Black Dog LED grow lights are very popular among indoor gardeners who grow heavy-flowering and fruiting plants.
Black Dog is one of the few horticultural lighting brands that manufactures and assembles its grow lights in the United States.
For that reason, it is not surprising to see that Black Dog PhytoMAX-2 LEDs are among the top-rated grow lights on the market.
Even though Black Dog has an excellent reputation, it is always important for the expert gardener to examine the specifications of a grow light before purchasing it.
We wrote this Black Dog LED review article to present to you all the crucial information you need to know about these lights.
Black Dog LED Design and Construction Review
In 2017, Black Dog upgraded their PhytoMAX LED series for the first time. The new PhyoMAX-2 grow lights have far better quality and are 60% more efficient than the old Black Dog lights.
Currently, there are five different Black Dog LED models: PhytoMAX-2 200, 400, 600, 800 and 1000.
Those models have the same basic design and construction, but they vary depending on their light intensity.
Black Dog devices are heavy and very sturdy, but since the LED board is not covered with a glass plate, be careful not to put excessive force on the delicate diodes.
The LEDs of Black Dog grow lights are 5-watt diodes. The red LEDs are made by Osram and the blue ones are made by Cree. This strategy of choosing diodes from different manufacturers contributes towards making the overall spectrum more optimized for plants.
The brand uses 5-watt diodes instead of 3-watt diodes, because 5-watt diodes provide the best balance between efficiency and intensity.
It is important to note that 5-watt diodes emit more heat than 3-watt diodes. But the devices are equipped with a powerful heat dissipation system to deal with that issue.
The diodes are evenly dispersed over the board to provide uniform coverage of light. For this reason, the PPFD readings of the light will vary insignificantly between the center and the sides of the coverage area.
Below you can see the diode count of each Black Dog LED model.
The diodes have a life span of 50,000 hours (nearly 5 years of uninterrupted usage).
The Cooling Fans and Aluminum Heat Sinks
The heat dissipation system of Black Dog devices relies on aluminum heat sinks and cooling fans.
The aluminum heat sinks of Black Dog have the largest surface areas among commercial LED grow lights. The larger the surface of the aluminum heat sink, the faster it can absorb heat.
All the heat absorbed by the aluminum heat sinks is then rapidly dissipated by the fans.
The cooling fans of Black Dog LEDs are situated on opposite sides of the device to allow the air to flow across the aluminum heat sinks. They produce zero noise and have a life span of 70,000 hours.
Black Dog LED Performance Review
Black Dog LEDs emit a blended full-spectrum light mainly composed of blue, red, IR, and UV wavelengths with different intensities. They also slightly emit some light in the green-yellow range.
The intensity of the light peaks at the wavelengths corresponding to blue and red light, which drives photosynthesis in plants.
The red light’s peak is higher than the blue one because red light is more important in the flowering and fruiting phase of the plant. And Black Dog focuses on giving flowering plants the highest amount of light they need.
Besides the blue and red light, ultraviolet and infrared radiation are also necessary for proper plant growth. For instance, UV light increases the quantity of antioxidants in herbs and boosts the concentration of THC and CBD in cannabis.
There are two types of UV light: UVA and UVB. Black Dog grow lights emit UVA only and not UVB. This is great because UVB is responsible for causing sunburns and skin cancers.
Black Dog LEDs also emit some light in the green-yellow spectral range to make the overall light less dazzling and enable gardeners to monitor the health of their growing plants.
Intensity and Coverage Area
The intensity of the light depends on the PhytoMAX-2 model you are using. Black Dog PhytoMAX-2 200 has the lowest light intensity, while PhytoMAX-2 1000 has the highest one.
The best way to assess the light intensity of a grow light is to look at its PPF and PPFD measurements. Here are the average PPF measurements of all PhytoMAX-2 models.
You can easily compare different Black Dog PhytoMAX-2 models using the above measurements. But to know which one suits you the best, you need to look at the PPFD measurements of the light in relation to its coverage area and distance from plants.
Make sure to:
1) Learn about the PPFD (or DLI) requirements of your plants (Learn more about PPFD and DLI)
2) Measure the dimensions of your growing place.
Black Dog has blessed their customers with a great chart of PPFD measurements that they can use to decide which model suits them the most. You can see the chart on this page under the title, “Footprint Coverage for Average PPFD”.
How to use the chart?
Choose the column that corresponds to the PAR requirement of your plants. In that column, search for area measurements that are almost equal to the dimensions of your growing space.
Black Dog also provides you with the minimum and maximum recommended coverage area and hanging height for each model on that same page under the title, “Recommendations for Proper Use”.
Energy Use and Efficiency
Another outstanding thing about Black Dog is that they are honest with their labels. They have named each one of their models after its actual wattage.
For example, PhytoMax-2 200 consumes approximately 200 watts of power.
Most other grow light brands use misleading labels, such as 1000W and 3000W, that don’t reveal the actual energy usage of the device.
Here is a chart of the power consumption of all PhytoMAX-2 models.
Using these values, we can conclude that the efficiency of Black Dog LEDs is nearly 1.4 μmol/J. This is good but not as good as other modern grow lights.
The mediocre efficiency of these lights has to do with the fact that Black Dog uses 5-watt diodes, which are less efficient than diodes with lower wattage although they emit higher-quality light. If you’re looking for more efficient grow lights, you should check Gavita 1700e LED.
The Case Against Black Dog: Is It Valid?
Nowadays, you’ll find many indoor gardeners who are critical of Black Dog LEDs because of their high prices.
If you compare the cost of Black Dog LEDs to other similarly performing grow lights, you’ll realize that they’re overpriced.
One of the main reasons behind Black Dog LEDs’ high cost is that they’re manufactured in the US.
Of course, that is an appealing feature for some customers around the world. US-manufactured products have a great reputation.
But most professional indoor growers care mainly about performance. They are only searching for powerful and efficient grow lights that can maximize their yield and profit, so they aren’t likely to pay few extra hundred dollars just to get a “US-made” lamp.
Many leading American and non-American horticultural lighting brands understand that, and for this reason, they sell their high-quality lights at low prices. Consequently, grow lights are becoming more affordable day after day.
Considering their relatively low efficiency, many growers are wondering why are Black Dog LEDs still very expensive?
The case against those lights is gaining prominence in the indoor growing community, but it’s not entirely valid.
Despite being outdated, Black Dog LEDs still maintain some superior features. This is why they’re still the favorite choice of many growers.
The canopy penetration, spectrum and uniformity of Black Dog LEDs are supreme, and their heat dissipation system is unmatched.
The science and technology behind the production of those lights is highly advanced.
If you take a look at Black Dog’s website, you’ll be lost in the sheer amount of scientific information they post there.
As a commercial grower, you will highly appreciate a professional brand like Black Dog that will help you create a profitable growing setup.
Black Dog PhytoMAX-2 devices are high-priced compared to other grow lights (check their price here). But taking into consideration all their features, they are worth your money.
The lights are durable and powerful enough to grow any high light-demanding plant. They are designed particularly for gardeners who want to grow enormous quantities of plants.
If you are looking forward to expanding your garden, we recommend those grow lights for you.
Enjoy growing plants indoors and don’t forget to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!