From what I could gather, an LED can range from "hm, I guess a CFL could have accomplished the same..." all the way to "wow, this DOES seem like an actual alternative to an HPS !".
I would say the cheap fixtures are probably more to the side of "a CFL could have done that". Because afaik a DIY LED fixture that can compete with HPS etc. costs about 300-400 or upwards. So likely the cheaper, off-the-shelve fixtures are not really competitive.
What you get for 100 bucks now is probably that LED tech that used to cost 800-1k about 2 years ago and has since been replaced several times and is now offered at 100 bucks to get rid of leftover stock.
But I might be off-base here, I did NOT do any research into LEDs currently, just sharing what my impression on that segment of the market is up to this point.
I will probably get a used LED that is probably pretty shite because it was bought in the time period where the crappy ones were being sold everywhere... early adopter phase etc.
No COBs that much is sure.
But I will get it used from a buddy so probably close to free.
My idea was also to replace my 400w MH veg light with it. Probably will save a bunch of wattage in the process and even if it is from the shite brigade of LEDs, it likely wont be completely terrible compared to an oldschool 400w MH.
I honestly did not notice that much advantage over using T5s/T8s for veg.
It is better/faster, thicker stems etc. but it isn't worlds apart (the MH that is).
I am definitely convinced at this point that a GOOD LED would severely outperform my 400w MH at a much lower running cost and if DIYed, it probably wouldn't even cost much more.
Hi, I made very good results with 3W LaserLEDs of the OSRAM company. Those are the best alternatives for COB LED's, and even better, because you can mix the spectrum you need. I wouldn't go with the 2W Single or Strip ones, those have a high tendency to fail early on. OSRAM did update their spectrums a lot of time. I agree with Jake, if you want a really good LED growlight which lasts for a long time without big losses of efficiency, you will need to do the research. I like it, more and more we come closer to what the Sun brings us. But it is much more than just the light, we see, it is basically Information. And this information must be read. We do it subliminally yet.