Cheap LED review: LED's Under $100, are they worth it?

I got into this hobby completely by mistake. I am a occasional joint toker that lives in a
very rough urban area. Walking past fentanyl addicts’, K2 smoking crazies, crack heads and
all sorts of other wacko’s JUST to but some green to smoke. Seeing 4 dead bodies and actual
drug zombies, I was ecstatic when I found 7 seeds, a light bulb went off in my head, “I can grow my own and not have to deal with this stuff any more”. I quickly grabbed the dirt out of some long dead pots of Easter tulips, tossed the dried out bulbs and threw some seeds in. Long story short, that didn’t pan out well and I found myself on the internet, mouth agape and jaw on the floor to discover just how far the cannabis industry has come since my last years in
high school and my wrinkled up copies of High-Times that were already 5 years old in 1992.

(This is just an opinion thread, I do not own a par meter nor do I pretend to be an expert.
This is a public service post ONLY. Don’t hate me if I’m bashing a light you like and are
comfortable with using. Everyone’s situation is different. Thank you)

Found ILGM and from there it was all down hill.
When I decided to purchase an LED light I first went with the cheapest thing available on
Amazon. It worked well for my seedlings but other than that it was completely useless. And
when I say useless, I do MEAN absolutely useless. Total waste of money and time waiting
for it to arrive. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this gem:

Cost: $20 on Amazon.
25W
Gives off a purple hue light, the only thing it’s good for is the first week of seedlings.
Is it worth it? Absolutely NOT. Avoid at all costs.

I did some more reading on ILGM and found out I needed way more light than what I had.
My second Amazon purchase was this Giixer 600W grow light. Veg and Bloom booster
switch, The light isn’t a bad light if you want to grow a single autoflower. The light is decently
made, two fans that are very quiet, almost zero heat just 6 inches from the plant canopy.

Giixer 600W LED with bloom booster
Cost: $60-$70 on Amazon
Says 600W but it’s more like 250-300W in all honesty.
Veg and Bloom Switch (or you can run them together)
This is like a very cheap mini Blurpurple or King LED
Was it worth it? If I had to buy this again, I wouldn’t knowing what I know now.
If you’re pinched for cash and want to grow a single plant, This is an OK option if nothing else
is available.



With a little experience under my belt and my second plant being neglected I just had to find
something better. I came across a few posts talking about BloomPlus LED’s. Pulled the trigger and bought a PB 1000. The light itself is pretty simple and straight forward. Nothing
hidden or left to figure out, Waterproof board, LED’s laminated to an aluminum plate then coated with a silicon layer for waterproofing…
This was by far my brightest LED to date. extremely impressive right out of the box.
Strong red LEDs with hyper white and orange LED’s. There is a Bloom switch on this
board so that option is available to you if it’s something you require. The brightness is good
but definitely NOT 1000W. More like 400-500w. Still, on it’s face it was an upgrade.

Bloom Plus 1000W LED
Cost: $78.00 on the FleaBay
Says 1000W but more like 400-500W
Veg with a switch for Veg&Bloom mode. Can’t separate the two.
Generates a LOT of heat, seems decently built, straight forward.
It helped my second plant without a doubt. Increased the brightness of my grow area
substantially.
Was it worth it? Yes for the most part. If someone needed an LED for a 2X3 or a 2X2 area, and already has a decent exhaust, this isn’t a bad choice.


Now that my grow area was brighter on one side than the other, I had to retire the Giixer
and shop for something equally as bright as the Bloom Plus. Again, I turned to the forums
here and read a little about Carambola. The bigger 1500 and 2000W LED’s were a little out
of my price range. Found the 1000W Carambola on Fleabay again and the price was decent.
Did a little research and found out they were once a Top shelf LED supplier, 5-8 years ago.
This light was even more impressive than the Bloom Plus. However, again, I was a little
disappointed that it wasn’t a true 1000w LED. It was getting closer though and this is right
about 600W in brightness. The LEDs gave off a noticeably whiter and redder color hue.
The plant under it was definitely reacting to the difference.

Carambola 1000W LED
Cost: $85.00 Fleabay
Says 1000W but closer to 600W
I’m glad I bought this light even though it’s in mothballs now because it showed me what
REAL grow lights with an LED source was supposed to be like. This opened my eyes WIDE.
Worth it? Yes, absolutely.

Once I bought my tent, it was time to move to the big-boys table. Pony up to the bar and
order my first shot of whiskey. Little did I know, the ‘cheap prick’ in me had one more swing
left in him. Again, I was surfing the internet and found out about COB LED’s. As I waited for my tent to arrive, I saw a sure fire deal that I couldn’t pass up. A UFO COB LED, what could
go wrong, right? Well, I dodged a bullet on this bad boy. 300W Deep spectrum 390-450nm
LED’s. Having read somewhere before that the lower the NM on the light spectrum, the better
and more effective it is when time for bloom. Again, that ‘cheap prick’ had his way with my
credit card, and in short order it arrived before my tent did. I was actually shocked. The 300w
light was as bright as my Carambola LED, half the price and it was bigger than I thought,
The light it gives off is definitely a deeper IR because you can feel it on your exposed skin
if you’re in the tent long enough. This Grow-star is something different. Although it’s china
made, it’s not the average piece of communist slave labor crap.

Grow Star 300W Full Spectrum LED with Deep Red IR
Cost: Amazon $47.00
Says 300W and it is every bit of 300W.
Before I finally boxed up and buried the ‘cheap prick’ in me, he finally bought something
decent before I smacked him in the head and put him 6 feet under.
Was it worth it? For under $50 bucks? Hell yes.

This post is just an example of what NOT TO DO.
DON’T buy cheap crap if you can help it.
For all the money spent on this junk, I could have bought a CLW Solar Extreme 550.
Save the little extra money to buy right the first time. You’re not going to find you’re way
around an obstacle that has been attempted by the smartest minds in this hobby. Think
you’re doing or discovering something new? You’re NOT. Listen to the guys and gals
that have been down this road LONG before you showed up to the party.
A wise man made a comment on my post once and it couldn’t be more profound.

Buy NICE or buy TWICE,

I’m now using a California Light Works Solar Extreme 250. The $350.00 I spent on this
light was eclipsed LONG ago with all this junk that passed thru my door. I could of had
this light LONG ago. Avoid my mistakes and do yourself, your check book and your
family a favor. Think about where you’re going with this hobby and purchase a light
suitable for THAT application the first time.

My Wattage comparisons are from memory, after visiting a Hydroponics store and looking at the varied HPS, T5’s and plasma lights, and how bright they were in comparison.

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Amazing… true story. Every person wanting to grow should read this post and then talk to db… lol great post brother

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What’s really wild is the only 2 lights out of that whole bunch that use over 100 watts (even though they claim 1000w, 600w, 300w etc) is that carambola (120w) and the grow star (115w). The others are 70w and 90w. I really hope they fix this misleading garbage so people don’t continue to get suckered in.

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I sincerely believe that this is is done purposefully. Misleading, exaggerated, false and just
flat out lies to sell more units. They know they can do it too because with LED’s you can
over promise on brightness due to the lower power draw and par scaling. If they used a
standard umol rating (Which is very hard to prove on most LED’s being sold) it would be
a much better environment for customers and consumers. Actually getting what they claim
is the hardest part to prove before getting it into your hands.

I’ve learned my lessons and I’ve sincerely buried that ‘cheap prick’ inside me. My next
light will be at the suggestions and directions of people that actually know what they are
doing like @dbrn32 . I’ll never buy another light unless it’s a proven quality item or I’ll build
my own like most of the Pro Monster Growers on here.

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Most facts ultimately are a matter of opinion. Nothing wrong with that. I’m on ILGM to hear lots of growers’ opinions.

I got a good ol laugh outta your humor. And felt the frustration we all are going through with this LED mislabeling misinformation nonsense.

“Found ILGM and from there it was all down hill” - yeah buddy!! Ruined!

“Little did I know, the ‘cheap prick’ in me had one more swing
left in him.”

Like someone said on my grow log, there should be a flashing banner saying this.

Thank you for taking the time to pen your journey with lights. The plants sure let me know when I placed a dud over them. They stretched all around it saying, “What the hell is this thing-I need some light man!” And I have really stressed those plants out with insufficient/too much lighting the past 6 weeks.

How does altitude affect indoor lighting? I’m only at 5k ft but I’m gonna ask before I buy!

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Most of the reputable light manufacturers will send their products to a third party testing facility and then publish integrated sphere or gonio report. These will list the photosynthetic photon flux (total amount of radiometric light energy), spectral distribution, efficiency, and other relevant data. All information that could be universally compared across platforms.

If buyers limited their purchases to fixtures that provided this info, the entire industry would eventually have to supply it. It will never happen though, too many people swayed by cost alone.

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I think in this hobby it’s only in relation to the distance between the light and the plant.
However if you’re growing outdoors it holds a much more significant role with the sun
and cloud ceiling. If someone tells me I’m wrong, I’m probably wrong on this one but that’s
just my basic knowledge of atmosphere I’m remembering from 30 years ago in HS science.

I was so lucky when I started. I bought a kit from a local store and knew I wanted led. They showed me what the had and then took me to a corner of the shop. They pointed to a fixture hanging and said we just got this in and it is $100 upgrade to the kit. Then they said don’t look at it and we will turn it on. Even not looking at it I was blinded. I said I’ll take it thinking brighter is better. After finding this site and doing some research I found out I had a HLG-300 in my possession. I was very lucky but I also relied on my local retailer to help guide me in the correct direction.

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I really wish I had some places like that local to me. The closest Hydro shop to me is 35 miles
away and with this lockdown crap, they have limited store hours, very limited selection due to
shipment troubles (lockdown) and where I’m located you’re more likely to find a Taco Bell
and a Urban Outfitters rather than a Tractor supply co. or a Hydro shop. Even my local HomeDepot carries ONLY MG soils and fertz. This location lacks everything healthy and
rural. A lawn here is the weeds that grow through the cracks in your cement pavement
directly out your front door. Our wildlife is rats, pigeons and cockroaches.

If it wasn’t for forums like this, I honestly have no idea where I’d be right now so I thank
everyone for their experience, input, knowledge and information.

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This whole statement… i have no idea wth he is saying. But I like it! Thanks for bringing back the good ole days. :joy::laughing::joy:

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This is exactly why I’ll not spend a penny more on lighting before I consult @dbrn32. The
pHD of LED’s.

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I don’t know about that. I’m not much different than most of you really. Some of it is related to my educational background and career, and the rest I just spent the time to learn. There are certainly people out there better, with more time and resources. If I have information that will help I’m more than willing to share.

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Haha then he’s modest! No seriously DB… uve helped hundreds with ur charitable well of knowledge. Take the praise man. Well deserved.

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That was a good read. Brought back a lot of memories of my own. Back in the day before internet. Wow, no to long though. Again great write up.

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I don’t understand what I’m reading in the original post. It seems like you are trying to dispell the false claims of the marketing of the manufacturer, but you’re replacing it with more incorrect info.

For example:

The Bloom Plus
You correctly state that it isn’t 1000 Watts or 1000 Watt equivalent
Then you say it’s more like 400-500 Watt
The back panel clearly states power draw is 90.4 Watts plus or minus 5%
It isn’t 400-500 watts and isn’t equivalent to that either.

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That’s really a 70 watt light

That’s a 90 watt light

That’s a 120 watt light

That’s 115 watt light

Stop guessing at watts and learn how to find the real watt draw (before buying the light).

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I know farm and fleet has ocean forest and happy frog

You might have missed this part.

LOL, so you’re saying you don’t have a good memory then. Judging lights by how bright they appear is not a good way to judge lights either, our eyes don’t see what’s important to plants - PAR.

At the time of purchasing these pieces of crap I had NO IDEA what the hell was what. Not a clue.
I thought the advertisements had to be semi correct as to how bright they were. Little did I know I knew nothing of the sort. You’re confusing this post as an endorsement of this pile of junk.

This post was made to steer people away from being duped and encourage others to learn about lights and not to waste their money.

Because you’ve been educated on lighting and others know far less or are still learning, doesn’t mean it’s a welcome mat to piss on them or their attempt to warn others away from making the same mistakes they (me) made. I don’t want to see a single cent going to any of these companies that bait people into a bum purchase.

Do I understand PAR and comparison brightness now? Yes.
Did I at time of purchasing these? No, not at all.
Just because something “is as bright as” isn’t an endorsement. It’s actually how I got roped in and had to learn the hard way by actually reading and asking questions. Doesn’t make these taste any better having to eat them but the whole purpose of this seems to have been lost in interpretation.