What are the ‘best LED grow lights in 2018’? That depends on how you define 'best'. There are hundreds of LED grow lights to choose from, with more coming out each year. What makes one better than the other? “Best” is a subjective word, so we had to use specific criteria to create this list:
1) Fixture Quality
The LED grow lights must be constructed with quality parts (high performing diodes, efficient drivers, etc), have a good warranty (3 to 5 years), and be reliable (low warranty claims).
The fixtures must meet the points below. If the manufacturer did not provide data on some of these points, we did our best to estimate these based on other performance specifications.
3) Coverage Area
All of these lights will cover around a 4’ x 4’ area for flower. This is a common flowering footprint and many lights are designed to cover this area. Therefore, we wanted to select fixtures that cover a 4’x4’ space or can be used in 4’x4’ sections (such as 4’x8’, 8’x8’, 8’x12’, etc).
Some growers might consider these fixtures expensive, but the “best LED grow lights” do come with a price tag for the points mentioned above. There are other lights on the market that are less expensive, but they do not meet our criteria.
Furthermore, there are other lights on the market that are very competitive with the lights in our list, so while we don’t mean to not include any of these top lights, it is difficult to narrow down the wide array of lights on the market to only 12 options. If there are other lights that you think should be on this list, let us know in the comments below.
This list was created Feb 2018 and may not reflect the latest LED grow lights on the market. Fixtures below are in no particular order.
At the start or 2018, California Lightworks increased the SolarSystem series efficiency by 25% - from 1.55 umol/j to 2.2 umol/j! In addition, they released an upgraded version of the SolarSystem 1100, featuring UVB light bars on each side of the grow light. This is a perfect setup for fans of the discontinued SolarStorm 880.
The SolarSystem 1100 features a fully customizable spectrum, timing, dimming, and scheduling control with the optional controller.
The SS1100 will replace a 1000 watt HPS while only drawing 800 watts at the wall (about 50 more watts with the UVB lights on). Top-Bin High-Output Osram LEDs are enclosed behind plexiglass and emit a whopping PPF of 1730 umol/s (up from 1284 umol/s). The SolarSystem 1100 will veg up to an 8’x8’ area or flower a 4’x4’ area with high intensity or a 5’x5’ area with less intensity. The UVB lights can be used in the last few weeks of flower to help increase resin production.
The SS1100 grow light measures 18"x18" and weighs 26 lbs. It is a little larger and only slightly heavier with the UVB bars attached. The heatsink makes up most of the fixture's weight. Accessible cooling fans top off the fixture and draw air over the large aluminum heatsink block, creating an excellent heat dissipation system.
A separate controller is needed to dim the unit, customize the spectrum, and program your grow schedules. The red and deep red, white, and blue and deep blue channels can be controlled separately. One controller can be used to control up to 1000 units in series.
Save 12% on California Lightworks at checkout. Code: 12cali
The HLG 550 (released mid-2017) replaces a 1000 watt HPS and only draws 515 watts at the wall. The fixture utilizes 1152 Top-Bin Samsung LM561C S6 LED's and emits a PPF of 1159 umol/s across four custom-designed QB288 quantum boards. The PAR efficiency of the entire unit is a staggering 2.28 umol/j, making this one of the most efficient LED grow lights on the market as of Feb 2018.
The HLG 550 is designed to flower up to a 4.5’x4.5’ area or veg a 6’x6’ area. The 3000K spectrum is ideal for full-cycle growth from veg to harvest for larger yields. It is also available in 4000K which is best for keeping plants stout during veg and increasing quality during flower.
The unit is passively-cooled and does not contain any cooling fans. The quantum boards sit on an anodized aluminum heatsink panel. The back of the panel contains a Mean Well HLG driver, dimmable down to 250 watts.
The unit measures 26"x20" and weighs only 18 lbs.
Looking for a less expensive alternative? Consider two HLG 260W kits.
Save 15% on HLG at checkout. Code: HLG15off
Black Dog LED released the PhytoMAX-2 series in early 2017. The PhytoMAX-2 series includes the following upgrades from the original PhytoMAX series:
The PhytoMAX-2 800 will replace more than a 1000 watt HPS with higher yields and better quality results while using less electricity.
The PhytoMAX-2 800 utilizes 420 Top-Bin 5W LEDs from industry leaders such as Cree and Osram, rated at 50,000 hours. The unit is advertised to cover up to a 6’x6’ for flower and veg a 7.5’ x 7.5’ area. However, for the best results, it is recommended to be used in a 4’x4’ to 5’x5’ area.
Black Dog's PhytoGenesis Spectrum can be used for both veg and flower, which helps reduce stalling associated with spectrum changes. The spectrum ranges from UVA to NIR and includes a healthy amount of green to naturalize the light for easy viewing and to help increase photosynthesis under the canopy.
The unit weighs 50 lbs and measures 21" x 21". All PhytoMAX-2 grow lights come with metal-gear ratchet hangers.
Save 10% on Black Dog at checkout. Code: black10
The Optic 8+ was released late-2017. This powerful LED grow light will cover a 4x’4 area (or up to a 5’x5’) while only drawing 500 watts.
It features 8 x Cree CXB-3590 COBs (6 x 3500K, 2 x 5000K) covered by 90° or 120° lenses and 32 x 3-watt diodes as a separate “bloom enhancer” channel. The bloom channel features additional UVA didoes, full-spectrum white, 660nm, and 730nm diodes.
There are three separate channels on the Optic 8+: Veg, Bloom, and Bloom enhancer, all of which can be switched on/off and dimmed up/down independently.
While we do not have efficiency data for this fixture, we really like it because of the name-brand diodes, Mean Well drivers, and controllability of the fixture. Add these features to the great PAR readings in a 4’x4’ area, and you have a solid, affordable fixture that will grow and flower with great results.
The fixtures dimensions are 26”x26” and it weighs 34 lbs.
The Amare SolarEclpse 500 was upgraded from the SolarEclipse 450 in late 2017 and is now more powerful and efficient. The fixture features white-light technology via six powerful High-Intensity COB emitters. The CREE CXB3070 COB LEDs are housed in a patented reflector array and come with removable secondary optics. 60 supplemental 5-watt Cree diodes surround each COB. In the middle of the panel sits a fluorescent UVB bulb for the added boost to increase resin production. The COBs, 5-watt emitters, and the UVB bulb can all be switched on/off independently.
The SE500 covers up to a 4’x4’ area for flower or 4.5’x4.5’ for veg. Amare states that this light is about equivalent to an 800W HID.
The COBs and supplemental diodes create the perfect spectrum. A large amount of green light in the spectrum helps to drive photosynthesis more efficiently than red and blue light and to better penetrate the canopy. It also allows you to view your plants in a natural white light.
The quality of this LED grow light does not stop at the surface. The heat management system contains 4 premium high-CFM ball-bearing fans and proprietary copper-core heat-sinks.
The unit measures 21.6" x 21.6" and weighs 33 lbs.
The NextLight Mega (released May 2016) replaces a 1000W DE HPS while only drawing 650 watts. LED lifetime is rated at 100,000 hours, which is 20 years on a 12/12 cycle.
The full-spectrum white Samsung diodes are heavy in blue and green, while providing sufficient red for flowering.
The Mega measures 37" x 37" and is passively-cooled (no cooling fans). The wide form factor and thin profile allow the heat to dissipate without additional heatsinks or fans. It also helps create a more even footprint without any hotspots or low PAR readings.
The NextLight Mega is daisy-chainable to an additional fixture which allows you to cut down the number of cords you need to run to the power supply. The Mega is designed and manufactured in the USA.
This is the perfect fixture for tents, grow rooms, or commercial grows. The fixture is UL and DLC premium listed.
This is our top choice for commercial grows.
Save 15% on NextLight at checkout. Code: next15
The Electric Sky series is designed to be a module system. Hence, this listing is for two ES 300s, instead of one.
The Electric Sky 300 (released mid-2017) contains a unique full spectrum that is heavy in wideband red (red to far red) that aids rapid growth and grows large flowers.
The Dual-Way Linear Lens (60° x 120°) directs the light downward toward your plants. The lenses are removable so if The Green Sunshine company comes out with new lenses in the future, they can be easily replaced.
The modularity of the Electric Sky system allows you to spread the light over a larger area for even coverage. Place the two units closer together or further apart depending on the light intensity and coverage area that you would like to achieve.
The unit is passively-cooled and the driver is contained within the center of the grow light making this one slick LED grow light. The ES300 is 36”x12” and weighs 22 lbs.
Specs (for two ES300s)
Save 5% on Electric Sky at checkout. Code: greensky
The SK602 is a redesigned, more-efficient version of the best-selling SK600. It was released late-2017 along with its smaller brother, the SK402. The SK602 is also available in a greenhouse version (the only difference is a white housing).
The SK602 will replace a 1000 watt double-ended HPS bulb while using 40% less power. The ~4000K full spectrum diodes help alleviate stretching and increase flower quality.
Yet, this light is not for everyone looking for higher quality flower and large yields. Growers should be aware that this fixture exudes a lot of light from a small area, so Spectrum King recommends at least 4 ft between the top of the plants and the bottom of the fixture to ensure you do not have too much light hitting the center of the grow footprint. If your grow space has limited height, than you might consider the SK402 or another brand.
The SK602 and SK602GH can be fitted with a dimmer for an additional $49.00. The SK602(GH) is 21”x10” and weighs 20 lbs.
Save 10% on Spectrum King at checkout. Code: king
The Ursa Optilux 16 will replace a 1000 watt DE HID while only drawing 640 watts. The unit contains 16 x 200 watt proprietary COB arrays (driven at 40W each) rated at 50,000 hours.
The Optilux 16 is available in full spectrum white (for high-intensity veg to flower growth) and contains some UVA and IR, while being heavy in blue, green and red. A red/blue version is also available. Ursa LED designs and manufactures their own LED chips, making this a high-quality fixture.
The fixture produces an astounding PPFD of 1500 umol/m2/s at the center of its 4'x4' footprint and 400 umol/m2/s at the ends of the footprint.
We measured the PAR of the Optilux 16 at 36” in a 4’x4’ grow tent and were extremely impressed with the PPFD readings at this distance and footprint. This is one of the reasons we added the light to this year’s ‘Best LED Grow Light’ list. You can view the video review at the link below.
The unit is passively cooled via patented heatsinks while only emitting 1400 BTUs of heat. The Optilux 16 measures 23.6" x 23.6”.
Timber Grow Lights started as a lighting company supplying DIY parts for growers to build their own LED grow lights. They now offer complete, ready-to-hang fixtures. The Redwood VS is their second largest LED grow light (the Fatty VS will cover a 5’x5’ area).
The fixture's Bridgelux Vero29 V7 COBs are mounted with reflectors to concentrate the light. The COBs sit on pinned heatsinks and are powered with Mean Well drivers.
The Redwood VS is passively-cooled and dimmable down to 10% light intensity. Growers can choose from four white-light spectrums depending on their setup.
The price on the Redwood VS is excellent considering it’s high-quality build and light output. This series has one of the lowest cost per watt and cost per photon compared to the other LED lights on the market.
The Redwood VS is 42”x24” and weighs 31lbs.
The SpydrX Plus (released May 2016 and updated since then) has caught the attention of growers since their humble beginning as the brand, BML (Build My LED).
The SpydrX Plus is Fluence's most powerful light to cover a 4’x4’ space for full-cycle growing. It is dimmable and has a tuned full spectrum, peaking at 660nm. The price point is really good considering the high light output, efficiency, and quality Samsung diodes. The cost per photon (umol/s) is below one dollar.
Eight bars extend across the center substrate. This design eliminates hot spots and spreads the light out, allowing even coverage across your plant’s canopy. This design allows you to place the fixture as close as 6” from the canopy.
This light has a thin, 4.6” tall profile and measures 42”x44”.
For comparable fixture, consider the NextLight Mega.
The PLC 6.2 (released June 2017) is a passively cooled, full-spectrum white light fixture, featuring a Mean Well HLG driver and splayed heatsinks. It is dimmable from 100% to off. Built-in aluminum high-efficiency white reflectors surround each Bridgelux Vero29 C chip.
This fixture stands out because it uses high-quality components, good efficiency (above (2.0 umol/j), competitive light output, and has an excellent price point compared to many other LED grow lights on the market.
The PLC 6.2 is 25”x24”.
What do you think about this list? What lights would you include? Leave your comments below.
the best service
the only place ill ever buy lights from...
I’ve had my eyes on an Optic light for a while now and decided the time was right. I’m the proud owner of an Optic 6. My plants responded rather quickly once it was set up. My Optic 6 has no problem covering my 4 X 4 tent and I’ll let the picture speak for them selves. I’ll be looking to get two Optic 1XL for my 2 X 4 tent soon.
I've been a Grower of Cannabis on and off for over 20 years and in that time I've never had a light that can give me results like my outdoor grows. I currently am the proud owner of an Optic 1, 2, and 6 and they continue to impress me on all levels. I recently used my Optic 2 in my 2x4 tent and couldn't believe the 4 to 5 foot plants that it developed in such a short amount of time. I've also experienced larger than normal growth on my buds and trichome production as well. The only thing I would like to point out that may be negative is that it can produce heat. For those of us that have used HPS lights or other heat producing lights there can be issues if you are not set up correctly. I actually like the heat and the environment it can create. The extra heat and humidity that I add actually encourages rapid growth and in my opinion is only a plus to the lights. Before my optics I also ran into the problem of overloading my breakers. I've been pleasantly surprised at how little wattage is used by these power house lights. If after reading this you still aren't convinced please check my videos out on YouTube under the name Envy MYclosetGROW. My last harvest of 6 plants which was run under Optics produced 2.25 lbs. I've had the pleasure of running four seasons of grows under these lights and I have yet to see any issues or be disappointed. My only regret is not having the Optic 8 in my arsenal. Trust me, it's on Daddy's Christmas List. (the plants under my optic 6 where all the best yielders and quality)
Outstanding product. Simple, efficient and those Samsung diodes rock. Vegging two large plants for 6 weeks and they are nicely developed with thick stems and giant leaf. Saving money for the 550s!!
Quick delivery, in a protective package. Light is a solid piece of equipment. It runs cooler than expected (could be due to the adjustable setting). The ability to control the spectrum is useful if you work with different plants. My application is to maintain seedlings and juveniles until it is safe to go into the ground.
This is an amazing product compared to UFO LEDs and generic panels found on the likes of Amazon etc, surprisingly efficient for the amount of light it produces. These Quantum boards are 100% worth the little bit extra and A+ quality. Runs cool, only gets warm to the touch.
Had some shipping issues with USPS misdirecting a package but Eric had great communication with me the whole time and made it a breeze. Couldn't recommend this product and store enough.
As soon as i seen results i sold my previous lights that used up more than double the power of this awsome board. Surprisingly potent for its small size I'd definitely recommend it.
I couldn't believe how every vegetation just loves the electric sky. From my lemon tree indoors to my medicinal herbs.
This light rocks ! Perfect for a 3x3. Great PAR numbers, low heat, low power usage. One of the best grow lights I have ever used.
very happy with light
Great tent! As advertised! Doubt I'll ever have to buy again; but, I would.
You can not find a better light for the money. Ordered 1 put it together and instant light that beats a mars hrdro pro 128 hands down. Please get them back in stock asap.
This is exactly the light i was needing. Especially like the no fan design.
The ladies have just exploded.
Will definitely order more as needed...
The light is excellent. Super bright. Only problem I've had if the light puts off some heat. But I contacted nextlight and they hooked me up with a dimmer and instructions on how to install it. It was received the next day , and the insta was really simple from someone not knowing electrical stuff that well. So yes this light can be used for seedling to flower with the dimmer and I'm in a 4x4x6'7". Also nextlight sent me a shirt so that's a plus to them..
The HLG 550 is the best light on the market for energy consumption and it delivers awesome results very happy with it and the service at growlight depo is top notch
Sk 602 is the best led out there period. Plants love it . Respect the 2 foot canopy clearance . And to top it off the delivery was on time like lgld said it would be. 100% satisfied with whole experience
So far wk1-3 outstanding .My light is almost halfway on the dimmer.
Definition of Excellence
I have the 2 of the ES300 the growth and buds just explode under the lights. Must buy!!!!!
This is an update to my previous review. I just completed my first grow with two ES300s in a 4x4 tent. The harvest was amazing - about 20 quart mason jars, not to mention a lot of undergrowth to produce a few pounds of bud-containing trim for edibles. It seemed to produce about twice the totay usable flower weight of the 600w CMH lamp I had before. However, the light's amazing growth stimulation also caused my tent to become a bramble and my harvest was a small fraction of the total weight of growth - something I never had to deal with before. So next time, I'm going to use a dual-level SCROG approach to keep the light on the flowers, and avoid producing a lot of trim. Also because of the rapid growth I got taken by surprise on water usage and ended up with some fertilizer burn because the growth medium dried out so fast that the effective fertilizer concentration was too high. The solution would be to water more often of course but I didn't realize it at first. Or to switch to hydro, which I'm doing on my next grow.
I also noticed that the plants produced different looking bud than under the CMH: more richly colored and heavier. This meant more staking and binding had to happen. But it's a great thing.
These lights produced just enough heat to keep my tent at 80 degrees on the low fan setting which was perfect, but I had to watch the humidity more as a result. The fact that they're dimmable means you can use the same tent for vegging if you wish and the lights cause really fast vegetative growth which of course is great.
Overall I'm very satisfied - including with Green Sunshine's support which helped with getting a faster understanding of the differences from CMH.
This light works perfectly in a 2x 4 tent and is also suitable for multi tiered rack system. The perfect replacement for an 8 bulb T-5. It produces compact plants with minimal intermodal spacing. The heat and electrical savings are a bonus!
These lights are a bit pricey (especially buying 4 of them), but being able to make a direct substitute for the fluorescent bulbs made the transition so easy, and my plants are doing great under them. All 4 bulbs together draw less than 100 watts and I believe they are brighter than the fluorescent bulbs they replaced. Since these produce very little heat, I can put the lights a couple of inches above the seedlings and they are all growing strong with good color. The 6-inch pot of basil grows faster than I can use it! And my Micro Tom tomatoes that I planted from seed 6 weeks ago are already producing fruit. (You may be able to see them in the attached photo.) As long as these bulbs last 5+ years, I couldn't be happier!
Ordered the HLG 65 my plants are loving this light way brighter the expected its perfect for starting them and could use it for supplemental light ..great service from led grow lights depot erik was very responsive and informative on when my order was taken and when it was being shipped everything from this site was a good experience would purchase again from this site
Light works great plants seem to like it better than the purple light I was using. It has a better footprint than the other light. Its also nice to see the plants in a natural light it is hard to see if there are problems with the purple/ red lights
The Next light Mega delivers superior coverage using less power while creating minimal heat, i have averaged 2.5 to 3.0 lbs from 6 plants in a 4 x 4 tray you can not ask for much more than what the next light Mega delivers,
Very happy with these lights and the gg tent is excellent quality. customer service was awesome!!! will buy from LGLD again for sure
Great light, definitely recommend. Improved my grow exponentially.
The led Optic 8+ is a very good light. Led Grow Lights Depot is a very good company to buy from. I used Blispay to pay for it as they give 6 months interest free to pay it back. Very, very good!
Horticulture Lighting Group HLG 550 Quantum Board LED Grow Light (Dimmable)
The Black Dog Phytomax-2 lights are excellent value for money, sturdily constructed with no corners cut, obviously built up to a standard, not down to a price. They are not cheap, but then top quality products never are. The terms of the limited lifetime warranty demonstrates Black Dog's confidence in the products they produce.
The quality of these lights is obvious from the moment you take them from the box, with everything you need to set them up included.
The customer service and communication at LED Grow Lights Depot is also first class and delivery was lightening fast, I had my light 2 days after purchase.
I highly recommend both Black Dog and Led Grow Lights Depot.
Great lighting for a terrarium project ! With a CRI of 94, it really looks like the sun ! Powerful lighting, no heat, well crafted and engineered.
On the lows : fan a bit noisy. Come with two switches: COB on or off....would have been great to be able to drive them separately ! Hardware (separate PS and timers) or software.
Best LED I used to date...and I used many...5x5 tent 6 gglue in 3 gallon pots "coco".. only used floranova bloom and cal mag.... veg 3 weeks flower 8 and got a 1lb 3/4...and that without co2.....i could have done better...this light can get 2 a light if your good....
My plants exploded under this light literally vegged out one and a half weeks earlier than with my previous lights they are couple weeks into flower now and they look amazing so far, I will update at harvest time. You can't go wrong with this light someday I will another one.
Purchased this HLG 300 to replace my nextlight mini. My Next light was working fine for veg for my small 2-4 plant grow but wasn't getting the weight I needed. I have a small apartment and not much room for extra cooling equipment, or high over head space for hanging hotter running fixtures, so needed to stick with a small LED. With the higher efficacy rating and a spectrum my plants respond to better, my plants and I am more than pleased with the product, shipping, and better yields