LED grow lights mimic the sun’s spectrum, enabling plants to photosynthesise and thrive indoors. These lights are particularly useful during the winter months or in areas with limited natural light, allowing for year-round growth.
But when it comes to buying some LED lights, there is a whole range of different products. Do you need white light or purple light? Let me help you out with this quick guide to all things LED grow lights!
What Are LED Grow Lights?
LED grow lights are a type of artificial lighting that serves as an alternative to natural sunlight, specifically crafted to promote plant growth.
They utilise light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce a light spectrum tailored to the needs of plants, covering various stages of development from vegetative growth to flowering.
LED grow lights consume less electricity than traditional growing lamps, making them more cost-effective over time. LEDs also have a longer lifespan, often exceeding 50,000 hours of use, reducing the need to replace them frequently.
Purple or White
This is a common question from first-time buyers: do I need to get the purple grow lights or the white ones?
The answer is… either. In honesty, there is very little difference.
The idea behind the purple lights is that they only provide the colour spectrum that plants need to grow. This doesn’t mean they are better than white lights, but that they are more efficient.
White lights provide the same spectrum that your plants need, but they also provide some that they don’t. So this energy is wasted.
Purple lights won’t make your plants grow any better, but they will be slightly cheaper to run.
The downside to purple lights is that they make your whole room purple, and it looks like you are running a drug den! It is very hard to be in the same room as a purple grow light, and it also makes it hard to check on how healthy your plants are!
You can see on my lights above that I have put some regular strips in between the purple; this is just to try and balance out the light so it isn’t so harsh on my eyes!
I have purple lights, and I have white ones. But from now on, I will only be buying white ones – for me, the advantages of purple lights are not worth the headache of a purple room that hurts your eyes!
You Don’t Even Need Special Lights
The truth is that lots of gardening shops won’t tell you – is that you don’t even need special lights.
Any regular old LED light can be used for growing plants because plants use the visible light spectrum for photosynthesis. So if you can see the light then the plants can use it.
There are some additions to this that some specialist lights offer, such as UV. But this isn’t needed for most plants, and definitely isn’t needed if you are just using your lights to start seeds.
If you are going to use a regular LED light, then a cool white one is better for growing plants than a warm white one.
What Do “Proper” Grow Lights Offer?
They often have added features like a mixture of cool and warm white bulbs, meaning they cover a much wider range of the light spectrum.
They often also have dedicated infrared and UV LEDs; these can be important for the longer-term growing of plants.
You can see all of the different LEDs on this panel light I have. Some are cool white, some are warm light, and then there are a few red, too.
But when it comes to what most of us will be using these bulbs for, starting seeds, they make very little difference.
I have still bought and used many proper grow lights. This is because they are cheap, easy to set up, and can have very useful features like being height adjustable.
Obviously, you don’t get these features with regular LED lights.
So What Do I Recommend?
The truth is, it depends on your situation. The fancy panel light I have does have some advantages, but they aren’t huge.
If you are on a limited budget, then you could just go out and buy a regular LED baton light. Get a cool white one 40W or above, and you will be set for growing seedlings.
If you have a bit more to spend, then the mid-range panels like the one I bought are very useful. They are nice and bright, have timers, and are height adjustable – meaning you can move them as the plants grow.
You can even get plant-specific strip lights (the white and red ones in the image above)
These mini panels are a good choice, too, and are very budget-friendly.
You can also get plant-specific bulbs to go in a regular lamp. These are more for house plants, but there is nothing to stop them from working on seedlings, too.
The advantage of these is that they look just like a regular lamp when turned off, perfect for those who are concerned about aesthetics, which I clearly am not!
I do have one of these, as you can see above, that we use to keep our houseplants in good condition. it does not look horrible and also keeps the wife happy.
Above are all the lights I have tried and tested.
- On a budget – buy the strip lights – but they aren’t too bright, so they will need to be very close to your plants.
- Mid-budget – buy the mini panels.
- Higher budget – The larger panel is a great light. It is very bright, and the height adjustment is very useful!