Grow Light Buyers Guide
Outdoors, plants use light from the sun to help them flourish. Sunlight has a wide spectrum and plants have to use a specific window of the wavelength range of light (400 - 700 nanometres, in case you were wondering) to carry out photosynthesis (the process which they use to convert light energy into the essential sugars needed to grow and survive).
In the scientific field, this wavelength window is known as Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR for short), and it’s this range that you need to replicate indoors in order to mimic sunlight and provide the perfect environment to grow a great, healthy crop.
Further to this, plants respond differently to the wavelengths of light within the PAR window. Different wavelengths correspond to both the vegetative and flowering / fruiting stages of the plant growth cycle. Grow lights are purposefully designed to accommodate for all stages of the plants growth cycle, which is why carefully choosing the right grow light matters.
Lumens and Kelvins
In the world of horticultural lighting you are likely to come across the words ‘lumens’ and ‘kelvins’ quite often. These are measures of how much ‘plant usable light’ a grow lamp willgr provide. Kelvins are used to measure blue light and lumens are used to measure red light (both of these colours correspond to the wavelengths of light plants need during different stages of their growth cycle). In a nutshell, the more lumens or kelvins a grow lamp has, the more plant usable light it gives out.
What’s the deal with Watts?
In a nutshell, wattage corresponds to power. The higher the wattage of your grow light, the more power (and therefore light) you’ll be supplying to your plants. Simply put; increasing the light to your plants increases the photosynthetic energy available, which in turn increases your chances of getting a great yield.
For example, a 600W and a 1000W grow light used in the same sized space under the same conditions will get different results. The 1000W light will outperform the 600W light because it produces a greater output, therefore increasing the amount of light energy available to your plants.
However, things aren’t quite that simple. A 250W Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) will not be as effective as a 250W High Intensity Discharge (HID) light. This is down to a difference in the intensity of light produced by these bulbs. See the light types and plant cycles section for more info on that.
The Green’s quality standard
We stock a wide range of grow light products here at Green’s, from entry level value kits for the novice gardener to revolutionary lighting products for highly experienced growers. Although our products may differ to accommodate for our range of diverse customers, our commitment to quality stays the same across our product range. All grow lights on our site come from reputable brands, they are all CE certified, and most importantly, they all meet our strict quality standards. We make sure we never settle for second best, so you don’t have to either.
We’ve used our extensive knowledge and experience of growing plants indoors to bring you the best grow lights out there from the leading brands on the market. All of the grow light products we stock are guaranteed to give you the best performance possible, and all have a great, solid reputation in the industry for being the best grow lights around.
Maxibright have been busy manufacturing premium quality horticultural lighting since 1996. Through extensive industry research and a commitment to producing superior products Maxibright have created an impressive range of grow lights and grow light accessories. All products are manufactured to CE and British Standards and all are RoHs compliant.
Sunmaster produce premium quality lamps specifically tailored for the horticultural industry. They are the only quality manufacturer to offer a complete spectral range of lamps (Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, and Dual Spectrum) that will accommodate for all stages of the plant growth cycle.
Since 1994 Ecotechnics have been producing and distributing specialist hydroponics products. They have launched several innovative products into the hydroponics industry and are the manufacturers of the diamond reflector; a product that is ideal for smaller indoor growing environments and renowned for high light intensity.
Sun King produces lighting solutions dedicated to the horticultural industry. Their innovative and thoughtful approach to reflector design has resulted in Sun King manufacturing some of the best performing reflectors on the market, including the extremely popular and practical parabolic reflector. All Sun King products come complete with a two year warranty.
Osram are one of the biggest light manufacturers in the world, supplying what they call “intelligent lighting.” They’ve been supplying lighting products to a range of industries for more than 100 years, starting out back in 1908. Since then, Osram have consistently delivered reliable lighting that gets results. Highly recommended and they deserve to lay claim to the “intelligent lighting” title.
Grolux specifically manufacture lamps for the horticultural industry. The Grolux range of products is part of the highly respected Sylvania brand, which itself is owned by massive lighting manufacturer Osram. Grolux lamps are dual spectrum bulbs that are capable of providing a sufficient spectrum of light for both the vegetative and flowering / fruiting stages of the plant life cycle.
Philips needs no introduction as a being a renowned and superior quality lighting manufacturer. As one of the leading lighting manufacturers in the world, Philips has created a full spectrum bulb known as the Philips Greenpower lamp. This bulb is very long lasting and will still provide 95% light output after 5,000 hours of use, giving it a longer lifespan than most other bulbs on the market.
Eurolux have been producing lighting solutions since 1999, creating a range of products including lighting tailored to the horticultural market. The grow lamps and ballasts we supply by Eurolux provide a great value entry level lighting solution, perfect for the beginner or those wanting to grow plants indoors on a budget.
Gavita are a company dedicated to providing lighting to the horticultural industry. Through continued research and design innovation, Gavita have become a well-respected brand that provides thoughtful grow light solutions. Using components from renowned manufacturers such as Philips, Gavita make quality products which have been well received by our more experienced indoor gardening customers.
Different types of grow lights
There are three main types of grow lights in the horticultural industry; Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL), High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights, and Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights. Currently, we choose not to stock LED lights as although the technology is now there, the price points for the the systems that actually work is still way too high.
HID grow lights
HIDs were the original lighting solution on the horticultural market, and to date, they are still the most effective. When used in the right sized environment, the correct HID light will provide great light intensity that penetrates the entire growing space, helping plants stay healthy from the bottom of the stem to the tip of the highest leaf.
HID grow lights need a ballast to operate and are available in a range of wattages, from 150W all the way to 1000W of power, meaning they can be used in practically any sized growing environment.
- Strong light intensity makes them the market leader in terms of results
- Replacement bulbs for HID lamps are cheaper to purchase than alternatives
- When used with a dimmable digital ballast, HIDs will give complete control over the amount of light your plants receive
- Use more energy than alternatives which increases electricity costs
- They require a ballast to operate, initially making them more expensive than CFLs
- Put out more heat per watt than alternatives and can be unsuitable for smaller growing environments
CFL grow lights
CFL Grow lights are available in 125W and 250W of power, making them ideal for smaller indoor growing environments. Overall, CFL lights use less energy and produce less heat than HID lights, but they don’t generate the intensity of light that can be achieved with their HID counterparts, which means overall yields aren’t quite as good with CFLs when compared to HIDs of the same power.
Nevertheless, HID lights can generate too much heat in confined growing environments and when this is the case, CFLs are a practical solution.
- Greater energy efficiency helps save on electricity costs
- Minimal heat output helps control temperature in small growing environments
- Self-ballasting so you just simply plug in, switch on, and let the light do the rest
- Can be used for propagation as well as the vegetative and flowering stages
- Less intense than HIDs and overall yields aren’t as impressive
- A max of 250W means they’re only suitable for smaller growing environments / propagation
- CFL lamps cost more than HIDs making them more expensive in the long-term
If you’ve put in measures to control the temperature in your growing environment then we always recommend choosing a HID light over a CFL because you will get better results and greater yields. However, if you’re on a tight budget and have a growing environment with a footprint of 100cm x 100cm or less, then a CFL light is an economical choice, as it consumes less electrical energy, still gets good results, and can be used for propagation, vegetation, and flowering stages.
Light spectrums and plant cycles
Plants have three main stages in their growth cycle; the propagation stage, the vegetative stage, and the flowering / fruiting stage. Different spectrums of light are suitable to different stages of growth. Therefore, it’s highly important that you use the correct lighting for each of these stages to ensure your plants are growing to the best of their ability. Luckily, grow lights are available to suit all stages of the plant growth cycle.
The propagation stage
Whether you plan to grow from seed or use cuttings, the propagation stage is always the first stage of the growing cycle. During the propagation stage your plants will be busy forming roots and building a solid foundation on which to grow and flourish. As you can expect, this is an extremely important stage of your plants’ life and getting the lighting right makes all the difference.
The importance of propagation lighting
During propagation a light source needs to be placed as close as possible to your plants. This will not only stop the plants using important energy to search for light, but will also ensure they don’t grow flimsy, spindly stems reaching for a light that’s too far way.
The good news is lighting exists specifically for the propagation stage. As less light energy is needed during the propagation stage than in the other stages of plant development, propagation lighting outputs little heat and can be can placed close to your plants, ensuring healthy and sturdy growth.
Our propagation lighting comes in different sizes to suit various propagation set-ups. Maxibright propagation lights are compact meaning you can make the most of your propagation growing space. CFLs are also great for propagation due to their low heat output.
Our range of propagation lights:
The vegetative stage
After propagation plants are firmly amidst their vegetative stage. This stage of the plant life cycle is where your plants will be hard at work carrying out photosynthesis, growing new leaves and building the foundations needed to ensure a productive flowering stage.
The importance of vegetative lighting
During the vegetative stage plants respond best to the blue spectrum of light, which, in a natural setting, would be adequately provided by the summer sun. To effectively grow plants indoors, you’re going to have to do your best to recreate that summer sunlight by using grow lights that output light in the correct wavelengths.
Luckily, horticultural manufacturers have made this easy for you by making grow lamps specifically tailored for the vegetative stage. Using the right lighting for the vegetative stage will ensure you get a healthy crop, by giving your plants the essential light energy that they need to thrive.
Vegetative stage grow lights
Metal halide HID lamps give out the correct blue light spectrum needed to ensure healthy plants during the vegetative stage. We sell metal halide lamps from Sunmaster, as they are by far the best performing lamps on the market.
Check out our range of metal halide grow lights
The flowering / fruiting stage
Once your plants have been busy building up their resources in the vegetative stage, they are then ready to enter the flowering / fruiting stage. This is the most exciting stage for growers, and if you’ve acted smart and done stuff right, you’ll start to see all your hard work slowly transform into a fantastic crop.
The importance of flowering lighting
As with the vegetative stage, plants respond best to a certain spectrum of light during the flowering stage. However, for this stage it’s mainly light in the red wavelength that is needed. This red light replicates the sunlight your plants would naturally be exposed to when flowering during the late summer / autumn months.
Once again, horticultural lighting manufacturers are well aware of this and provide lighting solutions for the flowering stage. Grow lamps can be bought that produce light in the correct wavelengths for the flowering stage of the plants life cycle, providing the optimum light conditions needed to increase plant performance and obtain a great yield.
Flowering stage grow lights
Sodium HID lamps give out the correct red light spectrum for optimum plant performance during the flowering / fruiting stage. We stock both Osram and Sunmaster sodium lamps as they are great quality, highly reliable, and produce consistent results.
Check out our range of sodium grow lights
Dual spectrum lighting
As well as lighting that puts out wavelengths specifically tailored for the vegetative and flowering stages, manufacturers also make grow lights that are dual spectrum (red and blue) which can be used continuously during both of these stages.
Dual spectrum bulbs are effective and work perfectly well at obtaining great results. However, from our personal tests and customer feedback it is evident that they still don’t produce the same yields when compared to using bulbs specifically designed for the vegetative and flowering stages.
Dual spectrum grow lights
We’ve carefully selected our range of dual spectrum grow lamps as they provide the best output possible to cater for both the vegetative and flowering stages. We stock dual spectrum lights from market leading manufacturers Sunmaster and Grolux.
Check out our range of dual spectrum grow lights
Overall, if you’re on a budget when purchasing grow lights then buying a dual spectrum bulb can help you save money. But, if you’re dedicated to getting the best results possible then we still recommend using lighting that’s specifically designed for each stage of your plants’ growth.
Reflectors pretty much do what they say on the tin; they reflect the light from your grow lamp around the growing environment. If you want consistent performance from all of your plants, then you’re going to need a decent reflector to ensure light is dispersed evenly and you maximise the overall area your grow lamp can cover.
Reflectors come in a range of shapes and sizes and some are more suitable to certain growing environments than others. So, to make your life easier we’ve made a list of each of the reflectors we stock along with what lights and growing environments they are suitable for.
The Euro reflector is our budget all-purpose reflector that performs well and provides great value for money. Euro reflectors are:
- Suitable for 125W CFLs and up to 600W HIDs
- A basic reflector that’s perfect for those on a budget
We highly recommend Parabolic reflectors. Using state of the art design, it’s suitable for medium and large growing environments and provides great light and heat dispersion. Parabolic reflectors are:
- The “cream of the crop” of reflectors on the market
- Our only reflector to hang grow lamps vertically for optimum light and heat dispersion
The Great 8 reflector is ideal for smaller growing environments with a footprint of 100cm x 100cm. Great 8 reflectors are:
- Equipped with vents to allow great heat dispersion
- Carefully constructed to provide an even dispersal of light
The Supernova reflector is “the original” reflector and a household name on the horticultural market. Available in a mini version to suit 250W and 400W HID grow lights and a regular version that supports 600W and 1000W lights, SuperNova reflectors are:
- Great for directing light at plants directly beneath the reflector
- One of the best performing reflectors on the market when used correctly
The Goldstar reflector is a fantastic quality product that retains the traditional reflector shape whilst providing all of the benefits of an air-cooled reflector. Goldstar reflectors are:
- Extremely well sealed making it the benchmark of air-cooled reflectors
- Renowned for having a good pattern and spread of light
- Available in two sizes to suit 250W, 400W, and 600W HID grow lights
The Gavita Pro-Line reflector is widely used by professional greenhouse growers and is a premium piece of kit, having one of the highest Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) output of all horticultural lamps. Gavita reflectors are:
- Supplied as a one-piece kit making them easy to set up
- Very good at prolonging the life of grow lamps
- Premium quality products using components from renowned electrical manufacturer Philips
We’ve selected this group of reflectors as across the range these reflectors can suit any type of growing environment. All of the reflectors we have in stock are carefully tested and reviewed and all are built to perform. So, whatever your budget and your needs, we’ll have a suitable reflector to match.
Ballasts are devices needed in HID grow light set-ups to regulate the voltage and current being supplied to the lamp. Without ballasts HID lamps would draw too much current from the mains and would instantly overheat and burn out.
Analogues are the ‘classic ballast,’ often using magnetic resistance to provide the correct output to grow lamps. We stock analogue ballasts in 250W, 400W, 600W, and 1000W to accommodate for all HID lighting set-ups. All our ballasts are from market leading manufacturer Maxibright.
Check out our range of Maxibright compact ballasts
Recently, digital ballasts have hit the horticultural market, providing an alternative to the classic analogue ballast. They feature ‘soft start’ technology that helps prolong the life of your grow lamps and run significantly cooler than analogue ballasts. In terms of output and yield, there is virtually no difference whether you choose to use an analogue or digital ballast.
One great feature of some digital ballasts is a ‘dimmable’ option, allowing you to run lamps of various wattages without the need to purchase ballasts to match each lamp. We stock a range of dimmable digital ballasts that are suitable for a specific range of grow lamp wattages.
All our digital ballasts are exceptional quality and from market leading suppliers. Here are the two most popular ballasts:
There are a range of accessories available for grow lights that make installation easier and maintaining the correct light cycles much simpler. Using these accessories will relieve the stress of creating the optimum growing environment for your plants.
Timers are extremely handy allies for your growing environment and they can be used to control ventilation equipment, irrigation frequency, and light-cycles (when used alongside a controller). Without a timer you’ll have to manually control and monitor your growing environment which in most cases is inconvenient and if you lead a busy life, probably impossible.
Controllers are often necessary grow light accessories and are used to control the light-cycles of HID lights. Timers alone cannot handle the electrical load from HID grow lights so if you plan on using a timer for your light-cycles, you will need both a controller and a timer. We sell 2-way, 4-way, and 8-way controllers to allow for the control of multiple HID lights in a single growing environment.
Contactors work in much the same way as controllers and are used to control light cycles. However, we stock contactors from Maxibright which use top quality components and are overall much heavier-duty than regular controllers.
They are also more compact and have an in-built timer which frees up valuable plug sockets. One other great feature of the Maxibright contactors is the addition of switchable sockets, which means you can take total control of the lighting in your growing environment.
Light hanging equipment
If you buy a grow light then you’re going to need to use something to hang it with. You’re also going to want to use hanging equipment that makes it easy to change the height and distance that your grow light hangs above your plants.Luckily, we stock light hanging equipment that can do just that. Easy rolls and jack chains are our standard light hanging equipment and our rope ratchet hangers are our heavy-duty hangers, able to hold up to 34kg of weight.
Grow light accessories are there to make your life easier - why not check out our range of grow light accessories today