Since we at LEDgrowLightsHQ are located in the UK, which is the first port of call for ourselves as well as many of you, we are going to focus on a review of the best LED grow lights that are available from UK suppliers. For simplicity's sake, we will try to prioritise reviews of single LED grow light fixtures (i.e. UFOs and small panels) but 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 we will try to focus mostly on the differences.
When purchasing LED plant lights, one of the key specifications to take into account is the range of light wavelengths that an LED grow light emits at. Plants use specific wavelengths of light to grow and so ensuring that your LED grow light of choice covers the full spectrum of light wavelengths required by plants is best for growing success.
However, as the science of plant biology has not yet been completely deciphered, it is often not totally clear what the exact wavelengths of light and in what proportions they should be incorporated into an LED grow light for the best plant growth. Add to that, different species of plants will have evolved to use slightly different ranges of light wavelength can make for an often confusing picture.
Fortunately, there are some essential light wavelengths that are known to be required in all full spectrum LED grow lights mainly found within the blue and red parts of the light spectrum, which we go into more detail about in our article on photosynthetic and photomorphogenic pigments found in plants . These are also shown in the table below alongside the range of light wavelengths that various LED grow lights available in the UK are capable of producing. For a more in-depth discussion on light spectrum wavelength and LED growing lights, and whether they are any good, check out our article on what we currently know about LED grow lights.
Reviews of LED Grow Lights in the UK
Advanced PlatinumLED Grow Lights Review
PlatinumLED with their Advanced Platinum Series of LED grow lights 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 of lights the Americans have been treated to these past few years.
In the US, where some of the best consumer LED grow lights are available, PlatinumLED grow lights are one of the more popular consumer brands on the market and have received a lot of positive reviews. Platinum LED itself is a family-run business using 'Fulfilled-By-Amazon' or FBA, meaning that the LED grow lights are shipped to a UK Amazon warehouse for sale here so even though the seller is based in the US, ordering the grow equipment 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 Platinum LED lights include UV and Far-Red/IR LED bulbs complementing their array of red and blue LED grow bulbs making up a wide 12-band wavelength custom spectrum optimised for plant growth - and they DON'T contain any white LEDs which is another big positive. In addition, with many LED plant lights, you can never be quite sure of LED bulb quality, but with Platinum LED, you can at least rest assured that these full spectrum LED grow lights use high-quality Bridgelux bulbs (NB: although the bulbs are made in the USA, the grow light itself is manufactured in China).
Another unique feature of these LED grow 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 low power level, that is more than sufficient to cover the growth area the grow lights are designed for.
For the more professional indoor grower, PlatinumLED also has bigger LED plant grow lights for sale, most of which are now available 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 lamp 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, we would say that PlatinumLED lights are currently one of the best available options for quality LED grow lights in the UK!
The PlatinumLED Grow Lights in the UK
KINGBO LED Grow Lights Review
KINGBO LED grow lights are another brand of led grow light aimed at the regular consumer. KINGBO lights are designed and manufactured by the China-based Shenzhen Guangpushang Network Technology Company, which makes a few different lines of LED grow lights under the KINGBO brand.
KINGBO Dual Optical Lens series
One of their first and most established KINGBO series of LED grow lights is the ‘Dual Optical Lens’ range which the company has been selling to consumers for a couple of years now, and which currently consists of three members: a 300W light (KB-M300), a 600W light (KB-M600), and a 900W light (KB-M900). The key selling point with this series is the use of dual optical lenses over the LED bulbs used in the lights. The advantage of these dual lenses is that they focus more of the stray particles of light, that might normally be lost to the sides of the grow area, downwards towards the plant canopy increasing efficiency. These lights also make use of reputable 5W Bridgelux or EPILEDS bulbs which, like other consumer LED grow lights on the market, are set to run at a lower power level than their full 5W rating in order to minimise overheating and maximise lifespan. The LED bulbs included in the light series cover a wide range of light wavelengths extending from the near-UV part of the light spectrum right up to its far-red region. The specific wavelengths (or colour temperatures (K)) of the LED bulbs used are as follows:
From this list, one can see that the KINGBO dual lens series emit light in the blue (400-495nm), green (495-570nm), yellow (570-590nm), red (620-710nm), and far-red (710-850nm) regions of the light spectrum. The lights also include some white LEDs (with colour temperatures of 3000K and 4500K), which are most likely there to ensure that any visible light wavelengths less well-established as being important for plant growth are not missed (and also possibly for aesthetic reasons too).
Interestingly, although the marketing material for these dual optical lens series LED grow lights indicates that they cover the UV part of the light spectrum as well, no actual LED bulbs included in the lights target the sub-400nm wavelength range. Indeed, looking at the emission spectrum for the series confirms that there is very little, if any, true UV light (less than 400nm) emitted, so in this regard the company has got its advertising slightly wrong.
Features of the KINGBO Dual Optical Lens Series
One nice feature on the KINGBO Dual Optical Lens series is the presence of separate bloom and vegetative settings that can stimulate different stages of the plant life cycle as required, providing greater control to the indoor gardener. Build-wise, the KINGBO dual lens series lights also display excellent build quality, while delivery of the lights occurs in well-packaged boxes using discreet packaging.
As with most LED grow lights, the dual lens series lights do produce some waste heat but nothing over the top and are much cooler than more traditional forms of plant grow lighting. The KINGBO lights are also super bright, so much so that it is advisable to use protective eyewear if staying in the same environment as the lights for any extended period of time. The high light output also means that one has to pay particular attention to the distance at which these LED grow lights are hung above the plant canopy. This is to ensure that leaf burn or other light-induced plant damage is avoided particularly when using them on the more vulnerable greenery such as seedlings.
A final major advantage of the KINGBO lights and the KINGBO brand in general that is worth mentioning is the high level of customer service one gets from the company when dealing with any issues surrounding their products. The customer service team is highly responsive and this is one of the major reasons why their review ratings are so high.
Of course, no consumer LED grow light is ideal for all circumstances, and the KINGBO Dual Optical Lens series lacks the ability to daisy chain between individual lights so that one light can provide power to a neighbouring unit when several are used together in a single growing space. Not having a daisy-chaining feature means that separate power sockets are needed for each and every light used in a grow area, and this can become inconvenient in a hurry especially in larger growing spaces. Finally it should be noted that the cooling fans on the KINGBO dual lens series LED grow lights are not as ‘whisper-quiet’ as advertised, however, they are not overly noisy either and are barely audible from outside an enclosed grow tent or growing area.
Overall, the KINGBO Dual Optical Lens series are some very good LED grow lights to own but bearing in mind a couple of minor shortcomings.
KINGBO Dual Optical Lens Series LED Grow Lights in the UK
VIPARSPECTRA LED Grow Lights Review
Another recent newcomer to the UK market are the VIPARSPECTRA LED grow lights. These lights come in a range of sizes in the UK from the small 300W LED grow light, the V300, the medium-sized 450W and 600W VIPARSPECTRA plant lights (the V450 and V600, respectively), to the big 900W devices, the V900 and the R900.
The VIPARSPECTRA grow lights stocked here in the UK are well-built fixtures sporting 5W LED grow 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 300W (V300) LED grow light, all the bigger lights in the VIPARSPECTRA range are partially adjustable in that they have the ability to control the type of lighting output that is either best for vegetative growth or for flower / fruiting production. For instance, in the case of the 450W (V450), the vegetative growth setting uses approximately 100 Watts of electricity with just under half the bulbs on. For flowering and fruiting, turning on both the bloom setting together with the vegetative lighting bulbs on the LED grow light most likely provides the best flowering / fruiting yield from plants. Under these conditions, all the LED bulbs are on and the light draws approximately 200 Watts, 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 LED grow lights, allowing them to be used instead as just flower or '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 LED grow lamps, 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 900W (V900 and R900) LED grow light models that are available to buy.
Update November 2018: Currently, the versions of the VIPARSPECTRA grow light with the daisy chain feature are not available in the UK at the moment. At the time of writing this update to the review, only the 300W VIPARSPECTRA light supports daisy chaining, while the 450W and 600W VIPARSPECTRA LED grow lights available on Amazon UK no longer possess the daisy chain outlet normally found on the rear surface of the light fixtures. This may be associated with redirection of some EU Amazon stock as the 450 watt and 600 watt LED grow lights currently come with European-style electrical plugs as opposed to UK ones.
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 growing 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 grow lights, if you want to know why we 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 VIPARSPECTRA lights are available on their own website as well as on good old dependable Amazon through its FBA program meaning that the LED grow light panels are stocked here in the UK. Overall, given their quality, features and relative low cost, these LED grow lights are highly recommended.