The prices for LED grow lights are getting more reasonable – as more people and businesses are manufacturing them, the prices get better and better. I’m currently using a set of T8 (Fluorescent tube) replacements which necessitated rewiring a shop light to remove the ballast from the circuit. They’ve worked well as grow lights, but they’re not as long-lived as their components: LED’s will last for up to 100,000 hours – but they’re only part of the overall circuitry. The diodes and resistors take the brunt of the power fluctuations, and they’re what often fail. One of my “bulbs” has gone completely dark, while the other is starting to fail as well, but the manufacturer is working on getting me replacements under warranty. I’ll write further about them as things unfold, but I’m pretty optimistic.
The LED Growth lights look like a nice alternative to rewiring a shop light. Two T8 LED tubes cover approximately 8 square feet, and cost $130. Two LED Growth panels would cost $98 to cover 8 sq. ft. (3 for $130 covering 12 sq. ft.).
When it comes to starting seeds under LEDs, you have to put the LED’s 1″ above the soil: this won’t give you 4 square feet per panel initially, but once the plants start growing, you can raise the light higher, allowing you to finally reach the 4 square feet per panel ratio recommended. If you did this with a metal halide lamp, you’d have baked soil; with regular fluorescent bulbs, you’d acheive good results but you’d find the soil would dry out faster, and you’d be using 80 watts of power as opposed to 28W.
If finances allow, I’ll be trying out at least one of these panels to see how well they work. One of the down sides is that the plants look ghastly in the red/blue light, while the white light from the T8 LED replacements look fine, though the light is intense.