How To Choose an LED Grow Light

Todde Philips   

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur

Proper lighting is essential for growing healthy, robust, and heavy-yielding cannabis crops indoors. While HPS lights have dominated the indoor cultivation space for decades, LED lights advanced in leaps and bounds over the last couple years. Now, LED cannabis grow lights are the preferred choice among many, if not by now the majority, of both home hobbyists and commercial cultivators. 


So what are LED lights, and how are they different from High Pressure Sodium (HPS) grow lights? LED grow lights are composed of multiple Light-Emitting Diodes, which give LED lights their name. These diodes are built into a casing or mounted onto an aluminum board and powered by a driver. Unlike HPS lights, LED lights don'r require external ballasts. 

While HPS technology relies on pressurized gas to generate a high intensity discharge of light, LED’s rely purely on the electrical diodes to create light.  

LED lights are much more efficient than HPS lights, meaning they use less energy and emit less heat than HPS lights. Unlike HP lights, LED’s don’t require a separate ballast and they can be plugged directly into a power source. 

HPS lights generate light on the red end of the color spectrum, which is suited for the flowering stage of cannabis. LED lights generally emit a more full spectrum of light that can be used during both vegetative and flowering growth cycles. 

LED’s are a larger upfront investment, but they use less electricity, produce less heat, and provide a full color spectrum for your cannabis plants that can keep them growing vigorously during every phase of the lifecycle. LED’s also outlast HPS bulbs, and can operate for around 50,000 hours before needing to be replaced. This is a big win!

Types of LED Lights

So what are the types of LED lights, and which one is best suited for your garden?


Spread Style
These LED’s contain dozens of diodes spread out over a large surface, including Quantum Board and Spyder-style lights. 

Quantum Board (QB)
This style of LED light is very common among home hobbyists and is composed of relatively low-wattage diodes. They offer great results, especially considering the amount of watts used.



Spider Lights
While Quantum Board (QB) lights contain diodes spread out over a solid, rectangular surface, Spider-style lights have the diodes mounted on thin strips of aluminum that run out from the center of the light fixture. These long thin arms resemble the outline of a spider, hence the name. The arrangement of diodes along extended rows helps to optimize the even distribution of light over the plants’ canopy, which improves cannabis yield. 

These lights are found at the higher end of the price spectrum, however growers who use them will testify to their results.

Traditional Panel
These are the standard LED grow lights, the first types of cannabis LED grow lights on the market. They contain medium-wattage diodes housed in a more compact casing than spread style lights. The lights from these traditional panel LED’s can take on a bluish-purple color, and you’ll sometimes hear them called “Blurples”. They often contain internal fans to help manage heat. 

These lights are at the lower end of the cost scale but also at the lower end of performance in the garden, compared to the spread style lights with more powerful, compact diodes. Traditional panel lights are like a hybrid of spread style and COB lights. 


Chip on Board (COB)
These LED’s look different than the other two types, and appear to have a number of large “bulbs” within a fixture. These bulbs are actually several small LED chips condensed in a small area, and the put out a very bright and intense light. Although COB lights use a large amount of electricity, it’s for good reason. The intensity of discharge is higher for COB than other styles of grow light, and is able to achieve great penetration through the plant canopy and into lower regions of the plant. 


Which Light To Choose

Quantum Board LED grow lights are a great choice for the home hobbyist cultivating a few plants in a grow tent or other small space. These lights are so compact and lightweight, and they don’t generate much heat. They’re great for small spaces and relatively small budgets. QB’s emit a full spectrum of light that’s suited for all growth stages of cannabis, and these units will outlast HPS bulbs by a long shot. 

Our friends at Terpy Highs put together some great LED grow light reviews. Learn more about QB lights and which ones he’s using in his garden to produce some exceptional flowers. 



LED lights are the future of indoor cannabis cultivation. As technology continues to improve and new advancements are brought to market, LED’s will continue to become not only more effective, but also more cost-efficient. 

Which LED lights are you running in the garden? Let us know in the comments. 

Happy Growing!




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