The situation with LED grow lights is is some respects not unlike the world of double glazing, which at one point became a form of shorthand for sharp practices and sleazy sales techniques. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with well made and installed double glazing, and to comply with modern building regulations you are now compelled to install it anyway. The dodgy reputation came about thanks to the cowboys and crooks that jumped on the bandwagon and sold substandard products to make a quick buck.
Whenever something new comes along, the sharks are never circling far behind. So how do you protect yourself and avoid being ripped off for rubbish that wouldn’t grow anything? Well, as already mentioned above, don’t even bother with a product that has no-name components. Manufacturers of quality LED grow lights are only too keen to name-drop with regard to their LED supplier; in sharp contrast to the pile ‘em high sell ‘em cheap merchants who are pointedly silent on the subject. In fact if it’s wholesale, an import or cheap then avoid. Good quality LEDs of any type are NOT cheap to buy – they do save a lot of money down the line, but the initial purchase price is always pretty steep.
Another way to both protect yourself and help sift the gems from the dross is to look for suppliers who offer realistic trial periods and solid refund policies of up to ninety days. You need to satisfy yourself that the product lives up to the claims and the only effective way to do that is to grow something using it – and that takes time.
Be sure to check the quoted power figures. LED grow light panels for example are made up of clusters of individual LED modules, but the overall rating is less important than the power per LED and both of these ratings take second place to either lumens or PPF. Now prepare to be thoroughly confused, because some of this may appear counter intuitive (and also underpins some of the shady practices that have gotten this topic a bad name of late).