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The Complete Guide to Seed Starting Lights

As winter comes to a close, it’s time to start planning your garden. Depending on what you’re growing, you may need to start some seeds indoors. This will have your garden ready to go after the last frost.

A big part of seed starting is having the proper lighting. If you’re new to gardening, this may be a totally new concept for you. That’s okay!

In this post, I’ll go over the seven best seed starting lights, along with how to use them. Keep reading to learn more!

Seedlings under a grow light strip. Seed starting lights come in many forms.
A strip of seed starting lights.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall:
Hoss Indoor Seed Starting Light Kit

Budget Option:
Mars Hydro 100W LED Grow Light

Best for Wide Seed Trays:
Hoss Hanging Grow Light Kit

Best Freestanding:
GroDrow Grow Lights

What Do Seed Starting Lights Need?

Full Spectrum

Seed starting lights should have full spectrum bulbs. This feature makes grow lights distinct from everyday light bulbs.

The range of light given off by full spectrum bulbs is similar to what the sun provides. This will allow your seedlings to get the most energy for continued, healthy growth.

LED Bulbs

This isn’t required, but your utility bill will thank you. LED lights use considerably less energy than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.

Seedlings under a grow light.

You will be running your lights for most of the day, so the more energy you save, the better.

Proper Width

Make sure your seed starting lights are the same width as your shelf or tabletop. This will ensure that every seed tray is receiving the same amount of light.

While the whole area may seem bright, you could end up with leggy seedlings on the ends. As a good rule of thumb, every seedling tray should be the same distance from the grow light above.

Automatic Timer

This is for those who stay on the go or just forget to turn on their lights. Automatic timers will make sure that your grow lights come on and turn off at the same time every day.

Besides convenience, this is a helpful way to make sure that your seedlings are receiving a consistent amount of light every day.

Adjustable Height

If your seedlings are healthy and growing correctly, they will start to get taller. As this happens, it’s important to adjust the lights above.

Newly emerged seedlings under an adjustable grow light.
An adjustable seed starting light.

You don’t want seedlings to get too close to the light. This will usually stunt growth, and you’ll find yourself at square one with seed starting.

Brightness Settings

Some seed starting lights have different brightness settings built in. This is a nifty feature for moving lights around anywhere in your home.

If you’re growing in a well-lit room, you may not need the brightest of lights. Or, you may need a very bright light for growing in a basement or shed.

There are also some lights that have various color settings. Each setting will give off a different portion of the sun’s spectrum. This is used to encourage either blooms or vegetative growth.

The Seven Best Seed Starting Lights and How to Use Them

Now that we’ve gone over the factors that you should consider when making your decision about what grow light to purchase, we’ll share seven of our favorite picks for grow lights.

Best Overall

Hoss Indoor Seed Starting Light Kit

This is our favorite seed starting light kit here at Minneopa Orchards. The Hoss Indoor Seed Starting Light Kit has everything – two lights, ballasts, rails, a water reservoir, and seed starting trays.

I recommend it to those trying out gardening because it’s a one-stop shop. But it’s also the perfect setup for anyone wanting to start seeds.

To use this light kit, place your ready-to-go seed trays into the water reservoir. This kit fits four 12-cell seed trays, so you can start 48 seedlings at once.

The water reservoir can be filled as your seedlings need water. The kit is set up so that the seedlings sit on a wicking mat and only receive the water they need.

As your seedlings begin to grow, you can adjust the height of the lights up to 18 inches.

The lights are rated for 50,000 hours of life. So, you can plan on using this kit for a long time to come.

Budget Option

Mars Hydro 100W LED Grow Light

MARS HYDRO 2022 New TS600 100Watt LED Grow Light 2x2ft Coverage, New Diodes Layout Full Spectrum Grow Lamp for Hydroponic Indoor Seeding Veg and Bloom Greenhouse Growing Light Fixtures Four for 4x4'

The Mars Hydro 100W LED Grow Light is the perfect size for a small shelf or mini greenhouse. It covers two feet in length and width. So, all your seed trays will be getting the same amount of light.

My favorite thing about this light is how lightweight it is. Even if you’re using a low-quality shelf, this aluminum shell light will remain sturdy when fastened with hangers.

The kit includes adjustable light hangers, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing them separately. Since the light is as wide as it is long, it has four areas of contact for the hangers. This will keep the light steady and secure.

The aluminum shell also helps with light refraction. Even if all your seedling trays aren’t completely under the light, the shell will reflect light up to 120 degrees.

Adjust the height as necessary, and watch your seedlings take off under this full spectrum seed starting light.

Best for Wide Seed Trays

Hoss Hanging Grow Light Kit

My second choice for best seed starting lights is Hoss’ Hanging Grow Light Kit. This is a great buy for those who start seeds in bulk come late winter.

The kit comes with two lights that are three feet long. So, you can easily cover a shelf or small tabletop area. With that width, you can start up to 338 seedlings under this one kit alone.

Let’s talk about how to set up these seed starting lights.

The two lights connect to the included rails. They can also be wired together, leaving you with only one power switch to worry about. If you want to expand coverage, the lights can be fastened on different areas of the light rails.

You will then be able to hang your lights from a shelf or stand using the included carabiners. These are adjustable and will help you raise the lights as the seedlings grow.

Best Free Standing Light

GroDrow Grow Lights

Grow Lights for Indoor Plants, GroDrow 150 LED Grow Light for Seed Starting with Red Blue Spectrum, 3/9/12H Timer, 10 Dimmable Levels & 3 Switch Modes, Adjustable Gooseneck Suitable for Various Plant

You don’t always have to stick to hanging seed starting lights. If you’re using a table or top shelf, I recommend searching for a free-standing light. GroDrow has a perfect example of this.

Their free-standing light has five adjustable arms containing a red, blue, and white LED grow light. These colors make a full-spectrum light when used together, or you can change the settings to use just red or blue.

Red light helps with bloom and fruit production, while blue helps with vegetative growth.

Another great function of this light is the timer. You can set the timer to three, nine, and 12-hour intervals.

The light will turn on and off on its own. So, you can enjoy the convenience of visiting your seedlings only when they need water.

Monios LED Grow Light Strips

[6-Pack] LED Grow Light Strips for Plants 2FT, 60W (6 x 10W) t5 High Output Integrated Fixture Extendable 24 Inches Grow Lights for Greenhouse, Plant Grow Shelf, Easy Installation

The Monios LED Grow Light Strips are my favorite seed starting lights if you’re using a mini greenhouse. Most mini greenhouses have thin metal shelves and plastic connectors. You don’t want heavy, bulky lights that the greenhouse can’t hold up.

These light strips are lightweight and slender. They can easily be fastened to a metal shelf or railing.

Another great thing about these lights is their efficiency. The LED bulbs only consume 10 watts, keeping your energy usage at a minimum. The LED lights will also remain cool, which is helpful in a closed-in greenhouse.

This kit comes with six different lights, which should be enough to fill out your entire greenhouse. For $50, that’s a great deal.

To use these lights, I do recommend investing in some adjustable hangers to keep your seedlings happy and healthy. If you don’t want to do that, you can also put something under your seed trays. This will move them closer to the light as they grow.

Dommia Ultra Thin Grow Lights

DOMMIA Grow Light, 2Pcs Ultra-Thin Plant Light for Indoor Plants, 20W Full Spectrum LED Plant Grow Light with ON/Off Switch, DIY Hanging Plant Growing Lamps for Seed Starting, Succulents, Veg, Herbs

Many gardeners use grated metal shelves for seed starting. But, I recommend these seed starting lights if you’re using a solid wood or plastic shelf.

The Dommia Ultra Thin Grow Lights can be attached to a shelf with double-sided adhesive.

The great thing about these lights is you don’t need a place to hook a light hanger. You can firmly press them against a solid surface. The LED technology won’t overheat the surface or cause damage.

Don’t worry if your shelves are narrowly spaced. These ultra-thin grow lights barely take up any space. As long as you have about 1.5 feet of space, your seedlings should get adequate light.

If you want to hang these lights, you have that option as well. There are holes on the edges of the light to connect a chain or rope hanger.

Barrina Plant Grow Lights

Barrina Plant Grow Light, 252W(6 x 42W, 1400W Equivalent), Full Spectrum, LED Grow Light Strips, T8 Integrated Growing Lamp Fixture, Grow Shop Light, with ON/Off Switch, 6-Pack

The Barrina Plant Grow Lights offer a lot of light for the price. In this kit, you’ll receive six 48″ lights that easily link together.

It comes with three power cords, so you can connect two together. Or, you can connect all six and use one power cord. It’s completely up to you and your setup.

Line these lights down the side of your shop shelves, or connect them inside your mini greenhouse.

The full spectrum lights give off a white light while maintaining a cool temperature with heat-dissipating aluminum.

The brand recommends that you leave 15 inches of space under the light for small seedlings. As you pot up seedlings, you can move to 10 inches of space if necessary.

These Barrina lights are rated to last over 50,000 hours, and they come with a two-year warranty. So, you can feel comfortable with this purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are seed starting lights required to start seeds?

You don’t necessarily have to have seed starting lights to germinate seeds. Some bright shop lights will do the trick.

But, as your seedlings grow, you run the risk of them not getting the type of light they need. That’s where a full spectrum light comes in handy. It makes for healthy seedling transplants.

Seed starting lights are also usually brighter than normal lights, so you won’t have to worry about leggy seedlings.

2. Where should I buy seed starting lights from?

My top two recommendations for grow light retailers are Hoss and Amazon. They both have quality light choices.

For more details, check out our post, Where to Buy Grow Lights.

Trays of seedlings under grow lights.

3. How much light do seeds need to germinate?

Depending on the type of seed, it may or may not need light to germinate. Once the seed has germinated, it should get a consistent 12 to 16 hours of light per day.

If you have trouble getting up early enough to turn the lights on, look for a good automatic timer.

As far as how bright the light should be, look for LED lights that are at least 50 to 100 watts. The more watts, the more light it will give off.

4. Can I start seeds anywhere?

Yes, you can start seeds anywhere indoors. If you start them outdoors, make sure you use a heated shed or greenhouse. Most seeds need to be around 65 to 70 degrees to germinate.

As far as indoor set-ups go, you can set up your seed starting station in a spare room, basement, or garage. Your seedlings just need the appropriate amount of light, the correct germination temperate, and enough water.

Wrapping Up The Best Seed Starting Lights

Closeup of seedlings under grow lights.
Seed starting lights are a must for indoor gardening.

Once you try out seed starting lights, you’ll notice the difference in how your seedlings grow and take off. My overall pick for the best seed starting lights is Hoss’ Indoor Seed Starting Light Kit. You’ll have all you need to start a small garden.

After you’ve purchased seed starting lights, make sure to check out our Seed Starting page for more blog posts. We’ll help you find everything you need to start seeds successfully.

Shopping for your garden can get overwhelming, fast. So if you’re looking for advice on garden tools and garden supplies, then you’re in the right place! And if you’re looking for a unique gift for a loved one, how about a gardening gift?


Friday 13th of January 2023

Do I need the pink LEDs for just starting veggie seedlings? I really dislike that coloring. I have 4 shelf units 3 feet wide. Can I use 2 foot lights for each shelf? And can I get away with one light per shelf? It's a bright sunroom.


Saturday 14th of January 2023

Plants love the pink light! Put an old sheet over the rack if you don't like the light color (I don't think anybody does). But make sure to leave some room for airflow.

Yeah, 2 foot lights for a three-foot shelf should work fine.