If you grow pepper plants from seed, you’ll most likely need to use a grow light to get the plants started. Grow lights have come a long way in recent years, from bulky and loud lights to slim, silent LED lights. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the very best grow lights for pepper plants.
While these lights were chosen with growing peppers in mind, they will also work well for growing almost any sunlight-loving plants. Think tomatoes, other veggies, herbs and even decorative shrubs and flowers.
We have experimented with several grow light setups and have chosen a variety of great options depending on your situation. We’ll cover cheap lighting for small setups, all the way to more powerful lights for growing many plants.
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LED Grow Lights For Peppers
There are a wide range of LED grow light options for growing peppers. This is our preferred type of grow light thanks to the cool running temperature, the slim designs, and the low maintenance.
LED lighting elements can last for thousands of hours, making them the perfect light source longevity. Considering your lights may run for 16 hours a day, all year long, having a long-lasting light is essential.
Here, we have rounded up some of our top LED grow lights for peppers. They range in price and light output, so you can pick one that fits your needs.
HLG 100 3000K/4000K (Best Overall)
This is the light that we are currently using for our indoor pepper growing setup. This LED quantum board grow light is a show-stopper in terms of light output and quality for the price.
Tip: If you are planning to grow your peppers indoors through to harvest, consider using the 3000K version LED panel for better harvests. Or, you could provide supplemental red light during the flowering stage.
Not only are LEDs quiet and slim, but they can be carefully tuned to produce a highly usable spectrum of light. HLG prides themselves on dialing in the perfect wavelengths of light to provide your plants with what they actually need.
As the name suggests, this light from Horticulture Lighting Group is a full spectrum 3000K or 4000K (color temperature) LED grow light. I know that is a mouthful, but basically what it means is that this light panel is made to be a great year round grow light.
We like our HLG 100 LED grow light for peppers specifically because we have the option to use the light to grow plants from seedling all the way through to harvest. The 4000K spectrum is ideal for strong vegetative growth, but can also be used for flowering and fruiting stages.
The 3000K light panel is recommended for fruiting, but we simply add supplemental light with a red shifted LED during the bloom stage.
The price is reasonable for a high quality board, and HLG is well-respected for making long-lasting, quality products. We have read countless complaints from other pepper growers who used cheap lights with similar output claims. These units are typically poorly built, leading to shorter lifespans. The HLG is designed for long-term use and should last upwards of 50,000 hours of runtime*.
This unit is also silent, meaning no fan is necessary in most grow situations. However, if you are growing in an indoor tent, you may want to monitor the temperature, as the light does produce some warmth.
When compared to HID lights or even other LED boards, this light runs cool. This is thanks to the aluminum board which dissipates heat quickly.
*Though most LED manufacturers tout long runtimes, output and efficiency does diminish over time. Expect an LED light to have approximately 80% of its original efficiency and output after about 25,000 hours of runtime.
Viparspectra P1000 LED (Budget Option)
If you are looking for a good budget friendly option, the Visparspectra P1000 has great output and efficiency for the price point. Usually priced under $100, this light is a good way to get the best bang for your buck in the LED world.
More and more LED light brands are popping up, claiming to offer better and better grow lights for less money. While many budget options will offer a ‘get what you pay for’ situation, this unit seems to deliver real results for a great price.
Viparspectra was known for ‘blurple’ grow lights when they were a more popular choice. They have now begun to sell quantum board lights with some handy features. Namely, this light is dimmable, and comes with a built-in heat sink. This allows the LEDs to run cooler, in theory slowing down the light decay over time.
While the quality is potentially below average, if price is your main objective, this full spectrum LED might be a great start for growing your peppers.
Mars Hydro TS Series (Alternate Option)
Mars Hydro has a surprisingly effective lineup of LED grow lights perfect for growing peppers. Many of them sport a reflective shield surrounding the LED panel, offering slightly more concentrated light output below the light.
While Mars Hydro lights may appear a bit tacky with the large, colorful logo across the light, they are surprisingly efficient and well priced. They offer a range of lights, from the small TS 600W budget friendly option, all the way to the 2000W panel.
The Mars Hydro lineup of LEDs also come with adjustable hanging ropes, great for a quick install. Having the ability to move the light up as your pepper plants grow can be pretty important, depending on how you are hanging them.
While the coverage area is smaller than the HLG, this light can still manage to cover a decent grow area, up to 2’x2′ according to the manufacturer. This light is a great option for seed starting indoors, or growing a 2 or 3 small pepper plants within a grow tent.
These lights are a great option for the first-time indoor pepper grower looking for a simple light to get things started.
Fluorescent Lights For Peppers
Fluorescent lights offer a similar, cool running temperature at a lower price point. These lights tend to be a bit more bulky, but if budget is your main concern, they may be the right fit for your pepper grow light.
While LEDs have a lot to offer, the T5 fluorescent bulb has long been touted as one of the great grow light options. They offer low heat and high efficiency, but lack in the endurance category.
Fluorescent bulbs usually need to be placed closer to your plants since the light output is not as strong as LEDs. This can be viewed as a good or a bad thing, depending on your grow setup. With a dimmable LED, you can keep the light in a fixed position.
If you can swing the price difference, we recommend going with an LED light for growing peppers over fluorescent bulbs. Replacement bulbs are not cheap, and many buyers complain of them burning out in less than 1 year of use.
While this will vary based on the quality of the light and the duration of daily use, we just prefer the sound of 25,000-50,000 hours of runtime!
More About Grow Lights
If you want a little more info about picking a grow light, here are a couple important topics.
Color temperature determines the appearance of light from a grow light in the visual spectrum. In other words, does the light appear more red, or more blue?
Color temperature is measured in Kelvin, and ratings for grow lights typically range from 3000K-6500K. The lower the number, the more red-shifted the light will appear.
Color temperature is also associated with the wavelengths of light. This is measured in nanometers, and visible light ranges from about 400nm to 700nm.
If you want to use an LED grow light year-round, you might want to find a light that has some red (640-700nm), blue (450-500nm) and white LEDs. This will prevent the need to change the color of the light during different plant growth stages.
Other lights provide an option to change the color temperature at will. This usually means simply turning on or off some of the panel’s LEDs, either blue or red shifted diodes.
Why does it matter?
So why should this matter for growing plants? Many plants, including peppers, will change growth patterns based on the color temperature of light. Higher color temperature light promotes healthy leafy (vegetative) growth, while warmer temperature light will promote fruiting.
This means that, if you are just growing lettuce, you might want to look into lights in the 5000-6000K range. However, if your goal is to grow fruit-bearing plants (like peppers), you’ll need more red light during the fruiting stage.
Some grow lights will allow you to change the type of light that is emitted, so be sure to review a wavelength chart to see what the light emits.
PPF and PPFD
When looking at various grow lights, you will often see ratings for PPF and PPFD. These measure photosynthetic photon flux and photosynthetic photon flux density, respectively.
PPF measures the amount of photosynthetic active light that a light emits in all directions. This measurement only considers light in wavelengths between 400-700nm (the wavelengths used by plants to photosynthesize).
PPFD measures the amount of photosynthetic active light that reaches a surface. This is essentially a measure of how efficient the light is at providing usable light to your plants.
While most LEDs are highly efficient, they can still vary significantly. High-priced, professional lights are priced high for a reason, while lower cost options tend to scatter more light.
Indoor Grow Tents For Peppers
If you want to grow your peppers indoors over the winter, you might want to invest in a grow tent. These tents are fully enclosed, reflective zip-up tents in which you can grow plants. They usually contain holes for ventilation in order to provide fresh air to your plants.
While the setup is more complex than a simple seed starter tray, the benefit is that the light is enclosed. This means that you won’t have bright, glaring light in your home all year. It also offers a superior, reflective interior surface so that more of your light’s energy can reach the pepper plant’s foliage.
Here are a couple good options for reasonably priced grow tents on Amazon:
I hope that this article gave you some insight into the best grow lights for pepper plants. It seems like LED lights are the future for high-endurance, reliable and efficient lighting. Good luck with your new pepper plant grow light!
Let us know how things are going with your indoor plants in the comments below.