Grow Lights for Seedlings: Buying Guide and Beginner Tips
Starting an indoor garden requires time and effort. Even so, you can rest in the fact that they’d all be worth it in the end. After all, gardening helps reduce stress as well as improve concentration and productivity. The key is knowing how to give your indoor plants the growing conditions they need to thrive.
While you can always buy plants from your local garden center, you will need to invest in grow lights for seedlings if you wish to start from scratch. This is especially true if you’d be growing them indoors.
What’s great about indoor gardening is that it allows you to grow plants regardless of the time of year. You’d be able to control the temperatures and humidity levels you expose them in and, more importantly, their lighting conditions using a grow light.
Table of Contents
- Grow Lights for Seedlings
- How To Use Grow Lights
- What To Consider When Buying Grow Lights
- Choosing Grow Lights for Seedlings
Grow Lights for Seedlings
Even if you haven’t tried gardening before, you at least know that plants need light to thrive. The problem is, not all indoor conditions allow the best natural sunlight for plants. In that case, you will need to ensure your indoor green patch receives adequate light by using artificial sources.
Setting up some grow lights is the easiest and most affordable way to give your seedlings the amount and kind of light they need. With any of these grow lights for seedlings, it doesn’t matter which area of the house you choose for a garden.
1. Bamosm 4-Head Gooseneck Grow Lights
To grow strong and healthy seedlings, you need a good balance of lighting from the blue and red spectrum. This is what the Bamosm 4-Head Gooseneck Grow Lights promises to offer. Aside from seedlings, you can also use it for your orchids, succulents, cacti, bonsai tree, and other indoor plants.
This Bamosm grow light features 10.2-inch heads with 84 LED chips each. Using the color switch button, you can set the lamp to give off mixed spectrum light or just the red light or blue light. The red light offers a peak wavelength of 660nm, while the blue light offers 450nm.
To use this grow lamp, simply clip the base onto a stable foundation, and use the 360-degree metal gooseneck to set up the heads to whatever position you need. With four LED bars, you can use this grow lamp to illuminate three to 10 plants.
If you’re worried about not being near an outlet, you’d like that this grow light has a 100-inch-long power cord. Plus, compared to other grow lights with a USB end, this Bamosm lamp comes with a DC pin that is not only longer-lasting but also able to handle stronger wattage and higher amperage.
Despite being budget-friendly, this grow lamp has advanced features that you can take advantage of. Use the timer to provide your seedlings with just enough day-length lighting they need. You can set it up to run for three, nine, or 12 hours. You can also make use of the dimmer, which has nine brightness levels from which you can choose.
For your peace of mind, Bamosm promises to provide the best after-sales service as well as technical support. Even better, you can always take advantage of the included one-year manufacturer warranty.
- Easy to reposition each head
- Has a built-in timer
- Offers ample brightness levels
- Effortless to set up
- Can fit in tight spaces
- Might be too small for some setups
- Not full spectrum
2. GNlife 2-Pack Panel Grow Lights
If you’re not a fan of clip-on grow lights, you might like this next option better. Instead of LED bars, this GNlife grow light is a highly efficient light board. Each pack comes with two panels, allowing you to cover a bigger area.
The GNlife grow light is a full-spectrum light board ideal for growing plants from seed to flowering stage. The 12.2-by-4.6-inch panel combines the power of red, blue, UV, and IR lights to support plants in their different growing stages. Even then, it won’t eat up much electricity, so you won’t have to worry about your bill ballooning.
When it comes to its construction, you’ll find that it’s made of ABS plastic and an aluminum shell, ensuring heat is dissipated better than its counterparts. As a result, it can help plants grow straighter and stronger stems and produce fuller foliage.
Getting the most out of this grow light is also easy. The built-in suspension bracket lets you hung the light panel without much effort. At two feet, it has a maximum coverage of 1.5 by three feet. You can quickly adjust the height depending on where your plants are in their growing cycle.
- A great bargain for medium output
- Not difficult to hang and set up
- Won’t burn plants if hung correctly
- No annoying noise during operation
- Can survive freezing and high temperatures
- No switch
- Does not have a timer
3. TQGX LED Plant Grow Lamp
For some indoor gardeners, a plant light board and a four-head clip-on grow light can be too much. If you only need to supply light to a single pot, you’d appreciate the TQGX LED Plant Grow Lamp. It features a four-inch lamp head that you connect to a telescopic pole, which you then stick into the soil.
What we like most about the TQGX LED Plant Grow Lamp is that it doesn’t take up too much space. It’s pretty effortless to set up, too, as you won’t need to hang it up nor clamp it onto a surface. All you really have to plan for is that it is close enough to an outlet. Even then, the extra-long 85-inch power cord will give you enough flexibility when setting it up.
Because of the telescopic pole, you’d be able to adjust how big of a coverage it offers. It measures 27.5-inch tall when fully extended, allowing it to illuminate more plants nearby. Depending on where your plants are in their growing stage, you can choose from the lamp’s three lighting modes.
For plants with specific day-length lighting requirements, you’d appreciate this lamp’s timer. There’s no need to buy a separate timer nor manually turn the light on and off. You can just set it to run for three, six, or 12 hours, and it will automatically turn on and off every day.
Attached to the power cord is the remote control that lets you set the timer, choose from the lamp’s three lighting modes, and adjust its brightness level. The dimmer allows you to set the LEDs within 20 to 100 percent brightness.
- Dissipates heat effectively
- Easy to adjust the height
- Installation requires no tools
- Does not heat up
- Looks attractive enough to use as décor
- Smaller coverage
4. Roleadro 75W LED Grow Light
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Roleadro grow light is that it is backed by 11 years of research and development. It also comes with a 30-month manufacturer warranty, which goes to show just how confident Roleadro is of its product’s premium quality.
While it’s also a grow light board like the GNlife, this Roleadro full-spectrum grow light measures 10.87 by 10.87 inches. Each LED chip offers 380 to 800nm, allowing you to simulate sunlight to effectively promote photosynthesis. You can use it not only for establishing healthy seedlings but also for growing fruits, flowers, and even vegetables.
The problem with other grow lights is that they don’t have features in place to address light loss. With this Roleadro grow light, you can be sure of up to 98 percent light utilization, thanks to its unique LED chips and 60-degree optical lens. This combination allows not only a higher lumen output but also more energy saving.
To protect against overheating, this grow light uses aeronautical-grade aluminum as its body. This material offers the best thermal conduction to ensure better heat dissipation and a longer lifespan of about 50,000 hours. It also boasts overvoltage and overcurrent protection and certifications from PSE, CE, FCC, and ROHS.
- Sturdy and long-lasting construction
- Does not heat up
- Carabiner-style hooks for mounting
- Ideal for seedlings and microgreens
- No power toggle switch
- External power supply gets hot
- No timer
5. Diboys 45W LED Grow Light
The Diboys 45W LED Grow Light is worth checking out if you need to supply light to a bigger surface area. Each light board offers maximum coverage of three feet by three feet when hung two feet high, ensuring all your plants receive enough illumination. Even better, every purchase comes with two full-spectrum light panels.
At 13 by 8.3 inches, the Diboys Grow Light is the biggest light board on this list. You will get 104 red, 40 blue, and six white LEDs, providing the correct wavelength ratio for plants in their different growing stages. Moreover, you can rest assured that it won’t overheat, nor will it burn your plants.
If that does not impress you enough, the Diboys grow light also boasts a 90-degree beam angle. Because of this, the light can reach a wider coverage than Roleadro’s 60-degree optical lens. Of course, you’ll have to make sure you hang it high or low enough, depending on where your plants are in their growing stages.
To complete your indoor setup, you will receive two sets of the light board, US power cord, and steel hanging kits. Keep in mind, though, that this grow light is for indoor use only. When used correctly, you can expect to get up to 30,000 hours of service from this grow light.
- Easy to assemble and hang
- Support plants from seedlings to fruiting
- Low power consumption
- Comes in packs of two
- Perfect size for standard seed trays
- No timer
- No switch
- Not dimmable
How To Use Grow Lights
When learning how to use grow lights, the key is knowing what type to use, what color grow lights for seedlings should be, and how close should grow lights be to seedlings. To help you out, here are some tried-and-tested tips from indoor gardening experts:
Grow Light Color
If your focus is knowing what color grow lights for seedlings should be, you will need light sources with a high blue light output. Hence, when purchasing full spectral lights, look for a set with a high blue-to-red ratio.
For plants in the seedling or vegetative stage, you will need more blue light, which comes in wavelengths measuring 400 to 500 nanometers. For more advanced growth stages, such as during flowering or fruiting, go for red spectra with wavelengths between 620 and 780 nanometers.
Seedlings can also benefit from the invisible ultraviolet light wavelengths, which range from 315 to 400 nanometers. This range promotes pigmentation, thickens the leaves, and has anti-insect properties.
If, however, you are starting your indoor garden from seeds, you will need to fuel germination with red light wavelengths between 640 and 660 nanometers. Be careful when the leaves begin to pop out of the cotyledon, as excessive red light may burn the leaves. At this stage, you should be shifting to more blue light.
Distance Between Plants and Lighting
Another thing to consider is how close should grow lights be to seedlings or plants. While all stages of growth benefit from exposure to a full spectrum, heat emissions from a light source can ruin a good batch of seedlings. Extensive heat can burn leaves and cause them to wilt if the distance between plants and lighting is not set correctly.
Converting electricity to light always generates heat from both visible and non-visible sources. The three types of light (ultraviolet, visible, and infrared) have varying heat outputs between their wavelengths. For seedlings, it is always best to keep them under blue wavelengths.
Over the different types of light and lighting fixtures, heat is almost always a factor. However, some lights use more electricity and therefore generate more heat. As such, the distance between plants and a light source will also most definitely depend on the type of fixture.
As a general rule, high heat output light sources should be no less than 24 inches over your plants. These light sources include incandescent bulbs and medium-to-high-watt HID systems. Since fluorescent lamps have a lower heat signature, you can position them as close as 12 inches over your seedlings. LEDs, having the least heat signature, can be positioned up to six inches.
Also, your choice of grow lights should depend on your space allowances. For stronger grow lights, you will need more space. Grow light placement over plants varies depending on the growth stage a plant is currently in, too. Position your grow lights farther when starting from germination and then move them closer as the plants reach vegetation.
What To Consider When Buying Grow Lights
With the knowledge presented above, you can now work your way into setting up your seedling bank. First, think about how big a space you can allow for your garden and choose which plants to grow. From there, decide how you want to set it up and make lists and estimates for your lighting requirements.
Your Choice of Plants
Generally speaking, growing from seedlings is a pretty standard process no matter which plant you choose. Most seedlings will thrive on blue light, but they will surely benefit from balanced provisions of varying wavelengths as they grow.
If you want to grow tropical plants and hybrids, be sure to provide a well-balanced spectrum as soon as the vegetation kicks in.
Some plants have slightly different growing requirements and preferences than others. To be on the safe side, always read about the plants you wish to grow before spending anything on setups and grow lights.
The quantity and sizing of your grow lights depend on the number of plants you want to grow and the space you have for them. Since some lights emit more radiation, ergo heat, they won’t work well in tight spaces.
On the flip side, many lamps are built to be compact and manageable. The problem is, they tend to supply enough light for only a few plants.
Knowing your choice of plants and space allowances can narrow down your shopping list to what you actually need and not what you want. This approach will save you a lot of time and money, and you will surely put all purchased items to good use.
Day Length and Rated Life
Another important consideration is the amount of time your plants need to be under continuous lighting and the rated life of a grow light. How long should grow lights be on refers to the day-length lighting requirement of your plants. On the other hand, the rated life of a grow light refers to its approximate lifespan in hours.
The day-length of lighting depends on the growth stage of a plant. What duration do germinating seeds need to be under continuous light? How long should grow lights be on for seedlings in the vegetative stage? The answer to both questions is usually the same.
In the germination and vegetative stage, the light has to be on for 18 to 20 hours per day. In other words, you can turn off the lights between four to six hours daily. On the other hand, plants in the flowering stage only require at least half a day of continuous lighting from grow lights.
Since you are considering growing seedlings, your plants will need more time with light. As such, you’ll be spending more on electricity bills, and you will need lighting fixtures with a more considerable lifespan.
LEDs offer the most operational hours among the different grow light types, followed by fluorescent lamps and then HID bulbs. Incandescent bulbs only provide a very short lifespan.
The unit economics of grow lights refer to the cost of lighting per unit area. The rate you pay for electricity is expressed in cents per kilowatt-hour, and you can get the value from your electricity provider. You can also find it in your previous month’s utility bills.
After knowing the cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour in your area, estimate the total wattage of all your intended grow lights. For example, using six 40-watt fluorescent lamps means you’ll be running 0.24 kilowatts per hour. If your electricity rate is around 12 cents, then each hour of lighting will entail a cost of 0.0288 cents.
Let’s say that you’ll be running the lamps continuously for 18 hours on a seedling bank each day. The cost to operate your grow lights is 0.5184 cents per day and almost 16 bucks per month.
Generally, higher wattages involve more expenses on electricity. Since incandescent bulbs have higher wattage ratings, they jack up your electric bills unnecessarily. HID bulbs are also quite costly to operate, and some lack the red and orange portion of the light spectrum.
If you intend to bring maximum efficiency into your gardening, opt for LED grow lights, but they cost much more initially than other light types. Nevertheless, long-term utility bill savings will outweigh the high initial costs of LED fixtures. If you’re looking for long-term energy efficiency and scalability, the best MAXSISUN LED Grow Lights can give you the best bang for your buck.
Your purpose for growing plants should also affect your choice of grow lights. Is it just a hobby to help you destress, or do you plan to grow commercially? Are you on a tight budget, or are you trying for yield optimization?
The best starter hobby kits use fluorescent lamps and small-scale LEDs. These light types offer a more straightforward approach to plant lighting setups, have a considerable lifespan, and provide the best versatility.
If you plan to expand to commercial proportions, industrial-grade LEDs and convertible HID setups will provide you with a vast array of options. These choices also allow yield optimization at almost all plant growth stages.
However, if you’re starting small and don’t have much to spend, you will find cheap LED options. Also, fluorescent lamps will help you growing those seedlings. At this point, it is no longer advisable to use incandescent bulbs as they gobble up electricity much faster than CFLs.
If you notice, whichever way you want to approach lighting for plants, different LEDs are there to make things easier. Budget-wise, LEDs fall on all levels of the cost and light spectrum. We have reviewed some of the best LED grow lights for entry-level planting.
Choosing Grow Lights for Seedlings
Overall, the best grow lights for seedlings for the average indoor gardener are either fluorescent or LED lamps. Both offer better energy savings, with the LED types being more efficient but a bit more costly initially.
Nevertheless, each plant species is unique, and some will have lighting requirements that are altogether different from other plants. It all boils down to determining your seedlings’ needs, the amount of space you have, and whether or not you plan to use the light for different purposes.
As a rule of thumb, seedlings will fare better with light sources that produce high amounts of blue light. If you end up choosing full spectral lights, be sure it has a high blue-to-red light ratio. From this list, we’d put our money on the Bamosm 4-Head Gooseneck Grow Lights.
This option allows you to set the lamp to emit red, blue, or mixed spectrum light. As such, you’d be able to adjust settings depending on where your plants are in their growing stage. What’s more, it also has a built-in timer and varying brightness levels.