The 7 Best Grow Lights to Buy in 2018

Mimic the sun's rays with these top picks

A greenhouse in a garden
Ullamaija Hanninen/Folio Images / Getty Images

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Growing plants and flowers is tricky enough outdoors. Maintaining the right amount of water and nutrients while protecting a garden from the elements is a balancing act. Many people turn to indoor gardens to avoid the challenging growing conditions of the winter or harsh environments. This route,...MORE however, brings its own set of challenges. First and foremost, you are going to need some light.

Grow lights provide the same energy to indoor plants that the sun brings to the outdoors. Without them, photosynthesis would be impossible and the plants would die. Using bulbs that emit more frequencies than your typical lamp, these lights come in many shapes and sizes to best fit the plants and your indoor garden setup. Here, the best grow lights to consider for your indoor plants and garden.

  • Best Overall Grow Light: Roleadro LED Panel

    With so many different types of grow lights and bulbs available on the market, the top choice needs to be something that offers versatility. Different garden setups may require ​grow lights that you can arrange in different ways to get the best results. That is why the Roleadro LED Panel takes the top spot. As a single panel LED light, it is easy to use the light alone or with others to ensure you have the best coverage for your plants.

    This LED panel uses a combination of individual red and blue lights to provide the most common wavelengths plants need to survive. The overall profile will cover around seven to eight square feet, and is meant to be placed around two feet away from the plants. Best of all, the LED lights offer a long service life of around 50,000 hours and little heat to protect the plants during the growing process.

  • Best Budget Grow Light: Aceple Desk Lamp

    A dedicated indoor garden will quickly add up in costs. The necessary lights alone can be prohibitively expensive depending on the scale of the garden and needs of the plants. If you have a small budget or just want to dabble in indoor growing, a small grow light like the Aceple Desk Lamp is more than enough to provide a single, small plant enough energy to grow anywhere in the home.

    This lamp utilizes a single bulb with six individual red and blue pieces. Combined, the lighting elements will provide the most common spectrum of light plants naturally get from direct sunlight. The LED bulb maximizes the life of the lamp to around 25,000 hours and can be replaced easily when it dies out. The body of the lamp uses a single metal fixture with a clamp on the end to hang the light from ledges, shelves or other surfaces.

  • Lithonia Lighting GRW 2 14 CSW CO M4 2-Light 14-Watt White Fluorescent Grow Light

    Best Hanging Grow Light: Lithonia Lighting GRW

    For large scale gardens, hanging lights provide the best coverage while keeping expenses down as much as possible. Using chains and anchors, ceiling lights allow you to adjust the height to provide the most amount of light a specific plant type may require. The Lithonia Lighting GRW is a cost-effective hanging option meant for smaller indoor gardens your home can easily fit.

    Using two chains and mounting points to support each end of its long body, the grow light is easy to hang and position above plants. It uses two 14W fluorescent bulbs and an acrylic lens to focus the light downwards for maximum coverage. To power the light, it comes with a five-foot power cord and on/off switches to provide power directly from any common wall outlet in the home. With a 60 x 14 inch profile, this light will provide plenty of coverage for larger gardens or plants.

  • Best Full Spectrum Grow Light: Deckey 225 LED

    The reason common, everyday light bulbs can’t be used for indoor garden is the lack of extra light frequencies plants use in sunlight. Higher frequencies have more energy than visible light. To get the most from your grow light, the bulbs need to offer the “full spectrum,” meaning they emit more frequencies than just the visible light so plants can absorb as much energy as they need.

    The Deckey 225 LED grow light provides the UV and infrared wavelengths common light bulbs lack. Using a series of blue and red LED lights, the entire panel tries to replicate true sunlight so outdoor plants like flowers and fruits/vegetables can thrive inside away from the elements. The LED lights will also save on power and produce less heat, meaning the garden won’t get damaged from continued exposure to higher temperatures.

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  • ViaVolt 2 ft. 4-Bulb T5 High Output Copper Fluorescent Grow Light Fixture

    Best Fluorescent Grow Light: ViaVolt T5

    Before LED lights, traditional fluorescent bulbs were one of the most popular options for grow lights. Unlike normal fluorescent bulbs, ones meant for indoor gardens offer more of the light frequencies plants need to grow. Compared to LED bulbs, fluorescent lamps such as the ViaVolt T5 light can be cheaper but may sacrifice the length of their life since LED bulbs tend to last longer.

    The T5 is a top fluorescent light choice since it doubles the amount of light you can use to grow plants. The two-foot length is large enough for typical home indoor gardens without being oversized or taking up too much room. Hung from two sturdy points, the four 24W bulbs are extra bright for a total of 2,000 lumens. This means you can light more area and plants while using less overhead lighting for larger gardens.

  • Best High Intensity Grow Light: Dimgogo 1500W

    Larger indoor gardens have higher maintenance needs to adequately supply the light and nutrients the plants will need to thrive. Using individual grow lights on a large garden can quickly add up in cost. High-intensity lights, on the other hand, can cover more area so you can cut down on the number of lights you need. Many organic foods you can grow indoors will also benefit from the higher output.

    The Dimgogo 1500W light is all about large coverage. Using an array of full spectrum, red and blue LED lights, the grow light can output around 6x6 feet of space when hung from a height of two feet above the plant. Since the light uses and produces more energy, it comes with two cooling fans and heatsinks to keep temperatures down and to safeguard the overall health of the plants.

  • Best Desktop Grow Light: Ppunson Dual Head

    For people new to growing things inside — or growing things at all — it is smart to start small. Traditional indoor gardens require more equipment, space and money which all might be too much just starting off. A small grow light, such as the Ppunson Dual Head desk lamp, will allow you to try your hand at indoor garden all without sacrificing much more than a little desk space anywhere you want in the home.

    The dual head design means you can perfectly position the light around a single plant or grow two plants at the same time. Each head uses the same 10W LED bulb made up of three red and two blue individual pieces. The body uses a metal lamp on the end to attach the lamp on ledges. The flexible metal necks are sturdy to hold their position once you have maneuvered each head for the best coverage around the plant.