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Best Grow Lights For Pepper Plants – Indoor Grow Lights

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.

Pepper plants growing indoors under grow lights.
Pepper plants under grow lights.

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.


Viparspectra LEDs (Excellent Value)

If you are looking for a good budget friendly option, the VisparSpectra Pro Series has great output and efficiency for the price point. Usually priced well below $100, the P1000 light is a good way to get the best bang for your buck in the LED world.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Dimmable
  • Real heat sink for cooling
  • White & red LEDs

Cons:

  • Thicker with heat sink
  • Heavy
  • Non-name brand LEDs

Coverage Area:

  • Vegetative stage: 2.5’x2.5′
  • Flowering stage: 2’x2′

* Use code: ‘peppergeek’ for a discount

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, the Pro Series units deliver real results for a great price.

See our full review of the ViparSpectra P1500 here.

Viparspectra p1500 Dimmer Knob
ViparSpectra P1500 LED grow light.

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 of the LEDs and/or driver is potentially below average, if price is your main objective, this full spectrum LED might be a great start for growing your peppers.

For a slightly larger grow area, step up to the P1500 or the P2000 lights for additional power. These have the same features as the p1000, but with more coverage.

See all ViparSpectra P-series grow lights here.


HLG 100 3000K/4000K

This is one of the lights that we are currently using for our indoor pepper growing setup. This LED quantum board grow light is a great option in terms of simplicity, light output, and quality for the price.

Pros:

  • Full spectrum
  • Efficient & quiet
  • Good PPFD (usable light for photosynthesis)
  • High quality Samsung LEDs and Meanwell driver

Cons:

  • Hanging wire is not adjustable
  • Not dimmable
  • No red LEDs

Coverage Area:

  • Vegetative stage: 3’x3′
  • Flowering stage: 2’x2′

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.

HLG 100 LED Light Panel 4000K
HLG 100 LED Light Panel 4000K.

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.


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.

Pros:

  • More affordable
  • Reflective shield for more focused light
  • White & red LEDs
  • On/off switch
  • Daisy chain option

Cons:

  • Less attractive design to some

Coverage Area:

  • Vegetative stage: 3’x3′ (suggested)
  • Flowering stage: 2.5’x2.5′

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.

Coverage areas depend on the light you choose, ranging from the small 2’x2′ area to 4’x4′ or more. 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. They offer some unique features, like daisy chaining for larger grow rooms.


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.

T5 Fluorescent Lamps

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.

Pros:

  • Budget friendly
  • Runs cool
  • Efficient

Cons:

  • Not long lasting
  • Must be closer to plants

Coverage Area:

  • Variable (based on size & number of bulbs)

Fluorescent bulbs need to be placed closer to your plants since the light output scatters quickly as the distance from the light is increased. 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.

Tip: Try to find a light with multiple tube slots and use one warm tube (like this) and one cool tube (like this). This will offer a much better spectrum of light for your pepper plants to use.

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

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.

Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

Jason

Tuesday 3rd of May 2022

So last year I just put my seedlings in the window for a while before going outside but this year things just don’t seem to be growing good enough and in fact seemed to have slowed down in the passed week. I’ve been wanting to buy a grow light but haven’t gotten around to it. Than I thought… hey I have a reef LED setup that I’m not using at the moment. I have really no way of telling what the spectrums are but I’m assuming the blue is in the 400nm range, the red in the 700nm range and the whites maybe 7000K-10,000K range. It’s probably closer to 10,000 but one channel seems a little more yellow than the other. I can also set the % of each channel. Would you know if this might work well and what percentage of each light type I should use?

Scott

Thursday 31st of March 2022

Hello, Thank you for the very informative article. I started around 100 seedling this year a variety of Superhots and more traditional peppers using mostly sunlight and grow T5's. I quickly ran out of room after uppotting to 4 inch square pots so I purchased the Viparspectra 1000 LED you recommended its great, very bright. My question is can use the brighter light to play catch up with some of the smaller plants or would it be more beneficial to rotate all my pepper plants between the T5 fluorescents and the LED fixture?

peppergeek

Tuesday 19th of April 2022

Young plants just don't grow very fast. The biggest factor is duration of daily light. To get them to grow fastest, look at increasing daily light to around 16 hours. Too much light can burn the seedlings, so don't go too bright/close!

Steve

Saturday 20th of November 2021

Hey there.

I have this light https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VKHQKWC?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_dt_b_asin_title

600w led.

I have 6 jalapeno early plants in a tent. grown from seed. in roughly 3' x 3' I had it up full early on at around 12" and all seemed fine until around the third set of leaves which curled. So I put the light higher (18") and put the power down to 50 percent however I also had a bit of an infestation of fungus gnats which I seem to now have under control so not sure if the curl was from the light or the bugs. . I recently pruned above the third set of true leaves and I have some new growth from the nodes coming in.

My question is.. is this light too powerful to crank up to full power? at 18" should I keep it low?

(growing medium potting soil, nutrients added with watering, I dont think they are overwatered)

peppergeek

Sunday 21st of November 2021

Hm, 600W is strong, but the PPFD rating for your light shows that at 14" the max in the center is around 1000. For young plants, that is definitely too strong, but as the plants mature and grow stronger you can likely up the power gradually.

Steve Gordon

Thursday 15th of July 2021

Are Carolina Reapers photo or auto? Do they need the light cycle to be 12/12 like cannabis in order to flower?

Mike

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

Calvin,

I have been struggling with seed starting for my outdoor garden with T12 fluorescents for years. I invested in the Spider Farmer SF-1000 to hopefully see an improvement in the quality of plants going into the ground/containers. While the user manual specifies the distance and timing suggestions, I have been unable to find any information regarding the light intensity settings. The dimmer ranges from 0-100 and I just wanted to see if you had any general recommendations for the various stages of growth, from seedling emergence to hardening off for peppers and tomatoes? Thanks for all you do!

peppergeek

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Hi Mike,

Great, that is certainly an upgrade! As for the intensity, we only recently got a dimmable light (120W max), and I have it set to around 60% intensity at 18". I'd recommend starting somewhere similar for seedlings, and adjust the intensity up around 5% per week as the plants grow and become stronger. Keep an eye for any strain (curling or reaching) to determine if it is too intense or not strong enough. Happy growing!