So you’ve officially made the decision to convert to an LED grow room. Good for you, because even with a high average price tag for the best full spectrum LED grow lights in Canada, chances are this decision will save you money when you tally up grow room expenses after harvesting.
The key, though, is to choose an LED fixture that’s worth every penny. There are plenty of options out there, but there are also a lot of low quality LED lights that deliver poor lighting or are built with cheap components (or both).
Even when you look into reviews and ratings, it can be difficult to know whether an LED grow light is the right one. The only way to really know is to go through a checklist of the most important components to the best full-spectrum LED lights. Here’s what should be on that checklist:
“Made in the USA” Label
When you buy American-made LEDs (or Canadian made), you know that you’re getting the best. All of the best manufacturers of LED grow lights are based in the US, like CREE, Osram, and LEDengin. Your plants deserve only the best, so these are the names you should be looking for.
You’ll quickly notice that the price tags for LED lights from reputable companies are higher, but that’s OK. Lighting is quite possibly the most important factor of a grow room, so don’t be cheap. That means no bottom-of-the-barrel LED lights made in China.
Buying American-made LED lights goes hand-in-hand with this next one. LED fixtures require several components to work, like the diodes (bulbs), power cords, reflectors, PAR meter, and control panel. If any of these things are made with cheap components, it will affect the entire lighting system – and not in a good way.
Size & Wattage
Nobody can sit there and tell you that a specific LED size is best because it depends on the size of the grow room and the type of plants. However, there is a “best” when it comes to size, but it just might not be the same “best” as your neighbor who also grows indoors with LEDs.
The size of the space is the main thing to look at when choosing your light size (and by size, we mean wattage). There’s no set rule on wattage per square foot, but the general rule of thumb is to have at least 50 watts per square foot. You can go all the way up to 80 watts for more power, but 50 is regarded as the minimum.
So a grow tent that is 2’x2’ (4 square feet) would need a 200-watt light. A 4’x4’ tent (16 square feet) would need 800 watts, 5’x5’ (25 square feet) would need 1250 watts. If you’re growing in a large room that’s about 200 square feet, you’ll want to disperse the wattage evenly, just make sure there are 10,000 watts total throughout the room.
Low Heat Output & Cooling Components
LEDs are notoriously known for their low heat output. This is a big deal for growers, especially growers with a large operation that requires lots of lighting. Lots of lighting means lots of heat, so the fact that LEDs don’t give off much is a major perk.
That being said, it’s still crucial that you research the heat output of each fixture you consider buying. LEDs still give off some heat, so there needs to be a cooling system built-into the fixture (also called a heat sink or heat exchanger).
An LED heat sink works to absorb thermal energy given off by the light. It does this by dissipating the heat into the surrounding air. Because the heat from your light is going into the environment, it’s important that you install ventilation and keep the air circulating.
Plug & Play Design
Plug and play is just a fun way of saying easy-to-use. You’ll want to choose an LED that you can plug in and start using immediately, not one that requires assembly or installation. Your time is valuable, especially if you’re running an indoor grow op, so it shouldn’t be wasted on putting together your lights. This isn’t an IKEA furniture situation.
Quality Semi-Conducting Chip
You can think of the semi-conducting LED chip as the heart and soul of the fixture. It’s the part that’s responsible for converting electricity into light waves and it plays a role in wavelength. Even if all other aspects of a fixture are worthy of 5 stars, an LED light with a low-quality chip won’t get you very far.
Choosing an LED light without warranty coverage probably means you’ve chosen one that’s cheaply made or manufactured in China. The best, highest quality lights almost always have a warranty policy included, and the longer the policy, the better.
Pay close attention to the terms and conditions of the warranty. Sometimes companies try to be sneaky and claim to have a “Lifetime Warranty”, but then only have one aspect of the product covered for your lifespan while the rest is covered for a minuscule 90 days.
Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to spend some time (and money) choosing the perfect lighting system. Light is crucial for healthy plants, so you won’t be doing them any favors with a cheap fixture or a watt rating that doesn’t make sense for the space.