Best quantum board (QB) LED grow light for 3×3′ (90×90 cm) tent 2021
With so many brands out there, which has made the best quantum LED grow light for indoor growing for a 3×3 space? We review the newest 2021 models of HLG, LEDTonic, Viparspectra, and update on Mars Hydro and Spider Farmer.
Lamps from these brands are compared in price, diodes, driver, efficiency, wattage, light output, light coverage, and PPFD (PAR).
Quantum panel lamps are minimalistic built lamps, often with only an open (non-protected) aluminum board with LEDs and a driver. Sometimes come with a heatsink. Lamps with heatsinks usually emit more total light per wattage consumed as they dissipate heat better but have increased production and shipping costs due to the heavy heatsink.
Grow lights without heatsinks need a sufficiently large aluminum board for heat dissipation in relation to wattage consumed or else the aluminum board can get uncomfortably hot to handle and for diodes.
Quantum grow lights typically focus on performance above all else. They do not have protective housings or fans, instead, they consist of efficient diodes and drivers with the primary focus to emit a much light as possible and give as high PPFD (PAR) values as possible.
These types of grow lights will vary from brand to brand in terms of size, power consumption, electrical and hardware design (and safety), hardware components, and light coverage. Naturally, all brands operate differently and have their own support, return, and warranty policies, which should be taken into account when purchasing a LED grow light.
Different quantum lamp models will also have their own unique features that other models or brands may not have.
We have gathered our top three quantum LED grow light brand picks and they are as follows:
HLG is the legacy brand in the business that stands for quality products.
LEDTonic is a new brand that has developed a few cool new features and
Mars Hydro is a Chinese brand that has been making different types of lamps for years.
QB LED Grow Lights Compared
HLG 550 V2 Eco 480W LED grow light: $650
HLG is the established name in the business and the 550 model has been used by plenty of growers in both 3×3′ and 4×4′ spaces. The lamp comes fully assembled and is easy to setup. At 480 watts it will generate more heat than the two other lamps and the panels are also somewhat warm when the lamp is in use.
LEDTonic Q7 320W LED grow light: $450
Dual-panel style quantum grow light that allows both panels to be adjusted up and down independently from one another. This is a new feature that we haven’t seen any other brand use. This will allow the panels to be set up and adjusted perfectly to plants’ needs. The light-weight panels are easy to manage, handle, and setup. The driver connects to the panels with a long cord so it’s possible to place the driver outside of the grow tent. The lamp is cool to the touch at full power even with minimal airflow. Neat design and build with quality parts.
Mars Hydro FC3000 LED grow light: $469
Bar-style light with four LED strips and a mounted driver. Uses similar but a slightly older model of Samsung diodes compared to the other two lamps. Bar-style lamps are a bit bulky due to their design but generally provide an even light distribution. The lamp runs a bit hot which could impact the longevity of the diodes.
Hardware & specs:
|HLG 550||LEDTonic Q7||Mars Hydro FC3000*|
|Efficacy (µmol/J)||2.50||2.55 (+)||2.07|
|Efficacy (lm/w)||171||180 (+)||–|
|PPF (µmol/s)||1200 (+)||835||610|
|Diodes||Samsung 301H (+)||Samsung 301H (+)||Samsung 301B|
|Driver||Inventronics||Mean Well 320H||Mean Well|
|Warranty||3-Years (+)||3-Years (+)||1-Year|
* = Mars Hydro has notoriously inflated and faked their official measurements so we rely on data from Cocoforcannabis.com.
PPFD (PAR) Maps
This metric is likely the best way to compare various lights and one of the most important factors to consider when buying a LED grow light.
PPFD (sometimes confused with PAR) maps show how light spreads across a certain area. The numbers on the map below shows the PPFD readings in unit µmol/m2/s for that particular spot. Mature cannabis plants do well with PPFD levels of around 700-900 µmol/m2/s, the higher the better. Also, the more even the distribution of light is, i.e. closer the lowest measurement and highest measurement are to one another, the better.
HLG 550 (maps are only available for 4×4′)
LEDTonic Q7 (3×3′ and 4×4′ maps)
Mars Hydro FC3000 (3×3′ and 4×4′ maps)
Three different brands have been compared. The HLG 550 which is both the most expensive but also the most powerful (draws most watts) has long been a favorite among growers. The LEDTonic Q7 is the new kid on the block but the lamp is well constructed with similar hardware as the HLG. New features and a bit outside the box thinking with flexible and adjustable panels also makes this lamp suitable for 2×4′ and 4×4′ spaces. Mars Hydro’s lamp performs well on paper and growers seem to be happy with it but both its hardware and performance is lagging the other two brands.
Even though the LEDTonic Q7 draws less electricity than the HLG, it still boasts an impressive light coverage due to its unique build and compares well with the HLG 550, despite it drawing 50% more power. After all, it’s not the power consumption that is important but rather how well a lamp distributes its emitted light.
HLG 550: Powerful lamp, reputable company, but at $650 it’s a bit expensive for a 3×3′ space compared to the other two brands. Emits plenty of light and covers a 3×3′ very well.
LEDTonic Q7: Our favorite. Excellent value and nifty features. They produce plenty of content and tests to back up their products. They are knowledgeable in the field and their products perform incredibly well with great light output.
Mars Hydro FC3000: User experiences vary from a strongly disliked brand to a decent company. The company’s transparency is poor and they regularly inflate and fake their products’ performance which makes them a questionable choice for serious growers.
Endnote: Be wary of Mars Hydro, Spider Farmer, and Viparspectra and how they fake their specs: