Today we have widely available and excellent cheap LED grow lighting, but there are far more scams than good deals. I have done a great deal of research on the best and most cost-effective, efficient ways to light indoor growing spaces. Here is what I have learned.
Avoid anything with “grow” or “plant” in the name. These products are essentially identical but often up to an order of magnitude more expensive for no reason.
Look for “shop” or “utility” in the name instead. Modern broad spectrum cheap LED grow lights are interchangeable. Anything with white light, whether warm or cold is going to work just fine for plants. If you get into industrial grow operations at large scale, then eventually, it will make sense to do further research on exactly which spectrum your plants need and to use more specialized lights. This will probably provide a single-digit increase in output. That makes sense at large scale but for home grow operations, regular white light works just fine.
High lumens are key. LED Grow lights should be at least 3000 or 4000 lumens. Three or four of these will keep dozens of plants happy and let them grow. This can be achieved with a single spotlight like the one pictured below which I love, or with linked fluorescent-style lights which illuminate a larger area.
Another important thing to keep in mind whenever you are using led grow lights is that they need to be on some kind of timer. There are two main ways of accomplishing this. The old-school way is to use a mechanical timer. These are cheap and simple to set up and use but they have several drawbacks compared to the other way of solving this problem…
Personally, I recommend using smart plugs instead of the old fashioned mechanical timers. They accomplish the same timing for your lights, but they have several advantages. A big advantage for me is being able to check on them from elsewhere to be sure they are working. For example, if the power goes out for an hour, mechanical timers will have their cycle thrown off. This may confuse your plants into thinking the seasons are changing which can have negative side effects. Smart plugs check the time when the power comes back on and everything continues as normal. They also tell you how much power the lights are using over time. This is helpful for budgeting and diagnostic purposes.
I did a lot of hunting around online and testing with my own grow operations using both mechanical timers and smart sockets. I really like the cheap chinese smart plugs on Amazon which can be had for under $15. These are actually cheaper than the old fashioned mechanical timers depending on where you get them. I can’t recommend this strategy highly enough.