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CaliforniaLightWorks Solar Flare 220W Review

Quick Reference
California Light Works Solar Flare 220w
California Light Works’ Solar Flare 220 products are actually three variations of the same LED grow light. The three flavors of 220 are the FullCycle, the BloomBooster and the VegMaster. Each is identical, except that each optimizes the LED spectral output for different purposes. Their compact size, light weight and energy-efficiency make them an good choice for the hobbyist with a small grow bed of about 2′ x 2′. It uses half as many LEDs as its bigger brother, the Solar Flare 440W but includes a similar sturdy aluminum casing, robust electronics and cooling features that ensure long LED life.
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Key Features

  • 72 3W OSRAM LEDs on a single board with heavy heat sink
  • Each LED is lensed to direct light at a nominal 80 degrees downward
  • Two 100W drivers handle input power of 90 to 277 VAC
  • Five PAR spectrum bands with varying concentrations between models
  • Includes surge and thermal overload protection

Specifications

  • Size – 9″ x 9″ x 4″ depth
  • Weight – 9 lbs.
  • Input voltage – 90 to 277 VAC
  • Power consumption – 165W
  • Nominal coverage area – 2′ x 2′ at 18″ to 24″ height
  • Spectrum – 5 bands total, two red, two blue and 3100K white
  • PAR output at 18″ – 745 µmoles m-2 s-1

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prosPros

  • High quality OSRAM LEDs that last up to 80,000 hours
  • Up to 10 lights can be daisy-chained on a single timer
  • 4 band PAR spectrum plus white
  • 3-year limited warranty and 90-day free trial

consCons

  • Unless you can get by with the FullCycle model or have a specific need to boost either veg or bloom stages, you probably need additional spectrum-dedicated lights
  • Light lenses do not reduce edge spread very well

PAR Spectrum Output

Rather than a switch-selectable spectrum as in the SolarStorm product line, the Solar Flare comes pre-set at the factory for one of three specific spectrum ranges. As seen in the diagram below, you can choose a full cycle model or one optimized for blooming or vegetative growth stages.

The red spectrum output is the same across models, but the blue bands are adjusted downward in the FullCycle and VegMaster versions. Each model emits a 5-band spectrum:

  • Deep Blue – 450nm
  • Blue – 470nm
  • Red – 620nm
  • Deep Red – 665nm

These four PAR bands are supplemented with a fifth, wide-spread of 3100K warm white light with emissions from 420nm up to 720nm. It is not clear from CLW’s literature if the white light is effective PAR light or a side effect of the LEDs they use.

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Worldwide Mains Compatibility

As with other California Light Works grow lights, wide input LED drivers are used that permit their grow lights to be used on any country’s electrical grid with the proper outlet plug.

It features a metal core PCB, a 92mm fan and a large heat sink that together keep the LEDs running cool for long life and maximum light output.

What Buyers Are Saying

Be aware that there is an alternate version of the Solar Flare 220W that uses 44 5W LEDs instead of the 3W OSRAM LEDs in the latest version of this grow light. Both grow light versions are functionally equivalent however.

Generally, the SF 220W gets fair reviews. Buyers experiencing disappointment probably came in with expectations set too high. Although there is an even smaller Solar Flare light, the 110W, even the 220W is no more than a hobbyist grow light, although its capacity to illuminate a 4 square foot bed could make it a good seed bed light.

Since you can select spectrum density, it also has a place as a supplementary light to boost veg or bloom stages for existing lighting systems.

CLW claims it will work for veg growth on up to a 5′ by 5′ bed, but that seems a bit of hyperbole on their part. No reviewer has claimed to have used it on such a large bed.

checkFinal Verdict

CLW Solar Flare 220W ReviewIf you buy this light for a specific purpose as an experimental or a supplemental light, you will probably appreciate it. It also makes an excellent starter grow light for new indoor gardeners who want to see what LED grow lights are all about.

The OSRAM SSLs are the best feature of the SF 220W. These are known as some of the highest quality LEDs available that are stretching lamp lifespans as high as 100,000 hours with minimal degradation of light output.

On that basis alone, however, it is difficult to recommend this light as a clear winner over its competitors especially at a $500 MSRP. In this case, it probably pays to look closely at alternatives from other manufacturers that might include built-in spectrum switching or other features for about the same price.

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