A grow light is a fantastic resource for your home garden, whether you are an experienced gardener or a beginner. It allows you to grow a wide variety of plants indoors, regardless of the season or the amount of sunlight you receive. Among the most important factors to consider when growing plants is light because it is a vital component of photosynthesis, according to Jamie Chan and Blas Herrera at Fog City Gardener.
We researched the top-rated grow lights available online and sent some to our editors to test in their homes to evaluate size, wattage, bulb type, ease of setup, and overall effectiveness. The GE BR30 Grow LED Light Bulb provides an effective light spectrum and fits in any standard lamp, making it our best overall pick.
Based on our thorough research and testing, here are the best cheap indoor grow lights.
Our Top Picks
1. GE BR30 LED Grow Light Bulb
The GE BR30 is our pick for the best grow light overall. This balanced-spectrum bulb offers high-quality lighting that helps houseplants, indoor gardens, cacti, and flowers thrive all year round. In contrast to some grow lights, it provides warm and soft illumination, unlike some others.
The balanced light spectrum allows you to grow herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, and other vegetables in your home while saving you from buying a new light fixture.
Despite initially being underwhelmed by this option, our tester discovered it worked quite well on her sun-loving yucca plant despite its looks like a regular lightbulb.
2. Soltech Solutions Grow Light
You can’t go wrong with the Soltech Solutions Grow Light if you’re looking for an option that’s long-lasting, attractive, and seriously effective. It’s one of the more expensive options on the list, but we found it to be well worth it. A light that is used 16 hours a day lasts 15 years, which is much longer than cheaper models.
This LED light comes with a 15-foot fabric cord, an LED bulb, three ceiling hooks, two wall fairleads, and a swag hook. It comes in two sizes and two colors.
After treating her aloe plant with the smaller, 20-watt lamp for three weeks, our tester noticed significant growth. Her space was also brightened naturally, doubling as a decorative overhead light. Despite this, installation is hard—our tester had to ask her husband for help, and even then it still took an hour.
After several weeks admiring it, I’d honestly install one of these without the sun-starved plant.” “Installation was far from my favorite part about this lamp, but looking at the light itself, that’s a different story.”
3. Aceple LED 6W Desk Plant Grow Light
You can get impressive results with the Aceple Desk Plant Grow Light if you are on a budget. 660 nm of red light is ideal for flowers and fruits, and 460 nm of blue light supports photosynthesis. With a large clip and a flexible gooseneck arm, it looks and feels like a reading light, but has all the power your plants need.
The light was used both in her house and in a greenhouse for two weeks, and our tester was able to grow multiple small plants with adequate light. In six-hour increments, we attached the Aceple to a towel rod with four potted African violets placed in a circular potholder. “After almost two weeks with the Aceple, one of our African violets—which had not sprouted in years—started to produce new buds,” noted our tester.
If you have a few plants that require light on an as-needed basis and need it easily, this is a great option for households with a few plants. This light is a great budget pick, but it has a few flaws: The gooseneck arm is too short, and it does not come with a timer. All in all, this is a great choice.
4. Roleadro LED Full Spectrum Grow Light
The best full-spectrum option is the Roleadro LED Grow Light. It provides indoor plants with a diverse range of light due to its proprietary spectrum, which ranges from 460 to 465 nm, 620 to 740 nm, and 6,000 to 6,500 K. As a result, tropical plants and flowers grow and bloom year-round. You can also grow seasonal vegetables and herbs in the winter, spring, summer, or fall.
A 75-watt aluminum cooling plate effectively dissipates heat, even on the highest setting, of this grow light. With its hanging brackets, you can hang it almost anywhere in your home, making it an ideal option if you want to cover a lot of plants. We did find it difficult, however, to set up the hanging element, as you need to have hooks readily available.
The tester used this panel on various types of growing situations (including potted succulents and seed trays) and concluded that it was the best panel for seedlings.
The light is also the perfect size for a standard seed tray. It distributes light evenly, ensuring that each seedling receives the same amount of light.”
5. AeroGarden Harvest Elite with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit
Our AeroGuard Harvest Elite 20-watt LED light provides full-spectrum rays to grow a wide variety of herbs and veggies, including mint, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, and dill.
Its sleek design and LCD control panel make it look like a high-end countertop kitchen appliance. Harvest Elite is available in light green, white, black, or stainless steel finishes. With a size just 11 x 4.61 x 15 inches, it’s ideal for a desk garden. The kit also includes seeds for six different herbs—and because they grow in water, you can get started right away.
This kit was much faster and easier to use than growing herbs outside. The stainless steel look melded seamlessly with her kitchen, but may seem strange in a living room.
6. Feit Electric Dual Full LED Plant Grow Tube Light
If you are looking for something to mount, the Feit Electric Dual Grow Tube Light is perfect for you. It is lightweight, durable, and easy to install. It arrives fully assembled and can be hung or mounted flush against your walls or ceiling. This product mimics natural sunlight as it works as a replacement for greenhouse bulbs.
A light bulb emits 450 nanometers of blue light and 655 nanometers of red light, which has great results for plant growth.1 Plus, it emits a low amount of heat, which prevents burnt leaves.
7. TorchStar Plant LED Kit Indoor Herb Grow Light
This LED Plant Kit from TorchStar is perfect for growing herbs indoors. This kit mimics natural sunlight, and it illuminates for 16 hours a day and then turns off for eight hours at night. With its full-spectrum solar simulation, it provides both the right lighting and a container for herbs to grow. This herb grow light is perfect for putting on a windowsill, desk, kitchen counter, mantle, dresser, or side table. It has a sleek minimalist look that won’t distract from your herbs.
8. Leoter Grow Light for Indoor Plants
A full spectrum of color is emitted by the LEOTER Grow Light, which encourages plant growth at various phases. It emits 660 nm of red light and 460 nm of blue light and has a spectrum of 380 nm to 800 nm. Using all three at the same time yields the best growth results.2 This light comes equipped with three timing modes, ten dimmable modes, and three switch modes, among other convenient features.
With a 3-, 9-, or 12-hour timer, your plants will get adequate light even when you are not in the house or at work. “We use timers on our lights for ease of maintenance every day. They will automatically turn on and off based on our desired schedule,” says Jamie Chan and Blas Herrera of Fog City Gardener.
The grow light is powered by a USB port or can be plugged into a standard outlet. It is equipped with four light heads and four flexible gooseneck arms, which can be adjusted by 360 degrees.
With its sturdy mounting clip, this light can be mounted on any surface up to 3 inches thick. The only downside is that the light usually stops working within months, and we didn’t find any warranty information.
9. Gardener’s Supply Company Stack-n-Grow Lights System
The compact, stackable design of this modular unit from Gardener’s Supply Company allows you to grow plants vertically and expand as you need.
For greater stability, anchor the unit to a wall using the supplied brackets when stacking two or more units.
You’ll have plenty of room for seedlings and a variety of plants on each tier, which offers 3.5 square feet of space. A large growing area is covered by two full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs. High-tech reflectors direct light downward, reducing glare and encouraging plant growth.
With no extra tools required, it’s easy to assemble: The pieces snap together. It’s also lightweight, which is a major plus. The shelves weigh 7 pounds, and they come apart for easy storage when not in use. Note that the upper shelves will drip water on the light fixtures if the shelves are not covered.
In order to prevent this from happening, you can purchase small boot trays from the manufacturer. It also does not have a timer setting, but you can connect it to a power strip that does.
10. Spider Farmer SF4000 LED Grow Light
The Spider Farmer SF-4000 LED Grow Light illuminates a large area of plants with 450 watts. It emits a full spectrum of colors: white, blue, red, and IR. A knob lets you control the dimming level.
Due to a new diode layout, the included LED lights are more evenly distributed at optimal intensity, reducing operating costs despite their large capacity. Moreover, this unit features waterproofing and protective coverings on the cables to ensure added safety.
There’s only one feature this otherwise stellar performer lacks: a timer. Hanging it above your plants is easy, and it lives up to its plug-and-play promise.
What to Look for in a Grow Light
Decide how big a grow light you will need based on the number of plants you plan to cover when choosing a size. Your light might need to be lighter and portable if you plan to move it from place to place, whereas if it will remain put, that might not matter as much. Make sure there’s enough room for it to operate safely and not up against furniture, drapes, or other objects where you plan to place it.
Various types of grow lights are available, from panel lights to ones that hang overhead or can be screwed into existing fixtures. You can narrow down your choices by considering what kind of plants you have, how much natural light you have, and where your plants are located. Hanging lights tend to be larger, while desktop lights are smaller and more portable. For a complete garden system, consider a full garden kit that includes a built-in light as well as the planter.
If you hang your lights too low, they can burn your plants, but if you hang them too high, they will stretch for light, and be weak, says Melissa Lallo Johnson, a master gardener in Kansas City. Generally, incandescent grow lights should be placed at least 24 inches away from plants. Fluorescent and LED grow lights, on the other hand, produce less heat, so they can be placed 12 to 18 inches away.
Different plants require different intensities of light, however. If you’re growing seedlings, Johnson recommends positioning them within 2 to 3 inches of a fluorescent light source or as close to the light as possible without touching it. Hanging or positioning lights directly over plants is the best arrangement, because it mimics sunlight and ensures that the entire plant receives adequate light.
It’s not as important to consider the power of grow lights as you might think, but it’s still a factor to take into account. The more important metric is actually PPFD, or photosynthetic photon flux density, which measures the specific light emission that a lamp gives off.4 Due to the difficulty in determining PPFD, wattage is a useful tool to determine the correct fixture for your plants. Most indoor plants (especially herbs) will be fine with a light of less than 32 watts per square foot.
The LED light is one of the most popular and efficient options available today, as well as offering an ideal light spectrum. The LED light emits less heat and can last up to 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs.5 “LED lights are my preferred light source because they’re energy efficient and don’t generate much heat,” says Johnson.
In general, fluorescent lights are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they are more expensive.
A low-cost incandescent bulb is less energy-efficient, and it emits a high amount of heat, which is not ideal for growing plants.
The beauty of indoor grow lights is that they allow herbs, seeds, houseplants, and flowers to flourish year-round. However, they will need the right amount of sunlight and darkness to thrive. As for germination/seedlings, Johnson advises: “You can run lights 16 to 18 hours per day until they are a few inches tall. In the spring, you can gradually reduce the amount of light you provide to get them on the same pattern of light.
The optimal duration will depend on the plant variety you are growing. If you’re away from home, a grow light with a built-in timer will allow you to easily control the appropriate light levels. Johnson suggests you “try to get the light schedule as close to the current sun pattern as possible, so your plants are less shocked when transplanted outdoors.”
How far should grow lights be from plants?
You should place grow lights at least 2 feet away from your indoor plants to avoid overheating. LEDs and fluorescent lights typically produce less heat, so they can be placed closer.
How long should grow lights be on for?It depends on where you live, what time of year it is, and what type of plant you are growing whether a grow light should be on for eight to 16 hours a day to effectively mimic the sun’s natural light. Plants with some natural light will generally not require as much artificial light as plants that do not get any natural light.
Do you have to use LED lights?In grow lights, LEDs are most often recommended, but fluorescent and incandescent bulbs can also work. The important thing is that the bulbs provide full-spectrum illumination and produce red and blue light waves, which are essential for plants to thrive.
We recommend the GE BR30 Grow LED Light, which fits into any standard-sized lamp and helps a wide variety of plants and flowers grow all year long. Aceple Desk Plant Grow Lights are a great choice if you only have a few plants. They are easy to set up and very cost-effective.