Grow light technology has been rapidly progressing since its advent. Whether you’re a seasoned grower or only recently taken interest, trying to wade through the sea of products can be overwhelming. Currently, T5 lamps have become the standard for numerous reasons.
They’re one the most energy-efficient, easily accessible, and cost-effective varieties on the market. What one person may consider the best T5 grow light might not, in reality, be the most suitable for your purposes. With that in mind, here’s your comprehensive guide to help you better navigate the realm of T5 lights.
Before deciding which T5 lamp to purchase, you should consider your workspace, budget, plant requirements, and current setup.
While T5 lamps occupy little space, your grow area will decide how many you need. The watts per square foot method suggests you will need 20 to 50 watts for every square foot of vegetation. Standard t5 lamps range between 14 and 35 watts.
A square foot grow area needs at most four 2 ft tubes or two 5 ft tubes. T5 HO lamps have twice the wattage, which means you will need half as many. The typical T5 fixture can hold between two and eight bulbs.
Unless this is your first time growing, you probably have an existing system. Updating your lighting system at least to the point of t5 will cost a lot upfront, but prove beneficial in the end. The U.S and Canada, for example, have banned the manufacturing of T8 and T12 tubes.
While there are some still in circulation, eventually growers accustomed to these will have to switch. Municipalities have taken similar action against other outdated lighting methods like HPS. Most growers stagger the switch to help offset the upfront cost.
When budgeting, you have to consider both the initial and operational costs. On average, regular t5 bulbs cost between $1.50 and $7 each, while T5 HO bulbs cost within the range of $2.50 and $12.50. LED bulbs cost between $17 and $22. The t5 fixture itself can easily cost as much as $200 depending on the number of bulbs it can hold. Typically, you can expect a small project to cost $150 from the start and $8.20 a month to run 14 hours a day.
Top 5 Best t5 Grow Lights
1. Hydrofarm Agrobrite Designer T5 432W 4 Foot/8-Tube Fixture
First-time growers frequently look for a singular fixture that suits all of their needs. For this reason, Hydrofarm’s Agrobrite Designer 8 Tube T5 Fixture is the preferred choice for many.
Hydrofarm’s lamp is one of the best T5 grow lights for microgreens specifically. Suggesting that the 40,000 lm, 432 w lamp was bright, would be an understatement. At its maximum potential, the fixture can sustain a 9 square foot crop area. Many users remove bulbs for smaller areas.
Additionally, these fixtures have numerous features that increase their overall versatility. A sturdy powder-coated steel frame encases the unit.
Built-in faceted aluminum reflectors surround the eight tubes included with the fixture. Moreover, they come with a daisy chain feature that allows people to connect multiple units on a single outlet.
The lamp can hang vertically, horizontally, or directly overhead. It also uses a 10 foot grounded cord, making most outlets readily accessible. The unit doesn’t include a timer, however. Unless you prefer manually turning your system on and off, you’ll have to buy the timer separately.
2. iPower 54W 4 Foot T5 Fluorescent Grow Light Stand Rack
Many growers are uncomfortable with the prospect of suspending a 30 pound light from their ceilings. Simultaneously, most leases forbid the permanent holes needed to hang T5 lamps. The iPower 54W 4 Foot Fluorescent Grow Light Stand presents a solid alternative.
The four-foot-tall adjustable rack allows even apartment dwellers to grow seedlings, cuttings, and small plants indoors. The two-bulb, 54 w stand is perfect for any plants that can fit within its frame.
Adjustable to an eighth of an inch, the rack uses a user-friendly toggle clamp. The stand only weighs 7 pounds even though the frame is metal. Moving this fixture should be effortless.
Although some assembly is required, the whole process of unpacking and assembling it should take at most 20 minutes. The lamp comes with internal reflects to help evenly spread the light.
This model, in particular, is well known for its low heat-emittance. Even though the cord is only 6 feet long, that should be more than sufficient. As with most fixtures, this model doesn’t come with a builtin timer.
3. HydroPlanet T5 4 Foot/4 Lamp Fluorescent Fixture
Longevity poses a sizeable concern for new light systems. HydroPanet’s T5 4 Foot Fluorescent Fixture’s answers this problem with adaptability.
This model is considered one of the best plug-and-play fixtures. It comes with four T5 HO bulbs and can smoothly transition to LED tubes without any retrofitting.
Likewise, this model also includes fan-favorite perks like the daisy chain function and aluminum reflectors. The unit has a 15-foot cord and the lamp links with up to 10 units.
A neat feature of this model is the addition of two switches, which permit users to turn on the inner and outer bulbs independently.
HydroPlanet includes two v-hangers and Easy Rope to facilitate installation. You can hang the unit overhead or install it vertically or horizontally.
Although they are compact, the units weigh roughly 21 pounds. It’s worth noting that the lights are on the cooler end of the spectrum.
Cool spectrum lights are ideal for growing vegetables, but you’ll want to add warm spectrum lights for flowering plants. Each fluorescent fixture comes with a two-year warranty.
4. DuroLux T5 HO DL844 4 Foot/4 Lamp Fluorescent Fixture
DuroLux’s T5 HO 4 Foot Fluorescent Lamp is among the best grow lights available. At only 8 pounds, this is one of the lighter suspendable lamps.
Installation requires no assembly, either. Merely, hang the light, plug it in, and you’re ready to start growing. Rather than using plain aluminum for the reflectors, DuroLux applies a hammer-tone finish.
Hammer-tone finishes diffuse no less than 30 percent more light compared to smooth finishes. As a result, this model can deliver an impressive 230 w and 6500 k without radiating much heat.
Surprisingly, you could place some varieties of plants within 3 inches of the lamp without risking damage.
Included with the fixture are four T5 HO bulbs, hanging hooks, chains, and an 8-foot cord. The product also has a 5-year warranty and is rated for wet or damp environments.
Wet/Damp ratings are a must-have for setups with grow tents or naturally humid regions. Similar to other high-quality lamps, the unit has two switches for distinctive inner/outer bulb dimming. Likewise, there’s a daisy chain function that supports up to five fixtures.
5. Sunblaster 904297 NanoTech T5 High Output 3 Foot Fixture
Last but hardly least, Sunblaster’s NanoTech T5 HO Fixture is a major break from the typical fixture set up. Most grow light fixtures contain a minimum of two bulbs.
Combining multiple lights in a single fixture has traditionally been the most efficient way of yielding the most light without occupying extensive amounts of space. The NanoTech instead focuses on housing a solitary bulb in the most inconspicuous fixture possible.
Users can arrange each fixture and link them together in any manner they might need. Each NanoTech is only 3.5 inches wide and 2 inches deep. At roughly 1.5 pounds, it’s one of the lightest designs publically available.
Originally, Sunblaster designed the Nanotech series to fit their NanoDomes. The company continues to improve the fixture’s design. Presently, up to eight units can link together. Additionally, the units are compatible with a variety of brackets.
The removable reflector harnesses three times the lamp’s natural lumens. Each fixture comes with snap-on surface mounting clips as well as hanging clips. While the T5 HO 39 watt bulb is full-spectrum, given its 6400 k, users should join them with warmer spectrum lighting for flowering plants.
What is a T5 Grow Light?
T-grow lights are fluorescent lamps used for indoor plant cultivation. Using fluorescence means the temperature range is between 2,700 K and 10,000 K.
Their luminous efficacy spans between 30 lm/W and 90 lm/W. The “T” refers to the tubular shape of the bulbs. The number represents how many eighths of an inch makeup its diameter. T5 lights vary in length, usually between 6 in and 5 ft. Some have a dimmable function.
There are also high output t5 lights, which emit more light than the average T5. Typically, T5 HO lights have 150 percent more lumens than standard T5 lights.
A large part of the appeal of T5 lights is their relatively small diameter of 5/8″. Having a small diameter allows for more varied luminaire design. In layman’s terms, it’s easier to configure them in unique ways to suit specific growing needs.
Uniformity and overall user-friendliness have made the T5 an industry favorite. While T4 lights are slightly smaller, there isn’t a consistent manufacturing standard for them.
When someone purchases a T5 lamp, it will have the same specifications no matter who the manufacturer is. T5 bulbs also can connect directly with up to five additional units.
Which is better LED or T5?
One benefit of t5 lamps is the ability to place them closer to plants than conventional LEDs with no risk. While they rarely require significant maintenance, LEDs are noticeably more expensive than T5 lights. In many cases, a LED-based system will cost about six times the average t5 system.
LEDs tend to last longer, though. A single LED can range from 50,000 to 200,000 light hours, whereas the max T5 lasts 35,000 light hours. By using individual light cells, LEDs have greater configuration variety. Due to the higher lumen to watt ratio, LEDs are considered more energy efficient.
In terms of annual energy expenses, LEDs are four times as cost-effective.T5 lights work well in the short term. In the long-run, LEDs are the better option.
Q: How Do You Grow with T5 Lights?
Ans: Before installing the fixture, organize the plants with the highest light needs directly below the intended light. Radiate the other species around these plants according to their light requirements.
Make sure the plants rest in a tray for runoff water. Put a cup hook into the ceiling over the growing area and use a chain to suspend the T5 from an s-hook.
The chain allows you to change the light intensity. The optimal ratio is one warm spectrum bulb to three cool spectrums. Use the back of your hand to check the light intensity. You can add reflectors and mirrors to spread the light evenly.
Q: How Far Should T5 Lights be From Plants?
Ans: For most mature plants, 4 to 6 inches away is considered safe. Some species can thrive in closer proximity. It’s best to maintain a distance of 6 to 10 inches between the lamp and seedlings.
Q: Can you replace T5 with LED?
Ans: Several companies offer LED products designed to work with T5 fixtures. The three varieties are direct wire, hybrid tubes, and plug-and-play.
Direct wire tubes are incompatible with ballasts and require a bypass. They also need nonshunted sockets, which could mean replacing the fixture’s sockets.
Plug-and-play bulbs have a driver congruent with most ballasts. Hybrid LEDs combine the plug-and-play driver with direct wire’s ballast independence.
Q: How Do I Convert a Fluorescent Light Fixture to LED?
Ans: Converting a fluorescent fixture to LED is complicated. Making it compatible involves bypassing the ballast and rewiring the fixture.
Hopefully, all this information helps narrow the field of contenders for best T5 grow light. Ultimately, plant cultivation is a personal hobby. Armed with the right information, you’ll know what’s best for your particular growing style. Considering the latest advancements, your plants will flourish under any of these lights compared with their predecessors.