Best Cannabis Grow Lights: Questions to Ask When Shopping for LED

Spectrum King provides the insight on what makes grow lights stand out from the rest and the information we need when shopping.
Grow Lights
Photo courtesy of Spectrum King. The Spectrum King Phoenix 680W delivers a high quality, consistent, full spectrum output for over 60,000 hours of runtime.

“What makes this cannabis grow light the best of cannabis grow lights?” It’s probably the single most common question I hear from cultivators, and for good reason. It’s nearly impossible to find reliable information about what makes an LED grow light worth your investment.

Sadly, buying a cannabis grow light that turns out to be beneath your expectations means you’ll probably have to buy a replacement soon after purchase, also meaning you’re going to spend significantly more money than if you’d just bought the right light the first time.

As the creators of the first-ever full spectrum LED grow light—with the patent (No. 10238043) to prove it—my team and I have a unique perspective based on what we’ve learned in building LED grow lights over the years. Below are five of the most important things we’ve discovered since Rami Vardi founded Spectrum King, and we hope they help you to make a good purchase decision next time you’re in the market for a cannabis grow light.

Grow Lights
Courtesy of Spectrum King. The Phoenix 680W is built for toughness. It is the only light on the market with IP65 rated wire connections inside of its frame.

Of course, the cannabis grow light itself is just part of the story. Make sure to buy something with a good warranty (Spectrum King’s warranty is five years), and work with a company where the sales team is committed to your success and will keep answering the phone long after you’ve made your purchase. 

Diode quality matters—a lot: When you see an LED grow light advertised online that looks good in the ad but is a fraction of the cost of all the brand-name competitors, diode quality is almost certainly the first place they cut corners. You’ll see why after just a couple of runs—your crop quality and yields will start to taper down pretty quickly. The reason is that cheap diodes degrade fast. In just a few months, a low-quality diode will start to degrade to the point where, instead of thinking it’s high noon, your plants feel like it’s dusk all the time. Not ideal for yields or quality.

This is why Spectrum King exclusively uses custom top bin diodes from Tier 1, brand-name suppliers. We love hearing from customers that they’re still rocking one of our first-generation LED grow lights and getting great results. We know that the only way to build a cannabis grow light that lasts is to start with a top bin diode.

Spectrum King’s new Phoenix 680W fixtures feature diodes that are at least a full generation ahead of all competitors and Q90 rated, meaning they are built for over 60,000 hours of photon output (roughly seven years of continual, 24-hour-per-day usage) before they degrade beyond 10% of their original output. This is the best way to ensure that your crops are getting maximum benefits from your cannabis grow lights.

Lumens are for humans—photons are for plants: Many companies will tell you about their lumen ratings/output. The dirty secret? Your plants don’t care. Lumens are just a measure of visible light. The actual photon output of the fixture is what your plants care about because it’s what they need to grow. This is why we’ve ensured that the new Phoenix 680W is designed to maximize photon output. When you buy a Phoenix 680W Q90-rated light, rather than L90 rated competitors, you know that the fixture is actually firing close to its initial photon output and maintaining its original spectrum, not just creating visible light that might look good to you but may not even be close to what your plants want and need.  

Durability is key: Grows are volatile, intense places where water contact and power issues run rampant. The best cannabis grow lights need to be able to handle the environment. For this reason, always look for cannabis grow lights that are tough enough to take what your grow is going to throw at them. Fixtures should be rated IP65 to ensure that they’re waterproof and are going to survive if they get sprayed by an errant hose.

We also recommend maximum power surge resistance. Our Phoenix 680W is IP65 rated and has industrial grade dual surge immunity, meaning that it can take on a wet environment, and it is the only light on the market that also has both driver and PCB power surge immunity. These LED grow lights respond to power surges in nanoseconds and can handle a surge that’s over double what most circuit breakers tap out at. It’s the best surge protection available, by a long shot.

PPF and PPE matter, and need to be independently tested: PPF is basically a light’s horsepower, and PPE is its level of efficiency. We see low-quality companies playing games with these measures all the time, by using unscrupulous testing methods. Before you buy a cannabis grow light, find out if and how it was tested. Our Phoenix 680W, for example, has a class-leading PPF of 1870 umol/s and a class-leading PPE of 2.75 umol/J.

How do we measure this? We use a series of NVLAP accredited third-party labs to repeatedly test our LED grow lights using a run-of-the-mill, ordinary production fixture. This means that we don’t send a specially tuned or modified fixture to produce the best results, and we subject the lights to a battery of third-party tests, rather than just relying on our own in-house process. A third-party test is the only way to ensure that a cannabis grow light’s PPF and PPE figures are reliable.

Think about weight: A heavy LED grow light will not only be a pain to move, but can also be a drag for your structure. Hanging weight can require reinforcement of the ceiling, depending on your facility. For this reason, the Phoenix 680W weighs just 20 lbs.-per-fixture. Compared to the industry-average 35+ lbs.-per-fixture in its class, this should be a huge weight savings that will make your architects and engineers happy.

Grow Lights
Courtesy of Spectrum King. The Phoenix 680W has specially engineered, top-bin diodes designed to provide maximum edge coverage, eliminating typical weak points in a grow.

We hope that these tips help you to make an informed decision next time you’re in the market for an LED grow light. Happy growing!

Want to check out the Spectrum King Phoenix 680W for yourself? Click here.

Interested in a quote for your whole grow? Send us an email at sales@spectrumkingled.com

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