T5 grow lights have replaced the T8 and T12 as the industry standard for many good reasons. I’m going to show you why this is your best bet within fluorescent lights, as we take a closer look at the best T5 grow lights on the market.
Why T5 Lights are Superior
Up until recently, T5 lights were used almost only as a supplement. Today, that’s all changed. Modern T5 lights are more efficient than ever, and they have the power you’ll need to take your garden to the next level.
Efficiency Of T5 Lights
Efficiency is a huge benefit of T5 lighting. Fluorescent tube lighting is more efficient than other types like metal halide or plasma lights. Other tube lights like T8s and T12s are also efficient, but less so than the T5.
Quality T5 lights can generate exceptionally high intensity per watt for this style of light. And tube lights are able to create good amount of brightness without utilizing a ton of power.
This means you’ll be able to maximize yield without increasing your electric bill.
Tube lights are well-known for their long life, these bulbs average about 20,000 hours.
And there isn’t much degradation in lighting quality as your lights reach the end of your lifespan. If you’re looking for a workhorse you’ll be able to rely on for years to come, T5 grow lights are a smart choice.
Lowest Heat Output Grow Light
One of the most crucial aspects of an indoor grow is controlling your temperature. Lighting sometimes make this difficult, and heat is one of the largest concerns.
T5 lights generate very little heat, which helps keep temperatures in your grow room down. This make them great for a small grow tent since it allows you to place your lighting close to your plants without hurting them.
How Do T5 Lights Stack Up Against Other Lighting Systems?
T5’s are far from the only game in town when it comes to your lighting requirements. Let’s take a closer look at how these lights stack up against other popular systems.
Differences Between T5, T8, and T12 Lights
The critical difference between these types of tube lights is their efficiency. T5 lights are far more efficient than the other options. In fact, T12 lights are so inefficient that the Department of Energy banned them in 2012.
While T8s are still available, they still don’t offer anywhere near the efficiency as T5 lights. In short, if you’re looking into your tube lighting options, T5’s are a clear choice.
T5 Fluorescent Light Bulbs Vs. HID Grow Lights
HID (high-intensity discharge) lights are popular within the growing community. I have also made a buyer’s guide to the best HID grow lights if you’re interested.
These lights are highly customizable and provide excellent light intensity. Plus, a full spectrum of light that can take your plants through each step of the growth process.
On the downside, HID lighting systems are expensive to mantain and to put together. They need many components such as a socket, reflector, and ballast, besides the bulbs themselves.
HID lights also run much hotter than T5’s, so you’ll need to worry about heat management as well.
T5 Grow Lights Vs. LED Lights
LEDs are the trendiest type of lighting available, and they offer a lot of notable benefits.
These lights have a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours. And they also provide exceptional heat efficiency and light intensity.
On the downside, LED lights are much more expensive than a tube lighting system.
What To Look For In A T5 System
Here are the features you’ll want to consider before you decide on the best T5 grow lights for you.
Size Of T5 Lights
T5 light bulbs are always a standard ⅝” diameter, and they’re available in two or four-foot configurations.
But, the lighting fixtures themselves vary substantially.
Lighting fixtures can handle anywhere between 1-12 bulbs.
Keep in mind that while you can always turn off lights, you don’t need, you can’t turn on lights you don’t have. So, if possible, look for a fixture that provides more capacity than you need right now. That way, your lighting will be able to grow along with you.
Finally, there are various T5s that come with a stand, cables, ballast and extras. This may takes too much space if you’re running a small tent or a discreet grow cabinet, so make sure you don’t compromise your plant’s comfort.
T5 lights come with two reflector styles: a rectangular reflector and a gullwing reflector.
Rectangular reflectors are ideal for placing them close to your plants, but they become less efficient as you move it further away.
The gullwing style reflectors can be adjusted to deflect light, which is ideal in situations where the lights are far away from the plants.
Top T5 Lights Come With Extra Features
Extra features, such as the ability to dim lights or switch individual bulbs aren’t always necessary.
They can be great to have depending on how much control you need over your lighting. As these features allow you to save money on electric.
Also, dimmable or switchable bulbs are helpful during moments where your plants need less light.
Color Temperature And Spectrum Using T5 Grow Lights
You should also know about bulb color temperatures.
The standard temperature for T5 systems is 6500K. Because of their color spectrum, these systems are most often used for plants in their vegetative stage.
When you need to take your plants through flowering stages, you’ll need some 3000K bulbs, too. The 3000K bulb emits warm orange-red light for flowering.
My Top Picks For Best T5 Grow Lights
Over the years, I’ve examined practically every popular T5 lighting system on the market. Without further adieu, here are the top five T5 fixtures you can find today.
Hydroplanet has solidified itself as one of the most reliable producers of T5 lights. This 4 foot 4 lamp fixture is an excellent example of their quality, reliability, and features.
This lamp accommodates up to four 4’ T5 lamps. Included with the fixture are four 6500K 54W lamps, which is ideal for first stages of growth.
Most growers will also want to invest in different temperature bulbs to address other growth stages, too. That way, this one fixture will be able to take your plants through each step of growth.
The Hydroplanet T5 growing fixture is ETL listed and operates on 110/120V power at two amps, and the lamp has a 15-foot grounded power cord. A dedicated outlet at the side of the fixture allows you to daisy chain multiple lights together.
Two independent switches control the two inner bulbs and two outer bulbs separately. Which helps to save money on electricity while allowing you to focus your lighting when you need it most.
Should something go wrong, Hydroplanet stands behind their product with a 2-year warranty.
- Independent switches control the inner and outer bulbs separately.
- Chain outlet for connecting multiple lights together.
- Affordable price makes it easy to buy numerous lamps.
- Versatile mounting options.
- Extra-long power cable is perfect for grow rooms with limited outlets.
- Locking mechanism for each bulb is a bit clunky and could be more smooth.
- Not compatible with GFCI outlets.
An exceptionally compact and versatile fixture. The FLT24 from Hydrofarm blends premium components and construction with exceptional value.
The FLT24 is Hydrofarm’s newest T5 system, and it provides an impressive output. This fixture maintains a low profile and allows for three different mounting configurations.
The fixture is made from powder-coated steel for sleek looks and durability.
It features an 86% reflective specular aluminum reflector for excellent light dispersion. Thanks to which, this light is more efficient than most T5 systems on the market.
Included with the fixture are four 6400K bulbs, which are perfect for getting you started.
Each bulb is packed separately, and the ballast is encased in molded foam, which ensures safe shipping. There are more than a few manufacturers who could learn a lesson from how well Hydrofarm packs their products.
Under the hood, the Agrobrite is a 120V/.8 amp fixture with an 8’ grounded power cord. A dedicated outlet on the side of the unit allows you to daisy chain lights together, and a single on/off switch controls the bulbs.
If you need reliability, Hydrofarm backs this unit with an industry-leading warranty. You are covered for a year on materials and workmanship, and the ballast is covered for a 5-year term.
- Superior build quality and lighting efficiency.
- Dedicated outlet for daisy-chaining multiple units.
- Impressive five-year warranty on ballast.
- Versatile mounting options.
- Versatile mounting options.
- Single switch doesn’t allow you to dim lights or control bulbs individually.
The DL844 from DuroLux is the best option for growers who need to maximize their lighting system while minimizing the impact on their wallet. This system provides great value while still making use of premium-quality components.
The gullwing-style reflector is made from German hammered aluminum and offers 95% reflectivity. The fully aluminum body also makes this unit 30% lighter than other 4-foot, 4-lamp fixtures.
Included with this fixture are four 6500K T5 bulbs and everything you’ll need to mount your fixture in your grow room.
This light offers an 8-foot power cord, and up to five systems can be daisy-chained together.
Independent switches allow for step dimmings.
The DL844 is rated for operation in wet or damp environments, and it’s UL and CUL approved. The AAG Stucchi lamp holder is designed to prevent fires even when bulbs become loose.
Rounding out the DL844 is a comprehensive five-year warranty. Which provides gardeners with peace of mind while covering them against issues for an industry-leading period of time.
- Very efficient thanks to the 95% reflectivity gullwing reflector.
- 30% lighter than other T5 systems with a 4-foot, 4-lamp.
- Outlet for daisy-chaining up to five units together.
- Impressive five-year warranty.
- Ballast isn’t as high-quality as the other components.
- Aluminum body is prone to dents if you aren’t careful.
Hydroplanet’s 4-foot, 8-lamp feature is suited for customers who need a more significant fixture. I’ve tried this one out with my Vivosun grow tent a few years ago with excellent results.
This light features 95% reflectivity reflectors. A robust steel housing with a durable powder-coated finish. And room for eight 4-foot T5 bulbs. It includes eight 54w 6500K lamps.
A plug and play ballast allows you to retrofit your fixture should you ever want to transition from fluorescent to LED lights.
This fixture includes “V” style hangers, and it can be configured overhead, vertically, or horizontally.
The Hydroplanet light is ETL listed and operates on 110/120V power at four amps. A 15ft power cable provides extra length, making it ideal for grow rooms with limited outlets.
An additional grounded outlet on the side of the unit allows you to daisy chain multiple fixtures together.
This unit supports step dimming. And one switch controls the inner four bulbs while a second switch allows you to control the outer two bulbs on each side.
Hydroplanet stands behind this fixture with a two-year warranty, so you’ll be covered should something go wrong with your light during the warranty period.
- Inner four bulbs and outer four bulbs have independent switches.
- Supports step dimming.
- Extra-long power cord is perfect for grow rooms with limited outlets.
- Locking mechanism isn’t smooth.
- Mediocre packaging makes unit prone to shipping damage.
Final Word On T5 Grow Lights
Each of the lights we’ve covered today represents the best of the best when it comes to T5 grow lights.
But one in particular, rises to the top and earns the title of the best T5 grow light. That’s the Hydroplanet T5 fixture.
Both the four and eight lamp configurations of this light provide the quality and reliability that today’s modern grower demands.
Features like step dimming. Extra-long power cord. Multiple mounting configurations. All of them provide a level of versatility that’s missing from many other systems.
Plus, the plug and play ballast allows you to switch over to LED bulbs if you ever decide to go that route.
Still, each of the other fixtures we’ve covered is also a fantastic choice for your grow.