5 Ways to Avoid Getting Ripped Off on LED Grow lights

Are you looking for the best value on LED grow lights but don’t want to get ripped off? Let’s go over everything you need to consider when shopping for LED grow lights. Whether you’re shopping for grow lights online or in person, learning what to look for will save you time, money and trouble.

Follow these tips:

Buy a great brand from a reputable retailer, not a secondhand grow light

Always buy new grow lights. Grow lights can be costly, even when secondhand, so don’t waste money on a used fixture that is damaged or defective.

The same rule goes for buying LED grow lights from online marketplaces, such as Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace. You will undoubtedly find a low-priced LED light, but there’s a good chance you’ll get less than optimal quality. The last thing you want is to buy a used, damaged LED light with no warranty or return possibilities. If you purchase a quality LED light from a retailer with a return policy, you’re more likely to be protected if a product you purchased shows up in bad condition.

Buy only as much light as you need, and understand efficiency

If you buy more light than you need, you let a seller rip you off. Don’t be talked into a 750W fixture if all you need is 100W.

The rule of thumb on wattage is 20 watts (veg) to 30W (flower) for each square foot of grow space:

  • A 2’ x 2’ grow tent, which is 4 square feet, needs only 80 to 120 watts of LED lighting.
  • A 3’ x 3’ tent, at 9 square feet, would require an LED fixture of 180W to 270W.
  • A 4’ x 4’ tent, at 16 square feet, would need an LED grow light of 320W to 480W.

Read How Many LED Grow Lights Do I Need? for information on wattage and fixture numbers.

Make sure you’re not paying for wattage you’re not getting. Some manufacturers label an LED fixture for the wattage of the HPS lights that the LEDs would replace, instead of the actual wattage of the LEDs. For instance, they might call a fixture 750W when it draws only 520 watts, because the output would be similar to what the manufacturer says a 750W lamp produces. Read the specs for any light you’re considering.

Efficiency matters. The higher the micromoles per Joule, often written as μmol/J, the better the fixture is at converting electrons into photons—the light that’s usable by a plant during photosynthesis. Higher μmols speed and encourage plant development.

Compare light intensity. Two lights might draw the same wattage, but one fixture emits brighter light, evident in its higher PPFD. It’s a big, expensive mistake to buy a grow light with high wattage but a low PPFD. You could easily end up with an energy-sucking light that runs up your electric bill but doesn’t boost your grow.

If energy cost is a big issue for you, keep it low and choose a light with a lower wattage draw. Just make sure it has adequate intensity for your grow needs.

Don't Trust Manufacturer Testing Data

Be cautious about misleading claims on LED grow light efficiency. If a light sounds too good to be true, it might be.

We here at Growershouse.com have tested LED lights from around the world and discovered something shocking: Many manufacturers and marketers make up their numbers!

Real-world, independent data about the LED grow lights that interest you helps you know for sure if a light is as efficient as the manufacturer claims. Some Chinese companies claim an efficiency of 2.7 μmol/J. When we actually test the lights at GrowersHouse we get measurements closer to 2.3 μmol/J, a 17% difference.

Accuracy, reliability and transparency are the main reasons we test and compare all of our grow lights here at growershouse.com. Read The Best LED Grow Lights for reviews and comparisons.

If you want to double-check that you’re purchasing LED grow lights from a reputable vendor, you can look them up on ripoffreport.com. It’s a site that catalogs consumer allegations of fraud, scams and outright bad business practices. Also check the Better Business Bureau to see the company’s rating and whether complaints remain unresolved.

Check for even radiation on a PAR Chart

LED PAR chartLED PAR chart

To get the best bang for your buck on a value LED light without getting ripped off, learn a little bit about light intensity. Try to find a grow light with a strong intensity that’s as evenly dispersed as possible, but remember there’s no such thing as perfect.

To see how much light intensity an LED grow light has, look at the manufacturer’s PAR chart. PAR stands for Photosynthetic Active Radiation. A PAR chart is a map of PPF readings spread across a grow light’s footprint. It’s an easy way to visualize if intensity is evenly spread and how far the light reaches.

If the retailer or manufacturer provides PPF readings, but no PAR chart, it should raise a red flag. Without a chart, deception in light intensity, quality and radiance becomes easy. Always look for a PAR chart with multiple PPF readings.

Watch out on a PAR map for potential hot spots—areas where light is too intense, which could damage plants.

Check for ideal light spectrum coverage

LED light spctrum graphLED light spctrum graph

Make sure your grow light delivers all the spectrum you need. Simply put, vegging plants need some extra blue light and flowering plants require extra red. “White light” LED fixtures tend to emit a fuller spectrum that includes these wavelengths and more closely imitates daylight.

Some LED lights allow you to customize the spectrum. The great thing about this is that it prevents you from needing two different light setups—a big savings in time and cost. The needs of larger grow setups may differ.

Want to uncomplicate the process of choosing the best LED grow light—one that’s effective and affordable? We’ve made an easy-to-use tool to help you select a grow tent and grow light combination.