Can Regular LED Lights Be Used As Grow Lights? Ultimate Guide

You want to give your indoor plants a boost, but it seems pointless to spend money on pricey plant lights when normal LEDs would suffice.

Do regular LED lights work to grow plants? Regular LED lights cannot be used as grow lights, despite emitting some of the wavelengths required by plants. Regular LED lights do not provide enough light to plants. Plant development needs predominantly red and blue light, which LED grow lights are engineered to maximize. 

In this article, we focus on explaining why regular LED lights are not the ideal lighting for growing plants and what to expect in terms of growth if you solely use regular LEDs.

We will also advise you on what to look for in an LED light that you want to use to grow plants. 

What Is a LED Light?

Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are among the most frequently used forms of semiconductor diodes available today, and are commonly utilized in televisions and color displays.

When a forward current is passed through them, they emit a rather narrow bandwidth of either visible light at different colored wavelengths, invisible infrared light for remote controls, or laser-type light.

The “Light Emitting Diode,” or LED as it is more popularly known, is really just a specialized sort of diode with electrical properties very similar to a PN junction diode.

This indicates that an LED will conduct current in one direction but will not conduct current in the other. 

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are manufactured from a very thin layer of rather heavily doped semiconductor material, and when forward biased, an LED will emit a colored light at a certain spectral wavelength based on the semiconductor material used and the level of doping. 

What Is a Grow Light LED?

LED grow lights are intended to emit precise wavelengths of light that replicate the spectrum of the sun. Plants are given an approximation of natural light by blending several hues of light, allowing them to grow.

Blue and red are the most common light colors required for plant development. Because green light is typically reflected, plants seem green to humans. Greenlight, on the other hand, plays a function in photosynthesis and plant architectural regulation.

Grow lights that can cycle between different colors based on the stage of growth the plant is in are common.White light may be created by combining all three colors. 

Why do Plants Need Light?

Unlike humans that eat food to convert energy into cell growth, plants use a technique known as photosynthesis. 

Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel the organism’s activities.

The rate at which a plant grows is largely dependent on the quality of light the plant is exposed to. 

One common mistake novice gardeners make is focusing more on food and fertilizers while paying little attention to the importance of quality lighting conditions. Poor quality light will ultimately lead to poor plant growth. 

What Type of Light is Best for Growing Plants Indoors?

The light provided by the sun will always be best for plants. However, we do not always have the luxury of sunlight, and not everyone has a greenhouse where natural light can be used. Natural light provides the right light balance required for plant growth.

With poor light conditions, plants tend to grow slower and may not reach their full growth potential. This can easily be observed when their stems appear thin and leave discolored. 

The ideal grow light must possess red and blue wavelengths, which makes choosing the right LED grow light a crucial part of your plant’s growth and survival. 

Which Kelvin Color Temperature is Best for Growing Plants?

We talk a lot about the importance of color temperature when lighting a room. The temperature is also a factor when it comes to growing plants. Not sure what the Kelvin Color temperature is? Read our article on the Kelvin Color Temperature, then come back and continue reading below about choosing an LED light as a grow light.

In addition to choosing the right grow lights for your plants, you must also consider the color temperature. Plants benefit more from blue hues in the initial phase of their growth, and eventually red for flowering. 

As a result, you should select a grow light or LED bulb with a kelvin temperature of 5,000 Kelvin or more initially. At a later stage of development, ideally, when they are fully developed and begin to flower you can switch the bulbs to lower the temperature to about 2700 Kelvin.

How Much Light Do Plants Need?

The light requirement will vary depending on the plant in question. While some plants prefer less sunny and cooler light conditions, some will do better with more light, for example, Plants that will produce fruits and vegetables will likely need more light than a succulent. Plan on keeping your LED light on for at least 14-16 hours per day. You can use a timer to keep the daily light supply constant.

Using a Regular LED as a Grow Light

LEDs create white light by combining red, blue, and green light.

For home and commercial lighting, white or warm-white lights are preferred. To produce the desired color, these lights use a mix of red, blue, and green lights.

Because red, blue, and green lights promote plant development, you may presume that any typical LED will supply at least a portion of the light spectrum essential for growth.

The quantity of each red, blue, and green light within the LED, on the other hand, will be unknown, and the chances of it having the right ratio of the colors required for growth are highly unlikely. 

Can Plants Grow With LED Lights?

Standard LED lights are not optimal for plant development since the colors utilized are calibrated to the human sight rather than vegetation. Plants require certain ratios of red, blue, and green lighting to flourish.

According to a study conducted by Michigan State University, red light is the light that plants make the most of.

This implies that they absorb and use red light very fast.

Using 100% red LEDs will stimulate your plants to grow bigger and quicker.

Blue light alone is ineffective for plant development, however combining 50 percent blue light and 50 percent red light results in some growth, albeit not nearly as much as all red light.

Because the combination of blue and red light produces a purple tint, many grow lights emit a violet shade. 

Greenlight alone is likewise ineffective for plant development since green is the color that plants absorb the least; they reflect the vast majority of green light.

However, combining 50 percent green light with 50 percent red light generates more promising outcomes in plant development and is more successful than combining 50 percent red and 50 percent blue light.

So, do plants grow in the presence of led lighting?


However, LED lights developed particularly for plants–grow light LEDs–are designed to optimize the colors of light required for plants to grow, blossom, and produce fruit. 

Can Plants Grow Under Normal LED Lights?

Red, blue, and green LEDs are mixed to form the white light used for human activities.

To balance out the purple color, a green light is frequently added to the red and blue LEDs.

The quantity of each of these hues varies depending on the manufacturer. A phosphor is often used to cover the diodes, converting the light to an eye-friendly white, which implies that manufacturers may use any LED hue in their lights.

The phosphor may also affect the wavelength of the LED, rendering the colored light ineffective.

If you don’t know what colors are modified to make your regular LED’s white light, you don’t know if it covers the sections of the spectrum that plants prefer.

Your overhead lights could just happen to have the perfect color balance, but why take the chance when grow light LEDs are so easily available? 

Can LED Lights Be Used for Grow Lights?

LED lights, particularly plant lights, are excellent for plant growth.

Some plants grow even faster indoors with LED lights than they would outside, especially if the light wavelengths emitted by the LED are optimized for plant development.

LEDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate various phases of plant development. 

  • Red lights are very useful for seedling stabilization and stimulating the plant to blossom and yield fruit. 
  • Blue light helps plants produce chlorophyll, which gives them robust stems, leaves, and a beautiful green hue. 

Can Regular LED Lights Grow Plants?

Regular LEDs MAY provide enough of a certain hue of light to assist your plants in a little way.

They are not, however, specifically designed for plant development.

Another issue with utilizing standard LED lights in your house is that they are frequently installed on the ceiling.

It’s unlikely that the LED accomplishes much unless your plant is within a foot of the light. 

Can You Use Any LED Light as a Grow Light?

If you have a plant in a windowless room, there is a slim chance it will live if you keep it directly beneath a standard LED bulb.

Because your ordinary light most likely has a blend of red, green, and blue LEDs, the plant may certainly benefit from part of the light provided.

However, investing in an LED grow light will yield far superior results.

If you’re going to utilize a regular LED light to supplement a plant’s development, choosing a low-light plant will give you a higher chance of success.

The plants listed below have the highest chance of surviving with restricted LED light:

  • Pothos/Ivy Devil’s appears to be able to withstand everything.
  • Snake plants require little light and even less water. 
  • Bromeliads are known to grow well in artificial light, but ZZ plants are slow-growing and do not require much light.
  • The heartleaf philodendron is a trailing plant that would do its best to stay alive.
  • Peace lilies brighten up a gloomy space with their deep green hue and exquisite texture.
  • Marimo moss balls are the perfect “no-light” plant since they are found naturally at the bottom of gloomy lakes. 

Are LED Lights Good for Plants?

While plants thrive from sunlight, water, and nutrient-rich soil, they will also benefit from an LED grow light.

LED grow lights have the most impact on plants when they are positioned within 1-3 feet of the plant and are a correctly balanced blend of red, blue, and green LEDs. 

If plants cannot be placed near a window to absorb natural light, they will benefit immensely from an LED plant light. 


LED strip lights may be used as your solitary growth lights or as a component of a more complicated system.

Their adaptability may be really useful, allowing you to have more precise control over the position of your grow lights.

With a full-color spectrum, you can be certain that your plants will receive all they require.

To increase your chances of success, you should invest in brighter 5050 strip lights.

These will be more expensive but will produce more lumens for effective seedling germination.

What plants have you grown successfully under LED strip lighting?

Do you prefer a full-color spectrum of individual RGB strips?

Share your indoor gardening suggestions and accomplishments in the comments section below. 


Do LED lights help plants grow?

Yes, LED light can help your plants grow. Because they are cheaper and emit less heat, LEDs are more ideal for indoor gardening than fluorescent or incandescent lights. If you’re on a budget, you can purchase horticultural LED lights as grow lights, but only if they meet your plant’s light requirement of having the right wavelength. 

How close should LED grow lights be to plants?

Place your LED lights at least 6 inches above your plants. The closer the LED is, the easier it’ll be for light to reach your plant. However, fluorescent bulbs should be at least 12 inches away, while incandescent bulbs can be placed 24 inches away.

What Is The Best Grow Light Distance For Seedlings?

The best grow light distance depends on a variety of factors such as plant age and the type of plant in question. At the seeding stage of a plant, most plants do not require much light. Some varieties of edible plants prefer complete darkness to germinate. 

In general, any window with a fair intensity of the light streaming through it will give adequate light for seed growth.

If natural light isn’t an option, don’t get too hung up on grow light location – simply use whatever you have and keep it no closer than the ‘lettuce’ guidelines for grow light distance from seedlings below. 

What Is The Best Grow Light Distance For Lettuce And Leafy Greens?

Once you shift your attention to leafy greens like lettuce and herbs, you will need more light, so you must ensure that the right quantity of light is supplied. 

You can also use the guide below, there are 6 columns representing 10, 20, and 30W lights as well as a ‘with optics’ and ‘without optics’ scenario for each. It also contains approximate average PPF/W (or PPE) assumptions as well as our CU assumptions for each scenario. 

Depending on the wattage of the E26 and the use of optics, lettuce may require a distance of 3 to 13″ from the grow light, as indicated above.

This table implies that we are sending lettuce with a DLI of 10-15. 

What Is The Best Grow Light Distance For Tomatoes and Other Flowering Plants?

Tomatoes require a significantly higher DLI, and hence your grow light will need to be a lot closer. 

In addition, depending on the wattage of your grow light and its inclusion of optics, it is advisable to place your glow light about 2 – 10” from the plant. For lesser powered bulbs (eg 10W) without optics, they should not even be considered for growing plants.

You’ll need a stronger light and/or optics to assist direct the light to the plant.

This table assumes a DLI of 20-30, which is normal for flowering plants like tomatoes and peppers.