Which LED grow lights to get
According to the r/hydro reddit, the best value-for-money LED grow lights are the so-called “quantum boards”. These look like a bare PCB with typically Samsung LM301B LEDs, mounted to a metal panel that acts as a heat sink, and with a Meanwell LED driver. They differ from older LED grow light designs that are actively cooled with a fan, being both noisier and bulkier in size.
I found a bunch of the quantum boards on AliExpress/Alibaba, but unfortunately it's always hard to know if you're really getting the original Samsung LEDs, and if you can even return them if something goes wrong.
A couple of Youtubers that specialise in hydroponics mentioned the brand Spider Farmer, whose panels are the typical quantum-style, but have mounted the driver onto the heat sink. They provide an efficacy rating of 2.7 umol/J, and have an after-sales service. At a 10% markup (£126 versus £115 for similar AliExpress boards) that doesn't sound like too bad a deal. They also have a UK warehouse, which means you don't get surprise customs fees on delivery.
£126 sounds like a lot of money for just growing plants, but it's still cheaper than the lights you'll find in a hydroponics shop. After working my way through a mind-numbing amount of conflicting information about grow lights, this does indeed appear to be the best solution at the moment.
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