It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Planting season.
Supplies and seed packets have started to pile up at garden centers, the weather is getting a bit warmer, and the final frost is almost upon us. Spring is coming, which means you need to get your seedlings started.
However, before you jump right into placing them on a nice south-facing window, you need to evaluate whether they’re actually getting all the light they need. Early plant growth stages require warmer spectral wavelengths for the most effective vegetative support.
To ensure your seedlings are getting the optimum amount of light to thrive, consider investing in a grow light. This comprehensive guide features reviews of the best grow lights for seedlings on the market along with helpful purchasing tips.
BACKYARD BOSS TOP THREE GROW LIGHTS FOR SEEDLINGS IN 2020
|Grow Co. 315W Ceramic Metal Halide System||Check The Price!|
|iPower MH Digital Grow Light System||Check The Price!|
|Yield Lab Four Bulb Fluorescent Grow Light Panel||Check The Price!|
|Ankace 40W Dual Head Grow Light||Check The Price!|
|Yescom Blue LEDs Grow Light Panel||Check The Price!|
Why You Can Trust Us
Need some light shined on grow lights? Backyard Boss will point you in the right direction.
Not only does our dedicated team love growing plants outdoors, we also have our fair share of experience with indoor plants. My windowsills have grown to rival my outdoor garden with the amount of greenery they contain.
This comprehensive guide features everything I’ve learned about grow lights, from taking care of my indoor plants and seedlings for my outdoor garden, along with the wisdom and advice of other members of the Backyard Boss team.
With articles on the best grow lights available, and the best grow lights for succulents, it’s indisputable that we are one of the most knowledgeable websites on the internet when it comes to growing lights.
To find the best grow lights for your seedlings, read our in-depth reviews below!
The Best CMH Grow Light for Seedlings
WHY WE LIKE IT: This ceramic metal halide grow kit includes everything you need to get your seedlings started.
The CMH bulb includes a full spectrum light output, so not only does this grow light work for seedlings but also the next stages of growth. A highly efficient aluminum hood is paired with a low-frequency ballast to provide a light source closely resembling sunlight. Unlike some other powerful grow lights on the market, this model does not overheat.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: People who want a compact grow light setup that they can use for their seedlings and other stages of growth.
Best Powerful Grow Light for Seedlings
WHY WE LIKE IT: This strong grow light is easy to set up and has convenient features like dimmable ballast, hangers, and a timer.
This full system setup can either run on a metal halide bulb or a high-pressure sodium bulb, depending on which stage of plant growth you’re trying to nurture. Because of the heat output from this kit, which can be customized with 400w, 600w, and 100w bulbs, it does tend to get a bit hot, however, the fan system helps.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: This is a good choice for people who are growing plants in a well-ventilated area and want a system that can support various stages of plant growth.
Best All-Around Grow Light for Seedlings
WHY WE LIKE IT: This fluorescent light panel is easy to mount, runs well, and is perfect for seedlings.
With 4 bulbs that produce 54 watts each, this grow light provides you with enough strength to effectively nourish seedlings while not being so harsh it burns them. This is in part due to this grow light’s low heat emission. Providing lots of blue light, which seedlings love, this is a great light choice specifically for them.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: If you want a grow light that is great for seedlings, this is one of the best options on the market.
Best Multi-Purpose Grow Light for Seedlings
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a blue/red LED light combination, you can use this grow light to nourish plants from seedlings to the flowering stage.
This grow light conveniently has 3 timer options, including 3, 6, and 12 hours, although you do have to manually set them. Not only does it have a timer but this grow light is also fully customizable, with 5 dimmable modes and 3 switch modes, along with a 360 degrees gooseneck you can easily adjust.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: If you want a convenient, completely adjustable grow light that works well in compact growing areas, this is one of the best choices on the market.
Best LED Grow Light for Seedlings
WHY WE LIKE IT: These panels are extremely affordable and easy to mount making them great for beginners to indoor gardening.
Although their compact size inhibits them from including a fan system they stay relatively cool, not generating a lot of heat. The blue light is perfect for nurturing seedlings, providing them with rays but not the heat that could damage them.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: If you’re a grow light beginner, and this is your first time starting seeds indoors, this is a good choice for you.
What Grow Lights Do and How They Work
Grow lights mimic the light wavelengths created by the sun to support plant growth. Light wavelengths provide the energy and temperatures needed for plants to grow and produce. They come in a variety of different types to provide specific spectral lights to your plants depending on the growth stages you need to support.
Grow light fixtures synthetically create the blue and red spectral wavelengths plants need for photosynthesis to take place. This is the chemical process that converts light energy into plant energy in order to grow healthy plants.
Red lights are found in the longer, cooler wavelengths which support the bloom stages of plants. The blue lights are in the shorter, warmer wavelengths that promote the vegetative state.
Why Would I Want A Grow Light for Seedlings
Seedlings need both even lighting and proper temperatures to ensure vigorous, strong growth. Spring months are often unpredictable when it comes to plant growth, even if you’re starting seeds indoors. Your seedlings, even if they are positioned in a south-facing window, may not be getting the 16 hours of sunlight they require.
Early plant growth stages actually require warmer spectral wavelengths for the most effective vegetative support. Since most growing zones do not experience these natural light wavelengths until much closer to the summer solstice, it is beneficial to your harvest to transplant healthy seedlings that you begin early in the spring.
The support of a grow light ensures your plants receive the correct light from the start so this transition is smooth. With a grow light you can grow anywhere without worry about seasonal changes or window placements. You also can set up a room, or a small tent to support your seedlings as they grow- and deter your pets (or children) from making a mess of your young plants.
What Color Spectrums of Light Do Seedlings Need
The light spectrum is made up of visible and non-visible colors of light that emit various wavelengths measured by the temperature they provide. As mentioned, blue light wavelengths are utilized best by growing and maturing plants in vegetative stages of growth, and there are many lights available that are more specific to this side of the spectrum.
Of course, all stages of growth can benefit from a full spectrum exposure but be aware of young, maturing plants. They will use more blue wavelengths than others. They crave longer exposure to lights, so when choosing a grow light, be sure to pick one that will run for up to 18 hours a day without overheating or burning out.
While you want the light intensity to be high so that the plants receive an adequate amount, if the light exposure is too intense, and emits heat, it could hurt your fragile seedlings.
The video below goes into depth explaining how the colors of light affect plants:
Types of Grow Lights That Support Seedlings Best
For seedlings, it’s best to go with light sources that have a high blue light output. When considering full spectral lights, you will want to make sure it has a high blue to red ratio.
You’ll also want to take the specific plants you are growing into account since they may have their own light preferences, needs, and rates of growth. Below are descriptions of the best types of grow lights for seedlings.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID)
HID bulbs are defined by how they are lit from the combustion of gas within the chamber when it is sparked by the arcing of electrodes. These require ballasts to help regulate the electricity to the bulb so it doesn’t burn out right away.
They are almost always set within a reflective hood to concentrate the light where needed. Different types of HID bulbs provide different colors, but all are considered dependable, and efficient choices.
Metal Halide (MH)
When it comes to starting seedlings, MH lights are some of the most popular grow light options. This is because they produce a strong blue light that seedlings, plants early in their growth, and non-blooming plants thrive under.
Their only downside is that MH lights tend to be expensive, which isn’t great if you plan on only using them just for seedlings. However, they also tend to be high-quality, long-lasting models with impressive warranties so you can use them year after year.
Light Emitting Ceramics (LEC) and Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH)
These are full-spectrum bulbs that produce both red and blue lighting. They are considered a strong choice for early growth because of the intensity of the blue light they emit. Because of the ceramic element, they do warm quickly and need to be cooled correctly.
Double Ended Lighting (DE)
This is a fairly new lighting choice and works with a 2-ended bulb similar to a fluorescent. It is more specific to blue wavelengths and is considered a powerful choice for plants to utilize.
One of the most traditional grow lights is fluorescent bulbs. They have a lifespan of about 20,000 hours, which means they require replacement bulbs around every 2 years.
Fluorescent lights are long, double-ended bulbs that produce strong blue spectrums and provide the warmer wavelengths seedlings and young plants crave. They also are very efficient and burn cool- making them ideal for small areas.
Light Emitting Diode (LED)
LED grow lights are one of the newest light sources to hit the industry but they have made a big splash since their introduction. While they can be a bit expensive to buy, they are way more energy efficient than other grow lights so you do end up saving some money on them.
Although LED light bulbs can be customized, most commercial panels include a selection of both red and blue bulbs to make them a full spectrum choice. They are very efficient, burn cool, and are often compact and easy to use. They also produce little heat, so you don’t have to worry about your seedlings burning.
The new light on the block, plasma grow lights were created recently. They are similar to CMH bulbs but do not require ignition of the gas through electrodes. These are bright ‘white’ bulbs and provide the closest light to the sunlight of any grow light.
Since, in the end, sunlight will also be the best for plants, this is a huge advantage in plasma grow light’s favor. However, the choices of plasma grow lights are somewhat limited on the market right now since they are so new.
What to Look for in Grow Lights for Your Seedlings
You love your plants. Your plants love lights. So the best way to show your plants that you love them is to provide them with the best light source possible.
When it comes to seedlings, your priority should be finding a grow light with lots of blue light, since that is the best light color for seedlings. You’ll also want to consider other factors like how much electricity does the grow light use, does it require you to buy other equipment, how much heat does it produce, and what’s its warranty.
You can’t go wrong if you choose one of the impressive grow lights on this list. Every single one of them is perfect for pampering seedlings, it just comes down to your individual preferences and situation.
Which Is the Best Grow Light for Your Seedlings
Seedlings are in the most delicate stage of growth so you’ll want to make sure that your grow light perfectly suits them, nourishing them but causing no harm. Below are some questions to consider to identify the perfect grow light for you.
How Much Space Do You Have For Your Seedlings?
The size of your grow light should not only depend on how many plants it shines on, although this is an important factor to consider, it should also depend on how much space you have for it.
Some grow lights need a bigger grow space because they let off the heat and therefore don’t work well in small spaces. Other grow lights were built to be compact, with easy installation, however, they can’t handle that many plants.
What Kind of Plants are You Supporting?
For the most part, growing seedlings is a very similar process no matter the plant. Most prefer high levels of blue wavelengths as seedlings but may also benefit from additional sources of light as they grow. This is especially true of tropical and hybrids plants.
However, some plants do have slightly different preferences. Do a little research about the types of plants you are trying to get started before purchasing a grow light.
Will You Need Your Light for Other Purposes?
If you are looking for a grow light that not only supports seedlings but also supports bloom and production, you may want to consider a full spectrum choice.
These allow you to grow a season’s worth of produce all within your home. This is nice if you want fresh veggies through the winter, or if you live in an area with a short growing season.
How We Picked
These grow lights outshine the rest on the market when it comes to being excellent for seedlings. They are top quality, highly-rated, and include lots of handy features.
When we picked these grow lights for seedlings as the best of the best we made sure that they were not only excellent, but also the best in a certain category, whether it was the best heavy-duty grow light, the best compact grow light, the best CMH grow light, the best LED grow light, and so on.
There is a grow light for everyone on this list. However, only one of these grow lights can be the absolute winner, the crowned champion of Grow Lights for Seedlings.
Although all of the choices we’ve provided are good ones, our absolute favorite for seedlings and vegetative support is the Yield Lab Fluorescent Grow Light Panel.
Tried and true, fluorescent lighting is a go-to for many experienced growers who have the required space. Dependable, long-lasting, and cool running, they work well in a variety of room set-ups. They may take up space, but their ease of mounting (horizontal and vertical) make up for it.
If you really don’t have space for fluorescent light, try one of the more compact models on this list. Let us know in the comments if you decided to go with a different grow light and as always, if you found this grow light guide helpful be sure to share it!