LED Grow Lights for Microgreens, Do They Work? – Afraid Not

Based on the test results below, I’m afraid that LED grow lights for microgreens aren’t the answer for home growers.

At least not affordable LED grow lights that most homeowners trying to raise a few trays of microgreens would buy.

The test compares LED shop lights purchased at a box store to similarly priced, highly rated LED grow lights purchased on Amazon. Not the expensive, high-wattage, commercial LED grow lights, which I’m sure would do a great job growing microgreens.

LED Grow Lights for Microgreens at home

LED Grow Lights for Microgreens

This article is the second of a two-part (likely to be a three-part) series comparing LED lights that a homeowner could easily purchase, install, and use in any room of the house.

In the first article, What’s Better for Microgreens, LED Grow Lights or LED Shop Lights?, we compare the same two light systems using microgreens with a reddish tint to their leaves. 

The reasons for using microgreens with reddish leaves are explained in the first article.

Read Part One of this Two Part Article Series

All Articles On Microgreen Lights

Are LED Grow Lights Better than LED Shop Lights for Microgreens?
LED Grow Lights for Microgreens, Do They Work? – Afraid Not
Best Lights For Microgreens – The Home Grower

home microgreens sells seeds

FREE Home Microgreens Grow course that teaches you the basics of growing microgreens in your home! There are 12 video lessons (over 120 minutes), downloads, and more written information and tips!

Herein, we grew broccoli and basil microgreens. The former is a very fast-growing microgreen, and the latter is a much slower-growing plant.

The reason for choosing fast and slow-growing microgreens is to see if the length of time under the lights affects growth rates. 

If you’re unsure what a grow light is, click this link.

LED Lights in the Test

The first article details the lights, the set-up, and why those particular lights are used. 

The lights are shown below. Click on the image for more information.

LED shop lights for microgreens

Commercial Electric LED shop lights, 15 watts (2 x 15 = 30 watts, same as the grow light) 3 feet long, 1,350 lumens, color temperature of 4,000 k. It’s labeled as a cool/bright white LED light.

LED grow light for microgreens

Amconsure, 30-watt, full-spectrum grow lamps, with 60 efficient growing LEDs (39 red and 21 blue lamps). At the time of publishing, 92% of reviewers gave this light a 4- or 5-rating.

do LED grow lights work well with microgreens?

LED Grow Lights and LED Shop Lights Locations

The lights’ location could affect this test because the growing conditions are a bit different. It’s also why there will likely be a third test.

The LED shop lights are on a storage shelf in the living room. The area does get some indirect sunlight from a bank of windows. However, Syracuse receives little to no sun in January.

The LED grow lights are located in the kitchen with no windows. The microgreens would get some indirect light from the fluorescent and LED lights when food is prepared, but not for an extended period of time.

The trays are placed next to a white wall and stainless steel table that reflects most of the extra light back onto the plants.

The living room is, on average, warmer than the kitchen by a few degrees.

Again, the reason for the LED grow lights to be located in the kitchen is explained in the first article.

Side-by-Side Growth Comparisons

Two trays of Waltham Broccoli and Genovese Basil seeds were planted and covered. 

After three days, the broccoli trays were placed under light, one the LED shop lights, the other the LED grow lights.

broccoli microgreens

Waltham Broccoli was removed from darkness three days after the seeds were sown.

Day 1

Below is an image of the broccoli microgreens under their respective lights after one day.

broccoli microgreen

Broccoli microgreens one day under lights. The Left tray is LED grow lights, and the right tray is LED shop lights.

Even after one day, you can see that the broccoli under the LED grow lights is not as green. Because the leaves aren’t as developed, you can still see the yellow in the center of the tray.

Day 3 for Broccoli and Day 0 for Basil

broccoli microgreens

Broccoli microgreens after three days under the lights. LED Grow Lights on the left; LED Shop Lights on the right.

basil microgreens

Basil Microgreens the day they were uncovered.

After three days, the broccoli microgreens show similar disparities as the first. The microgreens grown under the shop lights are greener, the leaves are larger, the stems appear sturdier, and overall in better health than those raised under the LED grow lights.

On the same day, the basil microgreens were uncovered and ready to be placed under their respective lights. Below is an image of each pair under their lights. First under LED grow lights, the second under the LED shop lights.

microgreens and LED grow lights

Broccoli and basil microgreens under LED grow lights.

broccoli and basil microgreens under LED shop lights

Broccoli and basil microgreens under LED shop lights. The seed heating mats are not on.

Day 6 for Broccoli and Day 4 for Basil

Stop the Madness!

broccoli microgreens after 6 days under lights

Broccoli microgreens after six days under their respective lights. LED Grow Lights on the left; LED Shop Lights on the right.

basil microgreens grown under LED grow lights

Basil microgreens after four days under their respective lights. LED Grow Lights on the left; LED Shop Lights on the right.

First, let’s talk about the photos, then the madness.

Broccoli Microgreens

The photo shows it all. The broccoli microgreens on the left (LED grow lights) are scraggly and, at best light green.

However, the broccoli microgreens grown under the LED shop lights are full, the leaves are much larger, very shiny, and the stems have some reddish color to them.

Looking at the photo, it’s better to grow broccoli under LED shop lights than under the Amconsure grow lights.

Basil Microgreens

It’s hard to tell in the little photos, but if you click on them to expand the size, you’ll see a similar story.

The basil grown under the Amconsure grow lights have smaller leaves, they’re not as green, and they don’t look nearly as good as those raised under the LED shop lights.

Stop the Madness!

The broccoli microgreens are ready to harvest after day six. We put the tray of straggly basil under the shop lights, and they quickly greened up. No problems there.

But no way are we going to sacrifice the basil; it takes too long to mature, we like it too much, and weren’t waste even a tray of it for poor results. 

We stopped the basil test after four days. We will not waste 15 to 20 more days to mature the basil. Even after only four days, it’s evident that the LED shop lights would produce better-looking basil.

LED Grow Lights verse LED Shop Lights for Microgreens

We thought green-leaf microgreens would grow well under LED grow lights, better than red-leafed varieties. Instead, the red-leafed microgreens did much better under the LED grow lights than the green micros.

Though, in both tests, the LED shop lights grew better microgreens.

Right now, we have a hard time recommending the Amconsure LED Grow Lights to those with a place to install LED shop lights.

However, using the Amconsure LED Grow Lights is better than not using lights. The attachment clip and light settings are convenient and valuable for home microgreen growers that don’t have a sunny window or a place to install a shop light.

At Least One More Test with LED Grow Lights

Next, we’d like to set up a LED shop light in a room that doesn’t have a window so we could see how microgreens grow beneath it without the effects of indirect light. 

But that might be easier said than done.

In the meantime, we’ll test the Amconsure LED Grow Lights in the same room as the LED shop lights. Besides the indirect light, the room’s air temperature could make a difference in growth rates. 

The kitchen was always a little cooler than where the shop lights were located.

The link to the article will be posted here once it’s published.

Current Thoughts on LED Grow Lights for Microgreens

This section is labeled “current thoughts” because this is a work in progress. New data will always be available, possibly changing my opinion. That’s the beauty of blogging platforms; changing the text in a couple of minutes is easy.

Try that with a book.

We’re referring to the Amconsure LED Grow Lights here; we believe they are better than nothing, but LED shop lights will grow microgreens better.

However, the Amconsure, and others very much like it, will fit the bill in places where hanging a shop light is impossible or too unsightly. 

But if you can use LED shop lights, please do so. You’ll be much happier, and so will your microgreens. 

Remember, new content will be forthcoming, and the easiest way to get updates is to subscribe, and you will be notified when new content is available.

Have a Question?

If you have any questions about the information in this post or microgreens, please comment below or reach out to me using the Ask a Question page

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  • Todd

    Todd is the founder of Home Microgreens & the Home Microgreens store. He also writes for several other websites, including MyViewFromTheWoods.com. Todd worked at a large farm market, garden & nursery center for 20 years. Somehow he snuck off to become a geologist and professor before coming back to his senses to write & lecture about microgreens and gardening. When not at the computer, he can be found in the garden, trout stream, or mountain trail with his new Springer Spaniel Caden.

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