Growing indoors requires the best High Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights. It’s the easiest way to ensure a fantastic crop. Many people who grow ornamental plants -like orchids- will need to use lighting to keep sensitive plants growing happily. Indoor gardeners want quality HID lights for growing plants to ensure trouble-free performance and excellent plant growth.
This review will illustrate the most complete and useful high intensity discharge grow lights you can buy today.
You’ll also find reviews of replacement bulbs for your favorite HID grow light kits.
|VIVOSUN 400W HPS||HPS||400 Watt||2100K||55,000|
|HTG Supply HPS Kit||HPS||250 Watt||Unknown||33,000|
|Sun Systems 150W HPS||HPS||150 Watt||2000k||16,000|
|Hydro Crunch 400W HPS & MH Umbrella||HPS & MH||400 Watt||2100k & 6500k||53500 & 38,800|
|iPower 400W Cool Tube||HPS & MH||400 Watt||2100k & 6000k||55,000 & 36,000|
|Hydro Crunch 1000W||HPS||1000 Watt||2050k||155,000|
|Yield Labs HPS bulb||HPS||600 Watt||2100k||90,000|
|VIVOSUN MH bulb||MH||400 Watt||4200k||36,000|
|PROTOPIA 400W HPS bulb||HPS||400 Watt||2000k||56,000|
|Eye Hortilux Super HPS bulb||HPS||600 Watt||2100k||88,000|
The Best HID Grow Lights
The smartest way for people new to HID lights for growing plants indoors to get started is to purchase a kit rather than source individual components. It can be overwhelming to pick the right high intensity grow light kit because there are lots of products that seem similar.
Many HID grow light kits advertise that the product is good, but in reality, low-quality construction and poor controls create inefficient lighting systems that don’t produce the results indoor gardeners need.
We review the products here because this is what we use ourselves. The kits we are sharing are the most effective on the market, and each has features that set it apart from other HID grow light kits. Below, we will explain what makes them unique and worth buying.
At the end of the reviews, you can find a buyer’s guide that helps explain some of the terminology common to HID grow light kits. The section provides some helpful information on what types of high-intensity lights are most popular for different types of growing areas and makes choosing the right HID grow lights for you easier.
- Complete kit that includes everything needed
- Ballast is separate from hood
- Timer is low quality
- Not a good choice for vegatative growth
The VIVOSUN grow light kit is an excellent choice for vegetative growth. The complete kit includes an air-cooled hood that is designed to attach an exhaust vent and fan. The hood is made from aluminum imported from Italy. VIVOSUN claims the hood design produces 20% more reflective light than standard aluminum hoods.
The digital ballast is dimmable and works for either metal halide or high-pressure sodium high-intensity discharge grow lights. It handles the power needs of high-intensity lights at lower temperatures than standard ballasts. Dimmable ballasts are wonderful for regulating the amount of light plants receive without requiring changes to light hanging height.
High-quality hangers will prevent the hood from falling and make it simple for users to adjust the height of the light so it’s ideal for your plants. This is one of those little details that make this kit so good for beginners new to using HID lights for growing plants. Many kits provide weak hangers made from inferior materials, but not VIVOSUN.
Overview: The VIVOSUN package is one of the most popular HID grow light kits on the market for beginners because it includes everything needed to get started growing hydroponic plants, herbs, and vegetables. It produces an excellent amount of light while creating less heat than many other HPS grow lights. Buy a matching metal halide bulb when it comes time to flower and you’ll be able to grow year-round indoors.
- Provides new growers with everything to get started
- Unique open-air ballast design
- Extra long 10-foot cord
- Hood is flimsy
- Ballast is non-dimmable
HTG Supply is a global leader in the indoor growing market. The 250 watt HID grow lights kit from HTG Supply includes everything you need to get started blooming plants. It includes an enclosed, wing-type hood design, a “yellowish”-spectrum HPS bulb, and one of the most reliable ballasts on the market.
Most kits today use digital ballasts enclosed in an aluminum box. These types rely on heat sinks and ventilation to extract excess heat. This ballast places the coils -which function to exchange heat- open to the air. By using this type of design, HTG Supply builds a ballast that lasts longer and provides more reliable power to the light fixture.
The HPS bulb included in this kit is ideal for flowering plants. The included bulb boasts a 33,000 initial lumen output, and HTG Supply states the bulb will only drop about 10% over its three-year lifespan. HTG Supply does not advertise the rated spectrum of the bulb, but typical high-intensity discharge grow lights produce an abundance of red-orange spectrum.
The included hood is made from mirror-polished aluminum. Unlike many kits, the hood is an open bulb design similar to a batwing but has end plates to increase strength. There is no provision for an exhaust vent.
Overview: The HTG Supply 250 watt grow light kit is a logical choice for a smaller area. At 250 watts, this system is appropriate for three-foot by three-foot growing spaces. The remote, open-air ballast is a magnetic type regarded as the most reliable design available. It includes an HPS bulb that has a flowering spectrum.
- Compact kit designed for small spaces
- Efficient design uses less power
- Plug-and-Play simplicity
- Not enough light for large plants
- Gets too hot for seedlings and young plants
When you are looking for an easy to use, compact kit for plants like orchids, the Sun Systems kit is one of the best HID grow lights available today. This design incorporates the ballast into the hood fixture. All you have to do is plug it in and you’re making the correct lighting for blossoms and blooms.
The kit includes a 150 watt HPS bulb that produces a 2000k light spectrum. This is the ideal spectrum for flowering plants. The high intensity lights output of 16,000 lumens is wonderful for small spaces, but won’t produce enough light spread to reach multiple plants.
The compactness of this grow light kit makes it unique. In independent testing, the Sun Systems 150 watt kit also showed that it uses less power than similar competitors. The kit is a logical choice for people who want to give plants like orchids ideal conditions.
Overview: The Sun Systems kit is a compact and efficient option for people who want to flower smaller plants. It provides an optimum light spectrum and output for orchids and other similar flowering plants. It is one of the smallest HID lights for growing plants indoors.
- Ideal for large spaces
- Umbrella design produces a broad light distribution
- Kit includes both MH & HPS bulbs
- Requires a large amount of space
- Not as efficient as some designs
One of the limitations of any grow light kit is how the hood directs the light. Most hoods restrict the light to a small area. Hydro Crunch uses a 42” umbrella-shaped hood for this kit that allows light to spread farther. The aluminum hood will enhance light spread for larger plants. The parabolic shape enhances heat distribution to help keep temperatures manageable.
Hydro Crunch HID grow lights are excellent and high quality units. This kit includes both MH and HPS bulbs so you can grow big, strong plants, then switch bulbs to induce flowering and fruiting. Both included bulbs produce the ideal light spectrum and color range.
Digital ballast is included that features a built-in cooling fan. Keeping the temperatures down on the ballast will prevent power surges and extend the life of bulbs. The ballast is adjustable in 25% increments and has a Super Lumen mode. Users say the Super lumen mode provides as much light output as that of 600 watt high intensity lights.
Overview: The Hydro Crunch Umbrella Kit is an option for growers who have large plants or need to illuminate a larger space. The hood provides excellent dispersion and helps to prevent heat build-up. Excellent quality bulbs and a durable digital ballast make this one of the best HID grow lights.
- Excellent heat transferring ability
- Superior light distribution
- Super HPS lights provide ultra-bright light
- Hood construction is sub-par and requires replacement of rivets
- Requires extra cleaning
One of the most common problems with HID lights for growing plants is the accumulation of excess heat. This cool tube design from iPower reduces heat by setting the bulb within a glass tube. An exhaust fan can be connected to the tube to vent hot air away from the bulb and prevent overheating plants. The cool tube design allows the light to be placed closer to the plants, providing better lighting that penetrates to the lowest leaves.
The Cool Tube includes an adjustable, wing-type reflector that connects to the tube. The reflector is made from German aluminum to maximize reflection. It’s an ideal design that allows light to spread evenly, much like the equipment used by professional photographers. A single grow light kit can provide enough light to cover a 5-foot by 5-foot area.
The HID grow light kit includes both MH and HPS bulbs for year-round growth and superior flower budding. The Super HPS and MH bulbs produce intense, bright light and last longer than many competitors. Combined with the superior efficiency of the Cool Tube hood, iPower has put together a winning combination of components for any grower.
Overview: The iPower Cool Tube kit is a great option for larger scale growing operations that require excellent lighting. The Cool Tube design is a perfect pick for experienced gardeners looking to expand or beginners that want to start out with excellent equipment. The kit includes both MH and HPS bulbs, a digital ballast, and a reflector with a cool tube hood.
- Double ended bulb provides lot of light output
- Well-designed hood that’s very durable
- Intended for large grow rooms
- Double ended high intensity lights are more costly to replace
- Bulbs do not last as long as single ended designs
When it’s time to go big, you’ll need a system capable of serious light output. The Hydro Crunch Double Ended kit gives growers the ability to grow in large spaces. The double ended high intensity discharge grow light bulb produces significantly higher amounts of light than single ended bulbs are capable of.
The HID grow light kit is designed for flowering and includes one double ended HPS bulb capable of producing an astonishing 155,000 lumens. The bulb provides an ideal spectrum for flowering that plants will love.
In order to generate that much light, the Hydro Crunch kit requires a lot of power. The included digital ballast provides 1,000 watts of energy. An internal fan helps to keep the ballast from overheating. Growers have the option of tuning the output in 25% increments to provide the optimal environment for healthy, strong plants.
Overview: This is a kit designed for big spaces, large plants, and professional growth. Double ended high intensity discharge grow lights are capable of producing more light than single ended designs. The kit includes an aluminum hood, HPS bulb, and a digital 1,000 watt ballast. This is the ultimate upgrade kit for growers who want to go big and need the best HID grow lights.
Sooner or later, all indoor growers will need to change bulbs. High intensity discharge grow lights have a limited lifespan and the quality of light degrades over time. For consistent growth and results, regular bulb changes are necessary. Not all bulbs are equal, though.
Just like purchasing a kit, there are products on the market that are worth buying, but there are even more products that are a waste. These are the ultimate HID lights for growing plants we have found.
- Excellent color spectrum
- Available in 400 watt, 600 watt, and 1,000 watt
- Last longer than other competitive bulbs
- Some users report premature bulb failure
Yield Labs makes these HPS bulbs for indoor growers to get excellent results. The bulbs feature the correct red-orange color plants need for flowering, and also 20% more blue light than other bulbs to keep plants growing and healthy.
The bulbs have standard bases to work with most types of hoods. They are compatible with both digital and magnetic ballasts, so anyone can use these HPS bulbs and get excellent results.
The bulb is rated to have a lifespan of 24,000 hours and carries a one-year warranty to cover any defects. When buying a bulb for your grow, you need quality and value, and you’ll get both with the Yield Labs bulb.
Overview: This is the perfect bulb for growers who need to replace existing bulbs or are looking for an upgrade over inferior products. With an amazing light output and a color spectrum tuned for flowering, these bulbs are a great choice for growers.
- Great option for vegetative growth
- Low depreciation
- Some users report quality issues
- Bulbs must be matched to ballast to work correctly
Metal halide bulbs are intended for vegetative growth, and these bulbs from VIVOSUN are the ideal choice for growers on a budget. They provide the correct blue spectrum of light and produce excellent quantities of illumination.
Many bulbs are prohibitively expensive, but not the bulbs from VIVOSUN. These are high-quality but affordable options that make an easy upgrade over inferior CFL lights. Growers will get bigger plants and healthier growth using the MH bulbs.
VIVOSUN recommends using these high intensity discharge grow lights with matching digital ballasts from the same company. Some users report issues when using these bulbs with other brand ballasts, so check out your equipment before purchasing. As with many bulbs, these must be allowed to cool when turned off before restarting the light or the bulb will fail.
Overview: VIVOSUN provides an affordable bulb option for growers looking to upgrade their MH bulbs or replace burned out, expensive bulbs. The MH bulb from VIVOSUN produces the correct color spectrum for vegetative growth.
- High quality bulb
- Excellent light output and spectrum
- Excellent customer service
- Requires the correct ballast, so not a universal design
- Some users had issues with bulb flickering and premature failure
Protopia bulbs are some of the best in the price range for growers that need HID lights for growing plants. The Protopia bulbs are sensitive to ballasts, and require the correct CMH ballast to function.
These bulbs are designed to be installed in horizontal hoods. The color spectrum is enhanced in the green and blue wavelengths to ensure excellent flowering results. These bulbs tend to run somewhat hot in comparison with other bulbs, so plan to use plenty of ventilation.
Proper care when shutting off and restarting must be followed with these HPS bulbs. If the bulb is restarted before it has cooled, it can blow. One of the biggest positives about Protopia bulbs is the outstanding customer service the company provides. Users who reported early bulb failure or other problems say they were impressed with the way the company handled complaints.
Overview: Protopia bulbs are economical replacements for many growers, particularly those who already use Protopia ballasts. These bulbs have an enhanced green-blue spectrum for big yields. Proper care must be followed to prevent damage to the bulb. It’s also recommended to wear appropriate safety equipment when working around these bulbs, as they get hot and produce enough light to damage your eyes.
- Professional-quality bulb
- Produces 25% more light energy than competitors
- Proper spectrum for flowering with enough green-blue to promote healthy plants
- Some buyers received used or refurbished bulbs
- Bulbs don’t last as long as some competitors
The Eye Hortilux high intensity lights are well-regarded for producing professional results. These high intensity discharge grow lights are some of the highest-quality products on the market and have legions of fans out there, and for good reason. They are well made, produce an optimal light spectrum, and are the best HID grow lights for big growing operations.
Getting good results from a grow bulb is all about the light spectrum. These Super HPS bulbs out-perform almost every bulb on the market by producing very high orange-red spectrum. This spectrum is what flowering plants need to produce bold, vibrant, and healthy blooms.
Many HPS bulbs are considered hazardous waste because of the levels of toxic chemicals used in the lamp. The Eye Hortilux bulbs can usually be disposed of without the need to take the bulb to a hazardous waste collection site. That saves you time and money.
Overview: The Eye Hortilux bulb is considered to be one of the highest quality HID grow lights on the market. It produces peak orange-red spectrum for flowering. These are ideal for serious gardeners that want to have the professional results possible.
Buyers Guide: High Intensity Discharge Grow Lights
There are a large number of factors to take into consideration before purchasing a HID growing kit or a replacement light bulb. This guide will describe some of the common terms used by the industry and help you make the right choice for your indoor growing space.
First and foremost, you’ll need to know what the different words used mean for your garden.
High Pressure Sodium (HPS): This is a type of bulb that uses pressurized sodium gas to produce light. These high intensity lights emit an orange-red spectrum that is intended for flowering plants.
Metal Halide (MH): A metal halide bulb uses pressurized gas to create light. The types of gas vary from application to application, but all metal halide lights produce bluer light than HPS bulbs. MH bulbs are ideal for vegetative growth and are also popular with aquarists.
Light Spectrum : Light moves in waves and particular colors of light can be identified by the wavelength. In terms of plant growth, the ideal spectrum of light depends on the garden.
Lumens: Lumens refers to the amount of light produced. Bulbs that produce higher lumens will be brighter.
Hood: The hood houses the light bulb and refracts light.
There are three types of hoods commonly in use.
- Wing hoods slope down on both sides of the bulb and are open on the ends.
- Cool tube hoods place the bulb inside a glass cylinder to reduce heat exposure to plants. These hoods typically have a removable wing-type reflector.
- Air-cooled hoods use a flat panel of glass beneath the bulb and have a provision for exhaust fan ducting to remove excess heat.
Ballast: The ballast regulates the amount of electrical current flowing to the bulb. This prevents overheating and destruction of the bulb. Ballasts are available in two main types: magnetic and digital. Many digital ballasts allow users to reduce current to dim lights.
Wattage: Wattage indicates the amount of power the device needs to function correctly. In general, a higher wattage bulb will produce more light than a lower wattage bulb, but also costs more and doesn’t last as long.
Choosing the Right Setup
If you are considering starting an indoor growing area, you probably have a good idea of what types of plants you want to grow. For growing herbs and seedlings, you will want to select a metal halide light. Flowering plants, like tomatoes and orchids require the light spectrum produced by high pressure sodium bulbs.
Another consideration to make is the size of the area you are planning to grow in. Lower wattage bulbs are not appropriate for large spaces. Most 600 watt grow lights are good for about a five-foot by five-foot growing space. Gardeners growing large plants may need to use two or three lights, and may even opt to install a motorized tram system to allow the light to move.
Finally, all HID lights produce heat. In most cases, gardeners are going to need to come up with a solution to get rid of excess heat that can kill plants. Exhaust fans and ducting are popular ways to reduce unwanted heat, but these components are rarely sold in a kit with a grow light.
Once you know what plants you would like to grow indoors, picking out a great system is simple because we have reviewed the most complete grow light kits for you. Any of the products we shared today will get the job done, but selecting the correct product for your growing plans is vital to getting the results you want.
Growing plants indoors can be a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to ensure you get top-quality results each growing season. Using one of the kits above, it’s possible to grow plants year-round, even in the most difficult parts of the world. Growing plants indoors gives the gardener a significant amount of control over how plants grow. For example, gardeners can keep plants in a vegetative state longer than would happen outdoors to produce larger and stronger plants.
We also shared some of our favorite replacement bulbs on the market. Every indoor garden that uses HID lighting will need replacement bulbs periodically. A good system will only need bulb replacement every 12 months. When selecting a replacement bulb, it’s important to know what type of ballast you have, because some lights won’t work correctly and the wattage needs to match to prevent dangerous explosions and fires.
Pick up a grow light kit today and get started growing the healthiest plants of your life indoors. An indoor grow is great because the conditions can be set perfectly according to the needs of the plant. There is less risk in having plants fail because the gardener doesn’t have to rely on unpredictable weather. We hope you find the perfect grow light kit.