225 LED Grow Light Panel Review – The True Cost Of Cheap LEDs

225 LED Grow Light Panel

I have been asked several times on my opinion about certain grow lights and, those that know me know that I am not afraid to share it. Recently I have been hit with many inquiries about the 225 LED grow panels that are easily found on Ebay and Amazon and it is important that people realize what these grow lights are good for.

NOTHING!

Check this out if you are looking for the best LED grow lights, otherwise, read on . . .

Why are 225 LED grow light panels a waste of time?

Stick with me for a minute and I will break down the myriad of reasons why buying one of these 225 led panels is not just a waste of time, but a waste of money.  If you purchase one of these units, you will be greatly disappointed and, generally, left with no recourse as they usually come from some Chinese wholesaler with no return policy.

Here are some quick facts about these grow lights that should  make you think twice about buying them.

They are horribly under powered

Anyone with experience growing knows that it takes at least some power to grow indoors.  When you factor in your plant's stage of growth (seedling, vegetative, fruiting, flowering) with the overall height you wish to achieve, you will quickly find that these cheap grow panels have nowhere near the power needed.

These lights use only around 14 watts of power, which some might say is great because it will save you electricity. However, the problem is that to reach a total of 14 watts, each LED can only consume 0.06 watts of power (0.06 x 225 = approx. 14 watts). This means these lights do not have the ability to penetrate any leaf coverage which will result in thin, stringy plants that are week and will fail to produce flowers or fruit.  Any serious grower needs to have an LED grow light where each bulb uses at least 1 watt of power to ensure canopy penetration and proper fruiting & flowering.

Very low coverage

A 14w 225 LED grow panel can cover, at most, 3 square feet.  That is only 18 inches x 18 inches of coverage at a distance of less than 6 inches.  Now, the LED light wholesaler may tout this as a great thing - the lack of heat generated means you don't have to worry about burning your plants if they are close to the light.  Just do some math and you will see that you would need to buy quite a few of them to cover any ground.  Lets assume you have a grow space of 4'x4' - 16 square feet. So you would end up wasting money on having to buy at least 4 of these cheap LED panels and they would still do a very poor job of growing anything.

So as long as you were growing a single plant with small leaves at no more than 6 inches tall, you would be all set.

They hit a limited light spectrum and the wrong wavelengths

If you do some quick research on Google, you'll see what I mean.  These cheap LED grow lights are the reason that this entire industry got a bad rap when they first came out a few years back.  Problem is that the manufacturers, in their haste to make a buck with a junk product, failed to do any real research to find out the appropriate light spectra to cover to maximize plant photosynthesis.

The basic idea is that red wavelengths are good for plants in the flowering and fruiting stage while blue wavelengths are for vegetative growth. The problem is that it takes a well-tuned LED grow light to emit light at a precise wavelength to get the most out of your plant and increase yield. Wholesalers of cheap LED grow lights really just take a shot in the dark because they do not put in the time and effort to fine-tune their lights to the correct wavelengths of blue, red, and orange.

The best LED grow lights have years of research and development behind them and are made with high quality components.  Yes, this means you will pay a bit more up front for an individual grow light, however, you will get much better overall coverage, canopy penetration, vegetative growth, and yield by not going the cheap way out.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

JiMmY!!! February 9, 2011 at 3:03 am

Excellent Read-up!, and you’re quite right!. Several years back I was growing in a 3.5 x 3.5M shed. Initially, we were growing quite successfully with 2 x 600Watt HPS systems, but the power bill was always high. These 225 LED panels had only just come onto the market back then and boasted a massive improvement over the HPS lighting system. When these first come out they said that each 225 LED panel was equivalent to a 1000Watt HPS light in red/blue light spectrum output and could be held meters away from the top of any plant. It was all un-true and I nearly lost a total crop that year. I had purchased 9x of these panels and They didn’t aid in any plant growth whatsoever. I’m now so dis-illusioned about LED panels that I wouldn’t even consider using these for many years to come. The LED panels that I brought were from a chinese supplier snlight.com.cn These panels are more than useless, not worth the money and hold no practicallity for growing whatsoever. If you want something to get things growing that doesn’t use so much energy, try fluorescents!.

JiMmY!
AKA TheGreenBastard!

JiMmY!

HydroMan February 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Jimmy –

I do not envy you having that kind of experience . . . its those kinds of assholes that gave LEDs a bad name. I can assure you though, LEDs have come a long way from their dubious beginnings and I can show you grow after grow with amazing results. Let me know if you have any questions and I will help.

Hydroman

NEWBIE March 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Thanks Hydroman!!

Saved me time, money and most importantly…. DISAPPOINTMENT!!!

moneymakinmitch April 11, 2011 at 12:34 am

lightpros.us.com what do you think of those?

moneymakinmitch April 11, 2011 at 12:37 am

also do you run the ExHale CO2 Cultivator (Natural CO2 Generator) at night time? during the day? when would be the best time?

HydroMan April 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Mitch –

Induction grow lights have been around for a few years now with mixed results. I would place them in a category between CFL and HID in terms of efficiency and capability. Due to the nature of the light, it is less efficient and does not offer pinpoint targeting of spectra like LED does. Watt for watt you are paying the same price (not 40% lower as site claims) with lower results . . . the technology is just not there in my opinion.

The Exhale CO2 Cultivator
is all or nothing – no need to turn it on or off. Basically you just put it in your grow space and let it do its thing!

dude June 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm

great review!

i got a set of four of those ones few months ago never worked as the seller said… it was a completely waste of time and money.

i would like to know, is there any chance to sell it to somebody who really needs it ? i mean, is it possible that this panel works properly in ANY way? would be great to recover at least a little amount of my money…

thanks in advice!

HydroMan June 12, 2011 at 8:38 am

Dude –

Personally, I would feel bad selling them to anyone . . . just like I would feel bad if I sold someone a car that doesn’t have a steering wheel. I suppose you MAY be able to use them for a very small herb or lettuce garden. Using all 4 of them in a 2×2 may be able to give you enough power for vegging simple things that top out under 6 inches.

Just chalk it up as a loss and lesson learned and move on!

Cheers!
Hydroman

Paul July 4, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Thanks for the review and information on this panel. I am in need of some LED grow lighting and may have a unique situation because I think this may fit what I am doing. I have a 20″ x 36″ x 62″ tent with a 5-shelf rack inside. My intention is to grow strawberries. The pots are only 4″ high and the racks are 12″ apart (but adjustable). The plants will most likely (nearly) reach the bottom side of the rack above it, where I was going to hang the panels. The panels I was looking at had blue, red and orange cgi.ebay.com/Blue-Red-Orange-LED-Grow-Light-Panel-Hydroponic-110-225-/190474835889?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c592f57b1 . My greatest concern is if the light spectrum is covered well enough?? These would seem to have enough intensity for my close-up application. I did plan on putting 2 on each shelf. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Paul

HydroMan July 11, 2011 at 9:42 am

Hey Paul –

Very simply . . . don’t buy those lights. Check out this post on 225 LED Panels to see why.

Also, their “research” is flawed as orange LEDs do NOT stimulate carotenoids. Absorption peaks for carotenoids at three different places between 400nm and 500nm with the max at around 450nm . . . very deep within the blue spectrum.

Thanks for stopping by!
Hydroman

John August 12, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Well don’t I feel stupid.. Now I’m stuck with three of these things… Bought them as a experiment and placed my tomato plants under them and removed my CFL’s in a 2′ x 4′ area). after four days I had to switch back before it killed them. My question is is there anyway to switch out the LED’s and replace them with 1 watt leds (giving a 225 watt panel) if so what type of LED and where could I get them….???? Actually being a DIY type of person I would rather make my own, mixed with CFL’s for better viewing light, to fit the area I have.

HydroMan August 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm

John –

The funny thing about 0.5w, 1w, 3w LEDs . . . etc. is that they are generally all the same LED. The only thing that changes is the driver for the chips. What happens is that an LED can emit light at a higher power when supplied with more power from the driver. So the short answer is that you cannot swap out the LEDs you have and if you attempted to change out the driver (which I am not sure is possible) to supply higher power to the LEDs you have, you would burn them out in a couple of days without proper heat dissipation.

I really like the DIY idea but I have yet to see an instance where it was cheaper or worked better than manufactured lights.

THanks!
Hydroman

Brett September 20, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Many thanks for taking the time to do this review. It was extremely helpful and you most likely saved me from making a poor lighting investment. Great work!

Tommy November 23, 2011 at 5:09 am

Don’t exagerate guys…. I used these panels last year in my growbox and they certainly work… If like you state they do nothing my plants would have died, and they didn’t…

Offcourse you don’t have to expect super growth, but the plants do grow… All my plants from last season were pre grown under these panels… For the price they cost they are good enough…

HydroMan November 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Hey Tommy –

Thanks for stopping by.

Though I am happy for you that yours did OK . . . I, for one, don’t want to bother with a product that is “good enough” . . .

Perhaps if you need some cheap light to supplement a plant or keep it alive, then you have other options that are just as inexpensive and will do a better job (Think CFL). The problem I have with these lights is that so much was promised to customers and was not delivered. Keep in mind that I wrote this 2 years ago now I think so things may have changed a bit.

Fact remains that there just is no reason to buy these kind of lights because – for the money – you would be better off with CFL.

Cheers!
Hydroman

Ken December 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I am sitting up a couple systems. I would like some feedback given I’m only about 30% financially committed at this stage. I am planning 2 of the aeroflo 60 with the 60 extensions. Also 2-4 Aerojet aeroponic machines from bonticare. A 6-8 tray bonticare drip system. I also like the smaller rainforest 318′s. That being said I have already purchased 3 of the older magnum 357′s one new mag 357 plus and the last 3 Isis led’s they had and a tyro on from a past purchase. I screwed up bad in the past buying 4 of the high cost cabinets that used the selling point (plug n play) a $5,500 tent with verticals and 2 hps. I plan on 3-5 of the nice pro series hydro how LEDs. A couple more magnum plus’s. I can’t make the same mistake twice. If anyone knows of any cheaper LEDs that are worth a crap please fill me in. Also is there anyway to convert a 90 plant vertical tent to LEDs? I was thinking mayn’t the hydro grow pro bar LEDs. Also would like to hav 10-15 round LEDs as fillers to move around as needed. Maybe 2-3 ufo’s and then I have to cheapen it up if there are any good 15-35watt bulbs?
Thanks so much for your time. When I mess up I do it in the biggest ways possible. Although I have had my eccentric venture with good paybacks

Omar February 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Guys,
Please Help! I have been duped! I have (2) 6ft. tall Sour D goddesses that have recently switched to flowering, but the 3 LED panels (225 LED panels from ebay) that we decided to use are doing absolutely NOTHING! They have been in the flower room now for a month and there has been no increase in flowering, growth, or overall plant strength.

Any suggestions out of this mess would REALLY be appreciated. Please help my lovelies!

Cheers,
Omar

scott May 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm

woo this sounds bad, I just paid for a panel of these but its just that I germinate my girls indoors, and wanted a light source in the seedling stage. Im guessing I fucked up. as soon as they are big and strong enough they are going outdoors to the greenhouse.

HydroMan May 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Hey Scott –

No worries – I would say that if you can get them to about 5-7 inches tall, go ahead and get them outside.

Cheers!
Hydroman

Patricia June 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

should i buy flourescent grow light for my seeds?

HydroMan June 14, 2012 at 7:42 am

Patricia –

You could – and they would work fine for vegetative growth but you would really want something more powerful for flowering.

Cheers!
Hydroman

chippie February 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Alright,
Just bought a 225 panel with the intention of using it for propogation. Will it be any good for this???? I only bought it as someone sold it to me for a tenner my plan was to use t5 sunblasters but thought the 225 might do for seedlings or will I be wasting my time?????
Cheers.

HydroMan February 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Chippie –

Basically . . . don’t use the 225 panel. If you were propagating in a 1x1ft space till the plants were about 2-3 inches, then it would be OK, but to really grow strong transplants, you need more power. Stick with the T5s in this case.

Cheers!

chippie March 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Alright mate,
Thinking of getting a 90w UFO led as I have a very small space with no fan. My plan is to grow a sea of green with white berry. Do you think this light would do the job??
Cheers.

HydroMan March 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

Could work – but I don’t think it is a good idea to NOT have a fan. Heat greatly reduces LED life span and spectral output. Check out http://www.truliteled.com

Cheers!

Highmundo December 14, 2013 at 3:14 am

What about an area of 1.7 sqf ? Would one of these panels be enough ? My project is to fully automate my grow box with temperature/humidity/pH sensors (and also irrigation) using arduino to do the job, so only one plant would be enough (in case it works I’ll increase the box size).

HydroMan December 23, 2013 at 10:41 am

Highmundo –

Do not go with these panels. Check out the TLM25 from TruLiteLED.com for your space.

~Hydroman

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