Best Indoor Garden Lights

Best Indoor Garden Lights

Lighting is the most important component of your indoor garden—without it, you can’t grow much more than fungi. Your choices for grow room lights used to be limited to low-cost fluorescent tubes that are effective only for raising seedlings and other small plants or expensive high-intensity lamps for plants that bear flowers or fruit. Innovation and new technology have made many more options available to you. Check out some of these developments in grow room lighting.

Stronger Fluorescents

The EnviroGro FLT24 bank of four fluorescent tubes looks a lot like the old shop lights found in hardware stores. But the new T5 high-output (HO) bulbs provide higher luminosity (brighter light) and a wider spectrum of light than standard T12 tubes. With four T5 tubes, this unit puts out a total of 8,000 lumens, enough light to raise 8 to 10 leafy plants. At the same time, this fixture retains the qualities that have always made fluorescent lighting appealing to indoor growers: It stays cool, it’s easy to install (no electrical work needed), and it uses only a bit more power than other fluorescents.

Cost: About $90 with bulbs included

Better Bulbs

LED lights are a new technology for indoor gardens. Incandescent bulbs—the kind used in most home fixtures and lamps—emit light when an electric current flows through a filament inside. Fluorescent bulbs shine when an electric current activates the gas inside the tube, causing it to glow. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) glow when the power passes through semiconductor material, which is like the transistors inside your computer. LEDs don’t get hot, as incandescent bulbs do, and they produce a wider spectrum of light than fluorescents. Wider spectrum lights are more like real sunshine, which helps your plants grow and produce more flowers or fruit. The TaoTronics 12W LED Plant Grow Light is a bulb you can use in any fixture, making it an inexpensive and simple way for small-scale indoor growers to get the benefits of LEDs.

Cost: About $17 per bulb

Two-Stage System

The SolarStorm is an LED fixture that shines a wide spectrum of light from 88 separate emitters. If you’re raising plants for buds or fruit, California Lightworks SolarStorm 440 has a convenient switch that changes the lights from the wavelengths ideal for the vegetative stage to those best for flowering. The fixture is compact, covering a 3-foot-by-3-foot area of blooming plants. It’s easy to hook up, and its housing stays cool even when left on for long spells.

Cost: About $900

Red Booster

The red end of the light spectrum plays a critical role in flowering, and the 90W G8-90RR LED All Red UFO is focused solely on producing those wavelengths. You can’t use it alone, but it makes a great supplement to other types of lighting. It’s a simple fixture that you can just plug in and shine on a growing bed of up to 10 square feet.

Cost: About $160

Digital Ballast

High-intensity lights are still the best choice for serious growers who want to maximize their yields. But the fixtures for metal halide (best for vegetative growth) and high-pressure sodium (for flowering) lights need a ballast installed to prevent electrical problems, especially in homes. The iPower Digital Electronic Ballast increases the efficiency of high-intensity lights, and it eliminates the flickering caused by fluctuating electricity. It may also increase the lifespan of costly bulbs.

Cost: Basic unit starts at $180