Which Grow Lights Are Best? – Part 3

/Which Grow Lights Are Best? – Part 3

Which Grow Lights Are Best? – Part 3

Which grow lights are best depends on quite a few factors as we’ve seen in Part 1 (light quality) and Part 2 (light quantity). It also depends on what you are wanting to achieve with the setup and whether primary or supplemental lighting is necessary. Most of the material covered in this series focuses on grow lights as primary light sources and this requires a broad spectral output.

For quick reference, we’ve compiled a list of several types of lights below that provide relatively wide spectrums along with PPFD measurements, lumen ratings, and other details when available. The list is by no means exhaustive but does represent several affordable and readily available options. Along with the rest of the information covered in this series, we hope it will give you a good starting point to make more informed decisions about which grow lights will work best for your setup.

Note: All Spectral Distribution Curves provided have been adapted to fit a 300-800nm graph range for a more standardized comparison. However, remember to check the Y axis before making any close comparisons as these values can differ from one graph to the next.

T8 Bulbs and Fixtures

T8 bulbs and fixtures are some of the least expensive lighting options on this list when it comes to hardware cost versus coverage area. However, they’re also less efficient energy-wise so may end up costing more depending on the price of electricity in your area. They usually produce more heat than LEDs but not as much as a metal halide or high pressure sodium bulbs.

 

Sylvania 21720

Spectral Distribution Curve

Sylvania 21720 SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: This bulb would work well as a supplemental light, but as a primary light source it would need to be paired with one that produces more light in the red end of the spectrum. If your fixture already has multiple sockets, this is easy to do as bulbs with different spectrums can be used at the same time. Data source.

Lumens: 2,850

Kelvin: 6500K

CRI: 85

Watts: 32

Sylvania 21720

Spectral Distribution Curve

Sylvania Octron 950 SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: This is a good full spectrum bulb. It may need a little help on the far blue and red ends, but not much. Data source.

Lumens: 1,800

Kelvin: 5000K

CRI: 90

Watts: 32

Sylvania 21720

Spectral Distribution Curve

Sylvania 22039 SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: For a full spectrum setup, this light would need help on the blue end and far red. Data source.

Lumens: 3,000

Kelvin: 2700K

CRI: 85

Watts: 32

Lithonia T8 Fixture

Watts

32-40W per bulb



T5-HO Bulbs and Fixtures

T5-HO lights are more expensive than T8s but they produce slightly more light for the amount of energy consumed. This may be a good option if you live in an area where electricity is more expensive. T5-HO lights usually run a little hotter than T8s.

 

iPower T5-HO

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower 6400k T5-HO SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: This bulb would work well as a supplemental light, but as a primary light source it would need to be paired with one that produces more light in the red end of the spectrum. If your fixture already has multiple sockets, this is easy to do as bulbs with different spectrums can be used at the same time.

Lumens: 5,000

Kelvin: 6400K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 54

iPower T5-HO

Spectral Distribution Curve

Unavailable

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: The SDC for this bulb was unavailable but judging by the Kelvin temperature, we can assume it will produce a decent amount of red light. It would most likely need help on blue end of the spectrum though by combining it with a bulb that has a cooler Kelvin rating like the one above.

Lumens: 5,000

Kelvin: 2700K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 54

Philips T5-HO

Spectral Distribution Curve

Philips 29026-2 SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: For a full spectrum setup, this light would need help in the blue end and far red. Data source.

Lumens: 5,000

Kelvin: 3000K

CRI: 85

Watts: 54

Philips T5-HO

Spectral Distribution Curve

Philips 135103 SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: This bulb needs help on red end of the spectrum. We were unable to find a Philips bulb with a warm Kelvin rating and SDC. It may be possible to pair it with the warm iPower bulb above but it would be important to check both bulbs would be compatible in the same fixture first. Data source.

Lumens: 4,800

Kelvin: 5000K

CRI: 85

Watts: 54

Philips T5-HO

Spectral Distribution Curve

Philips 147454 SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: This bulb needs help on red end of the spectrum. It is similar to the one above but provides a slight boost in the blue/purple range with could be a plus. Data source.

Lumens: 4,650

Kelvin: 6300K

CRI: 85

Watts: 54

DuroLux T5-HO

Spectral Distribution Curve

Unavailable for bulbs included

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: If purchasing other bulbs double check that they will fit this fixture.

Lumens: 20,000

Kelvin: 6500K included

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 230

Agrobrite T5-HO

Spectral Distribution Curve

Unavailable for bulbs included

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: If purchasing other bulbs double check that they will fit this fixture.

Lumens: 4,000-60,000

Kelvin: 6400K included

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 48-648


Retrofit LED Tubes

Retrofit LED tubes are a fairly new technology available to growers. They are a good option if you want to increase the efficiency of your light without replacing the fixture itself. The downside to retrofit tubes is that some rewiring may be needed to bypass the old fluorescent ballast. Lumen output is generally lower than fluorescent tubes as well.

 

Hyperikon 4ft LED Tube Single Ended

Spectral Distribution Curve

Hyperikon LED SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: These bulbs will require bypassing the ballast of a fluorescent fixture and directly wiring them to the power source. Overall, the SDC for these bulbs is great but may need some help on the far red and blue ends. Data source.

Lumens: 1,980

Kelvin: 4000K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 18

Hyperikon 4ft LED Tube Dual Ended

Spectral Distribution Curve

Hyperikon LED SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: Duel-ended bulbs like these are compatible with most ballasts, but bypassing may be required in some cases by wiring directly to the power source. Overall, the SDC is good but may need help on the far red and blue ends. Data source.

Lumens: 2,320

Kelvin: 4000K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 18


Compact LEDs

Compact LEDs are good for a small grow space such as a terrarium or single pot. They are energy efficient and produce less heat that most other single-bulb options.

 

SANSI Compact LED

Spectral Distribution Curve

SANSI Full Spectrum SDC

PPFD

Unavailable but claims a PPF of 18.74

Notes: This bulb has one of the best full spectrums we’ve seen yet!

Lumens: 1,050

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 15


Linear LED Fixtures

Linear LEDs are nice because they can cover a grow space similar to that of a T8 or T5-HO setup without the possibility of needing to rewire a ballast like the retrofit tubes. They are also energy efficient. As with retrofit tubes though, the lumen output of Linear LEDs is usually less than that of fluorescent bulbs.

 

Feit LED Shop Light

Spectral Distribution Curve

Feit LED Shop Light SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: The SDC shown here is for the 4100K version of this light. However, it doesn’t seem to be sold anymore. We’re assuming the 4000K version has a similar output though. Overall, the SDC looks good but may need some help on the far red and blue ends. Data source.

Lumens: 1,650-7,100

Kelvin: 4000K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: Unavailable

Hyperikon 4ft LED Shop Light

Spectral Distribution Curve

Hyperikon LED SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: The SDC for these bulbs is good but may need some help on the far red and blue ends. Data source.

Lumens: 4,000

Kelvin: 4000K

CRI: 82

Watts: 38


LED Fixtures

LED lights are the best option if you are going for maximum energy efficiency. They are also some of the most expensive upfront. Manufacturers are more likely to list PPFD measurements for LEDs so it can be easier to estimate whether they will work for your plants. Heat output varies depending on the size of the light, but LEDs tend to run cooler than fluorescent fixtures.

 

VIPARSPECTRA HP300

Spectral Distribution Curve

VIPARSPECTRA HP300 SDC

PPFD

VIPARSPECTRA HP300 PPFD

Lumens: Unavailable

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 130
(actual consumption)

VIPARSPECTRA PAR450

Spectral Distribution Curve

VIPARSPECTRA PAR450 and PAR700 SDC

PPFD

VIPARSPECTRA PAR450 PPFD

Lumens: 4,678

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 210
(actual consumption)

VIPARSPECTRA PAR600

Spectral Distribution Curve

VIPARSPECTRA PAR600 SDC

PPFD

VIPARSPECTRA PAR600 PPFD

Lumens: 5,493

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 285
(actual consumption)

VIPARSPECTRA PAR700

Spectral Distribution Curve

VIPARSPECTRA PAR450 and PAR700 SDC

PPFD

VIPARSPECTRA PAR700 PPFD

Lumens: 7,334

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 326
(actual consumption)

VIVOSUN 300W

Spectral Distribution Curve

VIVOSUN SDC

PPFD

VIVOSUN 300W PPFD

Lumens: 4,210

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 135
(actual consumption)

VIVOSUN 600W

Spectral Distribution Curve

VIVOSUN SDC

PPFD

VIVOSUN 600W PPFD

Lumens: 7,888

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 270
(actual consumption)

King Plus LED 1

Spectral Distribution Curve

King Plus LED SDC

PPFD

King Plus 600-1200w PPFD

Lumens: 7,124-15,920

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 120-235
(actual consumption)

King Plus LED 2

Spectral Distribution Curve

King Plus LED SDC

PPFD

King Plus 1500-2000w PPFD

Lumens: 16,813-23,454

Kelvin: Unavailable

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 260-380
(actual consumption)



Metal Halide (MH) Bulbs

Metal Halide (MH) bulbs are nice because they usually have a more even spectral output than that of fluorescent lights and LEDs. They also produce a fair amount of IR and UV light which can also be good for plants. Downsides are they produce quite a bit of heat, use more energy, and can burn out more quickly than most of the other technologies listed here. These negatives may not be so bad though considering how large of a grow space MH bulbs can cover while still maintaining adequate light levels for plants.

 

iPower 400w Metal Halide

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower MH SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: This bulb has a nice wide spectrum but may benefit from some supplemental red light. A high pressure sodium bulb could help with this but will also increase the amount of heat being generated. This could be a good or bad thing though depending on a plant’s temperature requirements. An alternative might be some red LEDs.

Lumens: 36,000

Kelvin: 6000K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 400


iPower 600W Metal Halide

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower MH SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: See notes above.

Lumens: 60,000

Kelvin: 6000K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 600

iPower 600W Metal Halide

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower MH SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: See notes above.

Lumens: 105,000

Kelvin: 6000K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 1000

Protopia Ceramic Metal Halide

Spectral Distribution Curve

Protopia CMH315W4K CMH SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: This is a very good full spectrum bulb.

Lumens: 33,000

Kelvin: 4200K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 315



High Pressure Sodium (HPS) Bulbs

High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs are commonly used to induce flowering in plants or as a supplement if another source lacks light in the red range. HPS bulbs produce a lot of heat which may be good or bad for a particular plant’s needs. They also consume quite a bit of energy but can cover a much larger grow space than most fluorescent and LED lights.

 

iPower 400W HPS

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower HPS SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: Typical of most HPS bulbs, this one produces plenty of red light but almost no blue. Combining or alternating with another bulb that produces more blue light would be ideal for a full spectrum setup.

Lumens: 55,000

Kelvin: 2100K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 400

iPower 400W HPS

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower HPS SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: See notes above.

Lumens: 85,000

Kelvin: 2100K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 600

iPower 1000W HPS

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower HPS SDC

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: See notes above.

Lumens: 140,000

Kelvin: 2100K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 1000



MH and HPS Fixtures

iPower MH HPS Fixture with Bulbs

Spectral Distribution Curve

iPower HPS SDC

High Pressure Sodium

iPower MH SDC

Metal Halide

PPFD

Unavailable

Notes: These bulbs/fixtures provide a good full spectrum if both types are used in tandem or alternated.

Lumens:
MH 36,000-105,000
HPS 55,000-140,000

Kelvin:
MH 6000K
HPS 2100K

CRI: Unavailable

Watts: 400-600


That’s all folks, we hope you’ve enjoyed this series on light for carnivorous plants. We understand it’s one of the more complex topics to grasp though so feel free to leave us questions or comments if you would like clarification anywhere. We’d be glad to help. Thanks for reading and happy growing!

 

2 Comments

  1. Marcello March 1, 2019 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this series of 3 articles on light setting for CPs! They have been a great source of information for my terrarium setting.

    • curiousplant March 2, 2019 at 9:34 am - Reply

      Marcello, you are very welcome. I’m glad you found them helpful!

      – Elizabeth

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