Understanding grow light lifespan: How long do LED grow lights actually last?

purple led lights

If you are growing your own cannabis — whether it is your first time or the latest of many harvests — you have probably heard about LED grow lights and the benefits they have on plants. Their reputation is accurate, and many people consider LED grow lights an essential tool of cannabis farming. However, depending on your environment, the type of LEDs you need can be a big investment. It is worth asking, how long grow lights actually last and how do you know when it is time for a replacement? We’ll answer all these questions in our comprehensive guide below. 

What Are LED Grow Lights? 

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode, a super-efficient light used in a wide variety of applications. They are becoming increasingly common thanks to their efficiency and sustainability. When it comes to growing plants, they play a unique role in the form of LED grow lights. 


These lights are ideal for growing plants indoors, where the light exposure can be carefully controlled. They have become widely associated with growing cannabis, which is usually kept in a grow tent or a greenhouse. 


LED grow lights can be a hugely beneficial tool thanks to their customizability. This lets you choose the best type of grow light — from output to brightness and color — for your plants and their needs.

What Are The Benefits of LED Grow Lights? 

LED grow lights have many benefits not just for cannabis, but for plants of many kinds. These complex lights let you choose the right light for your plant’s needs. That includes the strength and positioning of the light as well as the brightness and even the color. Different colors can promote the healthy growth of stems, leaves, flowers, or fruit.


This kind of customization can reap huge benefits for your plants. With the right kind and amount of light, plants photosynthesize much more effectively. That means that they can process the nutrients they need to grow and flourish. 


Artificial lights such as LEDs have other benefits as well. You can adjust the positioning of the light so that your plants get maximum exposure without drying out or wilting; you can also set them on a timer so they turn on and off at specific times of the day, which helps your plants get into a healthy circadian rhythm. 


LED grow lights have also been praised for their lower energy consumption, longevity, and sustainability. The bottom line: there are many reasons why these lights are a great choice for growing cannabis at home. 

How Long Grow Light Last? 

Among the many other benefits of LED grow lights, they are also known for their longevity. They last much longer than HID lights, which average between 10,000 and 18,000 hours. LEDs, on the other hand, are said to last as long as 50,000 hours, which translates to between five and 10 years. 


Some people, however, say that this is merely a warranty claim (and it is, on most models, the length of the warranty). Ask seasoned cannabis growers and they might say that they haven’t had LED grow lights last as long as they should in theory. Nevertheless, they far outstrip any of the other options, making them the best choice for grow lights. 


Often, it isn’t the light itself that fails. Instead, it is another part of the system that works with the LED light. The problem might be fixed by replacing the bulb, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was to blame. 


As a general rule of thumb, you can probably expect your LED grow lights to last closer to the five-year end of the range than the 10-year. 


However, it is worth noting: just because your lights are still turning on and off, does not mean that they are still working at maximum capacity. In fact, many people make the mistake of thinking that they don’t need to get new bulbs until the old ones physically burn out. But like any other product, LED grow lights undergo wear over time. Eventually they work less effectively and you may start seeing the effect on your plants, even if the lights seem to be working as usual. This means that you need to learn to recognize the signs of wear on an LED light and know when it is time to get a replacement. 

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Get New LED Grow Lights?

In many cases, you will probably start to notice the signs that it is time to replace your lights long before they actually burn out. The first signs are usually in your plants themselves. Because the lights reduce their lumen output with time, that means that your plant doesn’t get the photons that it needs. 


As this deterioration takes place, you may notice signs on your plants such as yellowing or curling leaves, leaves falling, or the plant straining further toward the light. You might also notice new growths that are pale or fragile. You should be inspecting your plants regularly to look for signs that they are not growing properly. 


It might also seem as though your cannabis plants are growing as usual, but then fail to flower as they should. If this happens, it may be time to replace your LED grow lights, even if you have only had them for a few years. 

Does The Quality of Your LED Grow Lights Make a Difference?

You have likely heard the maxim “You get what you pay for”, and unfortunately, it is often true. When it comes to grow lights, you may be able to find affordable ones that claim to be just as efficient and long-lasting as premium models. However, these usually have a much shorter LED grow light lifespan than their higher-quality counterparts, and your plants may suffer for it. 


That being said, you will probably talk to growers who say that they used cheap LED grow lights and they have lasted for many years. There is always a chance of this! But in general, a high-quality LED grow light is probably a better choice if you want your plants to flourish in the long run. 


Although higher-quality LED lights cost more upfront, you are likely to save money from the investment. Low-quality lights need to be replaced much more frequently. Investing in a good grow light that lasts closer to the promised 50,000 hours means that you won’t be losing money every few years on replacement bulbs. 

How Can You Get a Longer Lifespan Out of Your LED Lights?

Unfortunately, there are a limited number of things you can do to make your LED grow lights last longer. In some cases, you don’t necessarily want to try — since, as we have seen, a longer lifespan does not automatically equal a more effective one. 


However, there are some things you can do to make sure that you are truly buying quality LED grow lights. These are much more likely to last for the long term and keep your plants healthy and happy the whole time. 


Vet Your Seller Carefully — The internet is a great resource, but it can also mean sorting through a plethora of products. With items such as grow lights, it is important to make sure that you are buying from a verified seller. Some vendors will try to pass off cheap LEDs for higher-quality models; others simply don’t know enough about grow lights to know they are selling a poor product. You can vet sellers by using high-quality websites and reading reviews from other customers before making a purchase. 


Set up a Timer — Remember that use causes deterioration. One of the best ways to reduce wear and tear on your LEDs is to set up a timer. This turns the light on and off at set times of the day. This reduces the risk of forgetting to turn the light off. It also helps keep your plants healthy by ensuring that they have time in the dark as well as the light. 


Don’t Get The Same Lights You Got Before — If you previously had good luck with your old LED lights, by all means, get the same model again. However, if they wore out long before reaching the expected lifespan, it may be a good idea to try a new light. Upgrade to a higher-quality LED grow light from a trustworthy seller and you are likely to have better luck. 

Finding The Right LED Grow Lights For Your Needs

If you have had bad luck with LED grow lights in the past, it might be time for an upgrade. Finding a high-quality grow light will not only save you time and money, but will also help your plants flourish for years to come. Look for reputable sellers who know their product, not ones who are looking to sell low-quality lights at maximum prices. With a bit of extra research, you’ll be able to find an excellent LED grow light — and with any luck, you won’t have to buy another one for many years.

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