Nurturing plants indoors or in a portable greenhouse can be incredibly easy compared to growing them outdoors. It saves them from harsh weather and prevents birds and insects from eating away at your greens. However, indoor plantation does have its own set of challenges, proper lighting being the major of all.
No matter how many south-facing windows you may have, sometimes, regular indoor lighting just doesn’t cut it. This is where a portable grow light proves to be an extremely useful piece of equipment for every gardener.
Because it imitates the sun’s rays, a grow light helps ensure healthy development in plants even when they aren’t getting the real thing. With a set of small grow lights, you can grow many kinds of houseplants, including orchids, herbs, and even some fruits and vegetables.
Grow lights come in a variety of different options, which can make it hard to find one that’s right for you. To help you choose a lighting system that’s best suited to your indoor plants, we have listed down some of the most versatile grow lights available in the market.
Table of Contents
- What to Look for in a Portable Grow Light?
- 6 Best Portable Grow Lights
- End Note
What to Look for in a Portable Grow Light?
Before you start looking into the options, it’s essential to understand the different features that determine the overall functionality of a grow light. This handy buyer’s guide explains the basic elements that you need to look for:
Type of Bulb
There are six main types of electric bulbs available for indoor lighting for plants. These include:
- Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) – Highly efficient, LED grow lights are the most popular option among novice and expert gardeners alike. Despite being bright, they have a very low heat output and support the optimal growth of plants. LEDs are also sold separately as replacement units for light stands. You can find one easily for the smallest grow light stand too.
- Incandescent Lights – These are good for plants like vines and ferns that have low light requirements. The drawback of incandescent bulbs is that they produce a lot of heat. As such, they have limited utility and are not very cost-effective either.
- Fluorescent Lights – These work well for plants that require only moderate light intensity. Fluorescent lights are considerably cooler than incandescent bulbs. Since they are typically sold as long tubes, they emit light in one direction only. This can limit their functionality for encouraging floral growth.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) – CFLs are available in both bulb and tube forms. They have a greater luminosity than conventional fluorescent lights and are more efficient in terms of energy usage as well.
- High-Pressure Sodium Vapor (HPS) Bulbs – HPS bulbs are different from all other types of lights because they produce yellow or red-colored light. They come in handy during the flowering stage as light rays in this spectrum are known to boost bloom growth.
- Metal Halide (MH) – Usually known as halides, these bulbs are the preferred choice for large indoor gardens or even larger plants for that matter. They have an excellent luminance that covers the greatest distance than any other type of lighting option.
No matter what the bulb type is, you will find that grow lights are rated in numbers such as 2500K, 4000K, or 6500K. This basically indicates the temperature of light based on the Kelvin scale of measurement.
Lights with a higher Kevin rating have a bluish or white tint. That is, they appear ‘cool’ to the eye. On the other hand, lights with a lower degree of Kelvin will have a yellow or reddish tint. These are called ‘warm’ lights.
Different types of light stimulate different plant behavior. If you are looking to improve foliage or nurture seedlings, go for a small grow light with a cool spectrum. However, if you are looking for a mini grow light to enhance flower production, choose one with a warm spectrum instead.
If you are not sure about the Kelvin rating of the ideal grow light for your gardening needs, stick with a full spectrum lamp. This will offer the best of both worlds as full spectrum lights cover the entire electromagnetic band. In fact, full-spectrum lights mimic natural sunshine more closely than the alternatives.
Lumens vs. Watts
Some people measure the brightness of a light bulb based on its wattage. So, for instance, a 100-watt light bulb will produce twice as much light energy as its 50-watt counterpart. However, that’s not completely correct. If you know how energy-efficient bulbs work, you will realize why wattage can be misleading.
A good practice is to consider the lumens. Lumens denote the actual amount of light energy that a bulb generates, heat production and power consumption aside.
Most young plants exhibit a fast growth rate with about 2,000 lumens per square foot. For flowering plants, you may around 8,000 lumens per square foot or more.
Grow lights come in virtually all sizes imaginable. The largest grow lights are designed for use in greenhouses, whereas the smallest grow light can sit on your desk. The main thing to consider is the number of plants you will be growing and, thus, the total area that you need to cover.
Ease of Use
Grow lights ought to make your gardening experience more fun and fruitful. You wouldn’t want to go for a lighting system that, instead of making plant maintenance easier, requires maintenance itself. Therefore, pay attention to the grow light’s method of installation and operation. If you plan to move the plants around the house, make sure to choose a completely portable grow light.
Investing in grow lights with a few extra features can yield fruitful results, literally! For example, some plant lights are built with smart technology that allows you to look after your plants even when you aren’t home. Others let you adjust the brightness or even change the type of light emitted altogether, depending on your needs.
6 Best Portable Grow Lights
Now that you know what to look for in a grow light let’s dive into the list of some of the best mini grow lights available in the market today.
1) ACKE Full-Spectrum LED Grow Light
The ACKE Full-Spectrum LED Grow Light provides you with exceptional lighting to nurture tender seedlings, adult flowering plants, and everything else in between. With a color temperature of 2700K, it’s engineered to enhance plant growth by ensuring maximum absorption of light.
This mini grow light emits 660nm, 630nm, and 460nm wavelengths that most plants, including fruits and vegetable crops, love. It does not generate a lot of heat, so you need not worry about your plants inadvertently.
Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
Our rating: 4.7 / 5
2) AeroGarden Grow Light Panel
The AeroGarden Grow Light Panel is a self-contained indoor plantation kit that you can hang from above or tilt on its stand. It has a wide panel fitted with red, blue, and white LEDs. Together, they trigger the production of more flowers, enhance foliar growth, and generate bigger yields.
The stand is fully adjustable, so rather than moving your plants away or having to fix the lamp on a wall, you can simply raise it higher instead. The panel also swivels 360-degree, allowing to you project light at different angles as you want.
Dimensions: 21 x 12 x 10 inches
Our rating: 4.6 / 5
3) Hytekgro 2-Pack Grow Light
The Hytekgro 2-Pack Grow Lights will be your indoor garden companion from seedling to flowering to harvest. It’s built on the principle of more LEDs, more output, more growth. Thus, there are a total of 225 mini grow lights all connected together to provide a flush of light that your plants will be grateful for.
It has a 60-degree round beam angle, which ensures that the light reaches all sides of the plant.
Dimensions: 12.2 x 12.2 x 1.4 inches
Our rating: 4.5 / 5
4) Aceple Small Grow Light
The Aceple Small Grow Light is, without a doubt, the smallest grow light that still delivers big on performance. It’s specially designed for hydroponic plants but works equally well on regular soil-based plants too. There are six LED lights that help accelerate growth by creating a unique spectrum of red and blue lights. The blue light waves promote foliar growth, whereas the red light waves encourage blooming.
Compact and lightweight, this lighting unit is a convenient solution for desk plants. It’s sleek and slender design won’t compromise the aesthetics of your interior space. Plus, it has a three-in-one adjustable base, which means you can clip it to your desktop, fix it to the wall, or use it as a normal standing light.
Dimensions: 4.3 x 4 x 3.4 inches
Our rating: 4.5 / 5
5) Low Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden
The Low Bamboo LED Grow Light by the Gardener’s Supply company takes the average plant lights to a whole new level.
These lights come housed in a stylish stackable bamboo rack that you can place anywhere in the house. Whether you want to grow kitchen herbs, nurture succulents, or cultivate vegetative plants, the Grow Light Garden is a smart choice to consider.
It comprises of two broad-spectrum, warm LED lamps that provide approximately 4000 lumens of light intensity. The unit can hold up to 50 lbs. of weight.
In addition to the elegant design, what makes this small grow-light-cum-portable garden stand out is the efficiency of the lights. The tubular bulbs not only provide maximum horizontal coverage but are also placed at a height that facilitates quick absorption. Moreover, since the lights are recessed, it makes it more user-friendly as well.
Dimensions: 38.25 x 18.75 x 18.50 inch
Our rating: 4.4 / 5
6) Hydrofarm Agrobrite Spiral Grow Light
The Hydrofarm Agrobrite Spiral Fluorescent Grow Light offers a convenient way to boost vegetative growth, start seedlings, and maintain healthy indoor plants. With a cool color temperature in the blue-white range, this grow bulb is perfect for localized lighting.
It is compatible with the standard power sockets and, with an average of operation of 3 hours a day, can work for up to 9 years straight!
This bulb generates the same amount of light energy as three 50W incandescent bulbs. But at a fraction of the total cost.
Dimensions: 7.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches
Our rating: 4.3 / 5
Whether it’s starter seedlings or full-grown plants grow lights can help your green babies thrive. To buy a portable grow light that provides the perfect lighting for your indoor plants, consider its size, coverage, luminosity, and the Kelvin scale rating. And for the light intensity, remember to focus on the lumens, not wattage.