9 Best Grow Light Bulbs: Compare, Buy & Save (2018)

How many hydroponic gardeners does it take to change a light bulb? In the world of hydroponic gardening, light bulbs are a big deal. The quality of bulb you choose can make or break your garden’s productivity. In this article I will go over the different choices available for hydroponic grow light bulbs to help you decide what would work best in your garden.

The list below is roughly organized by type of light bulb – High Pressure Sodium (HPS)/Metal Halide (MH), Light Emitting Diode (LED), or Compact Fluorescent (CFL). The highest quality light is in the #1 spot, with the rest of the list in no particular order in terms of quality.

What Are the Best Hydroponic Grow Light Bulbs Available?

agrobrite Fluorowing cfl grow light bulb Amazon Customer Reviews
  • One year warranty
  • Ful system
  • Good for beginners
Price: $59.29 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
sunblaster cfl grow light bulb Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Small size
  • Good for supplemental lighting
  • Very inexpensive
Price: $14.33 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
ipower hps grow light bulb Amazon Customer Reviews
  • High quality
  • Well known brand
  • Inexpensive
Price: $23.98 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
apollo hps grow light bulb Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Powerful
  • Inexpensive
  • Well known brand
Price: $12.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
ipower t5 cfl grow light bulbs Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Energy efficient
  • Pack of 5
  • Inexpensive
Price: $22.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Very inexpensive
  • Fits in any reglar socket
  • Chose one-, two- or four-pack
Price: $8.07 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
miraclegro grow light bulb Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Enegy efficient
  • Low heat output
  • Respected brand
Price: $20.15 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
ipower hps grow light bulb Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Powerful
  • Metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium
  • One year warranty
Price: $15.98 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
taotronics led grow light Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great for seedlings
  • One year warranty
  • Fits in standard 12W socket
Price: $27.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Hydrofarm Agrobrite FLCDG125D Fluorowing Compact Fluorescent System with CFL Bulb

    Pros:
    • Very inexpensive
    • Good for beginners
    • Works well as supplemetal lighting
    Cons:
    • Not very powerful
    • Not good for larger gardens
    • Not full spectrum

    This complee system from Hydrofarm is a great choice for beginners or anyone with a smaller sized garden. THis is my favorite pick on this list because it is not just a bulb but an entire system in one package. It is best for plants in the vegetative state such as leafy greens because it does not put out a full spectrum. This system is 120-volt, 60-hertz frequency with a mogul base type and is very reasonably priced. It comes with the bulb as well as a hooded reflector. It comes with a one year warranty as well. 

  2. 2. SunBlaster 26W 6400K CFL Bulb

    Pros:
    • Can be combined with multiple lights to cover more area
    • Very inexpensive and energy efficient
    • Does not put out a lot of heat
    Cons:
    • Not powerful enough for more than a few small plants
    • Does not come with a reflective hood
    • You will need to buy a light socket and hangers separately

    This small bulb from Sunblaster is another good option for beginner gardeners. It is a 26W, 6400K temperature bulb that is equivalent to a 100W incandescent bulb. It is super convenient because it fits into a standard light socket, and will give enough light to grow a few small herbs or vegetative plants. If you are looking to try out hydroponics on a small scale, this inexpensive and energy efficient light would be a really nice choice. And, if you end up not enjoying hydroponics you can still use it as a regular light bulb!

  3. 3. 1000 Watt Metal Halide Bulb by iPower

    Pros:
    • High quality HPS grow light
    • Inexpensive
    • Reputable manufacturer
    Cons:
    • You must buy an HPS bulb separate for flowering states of growth
    • Wears out quickly
    • Does not come with fan or hood

    This grow light from iPower may look like something out of Frankenstein’s lab, but it is in reality on of the best designed types of lightbulbs for hydroponic gardening. This is a high quality Metal Halide light suitable for vegetative stages of growth. It is 130V, 1000W, 4200 Kelvin and takes between 3-5 minutes to reach full strength. At less than $20, it is a great value for both beginners and seasoned gardeners.

  4. 4. Apollo Horticulture HPS Bulb

    Pros:
    • Very powerful
    • Good value
    • Well known and reputable manufacturer
    Cons:
    • Loses strength faster than LED
    • Requires separate bulb and ballast for MH bulbs when in vegetative state
    • Requires reflective hood and fan

    This High Pressure Sodium bulb from Apollo is a great deal for the quality. You can choose between 400W ($12, Buy Here), 600W ($20, Buy Here) or 1000W ($31, Buy Here). The bulb is ideal for flowering and fruiting stages of pant life, with a 2000K red-orange spectrum designed specially for hydroponic gardening. This bulb is expected to last 24000 hours at 110V. It takes about 3 to 5 minutes to warm up fully.

  5. 5. iPower Pack of 5 Fluorescent-Light Bulbs

    Pros:
    • Well known and reputable seller
    • Does not require much ventilation
    • Energy efficient
    Cons:
    • Not as powerful as high quality HPS or LED
    • Very fragile
    • Burn out quickly

    iPower also sells CFL or fluorescent light bulbs. CFL are meant to be combined with multiple bulbs in one hood for maximum coverage, so this packof 5 bulbs is a great deal. You can choose from either 2700K or 6400K at the same price. These T5 bulbs are 4,580 lumens and they are 45.12″ long. These would be suitable for a mid sized grow, or you can buy multiple packs for a larger garden.

  6. 6. Bulbrite Reflector Bulb

    Pros:
    • Very inexpensive
    • Fits into standard socket
    • Comes in round or A shape
    Cons:
    • Not very powerful
    • Not good for large set ups
    • No manufacturer’s warranty

    This small bulb from Bulbrite will fit in any regular light socket. You can buy it as a single bulb, or as a two- or four-pack if you have more than a few plants to support. It is available in a circular shape or an A shape, depending on what is best for your particular garden. This light is not truly full spectrum but works very well as greenhouse lighting or in a small garden that also has access to some natural light, such as the light that filters in through a window. 

  7. 7. Miracle Gro AeroGarden Grow Lights

    Pros:
    • Inexpensive and energy efficient
    • Runs cool with little heat output
    • Full spectrum
    Cons:
    • Must be replaced every 6 months
    • Not super powerful
    • Best suited to smaller gardens

    These light bulbs from AeroGrow provide a proprietary light spectrum which is suitable for both vegetative and flowering stages of growth. These lights are powerful enough to fully support plants in all stages of life, with no additional lighting such as a sunny window required. They are compact, great for small systems or anyone who doesn’t have a whole lot of room for their hydroponic garden. They do lose power over time though, and the manufacturer recommends replacing the bulbs every six months or so.

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    Watch a video about these bulbs here

     

  8. 8. iPower Super HPS Grow Light Bulb for Magnetic and Digital Ballast

    Pros:
    • Very powerful
    • Relatively energy efficient
    • One year warranty
    Cons:
    • High heat output needs additional fans
    • Does not come with hood or ballast
    • Not full spectrum

    This is a very powerful bulb from iPower. It is known as a Super HPS because of its massive light output of 90,000 lumen. This bulb consumes less energy than other standard HPS bulbs, despite its high output. It is a little more expensive per bulb than standard HPS, but you end up saving money in energy and increasing your yield due to the high Lumen output. This bulb comes in multiple sizes including 400W MH, 600W HPS, 600W MH, and 1000W MH. You can also purchase a six inch air cooled hood to go with your bulb.

  9. 9. Best Single Plant LED: TaoTronics LED Grow Light Bulb

    Pros:
    • Very inexpensive
    • 12 month warranty
    • 24 hour email customer support
    • Fits in standard 12W socket
    • Good for growing seedlings
    Cons:
    • Warranty only covers bulbs sold directly by the manufacturer
    • Small coverage area
    • Some reviewers had problems with bulbs that stopped working after a few months

    The TaoTronics LED light is the perfect size for a small home garden, provides the perfect spectrum of light needed for flowers and vegetables, and lasts far longer than traditional light bulbs. This light fits in a standard 12W socket, making set up super easy and quick because you will not have to buy any additional materials. Due to the small size, it is best for plants under 16′ to 18.’ However, if you want to increase the range of your light, you may wish to purchase a reflective hood instead of using a regular socket. 

    This light is good from seedlings all the way to full grown single plants, and comes with a one year warranty from the authorized retailer, Sunvalleytek. If you purchase it from an unauthorized retailer, this warranty is voided.

There are three main types of grow lights and your choice depends on the kind of plants you are growing, your budget, and the size of your garden. High Pressure Sodium or HPS lights are the most powerful, offering full-spectrum lighting for plants in both vegetative and flowering states. They are also expensive and need to be replaced yearly because their intensity decreases with each growing season. HPS bulbs put out a lot of heat, and always require additional cooling and ventilation, such as an in line fan or a clip on fan in your grow room.

Fluorescent, or CFL lights are another option. Fluorescents are most often used as a cheap light source in office buildings, schools, garages and more. They also work well for plants in a vegetative state of growth - think leafy greens, herbs, and cloning. Since they do not offer full spectrum lighting, CFLs are not a good choice for plants that will produce flowers or fruits.

Finally, we have Light Emitting Diode or LED lights. LEDs are new to the hydroponics market. Before a few years ago, LEDs were not powerful enough to be used to grow plants. Now, they are one of the best options out there because by combining red and blue LEDs, you can create full spectrum lighting. LEDs do not produce a lot of heat, so you don't need to worry about buying heavy duty fans to cool down your grow room. The main disadvantage to LEDs is that they are very expensive to purchase up front when compared with other bulbs.

See Also:

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

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