LED Lights and Bulbs: What You Need to Know

LED grow lights function just like normal LED lights. LEDs or light-emitting diodes are arranged to a circuit board, then positioned at a predetermined height above indoor plants. Although many growers still swear by fluorescent lights, LEDs may very well become the future of indoor horticulture. They are energy-efficient and highly customizable to support any plant necessity and radiate less heat than other common types of grow lights.

Because LEDs differ all around, deciding on the right light could prove taxing. The first thing to consider, and the best place to start when preparing for any type of grow, is to consider the actual crop. Almost any artificial light source can grow a plant from seed to flower, however, some lights are specially designed for specific types of grows. After the crop’s individual needs are determined, a good LED setup can generally be chosen depending on wattage, color spectrum, ease of maintenance and finally, cost.

Proper Wattage

The biggest mistake indoor growers make when it comes to LED lighting is not providing enough light coverage. This common occurrence is typically due to either improper light placement, or a lack of proper fixture wattage. The amount of power needed to correctly administer light to plants depends directly on the area of potential coverage. For plants in need of high light, like tomatoes, 40 watts per square foot will usually optimize growth and fruit production. Low light plants, on the other hand, like leafy herbs or lettuce, need around 15 – 20 watts per square foot.

Color Spectrum

Green, red, far-red and blue lights have all been proven to affect root formation, plant growth, and flowering, by mimicking natural light. Several LEDs sold on the market feature full spectrums of light, designed to provide a balance of red, blue and green. Each bulb’s spectrum varies, however, white LED lights emit similar amounts of red and blue, while the “green” light appears white. Warm red spectrums are recommended for flowering, while cool blue promotes vegetative growth. Chlorophyll will absorb the red and blue light mainly in the upper layers of the plant. The green light is reflected for canopy penetration, allowing the lower leaves a portion of light. Reflected light scatters to be passed on to leaves lower down on the plant.

Ease of Maintenance

The maintenance of LED grow lights is easy. The most common defects occur in the power converters and the LED diodes, themselves. Faulty diodes are fairly uncommon, so more often there is a problem with a power converter. Both LED diodes and power converters are easy and relatively cheap to replace.

In addition to regular checks for faulty equipment, LEDs should be cleaned every few months. Simply unplug the grow light and use a streakless glass cleaning solution, after making sure there are no particles which could stain or scratch the glass bulbs. A can of household air spray duster can loosen dust from internal fans without needing to disassemble the entire grow light.


Quality LED grow lights can range anywhere from about $100 to thousands. Cheaper lights are more prone to failing due to lower-quality hardware materials. Higher-end LED grow lights are more trustworthy but may come with a lot of what some may deem as unnecessary luxuries. Amid such a wide price range for products of vastly differing quality, the price of good LEDs comes down simply to the needs and preferences of the grower.

Although LED grow lights are a fairly new advancement, they are quickly becoming a favorite among indoor growers. A high potential for customization is partly to blame. LEDs also emit less heat than other types of grow lights, allowing better room temperature regulation, and prove exceedingly more energy-efficient. In fact, some horticulture LED lights are capable of programming to specific wattages and are capable of producing two distinct spectrums of light, simultaneously, all without bleeding into other wavelengths, with minimal heat production.