Blue LED Grow Lights: Best Fixtures For Seeding And Vegging?
Last updated June 19, 2020 By Steven 2 Comments
Let’s clear up a big misconception right away.
Blue LED grow lights are not the best choice for vegging.
Plants in the vegetative stage love blue light, that is true. But they don’t want only blue light.
They do much better if they are also getting light in every other color, especially red. They want: mostly blue, a good amount of red, and some of every other color.
So what are blue lights good for then?
Well, they do work for vegging. They’re just not ideal. The same goes for seeding.
Apart from the first light listed below, which includes some white diodes and thus has light in every color, blue LED panels and bulbs are best used as supplemental lighting.
That is their strength.
If you have a primary light that is mostly red, these blue fixtures are a great way to increase the blue light hitting your plants.
Red-heavy fixtures are often used for flowering. By providing some additional blue light during the vegging stage, you can give your plants better light for that stage, without having to get a whole new lighting fixture.
These blue LED fixtures are all extremely inexpensive, making them a nice, cheap way to boost plant growth.
But you do have to make sure you get a good one. Many of the options out there are completely useless. That’s why I’ve narrowed them down to the best few. I also included a more expensive full-spectrum light below, in case you are not looking for supplemental lighting, but a fixture that can veg on its own.
Let’s take a closer look at the lights.
Blue Spectrum LED Grow Lights: Comparison Table
|HLG 300L BSpec
How Does Blue Light Affect Plant Growth?
Before we get to the individual reviews, I wanted to briefly explain what blue light does for plants. This post has a more in-depth explanation of the effect of different colors of light on plants.
Blue photons drive the photosynthetic reaction and blue light regulates the opening of stomata. Those are minuscule openings on that leaves that control water loss carbon dioxide intake.
The most important function for our purposes is that blue light suppresses extension growth. This results in shorter plants with thicker, bushier leaf growth. Without blue light, plants will stretch and grow spindly and weak.
Best Blue LED Grow Light: Review Of The Top 5
These are the top 5 blue spectrum LED grow lights currently available. I’ll begin with the best vegging light period (though it uses blue-heavy white light, not blue light), and then follow with the best blue bulbs and panels.
Best Blue LED For Vegging And Seedlings: HLG 300L V2 BSpec
This light has some blue LEDs for a vegging boost, but is mostly made up of full-spectrum white LEDs.
So why is it my favorite light for vegging and for seedlings?
Because white light is far better for plants than only blue light. White light contains all colors of the spectrum, just like sunlight. And that is what plants really want.
The HLG 300L V2 Bspec uses high quality Samsung LM301H diodes with a color temperature of 3500K. That is a warmish white light that will actually work for any stage of growth, but it contains a good amount of blue light, making it especially good for vegging.
The fixture also has 470 nm blue diodes to supplement the white light and really provide a vegging boost.
The one thing HLG lights are famous for is their efficiency. They give you a far greater output for the wattage input than other LED lights. This is largely due to the Samsung chips and Meanwell drivers, both of which are the industry standard.
The driver is also dimmable, from 90 to 270 watts. This means you can dial down the power when you don’t need the light to be as strong, which saves you money. If you are using it for seedlings, for example, you probably won’t need it on full power.
HLG lights give you are large, even coverage area due to the way they are configured, with many smaller diodes spread out over a large panel. This also means they can be cooled passively, so there is no need for a noisy fan to dissipate heat.
Horticulture Lighting Group provides a 3 year warranty on their lights and they are very good at follow up service, if you have any issues. Customer service is the area where they have made a ton of improvements over the past year and now rank among the top brands in that department.
- Great spectrum with mix of 470 nm blue and 3,500K white diodes
- Incredible efficiency of 2.5 umol/j (it is a 600w MH equivalent light while using only 270w)
- Extremely high quality components
- Most expensive light on this list by far (but it is a standalone fixture, while the others are really just supplemental lights)
Best Blue LED Grow Light Bulb: ABI True 24 Watt Blue LED Bulb
The 24 watt blue blue from ABI is the best blue LED grow light bulb on the market. It rates above the other good choice further down this page, because it is more powerful, though it may not seem like it at first glance. And also for honesty and quality.
This bulb is 24 watts and that one is 36 watts, so how is this one more powerful?
Because 24 watts is the actual power draw, while the other bulb below has an actual draw of 20 watts. In general, the 2 bulbs are very close, but I gave this one the edge in power and in being honest about that power.
Instead of calling their bulb a “45 watt” light, like most Chinese brands would, they call it a 24 watt light, because that is the actual power consumption. That kind of honesty should be rewarded, especially in an industry where it is exceedingly rare.
But honesty isn’t the only thing ABI has going for them. They also make a great little bulb.
It screws right into any standard light socket (E26), so you can use it in an existing lamp fixture you may already own. The diodes emit a blue light with a wavelength from 450 to 460 nm.
The reason this bulb is able to get more power than most competing bulbs is an integrated ball-bearing cooling fan. It runs quiet, but keeps the temperature down, which makes it possible to get more power into a bulb this size than usual.
The ABI bulb is assembled in the USA from quality components. It is rated for 50,000+ hours of use and comes with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Works in any standard light socket (E26)
- High output for a LED bulb (with a 24 watt power draw)
- Assembled in the US from high-quality components
- 3 year warranty
- ABI does not provide lumen or PPDF info
Thinnest Blue LED Light Panel: Yescom Blue Ultra-Thin LED Grow Light Panel
The Ultrathin 225 LED Panel from Yescom is the thinnest grow light I’ve ever seen, apart from strip lights. That makes it a great choice for supplemental light. I would not use it as a standalone fixture, though.
The main reason for that is the limited spectrum. As the only light source, you’d want some light in every color, not just blue. Even for seeding. For that reason, I recommend the first fixture listed above if you are looking for a standalone seeding light.
But if you’re looking to supplement an existing light with some additional blue light, this fixture will do just that. And its small size gives it some more flexibility than the first fixture on this list.
This light only draws 22 watts, but has a lumen output of 2475. That gives it more output than the first fixture, but this light has no lenses, so the light is not as focused and won’t penetrate as deeply into the canopy. That said, canopy penetration is not a strong point of any of these lights, nor is it something you’d expect in a supplemental light.
The 225 diodes on this panel emit a blue light with a wavelength of 450 nm. The panel has a rated lifespan of 50,000 hours. Yescom does not provide a warranty. The same fixture is also available with white diodes, instead of blue. Using the two in combination could be a great idea, depending on the kind of light your plants are already getting.
- Great output for only 22 watt input
- Ultra-thin and light weight
- 50,000 hour rated lifespan
- No warranty
Great Alternative LED Bulb: HiGrow 36 Watt Blue LED Grow Bulb
The ABI bulb reviewed above is my favorite, but this 36 watt blue bulb from HiGrow is a close second. My main issue with this bulb is the fact that it only draws 22 watts of power, not 36 as stated, and it is lower quality.
Obviously I know that every Chinese brand (and many US brands) follows this naming convention that is best referred to as “lying”, but ABI does not. I like that.
Either way, the ABI bulb is more powerful than this one, though they do not provide any actual output data, unfortunately.
HiGrow does provide some data, which states that their blue bulb gives you 1046 lumen of light. It uses 18 all-blue 2w Bridgelux/Epileds diodes with a wavelength of 450 to 460 nm. 90° lenses focus the light downward into a more intense beam.
Like the ABI bulb, this one also screws into any standard E26/E27 light socket. Unlike that bulb, this one does not have a fan, but uses 0603 aluminum heat sinks. They work well, but without the fan, this bulb can’t quite generate the same type of power as a fan would allow.
This bulb is made from lower quality components than the ABI bulb (plus it’s assembled in China), so you can expect a bit of a higher failure rate (i.e. your chances of getting a bad bulb are slightly higher), which is another big reason I prefer the ABI bulb. That said, HiGrow give do you a 1 year warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee.
- Screws into any standard E26/E27 light socket
- Rated lifespan of 50,000 hours
- 1 year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee
- Lower power than the ABI option
- Lower quality components than the ABI bulb
Best Budget Blue LED: Miracle LED 100 Watt Starter Bulb
The Miracle LED Grow Lite Growth Starter bulb is a bit different from the other lights on this list. It looks exactly like a standard incandescent lightbulb.
Naturally, it screws into any standard socket (just like the two LED bulbs above). Where it differs is the price. Those bulbs are cheap. This one costs even less.
Miracle LED claim this bulb can replace a 100 w bulb while only consuming 9 watts. I’m not sure what they mean by 100w, but I’m guessing it must be a 100w incandescent bulb and not fluorescent.
As you can probably imagine, a light that only uses 9 watts is not super powerful. That said, the Amazon listing says it emits 1900 umol.
Honestly, that is ridiculous. They don’t say what height that was measured at, but no matter how close you get to this bulb, no good PAR meter is going to read 1900. That figure is nowhere to be found on the Miracle’s own site, so I have no idea where the Amazon seller pulled that from.
Bottom line: this bulb is fairly dim and easily the least powerful on this list.
Due to the lower output, I doubt this light would be very effective as a seed starter, despite the claims. It could work for a couple of seeds in the same pot directly below the light, but not for a substantial amount of seeds. For that, the first light on this list is much better suited. And it really doesn’t cost too much more.
That light also has a better spectrum, thanks to the white diodes. This Miracle LED light emits only one wavelength: 475 nm, which is blue.
Miracle LED provide a one year warranty. Since the bulb is so cheap, you could get a bunch of them (ideally some blue, some white, some red) and use them in combination. Added up, they could be effective, similar to how you’d use a number of CFL bulbs to grow a single plant.
Blue LED grow lights are great for seeding or vegging. But the truth is, plants want more colors than just blue. For that reason, these fixtures are best suited for…
Why I still believe in Red/Blue LED Grow Lights
Top 3 Reasons to Consider RED/BLUE LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights have been a very hot topic for more than a decade now and as with any (relatively) new technology, the first decade of LED grow lights has seen massive changes and improvements. From the amount of companies selling LED grow lights to the technology powering what they are selling, we have all heard or read why each company feels their technology is the best. In recent months, that conversation has included topics ranging from fixture design to cooling to efficiency (umol/j) to intensity (umol/m2/s) to color spectrum (nm) (all of which are directly related when it comes to fixture performance). I dare say we have probably heard and seen everything that we are going to see.
So why am I writing this article?
I am writing this article because the majority of commercial growers are still invested in older technology. I know many of these growers are interested in innovation, but definitely don’t want to invest until they feel the technology is proven.
I also know that this article is bound to have many people and companies disagreeing with me.
That is why I am going to approach this from the perspective of what we need to happen, versus what the technology might be capable of doing.
First, I am a believer in red:blue led grow light concept. And here are the reasons why:
1. THE GREENHOUSE
I am still a believer in the commercial greenhouse and I am still a believer in the sun. Most commercial greenhouse growers who are investing in light are only investing in supplemental light. This means that for much of the year they are not using their grow lights or they are only using them for a short period of the day. They are instead relying on the sun to provide most of the energy for the plants. This also means that the plants are getting full-spectrum light from the sun (or at least what spectrum is able to pass through the glazing) and even when the grower is using their grow lights the sun is normally contributing a significant amount to the percentage of DLI (Daily Light Integral) the plants receive each month. Based on the knowledge we (as an industry) have today plus the equipment we have commercial access to, a well designed greenhouse with supplemental electric light is a proven and economic tool for year round plant production in a wide variety of climates and geographies.
This is not to say that I don’t believe in vertical farming. It’s just to say that the greenhouse has been around long enough to be proven to work in a wide variety of conditions. In a follow up article I will discuss how important vertical farming is to the future of different parts of the agricultural process.
2. EFFICIENCY and INTENSITY
My research continues to prove that the most efficient LED grow lights are red and blue. It also shows that those light fixtures with highest output (umols/s) are red/blue led grow lights. Depending on the ratio of red:blue this could mean as much as a 45% savings in electricity for greenhouse lighting depending on what fixtures and type of technology one is comparing. This could also mean about 10% more light per fixture, which means less overall fixtures in the farm. For those growing food crops or ornamental crops, these types of savings can have a big impact depending on where the farm is located and how much the farm is paying for electricity. Efficiency should also be front and center for those growers interested in winning the sustainability discussion. There are plenty of people opposed to controlled environment agriculture. Their main opposition is the energy footprint. And that is a fair argument. That’s why it’s important that we learn to maximize production based on using the most efficient tools.
3. OPERATING COST
If we want to be profitable farmers, now and well into the future, we need to constantly focus on operating cost. This means counting pennies and making the best investment in technology we can based on what we know and what we have access to. Energy efficient equipment often costs more, but if you maximize the operational savings and take advantage of utility rebates, the right equipment/investments will start paying you back in a short period of time. And since red/blue leds are proving to be the most efficient option, it only seems to make sense that we figure out how to adapt our production strategies in order to use this technology.
Again, it’s very important to remember that the only use of supplemental lighting is to increase plant performance. Plants absorb different light colors (light spectrum) at different levels. Science supports the fact that the colors most absorbed by plants in order to promote photosynthesis are red and blue. Meaning the rest of light colors will require a higher light intensity in order to trigger the same photosynthesis levels reached by red and blue LEDs. Photosynthesis is the main process in plants leading growth and development. By using red and blue light you can be sure the money you invest in your light is better used.
So, why would one not invest in red/blue leds? Is it because the greenhouse crop does not grow well under the lights? Not based on my experience. Many of my customers, staff and friends have been growing under red/blue leds for years now. The crops look great and the yields are comparable when light intensities are equal. The best argument I have heard has nothing to do with the crop. It’s that “employees” don’t like it and might be uncomfortable. That is a fair argument. But, in my opinion that is an argument with a very easy work around. Growers should look at strategically placed work lights that are capable of producing bright white light at a lesser cost. These lights will be less efficient, but not need to run as long as the grow lights (because they only need to run when workers are present) and because of that these less effective fixtures will not have a negative impact on the potential efficiency and op ex savings.
In greenhouse horticulture there is a golden rule:
1 percent more light ensures 1 percent more yield.
Supplemental light: A strategy used in commercial greenhouse production to increase crop production during time periods with low levels of solar radiation by adding photons from electronic light fixtures.
Daily light integral: Describes the number of photosynthetically active photons that are delivered to a specific area over a 24-hour period. This variable is particularly useful to describe the light environment of plants.
Lighting efficiency: The appropriate metric for plant lighting is photosynthetic photon efficacy (PPE). This is the PAR photon output (unit of micromoles per second, or μmol·s–¹) divided by the input power (watts, or W) to produce that light. Thus, the unit becomes μmol·s–¹·W–¹, and because one watt (W) equals one joule per second (J·s–¹), the ratio can be simplified to μmol·J–¹ (μmol per second/joule per second).
Important questions for further discussion, please email me or message me for further discussion:
- Why does the location of the farm matter?
- Why does the cost of electricity matter?
- Do renewables make this argument stronger?
- And why is renewable energy so important for sustainable agriculture moving forward.
Additionally, for more information on LED grow lights or to get a return on investment (ROI) calculation based on your current investment, please email or contact me directly.
Why I still believe in Red/Blue LED Grow Lights Top 3 Reasons to Consider RED/BLUE LED Grow Lights LED grow lights have been a very hot topic for more than a decade now and as with any