Looking for cool, energy-efficient lighting for propagation or other applications? You might be considering T5 grow lights.
If you have invested in indoor lighting for your plants in the past, you already know that not all grow lights are equal.
To help you find the best T5 grow lights on the market, we have put together this buying guide.
But first, let’s go into the basics, in case you are new to shopping for T5 fluorescent lights.
We will tell you exactly what T5 grow lights are, why they are beneficial, and what features to look for when you are shopping. Let’s begin.
What are T5 Grow Lights?
T5 grow lights are fluorescent tube lights measuring 5/8″ of an inch in diameter.
The Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute explains, “The ‘T’ in lamp nomenclature represents the shape of the lamp-tubular. The number following the ‘T’ usually represents the diameter of the lamp in eighths of an inch (1 inch equals 2.5 centimeters). T5 lamps have a diameter equal to 5 times an eighth of an inch, or 5/8″. These lamps are approximately 40% smaller than T8 lamps, which are one inch in diameter, and almost 60% smaller than T12 lamps, which are 1½” in diameter.”
Being as you are reading this guide, you presumably have already determined that T5 is the right size and shape of bulb for your needs.
That being said, it is useful to know that T5 lights can produce higher lumens than T8 or T12 lights. At the same time, they do require more power.
Why Grow with T5 Fluorescent Bulbs?
Here are some of the advantages of using T5 fluorescent lights and bulbs in your grow setup:
These lights are energy-efficient. Fluorescent lights do not require the same amount of energy as many alternatives. That means that you are choosing eco-friendly, cost-effective grow lights.
The heat output is relatively low. You are not going to fry your plants running these grow lights. In fact, your entire setup will be more effective, since you will not have to worry about finding solutions to cool down the space your lights are heating up.
They do not take up a lot of space. T5 lights are compact enough that it is possible to put them right above your plants (the low heat is critical for this placement as well).
You can switch out the bulbs for different purposes. For example, you can get fluorescent lights in different colors. Or you can replace your fluorescent tube lights altogether, changing them out for LED lights.
What Features Are Important in T5 Grow Lights?
Now you know why T5 grow lights can be a great choice. But how do you pick the right product? Here are some key buying considerations.
1. Fixture Size
Obviously, the diameter for all T5 grow lights is identical. But did you know that the fixtures themselves come in different dimensions?
Check to see how long a fixture is and whether it will be the right fit for your space. Also pay attention to how many bulbs it can hold.
2. Durability of Components
As with any other technology you can purchase, there may be differences in the quality of the materials and components used in different T5 light bulbs and fixtures.
You want the product you purchase to last as long as possible without the need to replace it, so make sure you are getting something durable with a solid warranty.
Different bulbs produce different lumens. Choose bulbs that generate the lumens you need for the types of plants you are growing and the space you need to cover.
4. Energy Efficiency
In general, you should be in pretty good shape with regard to energy efficiency when you purchase T5 grow lights. But some products may be more energy efficient than others. So, be sure to compare wattage and lumens to see which products are giving you the highest output with respect to the power they are consuming.
5. Color Temperature
By default, you will notice that the majority of T5 grow lights are 6500K, which is the same color as daylight. But there are other T5 grow light bulbs and options. You can find T5 grow bulbs that feature a range of warm and cool color temperatures for different applications.
Check to see what shape of reflector comes with the grow light fixture you are thinking about purchasing. A gull-wing shaped reflector may be ideal for high light placement, while a rectangular shape may be more suitable for low placement.
7. Control Features
Do you want to be able to set the bulbs in your fixture to individual levels of brightness? See if you can choose different settings for each of the bulbs or if they all have to be on the same setting together.
8. Cords, Plugs, Etc.
One consideration that can be easy to overlook is the type of cord and plug that comes with a system.
Because these are relatively low wattage systems, you do not need to worry about heavy-duty cords. But it is usually worth double checking the plug type since a lot of electrical products nowadays ship from overseas.
It can also be incredibly helpful to have the capability to daisy-chain grow lights together safely.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Comparing T5 Grow Lamp Products
Some features for grow lights are a given—no matter your setup, you want durable, long-lasting lights and fixtures, for example.
But with a lot of the other features we discussed above, what you need will vary based on your individual setup and goals.
So, to help guide you in your selection, here are some important questions you should ask yourself:
What is the purpose of your grow lights? What types of plants are you growing? Are you purchasing lights to aid in propagation of seeds? Vegetative or flowering stages of cannabis? Some other application? This will determine how much light you need as well as what color temperature is ideal for your bulbs. If you will have plants in different stages or different types of plants next to each other, you also may want to get a system that allows individual bulb control.
How large is your gardening space? Figuring this out will help you choose the right dimensions and lumens for your grow light system.
How close do you want to situate the lights to your plants? If you want to put the lights right above the plants, choose low profile fixtures that do not generate too much heat.
How many outlets are available? If you have limited power outlets, it becomes important to be able to daisy-chain fixtures.
How much do you have to spend? There are some budget options out there you can consider. But a lot of grow lights that are high in quality are also expensive. So, if you are concerned about the cost, you should make sure that you are buying a product with a solid warranty backing it and a supplier that offers great customer support.
Our Top Recommended T5 Grow Lights
Now that you know what features are important when you are selecting T5 fluorescent grow lights, we can take a look at some products that are worth considering.
Our first recommendation is the Durolux T5 Ho Grow Light. This product is 4 feet long and features a total of 4 light bulbs. They produce 20,000 lumens of 6500K light. Each bulb is 54 watts.
One thing we love about this grow light fixture is that you can daisy chain together multiple units. So, it is a good option for a large setup, or one you plan to scale up later.
Another thing we like is that you can control the inner bulbs and outer bulbs separately with a pair of switches.
When you buy this product, you receive the fixture itself along with the included lamps, hanging hooks, chains, and eight-foot power cord.
We can recommend this product for a further reason as well, and that is the company that supplies it.
Even outside of warranty, we have seen some cases of customers getting assistance when they needed it. We think that is pretty impressive.
Plus, the length of the warranty is also excellent; it is quite a bit longer than what we have seen on many competing products.
You can daisy chain these lights.
You get all the accessories you need with your purchase.
You have flexible control over the lights.
These lights are UL/CUL-approved, making them safe to operate.
A 5-year warranty provides plenty of solid protection for your purchase.
Occasionally one of these fixtures ships out with a defect. In some cases, this may prevent some bulbs from turning on. In others, it can lead to the device overheating. So, when you first get yours, make sure to test it. The vast majority of these units are unaffected by such flaws.
Our next recommendation for your indoor garden is this set of Agrobrite fluorescent grow lights.
If you want light that is close to daylight but just a tad cooler, these bulbs may be ideal for your needs. Instead of 6500K light, they produce 6400K light.
We have seen customers list a few different wattages for the bulbs, but when we did the math, we got the usual 54 watts per bulb.
Like the VIVOSUN T5 Grow Lights, the Hydrofarm Agrobrite FLT48 T5 Fluorescent Light System is available in a few different configurations:
2 feet long with 2 tubes
2 feet long with 4 tubes
2 feet long with 6 tubes
2 feet long with 8 tubes
2 feet long with 12 tubes
4 feet long with 2 tubes
4 feet long with 4 tubes
4 feet long with 6 tubes
4 feet long with 8 tubes
4 feet long with 12 tubes
Each of the bulbs is 5,000 lumens. So once again, you can choose the number of bulbs you need to achieve the full amount of lumens you need for your plants.
This product comes with a 10-foot grounded power cord. That is a couple feet longer than the 8-foot power cord that accompanies many of these light fixtures.
You can daisy chain multiple units together. Alas, the supplier says “up to two”—some other products may allow you to connect more units.
The housing is made of sturdy, powder-coated steel. The low profile of the housing makes it easy to hang the lights low over your plants.
Sometimes these lights can fail. Unfortunately, unlike the previous two suppliers we have recommended, Hydrofarm has a poor reputation in the customer service department. They can be extremely difficult to reach. So, it is best not to depend on the warranty.
Despite the issue with customer service, this grow light fixture still gets high marks in our books. It is rare for these fixtures to have problems, and most of them deliver fantastic performance.
Are you looking for just one individual grow light, or maybe just a few? Do you want to be able to hang them as if they were regular shop lights? That is what you can do with the Sun Blaze HGC960315 T5 High Output Fluorescent 21-120 Volt-Indoor Grow Light.
Your purchase includes a single T5 HO lamp that operates on 24 watts and produces 2,000 lumens of 6500K light. It is housed in its own individual fixture.
Take special note of the wattage. The majority of these T5 grow light products feature lamps that operate on 54 watts each.
24 watts is quite a bit lower. That being said, the lumens are also lower—2,000 as compared to 5,000.
But if you do not need 5000 lumens, it might make sense to purchase this product with its lower power consumption for a more energy-efficient system.
These are cost-effective grow lights that you can buy and hang individually.
Because this product is lightweight, installation is easy and convenient. The mounting hardware comes with your purchase. You also get a plastic removable lamp cover.
You can daisy-chain more than one of these fixtures together.
On occasion, one of these grow lights may stop working within a few months of purchase.
Chains and S-hooks are not included. You have to buy them separately.