Updated at: 28-10-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

Fluorescent lights and LED lights both have advantages and downsides when it comes to growing plants in a greenhouse. While the finest organic light varies on the circumstances, greenhouse gardeners typically choose to use LED lights because of the spectrum of light they provide. In a greenhouse, why is it so important to select the best light possible?

The greenhouse’s ability to replicate the growth and development circumstances of your plants will be enhanced with the use of growing lights and their proper installation. It’s easy for gardeners to become befuddled by the variety of lighting options, not simply in terms of color. Here are the distinctions between fluorescent and LED lighting, so you can pick the best option for your greenhouse.

Battle of Growing Lights: Which Gives Better Light For Growing Plants In A Greenhouse Fluorescent Or LED?

What are LED grow lights?

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are becoming increasingly popular as greenhouse grow lights because of their ability to emit a narrow range of wavelengths. A whole spectrum of blue, red, and other colors are available, making it simpler to find an LED grow light that’s right for your plants. As a bonus, some LED grow lights allow you to fine-tune their wavelengths as your plants mature.

LED grow lights, like natural LED lights, have the advantages of being long-lasting and energy-efficient. As an added bonus, certain models include cooling systems. However, compared to other grow lights, they are more expensive.

How to Choose an LED Grow Light | Gardener's Supply

What are fluorescent grow lights?

As opposed to LED grow lights, fluorescent grow lights’ color is determined by the chemical makeup of the phosphor powder. Because you can’t change the wavelengths, fluorescent grow lights are often used by farmers to start seedlings. Small-scale greenhouses can save money by using them because of their lower prices.

Fluorescent grow lights are second only to LED lights when it comes to greenhouse lighting because of their long lifespan and limited wavelength options. To start indoor vegetables or plants that need less light, fluorescent lights would be sufficient. Choosing a bulb with a smaller diameter will result in a brighter grow light.

Which grow light is sufficient for the greenhouse?

In comparison to fluorescent lights, LED grow lights have a wider range of light spectrums, and some can be adapted for certain plant growth phases. Fluorescent grow lights can also be considered “better light” because of the ease and reliability with which they can be used to sow seeds. To ensure that your transplants remain healthy, the University of Maryland Extension suggests using one of the various fluorescent lamps on the market.

T-5 fluorescent lights were used by the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources to discover fruiting in tomato plants in just five weeks. As a result, it is up to you to decide which of these two types of growing lights is best for your situation. You may also find out what works best for your greenhouse through trial and error.

Which grow light is more energy-efficient?

Both LED and incandescent grow lights are more energy-efficient, although the efficiency of each variety varies. For example, cool white LED grow lights and straight-tube fluorescent organic lights are comparable in terms of their energy efficiency. ” Remember to take into account the amount of energy the bulb consumes in order to create light.

LED lights, on the other hand, only need to be replaced once a year, whereas fluorescent bulbs need to be replaced twice a year. When the ends of the tube begin to discolor, the product’s quality has gone downhill. Because of this, the bulb’s efficiency will also be affected.

Which grow light has better color?

What your plants need determines whether or not you can state that a growing light is beneficial for them. Although both LED and fluorescent grow lights may produce warm and cool hues, keep in mind that plants need both. Hence the need to employ a full-spectrum fluorescent or LED light in your greenhouse and adjust it suitably.

Specialty LED grow lights are also available to help you get the right balance. The single bulb in these lights contains both warm and cold diodes, making them more convenient than the two bulbs in a fluorescent fixture. Adjustable LED grow lights mean you won’t have to buy new lights as your plants become bigger.

Which grow light is more cost-effective?

If you have a tiny greenhouse, fluorescent grow lights can save you money. However, LED grow lights are also cost-effective. They may be more expensive, but they don’t have to be replaced as frequently.

LED grow lights will save you money in the long term. Full-spectrum or T-5 fluorescent grow lights are more expensive, but you’ll need them if you want to get the best results. As a result, LED lights are the more cost-effective option, however fluorescent lights can be used by small-scale gardeners.

Benefits Of LED Grow Lights

Among the many advantages of LED grow lights, the most important ones are their low energy consumption and long lifespan.

When it comes to hydroponic gardening, LED grow lights have a clear advantage: they use less electricity. Their solid-state lighting technology has revolutionized the industry.

Due to its solid-state construction rather than vacuum or gas components, LED grow lights have an incredibly extended lifespan. The built-in heat sink, which takes heat away from the bulb and releases it into the air, also helps boost brightness and longevity.

Hydroponics benefits from LED grow lights because of their lower operating temperatures. One of the first things to keep in mind is that lighting that generates too much heat is likely to raise your electricity cost because of the limited space in a grow room. The second argument is that because the lights produce less heat, they may be placed closer to the plants. This is critical for indoor growing since the less energy a plant has available for photosynthesis the further it is from a light source. Since the closer the fixtures are together, the more light they produce.

You don’t need a ballast to limit the current or directional lenses, which direct light exactly where it’s needed, with LED grow lights. Saving space and avoiding the effort of figuring out how to construct your lighting system are two benefits of not needing these functions. In addition, many LED grow lights can be plugged straight into your standard electrical outlets.

A variety of LED lighting options are now available to farmers, including COB modules and white LED grow lights that replicate natural sunshine by putting out a broad, evenly distributed spectrum of light that supports photosynthesis in plants.

And as more LED grow lighting features are being developed, the benefits of these lights are increasing while the costs are decreasing.

Disadvantages Of LED Grow Lights

There are certain drawbacks to LED grow lights, the most obvious of which is their price, which is significantly more than that of other types of grow lights. In the long run, the hefty initial investment in LED grow lights will pay for itself in decreased energy expenses and a long lifespan. But if you don’t have the money to begin with, it doesn’t matter what anyone says.

The sheer number of LED grow lighting options available can be intimidating, and even detrimental to some growers. A good illustration of this is LED grow lights with lower wattage, which actually produce less light than other varieties. Due diligence and attention to the reputation and track record of the brand are therefore essential.

Finally, one thing to remember about LED chips is that they are heat-sensitive. They can fail if the temperature rises above a certain level. Quality LED grow lamp fixtures with an integrated heat sink and fan are essential for this reason. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planning to hang high-powered LED grow lights from the ceiling.

Using Grow Lights for Seedlings or Indoor Plants ~ Homestead and Chill

Benefits Of Fluorescent Grow Lights

Fluorescent grow lights provide a number of advantages, the most important of which are their high energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. There’s also a new generation of fluorescent grow lights that may be used for all stages of the plant life cycle besides vegetative growth, such as flowering and fruiting.

In terms of both initial investment and everyday use, fluorescent grow lights are extremely popular. For starters and enthusiasts who want to get into hydroponics without spending a lot of money, they are the most affordable type of grow lighting available. People who want to start small and subsequently increase their operation may consider fluorescent grow lights because of their scalability.

Fluorescent grow lights are so popular in part because of their adaptability. A wide variety of shapes, sizes, and power levels are available, along with a wide variety of wavelengths. To guarantee that all portions of the plants are receiving the light they require, CFLs can be positioned close to the plants, hung in various locations, and utilized as supplemental lighting. Tube fluorescent fixtures feature a slim shape, making them ideal for confined situations. There are now fluorescent grow lights available that may be utilized for all stages of plant growth, from germination to fruiting.

Because they don’t require any specific fixtures, sockets, or technical knowledge, hydroponics growers find fluorescent grow lights appealing because they’re easy to use and don’t seem as frightening as other types of grow lighting that aren’t already familiar from the common world.

Disadvantages Of Fluorescent Grow Lights

Even while CFL grow lights are good for promoting plant growth, they are not ideal for flowering because of their lack of intensity.

When it comes to most phases of plant growth, however, high power T5 fluorescent grow lights are superior because they produce less heat, but farmers must be cautious when using them because of the possibility of excessive heat buildup in their grow rooms.

One of the drawbacks of fluorescent grow lights is that they have a shorter lifespan than other types of grow lights now on the market.

Fluorescent lights also contain mercury, a dangerous heavy metal, so they should be avoided. Consequently, they are hazardous to human health since they produce mercury vapor when they shatter and harm the environment after being thrown away because of their toxic nature.

Comparison Of LED vs Fluorescent Grow Lights

In this section, we’ll evaluate LED and fluorescent grow lights side by side to see how they stack up in various areas:


LED grow lights outperform the best fluorescent grow lights in terms of energy efficiency. Light levels are more essential than electrical watts when comparing lighting efficiency, so keep that in mind. In terms of micromole photons per joule of energy, a 300-watt LED bulb is equivalent to a 600-watt T5 fluorescent grow tube, saving nearly half the light energy required while giving the same degree of illumination.

Color temperature/light wavelength output/PAR

If you’re new to hydroponic farming, it can be difficult to understand the terminology used to describe horticulture lighting.

The wavelength output of a lamp’s light is a measure of the colors of the spectrum it emits, expressed in nanometers. When it comes to light energy, people can only see a small portion of the spectrum that sunshine comprises. As in animals, plants have pigments and photoreceptors that respond to only a limited range of light wavelengths.

Color temperature provides a visual representation of the light spectrum in terms of cool and warm colors.

The range of light energy that most plants can use for photosynthesis is referred to as PAR, or photosynthetically active radiation.

People who are into hydroponics often obsess over the tiniest details of light energy and how it affects plant growth. There are now a variety of cool, warm, and full spectrum fluorescent bulbs on the market that can produce a range of light outputs, but LED technology allows for an infinite variety of precise outputs ranging from broad-spectrum white light resembling sunlight to lighting that can be used to encourage basil plants to develop stronger flavors.

Heat Output Of LED vs Fluorescent Grow Lights

Fluorescent grow lamps run cool, but gardeners must take into account the heat produced by fluorescent lighting, particularly with high output T5 fluorescent lighting. LED grow lighting emits virtually no heat.

Lifetime Of LED vs Fluorescent Grow Lights

With a lifespan of about 50000 hours, LED grow lights outperform fluorescent grow lights yet again. In comparison, CFL grow lights have an average lifespan of 8000 hours and T5 fluorescent lights have a lifespan of between 10,000 and 15,000 hours.

Cost Of LED vs Fluorescent Grow Lights

The cost of LED grow lights is decreasing, although they are still more expensive than fluorescent grow lights. For the same amount of light, LED bulbs consume only half as much energy as fluorescents, and they can last up to eight times longer. As a result, the long-term costs of LEDs for hydroponic gardening are lower than acquiring and running fluorescent grow lights.

Which Grow Lighting Should I Choose?

So, in this LED vs. fluorescent grow light comparison, is there a clear winner? With that said, LEDs outperform other types of grow lights on most criteria and are becoming more affordable. The Viparspectra LED grow lights are my current favorite. Here is a link to my review of their starter model.

Finally, your choice will be determined by the types of plants you plan to cultivate, the amount of light your grow area will require, the power your lighting system will use, and the amount of money you have to spend on both an initial investment and running expenses for your grow room operation.

LED grow lights will continue to be a viable option for hobbyists and home hydroponics growers until the cost of quality LED grow lights drops a bit further. However, anyone who plans to grow a large amount of plants in a hydroponics operation should take the risk and invest in LED lights at the beginning.

How to tell if your plant isn’t getting enough light

If you’ve never grown indoor plants before, or even if you have, it can be difficult to figure out what ailment your plant is experiencing. If your plants show any or all of the following signs, your indoor lighting may be insufficient.

  • A plant with elongated stems.
  • New growth has been slowed or halted (such as small leaves).
  • The lower leaves die off.
  • Flowering is reduced or non-existent.
  • For shade-loving plants like Calatheas, light color or absence of variegation on new growth is an indication that it is getting too much.

Indoor plants can still grow even if they don’t get a lot of natural light. Indoor grow lights will help your plants get the boost they need from the natural light they receive.

Full spectrum vs. red & blue grow lights

Full-spectrum grow lights emit light that covers the entire electromagnetic spectrum, similar to what the sun does, whereas other grow lights focus on specific tones that plants prefer for growth, such as red and blue light. In order to achieve more equal growth, red and blue lights should be used in tandem.

Pro tip: “Red light” refers to more than just the light bulb’s color, but certain light bulbs do provide red, blue or pink lighting. The wavelength of visible light is used to determine the color. Distinct light wavelengths have different effects on plants.

  • Using the red light, plants are told how many leaves to grow and how big they should be.
  • Plants respond to light cycles differently depending on the color of the light. tells plants when they should bloom.” A. A. McCallister

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that the red-to-blue lighting ratios required by various plants. Different plants have different needs, and vice versa. The amount of blue and red light each plant variety need may necessitate some experimentation or research. A full-spectrum bulb, which most closely simulates the sun, can also be used.

Light bulbs with high correlated-color temperature (CCT)[link] ratings can also give adequate illumination for growth without the purple-pink hues of red/blue lights. For professional indoor growers, however, you should go with a full spectrum bulb that is clearly labeled, as this will provide the closest match to the sun.

Using Grow Lights for Seedlings or Indoor Plants ~ Homestead and Chill

Plants that require a lot of light, such as the following, do best with full spectrum lamps:

  • Herbs for the kitchen
  • Seedlings or seedlings are the first stage of a plant’s life cycle.
  • Succulents
  • Insect-eating plants

Place the lamps 2-4 inches away from the seedlings or starting plants for best results.

Place the lamps at a distance of 1-2 feet from the plants for well-established ones.

How much light do your plants need?

If you think that the more light your plant receives, the better it will grow, you’re wrong. There is a saturation threshold at which your plant will no longer benefit from getting light. As it turns out, plants require periods of darkness in order to sustain a healthy growth process.

To make sure your plant receives the proper amount of light each day, set a timer to turn it on and off at the appropriate intervals.

Plants have unique light requirements, so be sure to read the care instructions that come with yours or do some research on what you have to be sure it is getting enough to thrive. As a general rule, remember to:





Which provides superior light for growing plants in a greenhouse fluorescent or LED? LED grow lights are the solution. You can customize the light spectrums and wavelengths to meet the exact requirements of your plants. Gardeners on a smaller scale, on the other hand, may profit from using fluorescent lights because they are less expensive.