Grow Lights – How Much Should I Pay?All Articles
The short answer is, as little as necessary, right? We are with you. Hop on Amazon and you’ll see plenty of grow lights that cost less than $100. They mention red and blue spectrums or they say “full spectrum” and some are even LED’s, so that seems like you will get a pretty good deal. The bad news is that the under $100 grow light options we found are not nearly the grow light that you get with a Happy Leaf LED grow light. Let us tell you more, so we don’t sound like we’re just pitching our product.
Here are the key factors we want to discuss: Will the light actually meet your objective, how much does it cost to operate, warranty/lifespan, and is it USA Made? We will finish the article with a description of the factors we face as a small business and where our pricing fits in the overall picture of grow light options. (Hint – what role does the middle-man play in the pricing?)
Will These Lights Work for Your Needs?
The first question we ask anyone who is considering our lights is, “What do you want to do?” More specifically, do you want to start seeds? Do you want to keep houseplants healthy? Do you want to grow food at home? Are you planning to grow a specialized crop? We can’t emphasize enough that all grow lights are not created equally, and you need to understand if the light will really do a good job for its intended purpose. For a truly deep dive into understanding how a grow light works, which can be very useful when shopping, we refer you to another article on our website, titled “Everything You Need to Know About Grow Lights.” We reference this only if you want to spend more time studying the topic. Otherwise, keep on reading here and we’ll cover the basics you need to know.
We can tell you that the easiest job for any grow light is to start seeds and provide supplemental light to most house plants. Yes, many people are able to start seeds or provide supplemental light on a window sill if they have south-facing exposure (east and west exposure only are severely limited in length of daylight). But even this relatively simple task can be improved quite dramatically with a high-quality grow light. The biggest issue with window sill lighting is that you still are contending with shortened daylight time periods and cloudy days for all but a few months of the year. However, you’re also short-changing how much good quality light your plant or seedlings could be getting, to make their stems very strong and robust, and basically give them the equivalent of a strong immune system. A side benefit is that a good quality grow light will be your secret weapon if you get a late start because you can catch up with faster growth!
When we look at any grow light, we are looking for any data we can find about PAR performance, because this is the only measurement that scientifically quantifies the “output” for plant growth. So, if a grow light you are considering doesn’t give you any PAR measurements, you are very likely looking at a light that will perform at the most basic level – meaning it might do a decent job of starting your seeds or keeping your houseplant alive – but the chances that it will help you grow tomatoes indoors is unlikely.
How Much Do They Cost to Operate?
To get some idea of how much it will cost to operate the light, look at how much power the light draws – how many hours a day it runs, how much power it draws, and what is your cost per kilowatt hour. For example, a 33″ Happy Leaf grow light uses 45 watts of power, for 16 hours a day, at 10 cents per kilowatt hour, which would cost you 7.2 cents per day to operate. (To find out how much you pay for a kilowatt-hour, refer to your monthly electric bill.) The Happy Leaf lights produce 5 times more useable energy for your plants for the same cost as it would to run a fluorescent light. (The HL light can provide light for a 2′ x 3′ area for your plants.) So, this is the “footprint” which is also important to know. For an annual cost of running a Happy Leaf light every day for 16 hours a day, would be $26 a year.
Yep, you read that right. $26 a year!
Warranty and Lifespan
The grow lights have a 5-year warranty. If at any point within five years of purchasing your lights, there is any issue at all, just contact us and we will make sure you get back up and running in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. (That’s fast!)
Are These Grow Lights Actually Made in the USA?
Any random review of grow light offerings is dominated by companies that build their lights outside the U.S., primarily in China. There are LED grow light companies based in the U.S. but it is clear most are sourcing their lights outside the U.S. A recent search of “USA Made LED Grow lights” brought forth a few listings, but in each case, when we looked for the actual physical location where the lights are made, that info was nowhere to be found. Hmm. We source our aluminum extrusions in the U.S., the circuit boards are made in the U.S., and we put together the lights ourselves at our warehouse in Oregon, Illinois. We are currently using LED’s from OSRAM, made in Germany, and we do have to source our external power supplies outside of the U.S.
Supporting Small Business
We are a true small business – self-funded – no investors. This allows us to operate with old-fashioned values, which means you won’t talk to a robot or an outsourced customer service rep when you call our company. We don’t fund our website or social media channels with annoying advertising and we don’t bombard your email every week with promotions. The primary business model is “direct to consumer” because we want to bring great quality grow lights to people in their homes, for education or for business. The performance of our lights is on par with much more expensive lights that are primarily sold through distributors, and many of these distributors are looking for a 50% markup. We have a select few partners that also sell our lights and they receive a wholesale price so they can make a reasonable percentage of profit for handling our lights.
Bottom line, we are happy with the glacial growth of our company. Virtually every customer feels like a new friend. Many people say we’ve brought them awareness of how to grow some of their own food at home. We receive hand-written notes of thanks from happy customers and are pleased to say that many people who purchase their first Happy Leaf light decide to purchase more lights because of the success they are having. Indoor gardening is a fantastic hobby and also a very viable small business for the ambitious grower.
Happy Leaf LED Is a passion project more than it is a business. At this time, one person earns a salary from Happy Leaf and the founders (Vic and Polly) take no compensation for their continued efforts. Anyone who has tried to start a new business or labored in small business knows that the hurdles are never-ending. We are heartened to talk to every single customer – the people who are excited about their indoor gardening successes make all of our efforts very satisfying. Whenever there are moments of doubt or frustration, we need only look as far as one of our favorite promo taglines and the purpose of what we are doing comes into clear focus!