LED vs Grow Lights: All You Need To Know

If you’re here for the LED vs. grow lights comparison, you just landed at the right place.

 Even before going deeper into the comparison, it’s important to understand that LED lights use light-emitting diodes to emit light. 

Moreover, they’re the most efficient and versatile lighting option you’ll ever come across. 

Then we must grow lights that combine all artificial lights supporting indoor plant growth. 

Surprisingly, grow lights present different types like fluorescent, high-intensity discharge, and LED growth lights. 

Today’s article breaks down the differences and similarities between LED and grows lights to help you make an informed decision. Let’s get rolling!

What Are Grow Lights

Grow lights represent all artificial light sources you can employ to supply the required light spectrum to support plant growth in an artificial setting. 

We are used to plants growing outside and using the sun’s natural light.

 But in the absence of these lights or in the case of an indoor environment, we can introduce grow light. 

Generally, grow light provides a specific wavelength, like blue or red light, that supports the different growth stages, including flowering and fruiting.

 We can classify grow lights as LED, fluorescent, and HID lights, as we’ll explore below.

Fluorescent Light

A fluorescent light bulb resting on the surface

(A fluorescent light bulb resting on the surface)

This is among the most common grow lights and involves emitting different wavelengths that support plant growth from fluorescent tubes

The first fluorescent grow light you’ll encounter is the T5 light which is a long, narrow tube common propagation, and we use it in the early growth phase.

 Moreover, there are compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that are spiral-shaped, and we use them in small spaces and to support individual plants. 

Generally, fluorescent lights are energy efficient, cost-effective, and emit less heat, and we’d recommend them any day. 


The most common and efficient grow lights employ LEDs with a wavelength that supports photosynthesis. 

This specifically happens with special diodes called light-emitting diodes that give light when current goes through. 

And we like these grow lights since they maximize converting a larger percentage of their energy into lights that support plant growth. 

As a farmer, you’ll experience less damage to your plants as the LEDs emit less harmful heat energy.

 Lastly, they have customizable spectra to optimize different growth phase wavelengths. 


A person holding a high-intensity discharge bulb

(A person holding a high-intensity discharge bulb)

Last on our list is high-intensity discharge (HID) grow lights that find great application in indoor horticulture.

 These grow lights use bulbs with gases like high-pressure sodium or metal halide that are intense when you pass current through.

 HID lights support all growth phases, and we know them to produce high-intensity penetration that can work for any canopy.  

However, HID lights emit more heat than LED and fluorescent grow lights, affecting plants. 

Therefore, you must employ efficient cooling measures and proper ventilation to handle such pronounced heat. 

What Are LED Lights

LED lights illuminating an indoor garden

(LED lights illuminating an indoor garden)

Times have changed, and the days when all people cared about was light in their home is long gone.

 There is more focus on efficiency, versatility, safety, and environmental impact. 

Surprisingly, we can only get all these features from LED lights. 

Generally, LED lights emit light by allowing current through the diode in a single direction.

 And when the electrons in the diodes recombine with electron holes, there is light emission. 

The good thing about LEDs is the maximum light with limited heat. 

Therefore, we can only expect LED lights to last longer than the common incandescent lights. 

Pros of LED Lights

  • LEDs consume less energy, emit less heat, and have no poisonous elements, thus posing no danger to the environment. 
  • High efficiency since they convert most of their energy into light rather than heat.
  • Since they have customizable options, you can fine-tune them to your preferred light intensity or wavelength. 
  • They are highly durable, thus reducing cases of replacement and maintenance. 
  • Finally, you can design them into your desired size and shape, thus saving space. 

LED vs. Grow Lights: Differences

Since LED grow lights, we’ll focus on the differences between LED grow lights and other grow light types. 

Energy efficiency: First, LED lights have a higher energy efficiency than traditional options, including fluorescent LED lights.

As a result, you’ll end up paying less energy bills. 

Customizable spectrum: Secondly, LED lights come with a customizable spectrum that allows you to set the lights to your preferred wavelength based on the growth phase. 

Heat output: The LED light heat output is not even comparable with the other grow light options.

LED emits less or no heat, while the other options emit more heat that could damage the plant. 

Lifespan and maintenance: If you have ever used a fluorescent grow light, you understand how frequently it gets damaged, thus requiring constant replacement.

Such is rare in LED lights as they have a lifespan of about 50,000 hours which could increase with better maintenance. 

Size and compactness: A quick comparison of LED and fluorescent lights shows that the former is lightweight, small, and compact.

Therefore, you can install them in almost any indoor setup. 

Cost: This is the only downside of LEDs on our list. Generally, LEDs have a high initial cost, while other grow lights, like fluorescent lights, are cheaper. However, you’ll find LED lights cost-effective in the long term. 

LED vs. Grow Lights: Similarities

Besides the above differences, LED and grow lights share much in common, as highlighted below.

Purpose: First, LED, fluorescent, and HID lights are designed to provide artificial light for plant growth.

Therefore, you can comfortably use them as alternatives to natural light in indoor settings or places without natural light. 

Plant growth: Secondly, all these lights emit the relevant light wavelength that supports photosynthesis, thus helping in plant development, fruiting, and flowering. 

Plant types: Your indoor gardening and plants are safe whether you use LED lights or other grow lights like fluorescent and HID lights.

Some of the plants we recommend with these lights include flowers, vegetables, and herbs. 

Control: Manufacturers are creating grow lights with impressive control features that allow you to control the light wavelength and intensity.

This way, it becomes easy to address the light requirement for each plant in different growth phases. 


Can you use any LED as grow light? 

No! Not all LED lights are designed with wavelengths that support photosynthesis and growth. 

Generally, the 610-700, which is the wavelength that supports optimum chlorophyll absorption, is the best for any light source. 

Unfortunately, these wavelength is only available in grow lights and not in any other LED light. 

Are grow lights better than LEDs? 

To begin with, all LED grow lights are a special type of grow light different from fluorescent and HID lights.

 Generally, LED lights are designed with better features that make them exceptional for plant growth than other grow lights. 

For example, they stand out in energy efficiency and control features. 

Will Grow lights use much power? 

Grow lights don’t consume much power compared to traditional incandescent lights. 

They emit more light and less heat, meaning you’ll pay less energy bills. 

However, factors that affect the exact power consumption of grow lights include usage duration, wattage, and grow light type. 

Final Remarks

As mentioned, LED growth lights are a special type of grow light that uses light-emitting diodes to support plant growth. 

The other grow light types include fluorescent and high-density discharge lights. 

Surprisingly, all these light presents high energy efficiency, excellent light control, and low heat emission. 

But note that each light type might be effective depending on the type of plant and growth phase.