If you are interested in the indoor hydroponic growing of vegetables and herbs, you have probably realized relatively quickly that a good LED light panel is the most important investment you’ll make. However, due to their more sophisticated design, LEDs tend to have more significant setup costs. The payoff is an increased lifespan, lower running temperatures, and notable energy savings.
With a market that big, it was only a matter of time before Chinese manufacturers stepped in to offer cheap and -allegedly- powerful LED fixtures through the all-powerful Amazon marketplace. These LED grow lights seem to have it all: Decent performance, great reviews, and knockout prices. However, as we’ll see in this list, things aren’t always what they seem.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Nowhere is this more fitting than in the LED panel business, as in many occasions, Amazon merchants make claims that seem exaggerated, even for a newbie. Thankfully, all it takes is a little due diligence to find the red flags.
First of all, many Amazon LEDs are practically the same unit, sold under a different brand. No matter how many Watts or “full-spectrum” they claim, it is the same cheap plastic housing and low quality big blue and red LEDs.
Secondly, when you try to verify the claims of the manufacturers, you will find that some vital information (such as the amperage or the real Watts) are missing. You only have the dealer’s word on the actual performance, and by the time you’ll be able to verify their claims, it’ll be too late.
Bold and unrealistic claims are by far the biggest problem with Amazon LED retailers. If you go through the various models, you will see many units marketed as “1000W HPS killers” or “stands as a true replacement for 800W HPS grow lights”. While this is perfectly doable with quality LED grow lights, there is zero chance you’ll get a LED panel up to the task for less than a few thousand US dollars (or Euros).
Let’s take the example of a random “1200W” Amazon unit being marketed as a 1000W HPS replacement: If you look at the specs more carefully, you will see that the actual power draw is 520W, meaning that this LED grow light is a replacement for a 400W HPS, at best. Chances are it is not nearly as bright, and the spectrum likely has gaps, due to low quality diodes.
The diodes are the most important component of a LED grow panel. The first models on the market consisted of 3W red and blue diodes, that are now obsolete. Nowadays, white LEDs are more prevalent, as they provide a fuller light spectrum, compared to single wavelength diodes.
In 99% of cases, cheap Amazon LED lights feature third-rate blue and red LEDs by obscure manufacturers, that can be up to 30 times weaker than diodes by reputable companies like CREE or OSRAM. So, even if you are fine paying for an alleged 1000W fixture running at 250W, you are still going to see disappointing results.
If you are going the LED way, save up your money and get a quality LED panel. Check our catalog for the best deals in grow lights and get the best bang for your buck!