- 1 PlatinumLED
- 2 VIPARSPECTRA
- 3 MarsHydro
- 4 TOP-MAX – 90W UFO LED Grow Light
- 5 TaoTronics – TT-GL05 LED Grow Light
- 6 QueenshinyLED – 135/147W UFO LED Grow Light
- 7 Lighting EVER – 90W UFO LED Grow Light
- 8 Dormgrow.com – 240W panel LED Grow Light
- 9 Prakasa – 90W UFO LED Grow Light
- 10 Kessil – H150 Red & Blue LED Grow Lights
- 11 FERO LED – 600W LED Grow Light
Since I’m located in the UK, which is the first point of call for myself as well as many of you, I’m going to focus on reviewing LED grow lights that are available from UK suppliers. For simplicity’s sake, I will try to compare single light fixtures but I would guess that the comparisons can be extrapolated relatively easily to multi-light/larger fixtures. Unsurprisingly there are some features that are common to most of them, so I will try to focus mostly on the differences. Disclaimer: All information reviewed here has come directly from sellers’ websites and I am not endorsing any of them. I am simply trying to arrange the information into a format that we (as buyers) can more easily compare products.
I initially believed (naively) that sellers in the UK would advertise the specifications reasonably accurately, but alas, I have found too many discrepancies (especially in the wavelengths of the constituent LEDs) from too many sellers who are obviously selling the same grow light! I even found one unnamed seller who appears to operate different websites, selling the same product but with inconsistent specifications!!! In any case, if you, dear reader, do decide to buy any of these products, I highly recommend confirming (through manufacturers documents preferably) that the specification advertised on sellers’ websites are correct before buying.
PlatinumLED is a recent newcomer to the UK market, having come over from the good old US of A. Finally, it’s good to see that our choice of decent LED grow lamps in the UK is increasing and we might just be starting to see the level of choice the Americans have been treated to these past few years. In the US, PlatinumLED grow lights are one of the more popular consumer brands on the market and have been very well received. PlatiniumLED itself is a family-run business using ‘Fulfilled-By-Amazon’ or FBA, meaning that the lights themselves are shipped to a UK Amazon warehouse for sale here so even though the seller is based in the US, ordering the item is as quick and easy as ordering an item from any UK-based seller. The lights themselves are well designed and the build quality is excellent. But by far the biggest positive with these lights is in their light emission spectrum. Unlike many of the lights in the UK, these PlatinumLED lights include UV and Far-Red/IR LED bulbs complementing their array of red and blue bulbs making up a wide 12-band wavelength spectrum optimised for plant growth – and they DON’T contain any white LEDs which is another big positive. In addition, with many LED grow lights, you can never be quite sure of LED bulb quality, but with PlatinumLED, you can at least rest assured that these lights use high-quality Bridgelux bulbs (NB: although the bulbs are made in the USA, the light itself is manufactured in China). Another unique feature of these lamps is their ability to modify the spectral settings between vegetative growth (higher proportion of blue light) and the promotion of the flowering stage of plant growth where they increase the proportion of red light. As with other LED grow lights, PlatinumLED also run their LED bulbs at a lower power output than their maximum-rated wattage of 3W in order to keep the bulbs running at a cooler temperature and therefore preserve their lifespan – but even at this power level, that is more than sufficient to cover the growth area the lights are designed for. PlatinumLED also sells bigger lights for the more professional indoor growers, however only a selection of these are currently in stock in the UK (see table below). On the more negative side, don’t expect the fans to be ‘whisper-quiet’ as the seller has advertised – no decent consumer-grade LED grow light can run without cooling fans that are not dissimilar to the ones you find in any desktop computer – in other words, there is always going to be some fan noise. But overall, I’d say that PlatinumLED lights have just entered the top spot for quality LED Grow Lights in the UK!
Another recent newcomer to the UK market are the VIPARSPECTRA LED grow lights. These lights come in a range of sizes from the small ‘300W’ light, the V300, to the big ‘900W’ ones, the V900 and the R900.
The VIPARSPECTRA grow lights are well-built fixtures sporting 5W LED bulbs of a decent pedigree (the bulbs are manufactured by the US company Bridgelux and the less well-known, but still reputable, Taiwanese company EPILEDS Technologies Inc (not to be confused with the Epistar goliath)). Apart from the V300, all the bigger lights in the VIPARSPECTRA range have the ability to prioritise either vegetative growth or flower / fruiting production. For instance, in the case of the V450, the vegetative growth setting uses approximately 100W of electricity with just under half the bulbs on. For flowering and fruiting, turning on both the bloom setting together with the vegetative lighting most likely provides the best flowering / fruiting yield from plants. Under these conditions, all the LED bulbs are on and the light draws approximately 200W, equivalent to two incandescent bulbs of yesteryear. Turning on the bloom setting alone without turning on the bulbs for vegetative growth is unlikely to produce a higher yield as plants still need the blue wavelengths during this phase of their life cycle as well. However, having the ability to turn on just the flowering bulbs increases the versatility of the VIPARSPECTRA grow lights, allowing them to be used instead as ‘bloom booster’ additions to any other grow lighting that you may already have.
One of the unique and useful features of the VIPARSPECTRA grow lights is the ability to ‘daisy-chain’ individual lighting fixtures together. By plugging only one light into the mains electricity and then daisy-chaining subsequent lights in series off this initial light, you end up using only one mains power socket. This is particularly useful if you have (or intend to have) a large growing setup with multiple grow lights, as it becomes much less cumbersome to deal with all the wiring. However, it should be noted that this feature is understandably absent from the bigger V900 and R900 models.
VIPARSPECTRA lights produce relatively little heat which is adequately dispersed by the internal cooling fans, however, using them in an enclosed space like a grow tent will raise its temperature a little which may then require ventilation. As for noise levels, like other higher quality LED grow lights, fan noise is hardly perceivable when used within a grow tent or similar, but the fans are sufficiently noisy that you would not want to use them in any exposed personal living space. One other point to note is that the lights are very bright and some users have recommended using specialised eye protection when working under their glare to prevent any risk of eye irritation and headaches.
The only minor negatives with the VIPARSPECTRA lights are the lack of coverage in the UV end of the spectrum, and the inclusion of white LED bulbs. The need for UV for plant growth is debatable as many-a-plant has been grown indoors successfully without UV, however, plants have evolved over millennia in the presence of constant and powerful UV from the Sun and some internal plant processes may occur better under UV wavelengths. As for the presence of white LED bulbs in the lights – if you want to know why I prefer not to have them, then see the review of white LEDs here. However, this is not a deal-breaker by any stretch as plants have ultimately evolved under ‘white’ sunlight and the majority of consumer LED grow lights incorporate white LEDs to ensure that they are covering all the essential elements of the visible light spectrum.
The VIPARSPECTRA brand itself is owned by the Chinese company, Shenzhen Bailuo Technology, that primarily specialises in selling LED lighting. The company is super-responsive and it is clear from both the quality of their products and the support they provide that their aim is to build a good reputation amongst their customers, which up until now, appears to be succeeding. Once again the lights are available on good old dependable Amazon through its FBA program meaning that the lights are stocked here in the UK. Overall, given their quality, features and relative low prices, these grow lights are highly recommended.
The MarsHydro brand belongs to a Chinese manufacturer called LG-LED Solutions Ltd based in Shenzhen. But don’t be put off by thoughts of long-distance shipping, this company has had the foresight to place stock in the UK, which avoids the unpredictability of international travel, and delivery times are the same as with any other UK-based product. The company itself sells a whole range of LED grow lights in a variety of sizes, meaning that they are committed to producing grow lights that are effective, and the reviews of their products suggest they do indeed work as desired. This particular light uses the more powerful 5W LED bulbs, which tend to have a shorter lifespan than their more common 3W brethren. However, the power consumption on this device is only 140W – I know what you are thinking – what happened to the missing 160W if this is a 300W lamp? Well, that’s the way they got round the lifespan issue with 5W bulbs. By running 5W bulbs at only partial power, they extend the life of the 5W bulbs to at least as long as the lifespan of 3W bulbs and maybe even longer. Running the bulbs at lower power also has the advantage that fan noise can be kept to a minimum making this lamp quieter than you might expect. The lamp occupies an area a bit bigger than an A4-sized piece of paper and is designed for light coverage of about 2×2 feet, or approximately a ‘dining table’-sized area. It emits the standard LED red and blue colour wavelengths with a few white LEDs thrown in for good measure. Overall, not a bad light for the household gardener who only has a handful of plants to grow indoors.
TOP-MAX – 90W UFO LED Grow Light
NB: No longer available
The 90W UFO LED grow light sold by TOP-MAX on Amazon is a relative newcomer to the LED grow light scene in the UK, and preliminary reviews suggest that this is a lamp that works well for growing plants. It has some of the same features as the TaoTronics TT-GL05 (see below), which we know works well. In particular, the outer casing is almost identical with three fan ports and hanging wire assemblies almost identical to the TaoTronics light. In addition, the types and ratios of the constituent LEDs contained within the light are the same red (630nm), blue (460nm) and orange (610nm) colours at a 7:1:1 ratio, as with the TaoTronics light. However, the similarities are only aesthetic for now and we don’t really know the source of the LED bulbs themselves which is an important factor when considering lamp life – so buy with caution.
TaoTronics – TT-GL05 LED Grow Light
NB: No longer available
Currently, this is one of the top choices for LED grow lights available on Amazon in the UK that is reasonably priced for the average consumer. The TT-GL05 light is sturdily-constructed and uses 35 red (630nm), 5 blue (460nm) and 5 orange (615nm) LEDs, and it is designed to cover an area of 2 feet x 2 feet (60cm x 60cm) but you can double that area if you are using it within an internally-reflective enclosure such as a grow tent. In fact, a light-sealed enclosure may be necessary for some people as it is very bright to the point of potentially being bothersome if used within an open living space. It has 3 fans inside its structure to keep it cool which may sound a lot for a UFO light, but cool-running LEDs means they will last longer. It runs at about 30oC even in an enclosed space. The fans run continuously, but are reasonably quiet that they will barely be heard if the unit is used within a grow tent or similar. Because of the predominance of red LEDs, this light works better for the flowering part of a plant’s life-cycle rather than for its vegetative growth phase placing a limit on plant height but it can still be used for some decent early growth. To see how well the TaoTronics TT-GL05 performs with a variety of plants, see the Grow Diaries page.
Although most people have used this particular model for extended periods of time (even a couple of years) without any issues, as with any technology, there are always some bad individuals within the group. However, the positive reviews available on this light indicate this happens only occasionally and the Amazon seller (Sunvalleytek-UK) is very responsive in getting things sorted out while the light remains under warranty (and one can always fall back on that great Amazon safety net). Therefore, it is important to use the light as much as possible relatively early on so that you can reduce the chance that any defective units go unnoticed before the warranty period is up.
Update: TaoTronics has informed me that, due to lacklustre sales of the TT-GL05, they are no longer selling it …now that’s really ashame!
QueenshinyLED – 135/147W UFO LED Grow Light
The QueenshinyLED brand of grow light is probably one of the more common ones that you will find on Amazon. The company behind the brand is the Shanghai QunXin Tradng Company which sell a number of different QueenshinyLED grow lights which vary in size, power and wavelength clearly in an effort to cater to a wide range of growing needs. All the lights appear to have been manufactured in China (mind you, isn’t everything these days!) as you can buy the same lights on Aliexpress / Alibaba. How reputable the QueenshinyLED brand is, is anyone’s guess but a recent smattering of reviews have looked favourably upon it, so I am now more encouraged to give them a try. This particular UFO version comes in a number of different power ratings of which the 135W or the 147W versions are of particular interest to me. The light spectrum they cover is quite impressive with LEDs covering the violet/blue band, as well as across the orange/red to far-red range. Once again, in an effort to compete with other lights on the market, they have also included undesirable white LEDs. All the LEDs are 3W LEDs, which is preferred (over puny 1W bulbs or the less efficient 5W LEDs) but they never indicate whether they are from a reputable manufacturer. The problem with that is that we just don’t know how accurate the 50,000hr lifespan claim will be and we might just end up either having to replace the LEDs in short order or chucking the light for a more reputable one, so do purchase with that risk in mind.
- 45 OR 49 x 3W LEDS (depending on the lamp chosen)
- 660nm(red) 650nm(red) 630nm(red) 610nm(orange) 460nm(blue) 450nm(blue) 440nm(blue) 430nm(blue/violet) 2800K(white) 730nm(IR)
Lighting EVER – 90W UFO LED Grow Light
NB: No longer available
2014 Update: Although the characteristics of this light are one of the better ones out there, a couple of recent reviewers suggest that the constituent LED bulbs on this batch may not last more than a few months, which may in part be due to the fact that the company have not made this light for quite some time. Consequently, I would be very cautious about buying what must now be the last remaining stock available.
This light is sold through Amazon, and although there is a minor discrepancy with its product listing, I actually quite like what I have found out about it. The grow light was originally produced for Lighting EVER, which appears to be a reputable company that sells other LED lighting products both in the UK and in the US. This product was originally dispatched directly from Hong Kong (the original manufacturer?) but now some savvy entrepreneur has picked up a bunch of them and is dispatching them directly from a UK-based location. Lighting EVER itself sells these and other LED grow lights through its UK website, but I much prefer buying it within the safety of the Amazon ecosystem . It currently has 2 Amazon reviews and they are both very positive which is very encouraging since a lot of other LED grow lights either have no reviews or bad ones. The light uses reputable brand-name LEDs including 660nm red, 640nm blue and 610nm orange at a ratio of 7:1:1. I particularly like the fact that white LEDs have NOT been incorporated into this product as you so often see with other LED grow lights – if you have read my page on white LEDs then you know that I’m not a fan of them. They say that the light produced is equivalent to a 400W HPS or MH light, which seems a bit of an exaggeration to me for a 90W UFO, and they have also made a typo in the product description listing the product as containing ‘Red, blue and white‘ LEDs when I think they meant to say ‘Red, blue and orange‘. Anyway, overall, I actually quite like this LED grow light at least for a first-timer who is just starting to dabble in LED grow lighting technology.
- 35 x 660nm red / 5 x 610nm orange / 5 x 460nm blue
Dormgrow.com – 240W panel LED Grow Light
A quick word about LED grow lights from Dormgrow. Although this is a US-based manufacturer, so not as accessible as other sellers from the UK, they do ship to the UK with the correct UK electrical plug. But the main reason why I mention them is because they have incorporated true UV-B LEDs into their design, something that I have not found in ANY products from the UK. Although I like the panels, I should say though that I am NOT a fan of their UFO lights, mainly because they lack UV and far-red LEDs and they also incorporate some undesirable yellow wavelengths, however, their larger panels have both UV-B and far-red wavelengths which are not commonly found in LED grow lights. Once again, we do have to live with the ever-present white LEDs which I don’t like but its worth it since ALL the desirable wavelengths are included, and anyway, these days you will be hard pressed to find lights that don’t incorporate white LEDs.
Prakasa – 90W UFO LED Grow Light
This LED grow light made by Prakasa is available from a number of places including Amazon.co.uk. Although this light has a number of good things going for it (fans, reputable brand-name LEDs, etc), not to mention the large availability of reliable information that you can get about the light, there are a number of things I don’t like about it. Firstly, it includes the unwanted white LEDs, which as I have described before, is something to avoid if possible. Also, a couple of recent reviews on Amazon make it clear that they think it is pretty useless compared to other LED grow lights. I also don’t like a comment made by another seller I found (not the Amazon seller mentioned here) to ‘minimize the distance between the grow lamp and the plant’ – makes me think that they are already preparing excuses for why it might fail to deliver! This is one to avoid I think!
- 9 x 660nm (6 x 3w / 3 x 5w); 17 x 630nm (9 x 3w / 8 x 5w); 6 x 460nm (6 x 3w); 4 x 610nm (4 x 3w); 1 x 430nm (1 x 3w led); White: 15000-20000K (3 x 5w)
- 3x computer fans.
- LEDs: Bridgelux and Epistar
- comparable to 200w HPS/HID lamps or similar CFL.
- Suggested Lighting Area:0.5 – 1 m2
Kessil – H150 Red & Blue LED Grow Lights
Now these are for the professional user and they have a price tag to match. Kessil itself is a US company based in San Francisco but the lights are available to us in the UK through Amazon – H150 Kessil Red and the H150 Kessil Blue. The lights are very specialist as they provide only one wavelength, so they are really just there to cater to a specific need of the plant and can not be used alone without any other sources of light. For instance the H150 Red Kessil light or ‘bloom booster’ is introduced specifically to enhance flowering. These are very reputable grow lights, with some pretty fancy technology behind them, so you can expect them to last quite a long time and to do pretty much what they say on the tin:
“Growth and flowering boosters – Kessil H150 is an innovative range of high intensity blue and red LED grow lights that boost the results you get during vegetative growth and flowering. They work by supplementing the colour spectrum of your traditional HID and CFL lighting. Based on knowledge and technology used in the defence and military industry, Kessil LED grow lights are scientifically proven to improve plant development. Using the patented Dense Matrix LED™ platform, H150 effectively delivers penetrating and spectrum specific light directly onto targeted plants.”
FERO LED – 600W LED Grow Light
Speaking of professional LED grow lights, here is a broad-spectrum LED grow light that falls into that category. Once again the hefty price tag gives it away, but it follows the old cliché of ‘you get what you pay for’. So if you are a serious grower, then you might want to consider shelling out the bigger bucks to get something that actually works. This unit is super-powerful with the ability to pull some 600W, it’s big too with the light covering a generous growth area. It also uses brand-name Helio LEDs , which are from a reputable Taiwanese manufacturer, although not as well established as the BridgeLux or Epistar brands. The Amazon seller is UK-based, which is always reassuring, but more importantly, the light itself was manufactured by FERO LED which is a reputable LED light manufacturer selling products in Europe and the US, so you can expect to get a pretty decent grow light.
This model looks to be from one of their older ranges as FERO LED itself doesn’t sell it any longer, but older doesn’t necessarily mean less effective. Unlike most other grow lights, you have quite a bit of control over the type of lighting (ratios of blue to red) and the power that you can get from it. This is a useful feature if you know enough about your plants in order to adapt the lighting for different growing conditions. We don’t know the exact LED wavelengths used in the light, but it does cover the requisite red to far-red spectrum, and the blue spectrum. So really all we are missing is some UV light that for a lot of plants you can get away without. Unfortunately, like most other LED grow lights, they have also felt the need to incorporate white LEDs, which would be preferable to avoid but which one can live with. As for cooling, this is effectively achieved with 6 high-quality fans. Overall, if you are willing to pay the price, this light would provide a good return on investment.