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How to Choose a Grow Light

Make sure your plants get the light they need to thrive

LED SunLite Garden
LED SunLite grow light gardens are ideal for seed-starting, herbs, and houseplants.

In This Article

This background information will help you understand the different types of grow lights.

Grow Light Basics           Lighting Terms

LED or Fluorescent?         Factors to Consider

Browse our lineup: Grow Lights Buying Guide

Or jump to the model you're interested in:

  • Modular Bamboo: Grow seedlings, flowers, even fruits, in these furniture-quality, high-output LEDs
  • Large-Capacity SunLite: Aluminum frames with 4' shelves have room for seedlings & houseplants
  • Space-Saving SunLite: 2' wide grow lights in tabletop and rolling floor models
  • Stack-n-Grow: Affordable, stackable, and easy to assemble, they're the perfect starter lights

With so many types of grow lights and systems available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one will best suit your needs. Here's a rundown of some basics.

Grow Light Basics

All green plants require light to perform photosythesis, during which special cells convert the energy contained in the light into sugars. In the process, plants give off oxygen. Ahhhh. No wonder it's so relaxing to spend time in a plant-filled room.

Plants vary widely in how much light they need to thrive — from low-light houseplants, such as dracaenas, to fruiting edibles, such as tomatoes, that need much brighter light.

Seedlings require lots of bright light, and when they don't receive enough they get weak and leggy. In most cases, even the sunniest windowsill won't provide the intensity or duration of light they need, especially in winter.

As with any specialty, it's helpful to understand the relevant terminology.

Plants vary widely in how much light they need to thrive.
Light fixture with full-spectrum LED lights
Specially designed grow light stands make it easy to provide the light plants require.

Lighting Terms

Intensity describes the amount of light that reaches a surface at given distance from the light source. A super-bright bulb that's 12" from a surface might, for example, provide the same light intensity as a dimmer bulb that's 2" from the surface.

Duration describes the number of hours of light a plant receives in a 24-hour period. We can control it by turning lights on and off or, more easily, with a programmable timer.

Color describes the visual appearence of light. Most grow lights provide a balance of cool (blue end of the spectrum) and warm (red end of the spectrum) light.

In genereral, lights that skew toward the blue end are best for vegetative growth, while those that skew toward red end are good for stimulating plants to produce flowers and fruit. Plants use little of the light from the green/yellow part of the spectrum.

Related Article: Gardening Under Lights

LED or Fluorescent?

Both produce full-spectrum light. However, LEDs are better for plants, the environment, and your wallet.

  • LEDs are great for your plants. Our bright, full-spectrum LEDs are calibrated to meet the exacting needs of indoor plants, with a boost of blue light to stimulate stronger roots, enhance photosynthesis, and ensure peak growth. They also give off very little heat.
  • Though they cost a bit more up front, LEDs are super-efficient. They use half the electricity and last 5x longer than fluorescent bulbs.
  • They're earth-friendly. Mercury-free LED tubes won't shatter like glass, so fewer end up in the landfill.

(Regular incandescent bulbs are not used for indoor growing because they give off too much heat and can burn tender foliage.)

LED grow light spectrum

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Grow Light

  • What types of plants will you be growing?
  • Will you grow year-round or just start seeds in spring?
  • Where will you put the light — in your living space, or hidden away in the basement?
  • Should the light be mobile (on casters)?

The following table and Buying Guide below it will help you determine the best grow light for your needs.

Light Fluorescent LED High Output LED
Best for:
Leafy Houseplants
Dwarf Citrus    
Banana Plant    
Brightness ✔ ✔
Energy Efficiency ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Mercury-Free Bulbs  
Shatter-Proof Bulbs  
Optimized Spectrum  
Light Height adjustable adjustable none needed


Buying Guide: Compare Our Grow Light Lineup

Modular Bamboo LED Grow Light Gardens

The power of high-output LEDs

Good-looking grow lights that can bring indoor plants to flower and fruit? Absolutely!

  • High-output LEDs are twice as bright as standard LED grow lights; no height adjustment needed, even when growing light-hungry fruiting plants and seedlings
  • Optimized full-spectrum lamps are hidden behind top wooden bar so there's no distracting glare
  • Modular, stackable 3' wide units for a custom look
  • Furniture-quality construction — strong, renewable bamboo
  • Galvanized trays catch spills
  • Tall model lets you grow plants up to 45" high!
  • Optional rolling base makes it mobile (sold separately)
Bamboo LED Grow Lights
Modular, stackable Bamboo LED Grow Light Gardens in 3 sizes: Tall (left), Low (top right), and Medium (bottom right).
(Rolling Base sold separately.)
Bamboo features
Features: Furniture-quality construction. Galvanized trays catch spills. Twice as bright as standard LED grow lights.

Modular Sets

Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden Kits
Grow light gardens are available individually or in these three convenient configurations:

"I have some tomatoes just starting to bear ripe fruit!! I'm loving this!"
— Amy, Frederick, MD

Bamboo Mini

Bamboo mini
The Bamboo Mini LED Grow Light Garden fits under kitchen cabinets, on a countertop, table or desk, and can even be stacked or hung on a wall!

Large-Capacity SunLite® Gardens

4' of Growing Space

Tabletop and rolling floor models in 3 heights.

  • Grow thriving seedlings, houseplants, and herbs
  • Dual-bulb, height-adjustable light fixtures
  • Choose energy-efficient LEDs or affordable fluorescents
  • Sturdy aluminum frames will never rust
  • Includes heavy-duty, watertight trays
  • Floor models include casters for mobility
  • Accommodates maximum plant heights of 14" to 30", depending on model
  • Each model available as a Garden Starter Kit , complete with seed-starting supplies
LED SunLite 3-Tier Garden
The 4' wide shelves of our LED SunLite 3-Tier Garden provide plenty of space for growing.

SunLite features
Full-spectrum lights. Pull-chains to adjust light height. Sturdy trays catch spills. Caster roll easily.
SunLite Gardens
LED SunLite® Gardens: 3-Tier, 2-Tier, and Tabletop. Also available as Garden Starter kits, complete with seed-starting supplies shown.

Space-Saving SunLite® Gardens

Same SunLite features in a compact space

2' wide tabletop and rolling floor models in 3 heights.

  • Start seeds and grow thriving herbs and houseplants anywhere!
  • Dual-bulb, height-adjustable 2' light fixtures
  • Choose energy-efficient LEDs or affordable fluorescents
  • Sturdy, rustproof aluminum frames with watertight plastic trays
  • Each floor model has casters, so you can roll where you need it — even into a closet!
  • Each model available as a Garden Starter Kit , complete with seed-starting supplies
LED SunLite Compact 2-Tier Garden
With 2' wide shelves, the LED SunLite Compact 2-Tier Garden has room for seedlings and houseplants.

Compact SunLite Gardens
Compact LED SunLite® Gardens: 3-Tier, 2-Tier, and Tabletop. Also available as Garden Starter kits, complete with seed-starting supplies shown.

Modular Stack-n-Grow Light Gardens

The perfect starter system that grows with you!

Ease into indoor growing with 3' wide stackable units

  • Energy-efficient LED and fluorescent options
  • Dual-bulb, height-adjustable light fixtures
  • Lightweight, super-sturdy plastic frames and shelves
  • Easy assembly and light fixture height adjustment
  • Available as a Garden Starter Kit, complete with seed-starting supplies
LED Stack-n-Grow Light Garden
With Stack-n-Grow, you start with the lights you need now, and add more modular units as your indoor garden expands.
Stack-n-Grow Light Garden
Start with the Stack-n-Grow Base Unit, left, and place one or two Add-On Units on top as needed.

Last updated: 1/15/20

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