best grow lights for seedlings: how to sprout your seedlings safely

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best grow lights for seedlings: how to sprout your seedlings safely

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There’s nothing quite as hopeful as a seedling emerging from damp soil, ready to take on the world. A little preparation goes a long way when starting seeds at home, though. In this guide, review our curated selection of the best grow lights for seedlings to ensure that your little sprouts get the best start possible in life!

If the success of your seed starting project comes down to a SINGLE essential item amongst the whole happy mess of tools you can buy to start plants indoors, that item is definitely a good quality grow light. With the right indoor grow lights, you can control the type, intensity, and duration of light your little plants-to-be receive during the time of their most energy-demanding stage of growth. 

Seedlings prefer high intensity, blue-green spectrum light, and because they grow quickly, it’s essential that you can adjust your light fixture to protect your plants from burning close contact with your grow lights.

Read on for our recommendations, and other key features to consider when selecting grow lights for seedlings.

our recommendations

# Preview Product Amazon rating  
1 image best overall grow lights for seedlings: Mars Hydro TS-1000 3’x3′ Dimmable LED Grow Light 4.7 out of 5 view on amazon
2 image best bargain grow lights for seedlings: Durolux T5 Grow Light DL824 HO 4.5 out of 5 view on amazon
3 best high-end grow lights for seedlings: Advanced Platinum Series P600 600w LED 4.4 out of 5 view on amazon
4 image best all-in-one grow lights for seedlings: Gardeners Supply Company 3-Tier Grow Light Plant Stand 4.5 out of 5 view on amazon
5 image best countertop grow lights for seedlings: Mini Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden 5 out of 5 view on amazon
6 image best beginner grow lights for seedlings: Hydrofarm Jump Start Grow Stand with 2′ T5 Grow Lights 4.2 out of 5 view on amazon
7 image best link-able grow lights for seedlings: Feit Electric 24 ” LED Grow Light 4.7 out of 5 view on amazon
8 image best performing LED grow lights for seedlings: Phlizon Linear Series PH-3000 LED Plant Grow Light 4.6 out of 5 view on amazon

the best grow lights

1. best overall grow lights for seedlings: Mars Hydro TS-1000 3’x3′ Dimmable LED Grow Light

key specs: 150 watts actual power | 3’x3′ light coverage area | full spectrum LED 400-700nm and 730-740nm

2022 upgraded mars hydro
view on amazon

Topping our list of recommendations is the widely-loved and energy-efficient TS-1000 grow light from Mars Hydro. This grows light has been updated with a 120° refraction angle, heat dispersion features that reduce the need for cooling fans, and a fully dimmable switch to suit the needs of plants in every growth stage. It comes with a full kit of extras to get you starting seeds at home in no time, too: a thermo-hygrometer, grow light timer, and all of the hardware you’ll need to suspend the lights and adjust them as your seedlings grow.

What really sets this light apart from the rest, though, is the company’s investment in customer service. Mars provides a best-in-class 5-year service warranty with guaranteed customer service response times and a network of service centers throughout the US where you can send your product for repair, should you have any issues.

Pros

  • Pulls only 150 watts while providing excellent coverage and intensity; dimmable from 0-100%
  • 5 year service warranty with service and customer service centers throughout the US
  • IP64 waterproof rating
  • Includes the full kit of features needed for quick setup at home: grow timer, thermometer and hygrometer in-one, height-adjustable suspension hardware, daisy chain

Cons

  • The PPFD ratings published by Mars are exaggerated when checked against independent measurements
  • This product is updated regularly with new features, which becomes a double-edged sword to the unlucky few who believed they ordered the newest product but receive older versions of the grow light

2. best bargain grow lights for seedlings: Durolux T5 Grow Light DL824 HO

key specs: 96 watts actual power | 2’x3′ light coverage area | full spectrum 6500K

Durolux T5 Grow Light
view on amazon

These fluorescent lights will get you started growing healthy seedlings while leaving room in the budget for the essentials you’ll need once your plants reach maturity. The four fluorescent bulbs provide ample light output at an impressive intensity focused in the blue light spectrum needed for producing healthy seedlings. You can control the light intensity on the unit with two power switches: one powers the inner two fluorescent tubes, the other powers the outer two fluorescent tubes. While LED lights deliver more usable light to growing plants at different growth stages, this fluorescent grow light will work well for seedlings.

Pros

  • Tightly-angled German-made hammertone reflector creates the ideal top-down light direction for seedlings
  • Includes hanging hooks, adjustable suspension chain
  • Allows you to control light intensity with two switches
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • This lamp runs pretty hot. Do not touch the aluminum light shield and make sure to adjust the cable every few days to prevent the light from burning your delicate seedlings
  • Budget is as budget does: you’ll need to replace the bulbs regularly, and don’t expect the light to last forever

3. best high-end grow lights for seedlings: Advanced Platinum Series P600 600w LED Grow Light

key specs: 184 watts veg / 368 watts bloom actual power | 6’x3.75′ light coverage area | 12-band full spectrum LED

12-band LED Grow Light
view on amazon

Even with more high-end competitors entering the market than ever before, the Advanced Platinum Series grow lights remain the crème de la crème for indoor growing at every stage. These lights provide 100% usable light energy to plants and deliver the highest PAR / lumen output per watt of any other LED grow light, making them ideal for both starting seedlings and growing plants to full maturity. They give off a natural white light that penetrates deep into the light canopy of growing plants. Use the “veg” setting to start seedlings, and simply switch to “bloom” when your plants are ready to transition to fruiting and flowering. These lights are pretty heavy for their size considering they’re made of aluminum (the drivers and fans are not), so you’ll need to make sure that whatever you hang them from can hold 25 pounds.

Pros

  • Unparalleled in delivering intense, usable light to plants
  • Features specific light settings for vegetative and flowering stages, making it ideal for growing seedlings to full maturity
  • Comprehensive 5 year warranty plus robust 90 day satisfaction or return guarantee
  • Built in cooling fans keep things cool so you don’t have to worry about leaf burn

Cons

  • Weighing in at 22 pounds, this light is pretty heavy and requires some serious anchoring to remain stable
  • Yes, it’s expensive!

4. best all-in-one grow lights for seedlings: Gardeners Supply Company 3-Tier Grow Light Plant Stand

key specs: 475ml/1pt | coverage area spans 3 shelves each measuring 4.25′ x 1.2′ | 6400K full spectrum grow light

Gardeners Supply Company 3-Tier Plant Stand
view on amazon

If you’re looking for a complete system for growing seedlings indoors, check out this all-in-one solution from the Gardeners Supply Company. It features three racks with removable germinating trays, adjustable lights for each tier, a sturdy metal frame, and casters so you can re-position your grow station as the natural light in your space changes. The fluorescent bulbs mimic natural sunlight, emitting bright, warm light that’s ideal for the early stages of plant growth and blend in to your home environment. This is a streamlined and attractive indoor lighting system for starting seedlings, maintaining an herb garden, or keeping an indoor vegetable garden right in your kitchen.Love this product… but wish it came with LEDs instead? It does! Gardeners Supply Company produces the same exact tiered plant stand with 6500K LED lights.

Pros

  • Easy setup: waste no time hanging your grow lights or searching for additional hardware
  • In place of shelves, this unit features watertight, removable trays that you can directly plant your seedlings in
  • It rolls! You can roll this unit around to make the most of the natural light in your space
  • Energy efficient T5 bulbs provide up to 10,000 use hours

Cons

  • The shelves themselves aren’t adjustable, so you’ll need to move your plants once they reach about 18″ in height
  • The structure is brilliant but the lights are poor quality for this price point

5. best countertop grow lights for seedlings: Mini Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden

key specs: 5 watts actual power | light coverage area within the container is 1.9′ x .96′ | full-spectrum 6400K LED bulb

bamboo mini led grow light
view on amazon

Do your leafy dreams outsize your available space? Fortunately, there’s a sweet little grow light setup just for you. Constructed in solid bamboo with a single 6400K LED bulb, this fully-equipped light box is great for starting seeds in whatever space you can spare. It’s small enough to mount on a wall and has been designed to stack up to two high if you want to set up your own little plant production tower. This grows light kit takes some time to put together, but it’s relatively easy to follow the instructions. The one downside to this pick is that the grow light isn’t adjustable, so you’ll need to set your seedlings up on a stack of books when they first sprout and gradually lower them down as they grow. Because this product is relatively new to Amazon, there aren’t many helpful reviews there to help you decide if this is the right product for you. You can read more in-depth reviews here.

Pros

  • Small but mighty! Fits easily on a countertop, desk, or book shelf or mounted on the wall
  • Clean lines and quality construction make this product right at home in a variety of modern interiors
  • Stack up to two of these containers for additional growing room
  • Designed with an open top to improve ventilation

Cons

  • The grow lights won’t support strong vegetative growth in mature plants
  • The grow lights are fixed to the structure, so you’ll need to set your seedlings up on something to bring them closer to the light when they first germinate

6. best beginner grow lights for seedlings: Hydrofarm Jump Start Grow Light System with 2′ T5 Grow Lights

key specs: 45 watts actual power | roughly 2′ x 1′ light coverage area | single T5 full spectrum light bulb

Jump Start T5 Grow Light System
view on amazon

Choosing the right grow light can be intimidating for “green” indoor gardeners who are just starting out. This beginner-friendly setup from Hydrofarm takes the guesswork out of choosing lights and rigging them up to the perfect height. It features a single T5 light mounted with a simple, yet sturdy pully system, so you can set it up pretty much anywhere on a flat surface. The 2′ model here (a 4′ version is also available) fits two seed starting trays side-by-side, and will deliver on its promise with minimal fuss.

Pros

  • Grow light and stand in-one: all you need is a shelving system and seed starting trays
  • Easy-to-assemble re-inforced metal frame is made in durable, powder-coated steel with a very solid construction
  • Fits two 72-cell seed starting trays side by side
  • A good solution for over-wintering tropical houseplants as well as starting seeds

Cons

  • Best used for seed starting only: The single T5 won’t support strong vegetative growth
  • Some customers report receiving flimsy look-alike products and struggle with customer service to return them

7. best link-able grow lights for seedlings: Feit Electric 24 ” LED Grow Light

key specs: 30 watts actual power | 2′ x 2′ light coverage area | 450nm blue and 655 nm 3300 / 3300K

Feit Electric
view on amazon

For gardeners with many trays of seedlings to nurture, link-able grow lights are a must. Although almost all mid-priced and high-end grow lights come with a daisy chaining feature that allows growers to easily link and adjust the lights together (like the Mars Hydro, our #1 overall pick on this list), these lights are typically designed with large-scale greenhouse growing in mind – not indoor gardening projects. This simple 2″ grow light from the California-based company Feit is a better solution for mid-scale indoor hobby gardening. Each light comes with a long 5 foot extension cord, perfectly covers a standard-sized seed-starting tray, and delivers both red and blue light in the spectrum best suited to seedlings.

You can link up to eight of these fixtures together to accommodate the lighting needs of different types of indoor plants. This unit produces visible light with a slight violet tinge, which most gardeners don’t mind (but may affect your mood lighting – so just an FYI). If you’d like to grow your seedlings to full maturity under these, switch out the standard light here with the red light bulb specifically for the bloom phase featured on the product page.

Pros

  • Simple, lightweight design features two streamlined LED bulbs
  • Includes a 6-inch wire harness to hang the lights
  • Easily and quickly link up to 8 fixtures with the 5 foot power cord included with each light

Cons

  • LED bulbs are non-dimmable
  • Because these don’t come with a reflector, your seedlings will lose some usable light unless you buy one (which is a bit of an outrage for the price of these lights)

8. best performing LED grow lights for seedlings: Phlizon Linear Series PH-3000 LED Plant Grow Light

key specs: 450 watts actual power | 4.5′ x 4.5′ light coverage area | 660nm / 3000K – 6000K full spectrum LED lights

SMD LED Plant Grow Light Full Spectrum Grow Lamp
view on amazon

Raise the bar in your indoor garden and get ready for explosive plant growth with this Linear Series grow light from Phlizon. It’s long, narrow body is designed to distribute the highest PPFD possible to the greatest light coverage area, making it perfect for seed starting. It features high quality Samsung LEDs and super efficient SMD chips, together with a waterproof rating that makes it safe to use even in the most humid environments. Increase your success rate with this high-performing product and get growing!

Pros

  • Built-in cooling system has been redesigned to minimize noise: it’s almost completely silent
  • Suitable for use in high-humidity environments thanks to the IP65 waterproof rating
  • 3 years full warranty and 30 day money-back guarantee
  • Features highly efficient SMD chips and Samsung LEDs

Cons

  • Despite the heat sink features added to this latest product edition, the light runs hot for an LED and will require additional cooling and ventilation in humid environments like grow tents

still unsure which one is best for you?

How do you choose the best grow light for starting seeds, anyway? If our recommendations have left you with more questions than answers, keep reading for some general guidance on choosing and using grow lights to start seeds.

lighting schedule for seedlings

Once your seeds have germinated, it’s lights, camera, action! Seedlings need between 14-16 hours of light every day until you’re ready to harden them off for planting outdoors (this process takes about two weeks). If you’re planning to grow your plants indoors to maturity, you’ll need to research the lighting needs of your specific plant during its vegetative and fruiting / flowering stages. Generally speaking, your plants will need fewer light hours every day (no, they don’t need grow lights 24 hours a day 😅 ) once they’re fully established – and they need dark hours just as much as light hours to fully recover.

common questions

what kind of grow light is best for seedlings?

When growing seedlings indoors and away from natural sunlight, look for a high intensity LED grow lights mounted in a fixture with an adjustable chain for seedlings. Look for bulbs labeled as blue-green spectrum or balanced light spectrum, with a PPF between 30-50. If you are using grow lights as a supplemental light source to a brightly lit window, for example, use a lower-intensity grow light instead

are LED grow lights good for seedlings?

Yes, LED grow lights are a great choice for seedlings! Although LED grow lights are a bit pricier than traditional fluorescent grow lights, they will actually save you money in the long run. Many LED grow lights are up to 50% more energy efficient than fluorescent bulbs and often last a lifetime of use.

how far should grow lights be from seedlings?

Once your seeds sprout, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your seedlings to make sure they don’t get too close to your grow lights and sustain leaf burn. The ideal headroom will vary depending on the type and intensity of grow lights you’re using, but in general, it’s a good idea to keep your grow lights about 3″ from the tallest seedling growing in your tray. The best way to ensure that your seedlings are the right distance from your grow lights is to adjust the hanging height of your lights a couple of times a week (or more often for faster growing seedlings).

conclusion

With the right grow lights, starting seeds indoors is an exciting and incredibly fulfilling project that every indoor gardener looks forward to when the season rolls around. We hope this guide has provided you with inspiration and confidence for your next seed starting endeavor!

🎖️ why trust us?

The list of products featured within this post was all researched, compiled, and written by Brody Hall. Brody is a freelance writer, Environmental Scientist, qualified Horticulturist, and serious indoor plant enthusiast. All of the products he featured within this list were chosen for their industry-leading design, superior performance, and application to indoor growing requirements.

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