What are T-5 Grow Lights?
T-5 is a size of fluorescent grow lights; the “T” stands for “tubular” and the “5” for 5/8 inches in diameter. They come in a variety of lengths, and weigh roughly between 10 and 30 pounds. These grow lights work well for raising lots of cannabis plants from seeds through to the vegetation stage, but you will need to make sure you have enough red light for the flowering stage.
T-5 bulbs are often measured in Kelvin, with blue spectrum bulbs measuring between 6400K and 6500K, and red spectrum between 2700K and 3000K. The box will often label the light as “warm white”, but don’t be fooled, they will still emit blue or red spectrum depending on the Kelvin measurement.
When using fluorescent bulbs, you also need to use a ballast. This is an appliance that will stop the rapid flickering of the lights (which the plants notice but we don’t), and will also stop them drawing lots of current at once and burning out.
Advantages of using T-5 grow lights:
- They don’t run hot, so you can use them in warm climates without burning your plants.
- They are less expensive than LED grow lights.
- They don’t use huge amounts of electricity.
Disadvantages of using T-5 grow lights:
- They aren’t good for the flowering stage of cannabis – you will have to purchase additional red spectrum lights to help your plants flower.
- They only last about 20,000 hours, which is less than half of the minimum duration of LED grow lights.
- A ballast is needed to run T-5 grow lights (usually this comes built into the fixture).
So now you know a bit about T-5 grow lights, let’s review some!
Hydro Crunch T-5 Fluorescent 4ft 8 Lamp Grow Light System
This lamp has 54W output per bulb and covers four square feet of the ground. This fixture can be used on its own or linked into a daisy chain formation if you have a larger growing operation, and can also be hung vertically on a wall. It comes with a built-in hanging wire for easy installation, and a 15-foot power cord which is UL-listed for safety but is not compatible with GFCI outlets.
This lamp also has a 95% reflective frame, making sure your plants get the most light possible. It is relatively cheap and very easy to set up and use, making it a good budget option.
DuroLux DL844s 4ft T-5 Grow Light
The DuroLux comes with a 15-foot power cord and chains for hanging and is already pre-wired with the ballast included. This lamp can be used on its own, or up to five fixtures can be powered safely by a single outlet. The fixture also has a German Hammertone Reflector, which DuroLux claims increases its light output by up to 30% more than its competitors. Finally, you can alter the amount of light output by using the switches to turn on two of the four bulbs, or all four together.
Apollo Horticulture T-5 2ft 4 Tube Commercial Fixture (with your choice of bulbs)
This is a small fixture measuring 23 inches long by 12 inches wide by 2 inches thick, which is great if you are short on space. It comes with wire for hanging (overhead, vertically or horizontally), and a 7.5-foot power cord.
Apollo Horticulture Purple Reign 2ft Bulb 24W 6400K T-5 Grow Light System
This is a great system if you are only planning on growing a couple of plants. The light fixture is suspended on a frame, which lets you easily adjust the height. It comes with two 24W T-5 bulbs that are two feet long.
Agrobrite T-5 FLT48 4ft 8-Tube Fixture with included Fluorescent Grow Lights
This 432W lamp emits 40,000 lumens of artificial sunlight, making it one of the more powerful fluorescent grow lights available. There are multiple switches controlling individual bulbs, letting you personally adjust how much light is emitted. The bulbs are easily changed, so you can add more red-emitting bulbs during the flowering stage. The fixture is also powder-coated, meaning it resists rust and scratches, increasing its longevity.
The fixture is 48.25 inches long by 28 inches wide by 4.25 inches thick, and comes with a 1-year warranty overall, and a 5-year warranty on the ballast. It has an aluminum reflector to increase light output, and a 10-foot power cord, which is slightly on the shorter side. It can be hung vertically, horizontally, or overhead, but you will need to purchase your own chains to do this. You can combine more than one light in a daisy chain, but only up to two fixtures in one outlet.
One recurring theme in these reviews is that for the flowering stage of your plants, you will have to get red light-emitting bulbs and change them over. Here are some ideas for you to peruse:
- 54W 2700K 4ft T-5 red grow lamp
- Apollo Horticulture 2ft 2700K T-5 fluorescent grow light bulbs (5 pack)
- Apollo Horticulture 4ft 2700K T-5 replacement bulbs
- VIVOSUN Horticulture 4ft 46in 6500K T-5 fluorescent grow light bulbs (5 pack)
Some other accessories you may find useful:
- Apollo Horticulture GLRP18 pair of 1/8” adjustable grow light rope hanger with improved metal internal gears (in case your fixture doesn’t have something like this already included)
- A small LED grow light to supplement the flowering stage (TaoTronics does a good small LED grow light)
- Two-Outlet Digital Timer (for managing both red and blue lights at the same time)
Overall, these T-5 bulbs are cheaper than LEDs, but they can come with more hassle. The bulbs need replacing more often, so you will need to know where to get replacements, and you will need both blue and red spectrum bulbs for the vegetative and flowering stages of your plants.
If you have a big grow operation then these lights might work well for you, but if you are only growing a couple of plants, LED grow lights are probably the better option. They are more expensive to buy, but save you money in the long run as they will outlast any fluorescent bulb, and many come with a full spectrum of light, so you won’t need to swap them out when your plants being to flower.