, you are on your way to choosing the very best LED grow light for your money and crop.  We hope we have helped out a little on deciding which LED grow light might work for you, be sure to checkout our other information on the wesite also about PAR, Photosynthesis and MORE!