You are hereWhich LED Grow Lights Work for Cannabis?

Which LED Grow Lights Work for Cannabis?


by Nebula Haze (last updated 8/26/17 to add another ViparSpectra pic)


Table of Contents

Introduction - LEDs on average yield ~0.5g/watt (of actual power draw)

4 Proven LED Grow Light Companies for Growing Cannabis 
This is not a comprehensive list of LEDs that work, but in our tests these brands have been proven to work well for growing cannabis plants:

Are there other brands of LED grow lights that work for cannabis?


 

Afghan Kush & Critical + Sensi Star under the Pro-Grow 550 (stitched)

LED grow lights are relatively new to the cannabis growing scene, but they have become wildly popular over the last few years with their ability to produce great yields while staying cool and using a reasonable amount of electricity.

Yields! With a quality LED grow light and an average-to-good grow, you can expect yields of about 0.5g/watt. It depends a lot on strain, and pro growers can yield even more, but that's a good rule of thumb. As an example, a 200W LED (200W true power draw, not an "equivalent" wattage) would yield about 100 grams on average, or 3.5 ounces.

Today's LED models are much better for growing cannabis than the ones available even half a decade ago. They have wider spectrums of light (instead of purely red and blue light) which results in greener, healthier growth and better-looking buds. Additionally, LED manufacturers have developed specialized lenses to point light directly to the plants and increase penetration, resulting in bigger yields for the same amount of light compared to older models.

Modern LED grow lights can produce impressive results. These cannabis plants were grown completely under LED grow lights from seed to harvest!

Example of cannabis plants grown from seed to harvest under LED grow lights!
Pic by Joe “Nunyabiz” Nunya, an avid LED grower who uses ViparSpectra LEDs

LEDs are often compared to HPS grow lights and each type of grow light has pros and cons for cannabis growers. Here's the quick summary to help you decide, but you can also read more deeply into the differences between the two here.

Choose LED grow lights if...

  • You want to use the most cutting-edge indoor cannabis grow lights with a customized spectrum of light 

  • You are willing to do some research to determine the best LED grow light for your space (this article will help guide you)

  • You have some extra money to spend on your initial setup (some of the best LED grow lights are expensive!)

  • Quality (potency, smell, trichome development) is more important to you than yields/watt. 

  • You don't want to deal with an exhaust system or ducting, and would prefer to just hang your grow light over your cannabis plants and let the lights cool themselves
     

LEDs vs CFLs

  • LEDs get better yields for the same amount of electricity than CFLs. This is because LEDs are much more efficient (produce more light for the same amount of electricity)

  • Unlike CFLs, LEDs don't need to be adjusted almost daily

  • LEDs give off less heat than a CFL setup with the same amount of electricity, and LEDs also come with additional cooling options like heatsinks and built-in fans, which pushes all the heat up and away from the plants, making it easier for growers to maintain comfortable temperatures.

  • LEDs need to be kept much further away from plants than CFLs, which means that CFLs are better suited to short grow spaces without a lot of available height. LED grow lights generally need to be kept 12-18+" away from the tops of plants, while CFLs can be kept just a few inches away. 

Growing cannabis with CFL grow lights vs Growing cannabis with LED grow lights

Which LED Grow Lights are Best for Growing Cannabis?
 (get a short list of a few trusted brands here)

 

LEDs vs MH/HPS

I've seen many growers choose to mix LEDs with their HPS bulbs. In fact, combining MH/HPS with a quality LED panel may be a great way to improve the quality of your harvested buds. There are lots of growers who claim that LEDs increase potency and density, as well as bring out the natural smell/taste of your strain. On the flip side, some growers believe that HPS tends to produce "prettier" buds.

  • If you’re most concerned with improving your yields/watt, skip the LEDs and get an HPS grow light for your flowering stage. Although LEDs are catching up and there are some really great LEDs out there that get comparable results, HPS still tends to give you bigger yields when it comes to how much electricity is being used.

  • LEDs can get pretty pricey, though not all brands! In fact, some great brands are actually some of the cheapest!

  • Several growers believe LEDs produce higher quality buds (more trichomes, higher potency, and bring out the natural taste and smell of buds). They also tend to bring out colors.

  • LED grow lights come with built-in cooling systems and heat sinks which vent air up and away from plants. This can make it so that you can hang the LED grow light in your tent and not necessarily need an exhaust system to control the temperature

  • LEDs are plug-and-play which means you can plug them directly into a wall without a ballast

What's the difference between buds grown under LED grow lights compared to buds grown under an HPS grow light? Do the buds look/taste/smell different?

Although this is just one example, this is pretty typical of LED grow lights in that they tend to bring out colors. This Eldorado plant was bloomed under two light sources, an HPS on one side and an LED on the other. Nothing scientific, no partitions, so there was light overlap. At harvest the color difference was surprising (see below) and after curing 2 select pieces from each side of the plant, the aromas are slightly different as well.

Eldorado - bud from the HPS sideEldorado - bud from the LED side

View video of this Eldorado plant by Endive
(check out Endive's website)

Learn more about growing with LED grow lightsLED grow lights are a great choice for growers who are dealing with hot HPS lights and want to change to something that's going to run cooler. Although LED grow lights do produce heat, the smaller models might not bring up the temperature of your grow space.

Even the more powerful models of LED grow lights that produce a lot of heat still have built-in cooling systems to help prevent the heat from beaming directly down onto your plants.

Which LED grow lights are best for growing cannabis? (get a short list of a few trusted brands)

 

How to Use LED Grow Lights for Growing Cannabis

With LED grow lights, you will generally get better results with many smaller LED panels, as opposed to a few big LED panels. For example, you will often get better results with 2 x 125W LEDs (total 250W) than you would with a single LED model that produces 250W. This is because more panels often make it easier for you to spread the light to where it's needed.

When it comes to growing cannabis, LED models with 3W chipsets (each individual bulb is 3W) seem to get some of the best yields/watt of all LED models without a lot of worry about light-burning your plants.

With LEDs, always look at the “actual power draw” or "actual power consumption" which is the amount of electricity the LED panel actually pulls from the wall. When comparing different LED grow lights, this is the closest you get to a side-by-side comparison.

Generally, your goal with LED panels should be 50-60 watts per square foot of grow space to get the best results.

The most important thing to remember about LED grow lights….

Do Your Research!

Fat cannabis buds under BlackStar LED grow panels

 

How to Avoid Problems with LEDs

One thing to know about LED grow lights - they grow cannabis differently than other grow lights!

Things to know about LED grow lights...

If kept too close, LEDs may cause cannabis leaves to look discolored similar to a nutrient deficiency, even if nutrient levels are fine.

This is especially common in the flowering/budding phase, especially towards the end of flowering when the same leaves have been directly under the LED for months. Discolored leaves don't necessarily mean you've done anything wrong, especially if the LED grow light is being kept far enough away, but if you're noticing it particularly near the lights, it's a good indication it might be light burn. Most modern LED grow lights need to be kept at least 12-18" away to prevent light burn.

These leaf symptoms are caused by light burn (grow light too close), not a nutrient deficiency

Yellow leaf with brown tips caused by light burn

No one likes nutrient burn...

In addition to discolored leaves, too much light can also "bleach" the tops of buds

Text-book example of light bleaching cannabis making the buds white - this bleaching was caused by high-intensity LED grow lights

There's no "set" distance LED lights should be from the tops of your plants, but a good rule of thumb is 12-18+ inches.

Each model is different based on the size of its bulbs and the lenses used to reflect light down. It's important to ask the manufacturer how far to keep LEDs from your plants. Smaller LEDs with 1W chips almost always need to be kept at least 12" away. However, most LEDs with 3W chips or bigger need to be kept 18" away or more to get the best results and prevent light burn. Check with the manufacturer to figure out the right distance for your particular model of LED grow light. How can there be too much light if the heat is under control?

If just the tops of your plants are showing symptoms, chances are that your LED lights are too close.

Notice how the leaves closest to the light have turned completely yellow, while the leaves further down from the light are still green and healthy

Leaves are getting light-bleached from too-close grow lights

This plant was green and healthy through the vegetative stage under an LED grow light, but the leaves started dying soon after flowering started. It ended up that the LED was too close.

The yellow leaves and brown edges/tips are caused by LED grow light burn - the lights were kept too close, which burned the plant

These plants seem apparently healthy, but the top leaves keep getting lighter and lighter because the LED grow light was too close. If you don't realize it's light burn, the symptoms are inexplicable!

LED light burn is causing yellow leaves at the top of these cannabis plants in the flowering stage

LED grow lights need to be used properly to get the results, but if you know what to expect they pay you back with built-in cooling that allows a grower to hang their lights directly over their plants without worrying about fans, ducting or ballasts. They are easy on the electricity bill and don't cause a lot of heat problems.

Additionally, buds grown under LEDs are known for producing colorful, sticky, strong and smelly buds! And isn't producing quality buds the reason we do it all? 

Check out an LED grow journal where the grower harvested over a pound of bud!

 

Which LED brands can be trusted?

There are many more brands of LED grow lights, and a lot of them are great, but I’m only listing brands that I personally know for certain will work well for growing cannabis. These LED grow lights have actually been tested and given the seal of approval by real cannabis growers. 

Get breakdowns of their best models for growing cannabis:

 

ViparSpectra LED Grow Lights

Get a ViparSpectra 450W LED grow light on Amazon.com!In our growing forum, many members have experimented with different grow lights for growing cannabis. Over the last few months, it has become apparent that one of the most popular brands for LED grow lights is an emerging company known as "ViparSpectra."

I hadn't heard of them until relatively recently (it seemingly started becoming very popular around late 2016 or early 2017). 

Since growers are getting such great results with these lights, and they come at surprisingly reasonable prices for LED grow lights, I knew I needed to highlight this company as our most recommended LED grow light!

Example of a Cannabis Cola Grown Under ViparSpectra LED Grow Lights from Seed to Harvest - Buds Are Dense, High Quality and Potent

Example of fat cannabis cola that was grown under ViparSpectra LED grow light

I will be adding moe pictures of real cannabis plants growing under these lights soon, to help you know what to expect. Keep checking back! 

Breakdown of Different ViparSpectra LED Models:

Here is a breakdown of their different models. This list doesn't include all their models, just the ones that seem to be performing the best. We omitted a few that just don't seem as good as the others for some reason (as one example, the pro version of the 1200W seems to be getting some bad reviews based on its light footprint, despite the fact that all the other models in the series perform very well). 

Recommended ViparSpectra Models:

  • 450W 
  • 450W (pro series)   <-- great choice for first-time growers!
  • 600W 
  • 700W (pro series) <-- good mid-size
  • 1200W <-- for advanced growers only

Note: Unlike a lot of other brands, ViparSpectra LED grows lights have both a heatsink and built-in fans to help keep grow lights cool.

Example of cannabis plants grown from seed to harvest under LED grow lights!
pic by Joe “Nunyabiz” Nunya, an avid LED grower who uses ViparSpectra LED

The following marijuana plants were grown under Vipar Spectra LED grow lights

Example of several marijuana plants that are growing under two 300W ViparSpectra lights

Why are these buds purple?

Example of a purple cannabis plant that was grown under a 300W ViparSpectra LED grow light

Cola produced by ViparSpectra LEDs

A marijuana cola grown under a ViparSpectra 300W LED grow light

Example of a cannabis harvest under a ViparSpectra LED grow light

ViparSpectra 450W

  • Grow Space: 2.5'x2.5' core coverage, though some light will reach to the edges up to 3.5'x3.5’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 200W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24" is the recommended starting distance from the plants.

  • Average Yields: 3.5-4+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Get a ViparSpectra 450W LED grow light on Amazon.com!

 

ViparSpectra 450W (Dimmable, Pro Series)

  • Grow Space: 3'x2.5' core coverage, though some light will reach to the edges up to 3.5'x3’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 210W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24" is the recommended starting distance from the plants.

  • Average Yields: 3.5-5+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Get a ViparSpectra 450W (Dimmable, Pro Series) LED grow light on Amazon.com!

ViparSpectra 600W

  • Grow Space: 3'x3' core coverage, though some light will reach to the edges up to 4'x4’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 276W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24" is the recommended starting distance from the plants.

  • Average Yields: 4.5-6+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields. A very well-performing light in tests so far.

Get a ViparSpectra 600W LED grow light for growing weed on Amazon.com!

This cola was produced under a ViparSpectra 600W LED grow light

Example of a cannabis cola that was grown under a 600W ViparSpectra LED grow light

These marijuana plants were grown under a ViparSpectra 600W

Example of a marijuana flowering harvest - plants were grown under 600W ViparSpectra LED grow light

 

ViparSpectra 700W (Dimmable, Pro Series)

  • Grow Space: 4'x3' core coverage, though some light will reach to the edges up to 5'x4’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 326W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24" is the recommended starting distance from the plants.

  • Average Yields: 5.5-8+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields. Some growers are getting even better yields with this light, it seems to be performing very well in tests.

Get a ViparSpectra 700W (Dimmable, Pro Seires) LED grow light for growing cannabis on Amazon.com!

ViparSpectra 1200W

  • Grow Space: 4'x4' core coverage, though some light will reach to the edges up to 5'x5’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 524W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24" is the recommended starting distance from the plants.

  • Average Yields: 9-14+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields. Some growers are getting even better yields with this light, it seems to be performing very well in tests.

Get a ViparSpectra 1200W LED grow light for growing cannabis on Amazon.com!

 


 

Advanced Platinum LED Grow Lights

A relatively new name on the scene, Advanced Platinum is selling professional LED grow lights for less money than many other LED lamps of the same quality. Despite the cheaper price tag, they have a wider light spectrum than most LEDs, which helps plants grow faster with fewer of the leaf problems and deficiencies than you see with LED models that only have red and blue diodes. They're making a good name for themselves in the cannabis growing community because their LED models are getting really great results when it comes to both quality and yields.

This company is known for great customer service and a 5-year warranty on all their lights.
 

Breakdown of Different Advanced Platinum LED Models:
 

Advanced Platinum P150

  • Grow Space: 1.5'x2' or 2'x2.5’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 50W in veg, 87W in flowering (this model has a separate vegetative and flowering mode)

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 22-36" is the standard starting distance for the vegetative stage. You can move it to 18" away in the flowering stage, or possibly even a few inches closer for light-loving strains.

  • Average Yields: 1+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Get an Advanced Platinum P150 LED grow light on Amazon.com!

 

Advanced Platinum P300

  • Grow Space: 2'x2.5' or 2.5'x3'

  • Actual Power Consumption: 93W in veg, 185W in flowering (this model has a separate vegetative and flowering mode)

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24-38" is the standard starting distance for the vegetative stage. You can move it to 18-20" away in the flowering stage, or possibly even a few inches closer for light-loving strains.

  • Average Yields: 3+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Get a P300 LED grow light from Advanced Platinum on Amazon.com!

 

Advanced Platinum P450

  • Grow Space: 2'x3' or 3'x3.5'

  • Actual Power Consumption: 137W in veg, 255W in flowering (this model has a separate vegetative and flowering mode)

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24-38" is the standard starting distance for the vegetative stage. You can move it to 18-20" away in the flowering stage, or possibly even a few inches closer for light-loving strains.

  • Average Yields: 4+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Get a P450 LED grow light from Advanced Platinum on Amazon.com!

 

Advanced Platinum P600

  • Grow Space: 3'x4' or 3'x5'

  • Actual Power Consumption: 184W in veg, 368W in flowering (this model has a separate vegetative and flowering mode)

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: 24-38" is the standard starting distance for the vegetative stage. You can move it to 18-20" away in the flowering stage, or possibly even a few inches closer for light-loving strains.

  • Average Yields: 6+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Get a P600 LED grow light from Advanced Platinum on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

GalaxyHydro LED Grow Lights

GalaxyHydro LED panels are relatively new on the market compared to some of the other popular brands, but they produce consistently good results with growing cannabis. I've only included models before that have gone through extensive testing, though the company does offer bigger and smaller LED grow lights, as well as different form factors.

Which LED model should I get from GalaxyHydro for my grow space? Matching the right lamp(s) for the space is crucial….

GalaxyHydro 300W LED panel
GalaxyHydro 300W LED grow light panel

 

Breakdown of Different GalaxyHydro LED Models:

GalaxyHydro does offer several other LED grow light models, but they are not nearly as well-rated by growers as these ones. 

 

GalaxyHydro "Full Spectrum" 270W LED Grow Light

  • GalaxyHydro 270W LED Grow LightGrow Space: 2'x2' to 3x3’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 95W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: Keep this light 18+ inches away

  • Average Yields: 1.5 - 2 ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

 

GalaxyHydro 300W "Full Spectrum" LED Grow Light

  • GalaxyHydro 300W LED grow lightGrow Space: 2'x2’ to 3'x3’
  • Actual Power Consumption: 135W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: Keep the light 18+ inches from the tops of your plants

  • Average Yields: 2+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Example of GalaxyHydro 300W in Action - Big Bang Auto strain. This was definitely an exceptional grow! The single plant produced 4.2 ounces under the 300W GalaxyHydro in exactly 3 months from seed to harvest! (Complete grow journal coming soon, check back here!)

This cannabis plant was grown under a GalaxyHydro 300W LED grow light from seed to harvest

The panel was kept 24" away for first 10 days, then 18-20" away from plants for the rest of the grow. 

Example of marijuana buds grown under a GalaxyHydro 300W LED grow light

Big Bang Auto pics by N Davies

GalaxyHydro does offer other LED grow light models, but cannabis growers have been getting great results with these ones in particular!

 


 

 

Kind LED Grow Lights

Kind LED panels have recently been becoming very popular on the cannabis growing scene and seem to be getting great results especially when it comes to yields. However, they are definitely pricey even for LEDs, so that is a big consideration!

Breakdown of Different Kind LED Models:

While Kind LEDs offer several additional models of LED grow lights, because of the price tag on these lamps I'm only listing the ones I've seen used by actual cannabis growers, though I'm sure the other ones are likely just as good. That being said, the following models have been proven to work really well for growing cannabis!

 

Kind LED Grow Lights "K3 L450"

  • Get this Kind LED grow light on Amazon.com!Grow Space: 2.5'x3.5'’

  • Actual Power Consumption: 270W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: The manufacturers of this Kind LED grow light recommend that the lamp be kept at least 36" from the tops of your plants for the best results. This model is very, very powerful and keeping it too close will give your plants light burn!  

  • Average Yields: 4+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Cannabis plants grown under the L450 Kind LED grow light

Marijuana plant growing under the Kind K3 L450 LED grow light

Cannabis bud under Kind K3 L450 LED grow lightPurple marijuana buds growing under the Kind K3 L450 LED grow light

Newly harvested purple buds from cannabis plant grown under the Kind K3 L250 LED grow light

 

Kind LED Grow Lights "K3 L600"

  • Get this Kind LED grow light on Amazon.com!Grow Space: 3'x4'

  • Actual Power Consumption: 320W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: The manufacturers of this Kind LED grow light recommend that the lamp be kept at least 36" from the tops of your plants for the best results. This model is very, very powerful and keeping it too close will give your plants light burn!  

  • Average Yields: 5+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

Cannabis plants grown under the L600 Kind LED grow light

This cannabis plant has been grown under a Kind L600 LED grow light. This shows what the plant looks like in the purple light of the LED grow light.This marijuana grew under a Kind L600 LED grow light. The pic is what the plant looks like in natural light, with the LED grow light turned off.

These lush and healthy weed plants growing under a Kind L600 LED grow light
pics by the very talented LED grower Laughing Buddha!

 

Kind LED Grow Lights "K5 XL1000"

  • Check out the Kind K5 XL1000 on AmazonGrow Space: 5'x5’
  • Actual Power Consumption: 650W

  • How Far to Keep from Plants: The manufacturers of this Kind LED grow light recommend that the lamp be started 4 feet (1.2 meters) from the tops of your plants for the best results. This model is very, very powerful and keeping it too close will give your plants light burn!  

  • Average Yields: 11+ ounces - keep in mind that the strain (genetics) and any plant training you do makes a huge difference in your final yields

View Kind K5 XL1000 grow journal with a 1.3 lb (0.6 kg) harvest!

Two cannabis plants growing under an LED grow light in a grow tent

 

 


 

Advance Spectrum LED Grow Lights

I haven't heard a lot about this company yet, but I have had a grower send in some pictures I thought I should share! I know I love seeing real examples of cannabis plants growing under LEDs. I will add more information about this company and their models as I get more feedback from different growers. Contact us if you have any experience with this company (or any LED company actually)! We'd love to hear from you!

First pic 12 days into flower, other two 7 1/2 weeks. I flower until amber trics  this is Nirvana's Black Jack. Grown under two 350 watt (actual draw) LED lights (S540 Advance Spectrum) and one 90watt red UFO.

This strain usually flowers 9 weeks. so roughly 790 watts and got 728 grams (almost 26 ounces!) after curing. Lights were expensive but I LOVE them. No more a/c and elec went from 350mo. to 250mo. and I thank you for this site. Taught me a lot.

~Jetta

The S540 Advance Spectrum LED Light (350W actual draw)
Get one on Amazon.com!

Get an Advance Spectrum S540 LED grow light on Amazon.com - proven to work with growing cannabis!

12 days into the flowering stage

Advance Spectrum LED grow lights in action - cannabis plants in the vegetative stage

7 1/2 weeks into the flowering stage

Closeup of marijuana buds growing under an Advance Spectrum LED grow light

Marijuana plants in the flowering stage fattening up under Advance Spectrum LED grow lights

 


 

Are there other LED grow lights that work for growing cannabis?

There are certainly more LED grow lights out there which will probably work great for growing marijuana! But so far these are the only ones I've seen getting good results after being extensively tested on real, live cannabis plants. If you've got an LED grow light and would like to share information and pics about your cannabis grow (including final yields!), we'd love to hear from you!

As more LED grow lights appear on the market, we are testing LEDs and looking for other cannabis LED testers so we can share our knowledge!

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5 Barriers to Total LED Grow Light Domination!

 


 

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