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Looking for the best grow light for plants? In this blog, we listed everything that you need to know about some of the most popular grow light bulbs on Amazon, and evaluated them in terms of their efficacy, output, light distribution and color temperature. We have also evaluated them based on their effectiveness for different plant types. We have used a number of information sources to bring you this guide to evaluating and comparing different screw-in grow light options.

Why Choose E26 Grow Light Bulbs?

First of all, why should you choose E26 grow light bulbs? Here are basically 3 reasons to choose them: 

  1. They’re affordable. The options we reviewed range from $10 up to $85. Even once you include a stand and timer, that means you can have a complete automated grow light setup for as little as $40. 
  2. They are easy to integrate. You can choose a housing or lamp that suits the decor of your home. 
  3. They are beginner-friendly grow light bulbs.

Choosing the Best LED Screw-in Grow Light Bulbs based on Aspect

Firstly, we will be sharing with you the best LED screw-in grow light bulbs based on different aspects, such as efficacy, output, light distribution, and color temperature.

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs Based on Output?

If your sole objective is to buy as much output as you can for every dollar spent, then you’ll want to look at the GE32W, the Canagrow 35W, or the GE 9W. These units all ranked the highest in terms of PPF of output per $ spent.

grow light based on output

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs Based on Power?

The upfront purchase cost of these units only represents about 30-70% of their total ownership cost however, we suggest that rather than buying based on PPF per $, you should put more weight on PPF/W since over the long term, you’re going to be paying your utility company more to run this grow light than you will pay Amazon. 

These units range in wattage from 9 – 35W, but as we explained here, plants don’t use watts to grow. They use PPF. So really what you should care about is how efficient these globes are at converting watts into PPF, in other words – PPF/W. What we are showing here are both the manufacturer claims and our own measurements. 

These are the best grow lights we tested in terms of efficiency:

3W GE Grow light

32W GE

10w Sansi Grow light

Sansi 10W

20w aspect grow light

Soltech Aspect 20W

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs Based on Life Expectancy?

These grow lights range in expected life from about 15,000 hours to 50,000 hours. At the risk of stating the obvious, however, we have not tested all of these things for that long, so we’re kind of just taking a leap of faith here. We would like to point out a couple of things though:

The High Hydro and Haus Bright grow lights seem to have been manufactured from exactly the same factory. Haus Bright puts theirs in a fancy box and charges an extra $10 for the packaging, but both companies are actually buying their product from a third-party manufacturer located in China. We feel like this is worth mentioning because one company claims to have a 50,000 hr life, and the best answer we could find on the other was 15,000. We suspect that the real number is somewhere in between.

Ideally, what you should be doing here is looking at the number of watts going through each LED, because when you run LEDs with more power you do reduce their life. Unfortunately, given the design of these products we weren’t able to count many of the LEDs, but in an ideal world, you’d disassemble these things and compare them on that basis to get a better sense of their life expectancy.

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs Based on Color?

Next, let’s talk about color. These companies didn’t publish all their Kelvin ratings, so you are looking at some of our own estimates and assumptions. But the overall color temperature is going to be important if you’re placing this light in a living space. 

If you live in a very warm climate or have large indoor spaces, then you might want to go for something that has a higher Kelvin rating as this will offer a cooler blue light. 

If however, you are in a cooler climate or have a small space, then we recommend going for something that has a lower K rating as it will make your space feel more cozy and warm. 

Only one of the grow lights we tested was purple. To know more about why we 100% recommend that you avoid purple grow lights, check out our whole article and Youtube video about it. (coming soon)

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs Based on Light Distribution?

You need to consider two things here:

  1. Lights with a high CU and very narrow or focused light distribution are going to be best at delivering a large amount of light into a small area. This would be useful if you have a plant that requires high DLI (for example a fruiting plant) or you only have a small grow area.
  2. Lights with low CU and wide distribution are better for either a) large grow areas, or b) grow tents – since the walls of the grow tent will act to reflect the light back in. They’d also be fine for it you are just seed starting, and the light intensity doesn’t matter that much.

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs Based on Listing Accuracy?

The final measure that we think you should consider when looking for new grow lights is the overall listing accuracy. Unlike the rest, this is a rather subjective assessment, but we definitely noticed some big differences. 

In the evaluation and data gathering that we conducted, we came across a lot of information being published by these manufacturers which were either a) a little inaccurate, or b) flat out wrong and misleading. Below, you’ll see the table that we created to show how we ranked each grow light on a scale from 1 (worst) to 10 (best) as shown here. We’ve also included some comments on where and how we think each listing is inaccurate.

Our Conclusion – Which E26 Grow Light Bulb Is Best For Each Aspect

So that’s everything we’ve got for you regarding the best grow lights by aspect – we hope that you’ve found these comparisons useful. Check out the table below to see which are the best e26 grow lights for each different aspect that we talked about in this blog.

Product

GE 9W

GE 32W

High Hydro 20W

Sansi 10W

Sansi 24W

Haus Bright 20W

Canagrow 35W

Soltech Vita 20W

Soltech Aspect 20W

Wattage

9

32

20

10

24

20

35

20

20

Purchase Price

10.88

24.49

20.99

20.99

29.99

29.95

25.99

84.99

149.99

Dimmable

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

 

PPF

16

50

 

15.1

36.3

   

25.95

23.7

PPF/W

1.78

1.56

 

1.51

1.51

7.00

 

1.30

1.19

Life

25,000

25,000

50,000

30,000

30,000

15,330

50,000

30,000

90,000

Spectrum

Balanced Light Spectrum

Balanced Light Spectrum

Limited Spectrum

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum

   

Available From

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Urban Leaf

Urban Leaf

Optics

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

 

Yes

Yes

Color

White

White

Purple

White

White

White (Purple, Warm White)

White

Warm White

Warm White

Temp

4000-5000K

3000-3500K

 

3000-3500K

4000K

5000-6000K

3500K

3000K

3000K

PPFD @12″

           

1,000

   

PPFD @8″

         

220

2,200

   

Made In

China

China

China

China

China

China

China

USA

USA

Listing Accuracy

3

8

3

8

5

1

9

10

 

Choosing the Best LED Screw-in Grow Light Bulbs for Different Plant Types

We’ve already shared with you the data and measurements on these 8 screw-in grow lights, and we’ve compared these things in terms of their aspects. 

Next, we will evaluate the best LED Screw-in Grow Light Bulbs for different plant types: seed starting, leafy greens, fruiting, and flowering. We will also cover which grow lights are the best overall, and which ones we would recommend that you avoid. 

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs for Seed Starting?

So, when you’re starting seeds, light intensity and color really don’t matter that much. It’s often done in a large tray or area, with lots of baby plants stacked next to each other. For this sort of scenario, we recommend either the 9W GE or the High Hydro in white. Neither of these units has optics, which means they have a very wide beam angle of unconcentrated light. These units are both pretty cheap, seedlings aren’t fussy, and you’re not going to be running it for very long so the efficacy and long-term electricity cost is less of a factor. Between the two, we would probably go with the GE since the LEDs are enclosed making them less vulnerable to water damage.

At distances of 4” and 8” from the globe, this is what the PPFD of the 9w GE looks like, and we assumed 12 hrs a day then the right-hand side shows the DLI. We also have the same data for the High Hydro, as shown below:

High Hydro

GE 9W

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs for Lettuce and Leafy Greens?

For lettuce and other leafy greens, you’re going to want something a little more powerful in terms of output, and blue spectra is going to be more important than red. Now, if you’re doing this on a countertop, and needing a reasonably focused light distribution, we recommend that you go for the 10W sansi. If you’re in a grow tent, or have a space with reflective sides, you might also consider the 24W sansi, but the optics on these things are really bad so it leaks a lot of light around the edges. 

Again, at distance of 4 and 8” we’re showing you the PPFD and 12hr DLI for the Sansi 10W, we have the same data for the 24W too.

Sansi 10W

Sansi 24W

What are the Best E26 Grow Light Bulbs for Fruiting and Flowering Plants?

Now fruiting and flowering plants need a much higher DLI than leafy greens do, and they will also appreciate a bit redder light. We don’t have a spectrometer so we were not able to identify how much red light is in these, instead, what we can do is infer that the lights that have a warmer or redder overall color temperature are likely to have a stronger skew towards red. 

For this sort of application, we recommend the 32W GE hands down. This thing is a beast. It is a big heavy unit, however, and it’s probably too bulky for your average desk lamp so if you’re going to get one of these then we recommend either using a pendant fitting or having a very sturdy stand. As you will see from the PPFD and DLI estimates below, even at 8” away this grow light has super high intensities so you could probably afford to have this even more than 8” from the plant. Other contenders are the Soltech Vita – really nice unit – which is also the only one we looked at that was made in the USA. It also scored best in terms of listing accuracy. 

32W GE

Soltech Vita 20W

If you want to put a globe into a desk lamp then you’re going to need something lightweight. For this case, we recommend the Canagrow 32W which is the only unit we tested that has an integrated cooling fan. It’s a little less efficient than the GE which relies are rather bulking passive heating fins, but the offset to that is that it’s a far more compact and lighter unit.

Canagrow 32W

Which are the Best Overall E26 Grow Light Bulbs?

In conclusion, our favorite lights from this line up are the Soltech Vita – it’s definitely on the pricier side, but you’re getting a quality product with good efficacy, good optics, good versatility in terms of its applications, and created by an honest manufacturer regarding the claims they are making. Finally, it’s the only unit on this list that is made in the US.

The 32W Ge is most impressive in terms of overall oomph. It is a big heavy bulky unit however, which means that you are going to be a bit more constrained in terms of how you use it. 

The Sansi 10W is by far our favorite of the two that we tested from this manufacturer, mainly because of its superior optics. It’s also super lightweight and compact making it very versatile.

soltech vita grow light

Soltech Vita 20W

32w ge grow light

GE 32W

sansi 10w grow light

Sansi 10W

Which E26 Grow Light Bulbs to Avoid?

Lastly, as promised, we will talk about the grow light bulbs that we recommend you avoid. 

Unfortunately, top of that list is the Haus Bright. Haus Bright – if you’re reading this then feel free to correct anything we have said here, and we will update our blog, but so far as we can see you are providing misleading information about both the wattage of your unit, as well as its efficacy. Your listing quotes 140 PPF, and we measured 20. That’s just not cool. These products also appear to be identical to High Hydro LED, with the only difference being the packaging and to us, it doesn’t seem worthwhile paying an extra $10 for this unit, even if we do account for the extra goodies you provide such as the eBook, coupon code and lens cover.

haus bright grow light

Kudos to you for reading through all the parts of this blog and we hope that you are now ready to choose your own grow light. If you’d like to learn more about grow lights and growing food indoors then make sure you subscribe to our Youtube channel, and join our private Facebook group which is called Indoor Edible Gardening. It’s a great place to learn from other people who know way more about this stuff than we do, as well as get tips, tricks and ideas.

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