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A key component of a successful propagation process is the choosing a suitable lighting system and T5 grow lights are widely considered to be the best available for either personal or industrial use. In comparison to older models such as the T8 and T12, the T5 grow lights are designed to be more environmentally friendly (whilst saving you money) by cutting down on wasted energy and providing the maximum possible light to your plants so that they can enjoy a highly successful growth cycle.
What you’ll learn about T5 Grow Lights
- What they are and how they work
- Why they are the best grow light
- How they compare to other grow lamps
- Why your plants need them
What are T5 Grow Lights?
T5 grow lamps are a type of fluorescent lighting which is often used during the propagation of plants or vegetables (growing plants from different sources.) Grow lights are used as an alternative to natural sunlight in indoor gardens in order to help the plants or vegetables grow. T5 grow lights are generally considered the most efficient form of indoor lighting to use during the growth process.
Whilst the lights can be purchased with a variety of different lengths, they always have a diameter that’s 5/8 of an inch wide – hence T5. As with the T8 or T12, the number following the T represents an 8th of an inch ergo T5 is 5/8th of an inch wide. Additionally, the lights are generally 6cm deep so they can fit into the majority of spaces in the grow room. The T simply represents the tubular shape of the light. Most commonly, this type of lighting system is used in two different sizes – either 2ft by 4 tubes or 4ft by 8 tubes.
Whilst the T8 and T12 are still very good options to consider as part of your indoor lighting fixture, T5 grow lights have truly replaced both bulbs due to the improved efficiency and power output of the newer model. As a high output light, the power of the light it emits almost mimics the power of natural daylight, ensuring your plants grow to their maximum potential. As mentioned above, the T8 and T12 are also larger and thus less versatile with regards to their positioning in a grow room.
Following on, as I’ll discuss a bit further down the article, this type of light is extremely energy efficient as it produces a lot less heat than either the T8 or T12. Whilst the T8 is initially the cheaper-to-buy option out of the two bulbs, the potential for growing more produce and the overall saving potential on your energy bills makes T5 grow lights a much better cost-saving and energy efficient, long-term option for any and all growers.
Also, whereas the T8 and T12 will suffer a considerable decrease in the quality of the light they emit over the course of their lifespan, the quality of light emitted by T5 grow lights will only ever decline by approximately 5% – almost 4 times less of a decline than the T8 and 10x less than the T12. The T8 and T12 are also worse for the environment as they waste a much larger amount of energy than the highly efficient T5.
An often overlooked improvement made over the T8 was the introduction of an electronic ballast. The electronic ballast ensures a more consistent flow of electricity ensuring the light remains strong whenever it’s turned on, however, the T8 model actually had a magnetic ballast which caused the lights to occasionally flicker (undetectable to the human eye) and had a detrimental effect on the plants growth.
The only downside associated with opting for T5 grow lights over an earlier model is that the high output T5 requires a more expensive fixture, but when considering the potential long-term profit that you can make, it’s clear to see that you will more than recoup this initial extra expenditure over time.
Primarily used for indoor gardening, a grow light is used to provide artificial light to a plant or vegetable, essentially making up for a lack of sunlight. Without a source of artificial light, propagation would be difficult as the process of photosynthesis (conversion of light energy into chemical energy) wouldn’t be able to occur. Aside from indoor gardening, grow lights are also often used in the winter months as there are fewer hours of daylight during this time. It is possible to alter various qualities associated with a grow light – colour, temperature, intensity – so that the type and amount of light are most suitable for a specific plant.
Pro’s of using a T5 Grow Lamp
Firstly, owing to their compact design, T5 grow lights are extremely versatile and can be placed in different areas around the grow room. They do not take up a lot of space so they allow you to fit more produce into your grow room and more produce generally leads to a greater profit. Whilst it is very useful to have this extra space, the ability to place T5 grow lights in different places around the room ensures that every plant will receive light. Indeed, their design actually encourages an even spread of light in order for it to reach as many plants as possible.
As they’re designed specifically to fit in almost any grow room, it is possible to hang the lights either vertically or horizontally, allowing you to reach a plant no matter where it’s positioned. It is worth referencing that they’re designed to maximise the potential growth of a plant and are especially useful when growing a plant which is up to 24cm tall. A major benefit of being able to hang the lights vertically is that even the lowest part of the plant (an often overlooked part) will receive light, allowing it to grow extremely well.
Secondly, they’re generally considered to have one of the longest lifespans of any grow light. Each light generally lasts for around 20,000 hours (that’s the equivalent of 833 days and 8 hours) which has the obvious benefit of saving you money as you will not need to replace the lights very often. It is worth noting that when compared to the lifespan of an incandescent light, T5 grow lights last almost twice as long.
Thirdly, T5 grow lights typically use very little energy and yet provide an amazing output (100 lumens per watt to be exact) which allows you to save money on your bill as well as presenting a strong environmental benefit. As they release a small amount of heat in comparison to other grow light systems, there is no need for you to buy a cooling system alongside the light which also allows you to save on cost.
An often unmentioned and unthought about benefit associated with the output is that they’re very likely to work straight after installation without having to alter any wiring. If a light needs more power to work, then it may require you to rewire your system which will cost both time and money but T5 grow lights are likely to work without any hassle.
Additionally, as they only emit a small amount of heat (approximately up to 35 degrees celsius,) you can position the light much closer to the plants than many other lighting systems. It is possible to position the lights as near as 2-3 inches above the growing plant, which is hugely beneficial as it ensures that even the lowest part of the plant will receive light – a key reason this type of lighting is so successful.
An extra benefit of the low heat output is that the lighting system is generally one of the quieter systems available which further reduces the energy given out by the light. Indeed, the T5 ballast is one of the quietest available on the market allowing you to maintain a grow room in-house without disturbing anybody you share your house with.
As a quick word of warning, I feel it is important to remind people to move their lights up as the plants grow or you risk the top of the plant touching the bulb and burning. Whilst this may seem like an obvious thing to do, you may just be suprised at how often you have to move your lights up when using this type of system.
Owing to the minimal amount of heat given off by T5 grow lights, they can be used throughout the entire duration of a plant’s growth cycle. Whereas other fluorescent lights are mostly useable during the propagation period, a T5 can be used beyond this stage to help produce an adult plant with a thick stem and large foliage. It also means you can spray your plant with pesticide without having to worry about the plant getting burnt.
If you’re interested in cultivating clones or growing a plant from a young cutting, T5 grow lights will help to grow strong, healthy roots very quickly. As mentioned, it can penetrate up to 20 inches which ensures the young plant will receive a lot of light at a key part of the growth cycle. This type of fluorescent lighting is available in both warm (3000k) and cool (5000-6500k) variations which allows you to alter your lighting fixture as the plant grows so that you can provide it with the most beneficial type of light.
As a quick side note, I think it is worth discussing the difference between a warm and cool light for any amateur growers reading this article. A warm light has an output of up to 3000 kelvins and is primarily used to encourage blooming whereas a cool light has an output above 5000 kelvins and is used primarily to encourage the growth of vegetative leaves and during the seeding process. When growing vegetables, I’d recommend choosing a fluorescent bulb that is labelled as “cool” or “cool white” and has an output of 6500k as this will provide the best possible results. Any bulb you buy should have the output and colour written on their packaging.
On the light colour spectrum, a warm light is often represented by red whereas a cool light is often represented by blue. Outside, a plant will absorb red and blue light from the sun as chlorophyll and reflect green light (hence the green colour of their leaves.) The absorbed light is then used during photosynthesis so it is important to try and provide this source of light wherever possible when growing indoors.
Another reason the lights can be positioned in many different places and positions in a grow room is because their ballast and bulbs are relatively small in size. In comparison to other models, such as the T12, the T5 grow lights provide optimal efficiency both in terms of potential plant growth and money saving opportunities.
Whilst a lack of light can lead to a plant growing tall and thin, as well as causing it to point awkwardly in the direction of the light, the ability to place the lights closer to the plant will provide you with a much fuller, bushier plant.
How does the T5 compare with other Grow Lamps?
|T5||LED||Metal Halide||High Pressure Sodium|
|Lumens Per Watt||100||25||75-100||140|
|Heat Output (Degrees Celsius)||35||22||900||260|
|Ideal Distance from Plants (inches)||2-3||10-16||15-20||4-6|
As you can see from the table above, T5 grow lights are the best choice to use when growing vegetables due to their cost-saving benefits. The main thing to notice is that whilst the lamp might not be the best option in each individual category, when the categories are considered in cohesion T5 grow lights are the most well-rounded option. For example, whilst a High-Pressure Sodium bulb may produce more Lumens Per Watt, it also has a significantly greater heat output and significantly lower lifespan which would cost you more money in the long run in terms of energy bills and replacement bulbs.
Are T5 Grow Lights really the best option?
Considering the information we’ve discussed above, it’s extremely easy for me to say that this type of grow lamp is definitely the most beneficial to use – for both novice and seasoned growers. The versatility offered will allow you to position and re-position your lighting around your grow room so that your plants can receive the maximum amount of lighting throughout the entire growth cycle. Add to this the potential money-saving benefit owing to their long lifespan and low energy output and it’s safe to say that the T5 grow lights are the best possible option as you can produce excellent vegetation and/or plants whilst saving money in the long run.