With all the confusion that exists on the internet around indoor gardening, choosing the best grow lights for herbs can be a confusing task for indoor growers.
There are tens of famous brands of grow lights, and there exist hundreds of contradicting opinions on each one of them.
People spend hours online trying to figure out which grow light to get for their herbs just to end up becoming more confused and indecisive.
Don’t worry, we won’t let you go down that road. In this article, we’ll present to you the perfect choice of a grow light for herbs.
For the purpose of writing this article, we spent days researching different grow lights and investigating gardeners’ experiences with them.
Notes to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Grow Light for Herbs
Here are some important points that you should always remember before you choose a grow light for your herbs:
Most Herbs Need Less Light Intensity Than Other Plants
Most herbs don’t need as much intensity of light as fruiting and heavy-flowering plants.
So, we won’t mention light fixtures that emit a very high intensity of light. These are only used to grow fruits, vegetables, etc.
Instead, we will focus on grow lights that emit moderate amounts of intensity. They will be more than enough for you to grow healthy and bushy herbs.
You Get What You Pay For
When you’re buying a grow light, you’re paying directly for results.
So, avoid cheap brands because these will generate too much heat, consume too much electricity, and produce a very low amount of beneficial light.
We’re not telling you to buy the most expensive grow light. In fact, you’ll see down below that some of best grow lights for herbs are very affordable for the home grower.
Don’t Focus Much on Watts
With grow lights, common units can be very confusing because manufacturers and retailers use them inaccurately for advertising purposes.
In our review, we will focus on the real number of watts consumed by the lamp to assess its power consumption and efficiency. But we will also concentrate on several other specifications and features to assess how good the light is.
The PAR Output Determines Quality
PAR stands for photosynthetically active radiation. It is the frequency of light that your plant needs to do photosynthesis. Any frequency of light that isn’t in the PAR region of the spectrum cannot benefit your herbs.
The higher the amount of PAR, the bigger your herbs will grow (there’s a certain limit of course). Therefore, PAR output is a better measurement of the intensity of light than lumens, which only tells us how bright the overall light is.
When studied in relation to the number of watts consumed, the PAR output also shows how well-optimized the grow light is for plants.
We can assess the PAR output of a lamp by measuring PPF (μmol/s) or PPFD (μmol/s/m2). Learn more about growing plants with lights.
LEDs Are the Best Grow Lights for Herbs
We will focus on LEDs because they’re more efficient than all other grow lamps. They consume less electricity and emit more PAR.
Also, LED lamps generate very little heat and have a wide coverage area due to their strong lighting footprint (the area that the light can illuminate at a certain distance).
LEDs live for a long time and degrade at a slower rate than fluorescent lights. So, rather than having to change T5 fluorescent tubes every while, one LED fixture can allow you to grow herbs for many years.
Maybe the most disturbing thing regarding some LEDs is that the light they produce can be too colorful for some people. But today many brands manufacture optimized LED grow lights that emit sun-like light.
You Can Use Grow Lights to Supplement Sunlight (Supplemental Lighting)
In case your indoor herbs receive a few hours of sunlight a day, you might not need powerful grow lights, such as the first three grow lights on our list.
Instead, you can use grow lights that emit moderate to low light intensity to supplement sunlight.
For example, if your full-sun and partial-sun herbs are receiving 2-4 hours of sunlight only, you can give them 12-16 more hours of low-intensity artificial light.
Grow Lights for Herbs: The Top List
Here is our final list of the best grow lights for herbs after spending a substantial amount of time inspecting and comparing the most popular LED grow lights in indoor gardening.
1. Mars Hydro TS 1000
From all the grow lights we reviewed and tested, Mars Hydro TS 1000 is hands down the best grow light for herbs.
Under this light, you can grow any species of herbs, including full sun ones, such as sage and chamomile.
Mars Hydro TS 1000 is a very flexible device that is suitable for all the different stages of a plant’s life cycle.
The PAR output of Mars Hydro is around 350 μmol/s. This is enough for all herbs, including the highest light-demanding ones.
To better understand how powerful this light is, let’s look at its PPFD measurements. Here are the PPFD values of Mars Hydro TS 1000 at 18 inches (45 cm) above the herbs.
High-light herbs need a maximum of 200 μmol/m²/s for 14-16 hours a day to thrive. And evidently, Mars Hydro TS 1000 can get the job done.
Keep in mind that for the vegetative stage, the recommended coverage area of the light is around 3′ x 3′ (0.9m x 0.9m), and the recommended distance from the plants is 18 inches (45 cm).
Mars Hydro consumes 150 watts only, and its efficacy rate is very high (around 2.3 μmol/J). Any grow light with a PPF efficacy rate above 2 μmol/J is considered super-efficient.
Mars Hydro doesn’t use any cooling fans to get rid of the heat generated by its diodes. Its heat dissipation system is based on the function of the aluminum heat sink that covers its LED board.
Aluminum has a high thermal conductivity which allows it to absorb all the heat produced by the LEDs. This heat dissipation system is called passive cooling and most modern LED grow lights rely on it.
The light has a life span of 50,000 hours (like most other grow lights) and has a three-year warranty.
The device retails at a very affordable price (you can check it here), and therefore, it’s very suitable for amateur indoor gardeners.
2. HLG 65 V2 Quantum Board
They’re perfect for any type of plants, including herbs.
HLG QBs are made of top-rated Samsung LM301H LED chips.
For that reason, they have optimized light spectrums and a high efficacy rate. The PPF efficacy of a quantum board is around 2.5 μmol/J, higher than that of Mars Hydro.
HLG QBs also dissipate heat amazingly well using high-quality aluminum heat sinks.
There are many models of HLG QBs and most of them are DIY, which means you need to assemble the light yourself.
That said, you can find a lot of tutorials that will show you how to put together an HLG Quantum Board.
As an herb gardener, you’ll find HLG 65 QB (DIY) very suitable for you.
It has a PAR output of around 156 umol/s, lower than that of than Mars Hydro TS 1000, which means it has a smaller coverage area, around 2′ x 2′ (0.6m x 0.6m).
HLG 65 QB is very affordable (check its price here), and it’s highly recommended for herb growers.
3. Viparspectra 600W LED
The third grow light on our list is Viparspectra 600W. It is an affordable and adequately intense grow light.
Viparspectra 600W LED is an elegant lighting fixture that puts out a full-spectrum pink-colored light.
The average PAR output of this device is around 350 μmol/s. So, the device is as intense as Mars Hydro TS 1000.
If you’re using Viparspectra 600W, place your most-light demanding herbs at the center of the coverage area and the ones that need less light at the edges.
The recommended coverage area of Viparspectra 600W is around 3′ x 3′ (0.9m x 0.9m) at a hanging height of 18 inches (45 cm).
The device consumes a relatively high amount of electric power. Its power consumption is around 276 watts and its PPF efficacy is around 1.5 μmol/J.
So, if you’re looking for a very efficient grow light, Viparspectra is not the best choice for you.
Viparspectra has two Veg and Bloom switches. These switches allow the indoor gardener to control the quality of the light emitted by the device during different stages of plant growth.
To keep your leafy herbs in the vegetative growth phase, you can simply turn the Veg switch on and keep the Bloom switch off. This feature will also allow you to reduce the power consumption of the device.
Most grow lights rely either on aluminum heat sinks or cooling fans to remove heat. Viparspectra, however, uses both.
The cooling fans of the device are silent, but needless to say, they need electricity to operate. That’s why we call this method of heat dissipation active cooling.
The life span of Viparspectra 600W is 50,000–100,000 hours and has a three-year warranty.
Viparspectra 600W price is comparable to Mars Hydro TS 1000 (you can check its price here).
4. Click & Grow Smart Garden
Click and Grow is not a grow light; It is a smart indoor herb garden equipped with a powerful LED lighting system.
With Click & Grow Smart Garden, you can grow various types of herbs, including rosemary, basil, cilantro, and parsley.
The Smart Garden is a self-watering optimized indoor garden that uses automatic lighting, watering, and feeding system to grow herbs.
It is very simple to set up and use the device. This is why Click & Grow is considered the perfect choice for people who want to grow herbs with no effort.
The LEDs of Click & Grow Smart Garden only consume 8 to 13 watts of power. They’re not nearly as intense as Mars Hydro or HLG QBs but surprisingly, they’re convenient for herbs. This has to do with the fact that they’re situated very close to the growing plants.
There are two primary models of the Smart Garden that vary according to how many plants they can grow. You can grow up to three herbs with the smaller model and up to nine herbs with the larger one.
Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 retails at a price lower than that of Mars Hydro and Viparspectra (check its price here).
5. Relassy LED fixture (Supplemental Lighting)
Relassy LED fixture is a flexible and optimized supplemental grow light for herbs that is made of two adjustable and separate LED bulbs.
The LED bulbs of the device emit a bright full-spectrum light that resembles the color of sunlight.
The PPFD output of each LED bulb is around 90 μmol/m²/s at 12 inches from the plants. Having said this, the device is better used as a supplemental grow light for high-light and medium-light herbs.
Relassy consumes 25 watts of electric power. And although we don’t know its exact PPF efficacy, we are aware that the device is highly efficient, taking into consideration its relatively high PPFD measurements.
There’s no recommended coverage area for this fixture since it’s highly flexible and can be used for many purposes.
This device is the cheapest grow light on our list (check the price here on Amazon).
6. Roleadro 75W (Supplemental Lighting)
Roleadro 75W is one of the best supplemental lights for herbs and one of the most popular grow lights on Amazon.
Roleadro 75W is composed of red and blue LEDs that together emit a full-spectrum light.
The PAR output of the device is around 50-60 μmol/s. For this reason, Roleadro 75W should be used as a supplemental grow light for herbs.
The grow light coverage area can reach 2′ x 2′ (0.6m x 0.6m) at a hanging height of 12 inches (30 cm).
The electric consumption of this device is very low. It only draws 25 watts of power and its PPF efficacy is around 2 μmol/J.
Roleadro 75W has no cooling fans and only depends on an aluminum heat sink to dissipate heat.
It retails at a very low price on Amazon compared to other advanced grow lights (You can check its price here on Amazon).
7. GE LED Grow Light Bulbs (Supplemental Lighting)
GE grow lights are on our list for one significant reason: versatility.
A GE grow light bulb can fit in any lighting fixture of your choice. You can use GE grow light bulbs with floor lamps, table lamps, wall lamps, etc.
That means you can be infinitely creative with those lights.
There are several types of GE lamps that you can choose from.
GE Balanced Spectrum BR30 lamp is the brand’s most popular grow light. It can provide enough light for individual medium-light herbs.
GE BR30 bulbs draw 9 watts of electric power, so they’re very efficient.
Keep in mind that you can’t get a very high yield from your plants using GE BR30 bulbs.
If you’re growing light-demanding herbs and want to achieve better results, use GE PAR38 bulbs instead of BR30 bulbs.
GE PAR38 lamps generate triple the intensity of BR30 lamps, so they produce much better results.
Both PAR38 and BR30 GE bulbs are very cheap and they live for a very long time (25,000 hours).
Remember, although the bulbs are cheap, you also need to purchase a lighting fixture to be able to run them.
You have reached the end of our list. Enjoy growing herbs and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!