LED technology is one of the fastest growing an most significant areas of innovation in the cannabis growers scene. LED lights allow growers to save money on electricity and increase yields in comparison to their costs. Typical hydroponic grow lights, Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium, are cheap to set up but cost a ton of money in electricity to run them for 12 to 16 hours a day. They produce a lot of excess heat, requiring high powered fans for ventilation as well as more spacious grow rooms in order to prevent burning your plants. These bulbs must be replaced yearly as well, or they lose significant amounts of power and efficiency. LED lights run cool, use less electricity, and last longer.
SMD, or Surface Mounted Diode, LED lights are one of the emerging technologies that are bringing LED grow lights into the hands of professional and novice growers alike. LEDs started out as the DIP style, which look like small bullets, are not very bright, and house one diode per chip. SMD LEDs contain three diodes (red, green, blue) in each housing and can be used for flexible applications such as strip lights and multi-color bulbs. SMD lights come in either SMD 5050 or 3528 sizes. These numbers refer to the dimensions of the chip in mm, with 5050 being larger. SMD LEDs are brighter and more durable than old-school DIP LEDs, and have some very interesting applications for hydroponic gardening.
Most often you will find SMD LEDs in smaller bulbs or grow light strips, but some larger-scale grow light manufacturers are creating full sized grow lights with SMDs as well. Individual bulbs are effective for clones, seedlings, or supplemental lighting in any dark spots you have in your grow room. Light strips are very flexible and are an inexpensive solution for growers who love to DIY their grow equipment. Compared with other LED grow lights, most SMD lights are limited in their brightness by their design, which dictates that every diode requires its own circuit. Brighter LEDs such as COB require only one circuit no matter the number of diodes, so they can have two to three times the mount of diodes and therefore a much higher level of brightness. If you are shopping for lights for a large grow op, LED Light Strips may be your best bet for inexpensive SMD lights. Otherwise, COB LEDs or more powerful red/blue LED grow lights are a great option, albeit more expensive. Be sure to check out my article on the best LEDs for professional growers here if you need something with a high PAR output.
1. Best Supplemental Lights: EnerEco SMD LED Grow Light Bulb 2-Pack
This set of two bulbs is a perfect addition to a grow room that has hard corners or any area that needs a little extra boost of light. These bulbs are 30W each, and would also be an easy solution for your cloning or seedling station. These SMD lights have 40 5730 SMD chips each, with 22 red, 12 blue, and two each of white, IR and UV. This provides a wide band spectrum of light suitable for all stages of growth. These bulbs are easy to use and fit in any standard socket. They provide 800 lumens each.
- Energy efficient
- Fits in standard socket
- No free shipping
- Not true full spectrum
- Not powerful enough for an entire plant
2. Best Large Size SMD: HYBERGROW LED Grow Light 1500w
This 1500W light proves that SMD LEDs can be used for high powered grow lights as well. This is the most powerful SMD light that I have found, and it has proven to be effective and very well loved by customers. This light uses 300 individual 5W SMD LEDs for a wide spectrum light that is suitable for all stages of plant growth. This is an extremely bright light, so luckily it comes with its own set of sunglasses! The color ratio of this light is perfectly optimized to grow cannabis and increase your yields by up to 45%. This light has up to 2.5X the PAR output of other 1500W LED lights. It also has two built in fans and all-around cooling holes for efficient heat dissipation.
Price: $188.99 with free shipping
- Very powerful and bright
- Innovative use of SMD technology
- Runs cool and very quietly
- Relatively expensive
- No warranty
- Not a well known brand
3. Best Mid Sized SMD: LVJING LED Grow Light, High Power 200W
Here is a unique light that would be perfect for a small sized grow op or as supplemental lighting. This light has a total wattage that is equivalent to 200W in HID lighting, with over 2,000 individual SMD chips. This is a very lightweight grow light, making it easy to install and move up and down as your plants mature. It has three built in power supplies, a 140 degree beam angle, and is only 12 inches square so it will fit in any grow space. This light only consumes an actual wattage of about 66W, saving you a lot in energy costs.
Price: $55.98 with free shipping (59 percent off MSRP)
- Perfect mid range size for small gardens
- Excellent supplemental light/li>
- Light weight and easy to hang
- Relatively expensive
- No warranty
- Large number of smaller LED chips may make it less right than other SMD lights
4. Best Easy To Hang Light: ACKE LED Grow Light
Usually grow lights come with wires or ropes that you use to hang them, but this small SMD LED light from ACKE is different. This light is mounted on a bracket that can be screwed into a wall or shelving unit, or even ties to the frame of a grow tent. This is a 20W equivalent light so you may need multiple to cover a significant area, but it is so cheap and so easy to use that it is definitely beneficial to have on hand. With its easy mounting system this light can be placed at any angle to your plants, even shining up on them from underneath, providing much more coverage and canopy penetration than you get with a single overhead light.
Price: $19.98 with free shipping
- Very inexpensive
- Easy to hang
- Angle is adjustbale
- Only 20W
- Each light requires its own power plug
- Not full spectrum
5. Best Light Strip: Vemico LED Grow Light Strip
Finally, here is a SMD LED light strip to round off the list. Light strips are one of my favorite ways to use SMD LEDs in grow rooms, because of their flexibility and the freedom you have to expand or decrease your wattage and light coverage at any time. This is an extra long light strip at 16.4 feet, and it can be divided into multiple strips with the right connectors. You can mount these lights with their sticky backs to any ceiling, wall, panel of wood or metal, or even hang them. This light strip comes with a DC 12V adapter and power supply so you do not need to purchase additional materials. It can be used on its own as a supplemental light, or you can combine multiple kits for as large a light as you need.
Price: $21.99 (56 percent off MSRP)
- Flexible applications
- Can grow or shrink total wattage depending on your needs
- Suitable for all growth stages
- DIY lights may not be as effective as ready-made and tested lights
- No warranty
- Can get expensive when you start purchasing multiple kits
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