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May 16, 2022

Top 3 Best Cheap LED Grow Lights for Houseplants

With so many full-spectrum LED grow lights, it has become really difficult to figure out how to choose the best cheap grow lights for indoor plants. Not all grow bulbs are built the same. Choosing a good quality but also cheap grow light is the ultimate goal that may seem hard to achieve at first, but it won’t be after you read this quick guide.

In this article, I help you choose the best cheap LED grow lights for houseplants based on my extensive trials and tests and based on my 10+ years of experience with houseplants. Learn about these full-spectrum grow lights, look at their specification, and find out how to make your indoor jungle thrive.

Editor’s Best Choice

2nd Best Choice

3rd Best Choice

Editor’s Best Choice

2nd Best Choice

3rd Best Choice

Editor’s Best Choice

2nd Best Choice

3rd Best Choice

ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light

Sansi 15W LED Grow Bulb

GE 9W LED Grow Bulb

ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light

Sansi 15W LED Grow Bulb

GE 9W LED Grow Bulb

MY RATINGS

CRITERIA ACKE Sansi 15W GE 9W
Grow light intensity (1 foot-30 cm): 89 umol/m2/s 232 umol/m2/s 51 umol/m2/2
Design: 5 stars 4 stars 3 stars
Price: 5 stars 5 stars 5 stars
Glare: NO YES YES
Unique features: 1) discreet 2) can be used as a hanging or shelf light / /
Warranty: 1-year 5-year limited 3-year
OVERALL RATING: 5 stars 4 stars 3 stars

Why You Should Trust Mr. Houseplant

I have been growing houseplants for over 10 years. I have been growing houseplants under grow lights for over 6 years. I owned a venus flytrap production business for several years. During that time, I grew venus flytraps under grow lights. This allowed me to learn about different types of grow lights, how to measure their intensity, how to determine the proper distance between the light and the plant, and other intricacies of growing indoor plants under grow lights.

During my houseplant career, I had the opportunity to use and test many different brands of grow lights – Rousseau, Sansi, GE, Soltech Solutions, Spider Farmer, and many other well-known and less well-known grow lights.

I compiled a list of the Top 3 Best Cheap LED Grow Lights based on my personal tests of the products, my personal experience with grow lights, and the feedback from my community of over half a million people that follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

How Mr. Houseplant Selected And Tested Products

I identified the key decision making factors for grow lights and tested 15 grow lights to see how they measure for each of the factors. The key decision making factors are: 1) price 2) grow light intensity 3) design 4) coverage area 5) glare 6) features that set it apart from the competition and 7) warranty.

I looked for grow lights that cost less than 20 USD.

I tested 15 grow lights with a PAR meter (a grow light meter) at different distances to determine the light intensity and the coverage area, and how well the lights keep their intensity at different distances. I checked whether the grow lights produce a glare. I’ve had these grow lights for over 3 years and have been using them every single day on my houseplants. I tested how different indoor plants react to each of these lights, at different distances, after exposure of several weeks to several months. I also looked whether the grow lights have features that set them apart from the competition.

Based on the previously mentioned key decision making factors, these 3 grow lights made it to the list of top 3 best cheap LED grow lights.

Please note that using a PAR meter (a grow light meter) is the only reliable way to test grow lights.

The Best Cheap Grow Lights I Recommend

These are the top 3 best cheap LED grow lights for houseplants in my experience:

#1 Product Recommendation – ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light

This is one of the best led grow lights for a home garden and also one of my personal favorites, great for shelves because of its shape. ACKE Shelf Grow Light panel is composed of two individual light panels that you can connect in a rectangular or square shape.

SPECIFICATION:

  • Wattage: 20 watts
  • Dimensions: 10.25 by 7.875″ (if assembled as a square) or 20.5 by 3.93 ” (if assembled as a rectangle)
  • Warranty: 12-month warranty, 30 days money-back guarantee.
  • PPFD at 1 foot (30 cm): 89 umol/m2/s
  • DLI at 1 foot (20 cm) for 16 hours: 5.13 mol/m2/day
  • PPFD at 2 inches (5 cm): 550 umol/m2/s
  • DLI at 2 inches (5 cm) for 16 hours: 31.68 mol/m2/day

I installed ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light on my plant shelf and it’s practically invisible.

This is one of the best led grow lights and also one of my personal favorites, great for shelves because of its shape. ACKE Shelf Grow Light panel is composed of two individual light panels that you can connect in a rectangular or square shape.

I installed ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light on my plant shelf and it’s practically invisible.

Specification:

  • Wattage: 20 watts
  • Dimensions: 10.25 by 7.875″ (if assembled as a square) or 20.5 by 3.93 ” (if assembled as a rectangle)
  • Warranty: 12-month warranty, 30 days money-back guarantee.
  • PPFD at 1 foot (30 cm): 89 umol/m2/s
  • DLI at 1 foot (30 cm) for 16 hours: 5.13 mol/m2/day
  • PPFD at 2 inches (5 cm): 550 umol/m2/s
  • DLI at 2 inches (5 cm) for 16 hours: 31.68 mol/m2/day

PROS

CONS

  • It’s very thin, practically invisible when you install it on a shelf
  • Strong
  • It’s better for covering multiple plants than the other 2 lights on this list, as it covers a larger area
  • It’s a full-spectrum LED grow light. It comes with attachments, so you can also hang it from the ceiling
  • It’s best for plants that can fit on a shelf, it’s not suitable for very large plants unless you hang it from the ceiling

PROS

  • It’s very thin, and practically invisible when installed on a shelf
  • Strong
  • It’s better for covering multiple plants than the other 2 lights on this list, as it covers a larger area
  • It’s a full-spectrum LED grow light
  • Easy install and adjustable – install it on a shelf or hang it from the ceiling
  • Includes red LEDs, excellent for promoting flowering

CONS

  • It’s best for plants that can fit on a shelf, it’s not suitable for very large plants unless you hang it from a ceiling

FAQ about ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light

Which plants can I grow under this grow light?

You can use ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light for growing smaller to medium-sized houseplants, both succulents, and tropicals. It’s also good for growing larger plants that require low or medium light, but in this case, you will have to hang the light from the ceiling.

How long should I keep the ACKE Shelf LED Grow Light on and how close to the plant?

For succulents, keep this full-spectrum plant grow light on between 12 and 16 hours, at a distance from 3 to 5 inches. For tropicals, keep it on between 8 and 12 hours, at a distance of 8 to 10 inches. You can use a timer to have the light turn on and off automatically at certain times.

For detailed information for a specific species, visit my Grow Light Finder, type your plant’s name and get precise info.

How to install ACKE shelf grow light

Here is a short video of the installation process:

I have an even more detailed post with the review of the ACKE shelf grow lights and information on how to set up grow light shelves.

#2 Product Recommendation – Sansi 15W LED Grow Bulb

This full-spectrum LED grow light for plants produces a mix of wavelengths ranging from 400nm to 780nm. Its white light provides a serene ambiance for indoor plant growth. Highly efficient, easy to install, packed with power, Sansi 15W Grow Bulb’s blue color temperature is close to 5000k.

SPECIFICATION:

  • Wattage: 15 W
  • Dimensions: ‎4.72 x 3.31 x 3.23 inches
  • Warranty: 5-year guarantee
  • PPFD at 1 foot (30 cm): 232 umol/m2/s
  • DLI at 1 foot for 8 hours: 6.68 mol/m2/day
  • PPFD at 2 inches (5 cm): over 3,153 umol/m2/s (my PAR meter can’t measure over this amount)
  • DLI at 2 inches (5 cm) for 8 hours: 90.81 mol/m2/s
  • Price: cheap grow light

Sansi 15W LED Grow Bulb, photo source: https://www.sansiled.com/

This full-spectrum LED grow light for plants produces a mix of wavelengths ranging from 400nm to 780nm. Its white light provides a serene ambiance for indoor plant growth. Highly efficient and easy to install, Sansi 15W Grow Bulb’s blue color temperature is close to 5000k.

Sansi 15W LED Grow Bulb, photo source: https://www.sansiled.com/

Specification:

  • Wattage: 15 W
  • Dimensions: ‎4.72 x 3.31 x 3.23 inches
  • Warranty: 5-year guarantee
  • PPFD at 1 foot (30 cm): 232 umol/m2/s
  • DLI at 1 foot for 8 hours: 6.68 mol/m2/day
  • PPFD at 2 inches (5 cm): over 3,153 umol/m2/s
  • DLI at 2 inches (5 cm) for 8 hours: 90.81 mol/m2/s
  • Price: cheap grow light

PROS

CONS

  • It’s a grow bulb, as opposed to a standalone grow light, so you can use it with most floor or desk lamps
  • Full-spectrum LED grow light
  • Excellent for smaller-sized tropicals and succulents and for larger low or medium-light plants
  • Has no glare
  • Not the best option for very large plants that require bright light or full sun, as the light doesn’t cover as big of an area as a Sansi 36W light, and it’s less strong.

PROS

  • It’s a grow bulb, as opposed to a standalone grow light, so you can use it with most floor or desk lamps
  • Full-spectrum LED grow light
  • Excellent for smaller-sized tropicals and succulents and for larger low or medium-light plants
  • Has no glare
  • Excellent for a seed starting kit

CONS

  • Not the best option for very large plants that require bright light or full sun, as the light doesn’t cover as big of an area as a Sansi 36W light, and it’s less strong.

FAQ about Sansi 15W LED Bulb

Which plants can I grow under Sansi 15W LED Grow Bulb?

Sansi 15W full spectrum light is best for growing smaller plants – tropicals, and succulents. It’s also good for growing larger plants that require low or medium light.

How long should I keep the Sansi 15W LED Grow Bulb on and how close to the plant?

For succulents and cacti, keep the grow light on for 12 to 16 hours at a distance of 0.5 to 1 feet. For tropical plants keep it on for 12 to 16 hours at a distance of 1 to 2 feet. You can use a timer to have the light turn on and off automatically at certain times. For detailed information for a specific species, visit my Grow Light Finder, type your plant’s name and get precise info.

#3 Product Recommendation – GE 9W LED Grow Bulb

This LED Grow Light Bulb for indoor plants with a balanced light with a red and blue ratio is great for houseplant enthusiasts. Non-dimmable, it emits a pleasing, natural light temperature that fits with any interior style. You can order the GE 9W grow bulb here.

SPECIFICATION:

  • Wattage: 9 watts
  • Dimensions: ‎4.06 x 4.06 x 5.94 inches
  • Warranty: 3-year limited
  • PPFD at 2 inches (5 cm): 800 umol/m2/2
  • DLI at 2 inches for 16 hours (5 cm): 46 DLI
  • PPFD at 1 foot (30 cm): 51 umol/m2/2
  • DLI at 1 foot (30 cm): 2.94 mol/m2/day

GE 9W LED Grow Bulb, photo source: https://www.gelighting.com/

This LED Grow Light Bulb for indoor plants with a balanced, red and blue ratio is great for houseplant enthusiasts. Non-dimmable, it emits a pleasing, natural light temperature that fits with any interior style. You can order the GE 9W grow bulb here.

GE 9W LED Grow Bulb, photo source: https://www.gelighting.com/

Specification:

  • Wattage: 9 watts
  • Dimensions: ‎4.06 x 4.06 x 5.94 inches
  • Warranty: 3-year limited
  • PPFD at 2 inches (5 cm): 800 umol/m2/2
  • DLI at 2 inches for 16 hours (5 cm): 46 DLI
  • PPFD at 1 foot (30 cm): 51 umol/m2/2
  • DLI at 1 foot (30 cm) for 16 hours: 2.94 mol/m2/day

PROS

CONS

  • Full-spectrum LED light
  • Made by a well-known brand
  • It’s suitable for low to medium light plants, that are relatively smaller, if kept very close
  • It’s only suitable for relatively smaller plants, I don’t recommend it for a plant taller than 3 feet, as it doesn’t provide cover a large area
  • I wouldn’t recommend it for bright-light or full-sun plants, nor for big plants that require medium light. In that case, buy a stronger light

PROS

  • Full-spectrum LED light
  • Made by a well-known brand
  • It’s suitable for small, low to medium light plants, if kept very close
  • Excellent for seed starting

CONS

  • It’s only suitable for relatively smaller plants, I don’t recommend it for a plant taller than 3 feet, as it doesn’t provide cover a large area
  • I wouldn’t recommend it for bright-light or full-sun plants, nor for big plants that require medium light. In that case, buy a stronger light

FAQ about GE 9W LED Bulb

Which plants can I grow under GE 9W LED Grow Bulb?

You can use GE 9W LED Grow Light for growing small tropicals that require low, medium, or bright light or succulents that are of smaller size. I generally wouldn’t recommend it for growing large plants, the light is just not strong enough.

How long should I keep the GE 9W LED Grow Bulb on and how close to the plant?

For succulents, keep this full-spectrum LED plant grow light on between 12 and 16 hours, at a distance from 2 to 4 inches. For tropicals, keep it on for up to 8 to 16 hours, at a distance of 3 to 5 inches. Don’t worry, the light doesn’t produce a lot of heat, it won’t burn your plant. You can use a timer to have the light turn on and off automatically at certain times.

For detailed information for a specific species, visit my Grow Light Finder, type your plant’s name and get precise info.

Create a Highly Efficient System with Best Cheap Grow Lights for Houseplants

If you’re in doubt and would like to explore more LED grow lights, use my Grow Light Finder, a simple yet incredibly effective system, to select the perfect plant grow light for your houseplants.

In case you need a consultation to set up full spectrum grow lights in your home, or fluorescent lights, or you have any other questions for me, don’t hesitate to schedule a virtual consultation.

I hope this was a helpful guide on the best LED grow lights and now you have all the information you needed to set up a high efficiency system using these cheap grow lights.

If you’d like to explore more lighting options, see the Top 5 Best Grow Lights for Indoor Plants blog post. To learn how grow lights can affect your electricity bill and what you can do to reduce it, take a look at my grow light electricity cost post.

Yours Truly,

Mr.Houseplant-signature-tr

2 Comments

  1. Roozbeh Ashtyani October 20, 2022 at 3:17 am - Reply

    I have a few Calatheas (Ornata, white fusion, and stromanthe triostar).

    I have to architect-style lamps over them one with a 36w sansi and the other with the 15w sansi (the bulb with the circle of leds). They are between 1′ and 1.5′ away.

    Am I giving them too much light? I have no option but to use grow lights. Is 1000FC too much?

    • MrHouseplant October 22, 2022 at 6:17 am - Reply

      Hi Roozbeh, foot candles unfortunately don’t mean much when it comes to grow lights. Having PAR measurements would be helpful. But most people don’t have a PAR meter. So, you can check out the distance for different grow lights and different plants on my Grow Light Finder. It lists a lot of full spectrum LED grow lights, including Sansi 36W and 15W. For calatheas the distance you listed for Sansi 15W should be fine. Sansi 36W might be too close, but it depends on how many hours per day the light is on and how big your plants are.

      I hope this helps :)

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