Even though it’s just one aspect of running a grow op, choosing between lighting systems like T5 grow lights or another kind is an important step, and many growers argue that it’s the most important.
You should be thinking of your light system as the foundation of the entire operation, paving the way for fat buds when it comes time to harvest. Many growers think that the only way to achieve these fat buds is by choosing a high-intensity light, like HPS or CMH, but T5 fluorescent grow lights can be just as effective for certain stages.
If you’re wondering, “are T5 lights good for growing weed?”, the short answer is yes. But to be completely honest, it’s a lot more complicated than that. We’ll cover both the good and the bad of any T5 grow light as well as some favourite T5 lights from our own personal experiences from growing in Canada.
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What Are T5 Grow Lights?
A T5 grow light is a type of fluorescent bulb that has become the industry standard for the early phases of growing. Standard T5 bulbs have a diameter of 5/8″ and the majority of fixtures contain bulbs that are 4 feet long. The “T” stands for tube shape, and the “5” is for the 5 in the 5/8-inch unit of measurement.
There are other types of fluorescent grow lights, like T8 and T12 bulbs, but T5 bulbs are the go-to since they’re the most efficient and the cheapest grow lights to run. The others have basically become obsolete because there’s really no comparison between the other guys and T5s.
Why Choose T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights?
We’ve already brushed on the first main perk of a T5 fluorescent grow light system: efficiency. Every grower knows that efficiency matters, and if you don’t, you will as soon as you receive your first hydro bill.
Fluorescent grow lights – T5 bulbs in particular – have the potential to reduce your lighting energy consumption by over 50%. If you plan on growing all year round, these savings can (and will) really add up.
The second benefit of using a T5 light is that it has a longer lifespan and consistent bulb performance. You should have no trouble getting 20,000 hours of light output from your long-lasting T5.
Lastly, T5 grow lights have a very low heat output, similar to LEDs. HPS and CMH bulbs give off a lot of heat and can make it difficult to maintain the right temperatures, but you won’t have this problem with fluorescent bulbs.
Things to Consider When Buying T5 Grow Lights
Now that you know all the good that comes along with a T5 fluorescent light, you might already be browsing around for your new light system. But before you decide on one, here are a few things to keep in mind:
T5 Lighting Fixtures Coverage
The size of the bulbs and the number of bulbs per T5 lighting fixture will affect the overall coverage area. All T5 grow lights are 5/8″ inches around, but they come in a few different lengths and configurations.
The most common T5 fixtures have 4-foot bulbs, but there are also bulbs that are only 2 feet long. One fixture might only have 4 bulbs while another one has 12.
Aim for buying a light that is as large as the area will fit. Remember, it’s easy to turn off the bulbs you don’t need, but it’s impossible to turn on bulbs that you don’t have.
The Facts About T5 Bulbs
Before getting your heart set on getting T5 bulbs, you need to know the facts, and the first step is understanding the basics of color and light. Each type of grow light bulb focuses on a different color of the light spectrum and a T5 grow light system usually gives off warmer color in the red tint.
However, there are 3 bulb output options to determine the overall color that’s emitted: 2700, 3000, and 6400 Kelvin. T5 bulbs with a 2700 or 3000 Kelvin output are redder in color, but the higher 6400 Kelvin output gives off a bluer light.
Every phase of your grow op does best with a certain color. Blue light wavelengths are best for veg while warmer light like yellow and red is better for the flowering stage. If you plan on using T5 bulbs from seedling to harvest, you’ll want to make sure to use higher Kelvin bulbs early on and switch to lower Kelvin lights for flower.
Do T5 lights use a lot of electricity?
It doesn’t matter which type of grow light system you’re using, efficiency and electricity use should always be considered. The good news is that a T5 fluorescent grow light doesn’t use all that much electricity, but the exact amount depends on the number of lamps per bay.
How many watts is a T5 light?
A four-lamp T5 bay uses 220 watts of power, and that includes the power used for the ballast. A six-lamp T5 bay uses about 342 watts of electricity. Four-lamp T5 bays use about 6,840 kilowatts (kW) of electricity per hour, with six lamp bays consuming about 10,260 kW per hour. Make sure to factor all of this into your grow room costs.
How long does a T5 bulb last?
This ultimately depends on daily photoperiods, but most growers can get about 20,000 hours of use out of their T5 HO (high output) lights.
Grow Light Reflectors
No matter the type of grow light, T5 or LED or HID, the reflector style you choose for your fixture is a biggie. The two main styles of reflectors for T5 grow lights are rectangular and gull-wing.
Bulbs that are encased in a rectangular reflector is great for close placement to seedlings and clones, but the gull-wing style is better for hanging your lights higher. This style gives you more control over the direction of the light output.
Cost & Warranty
T5 grow lights in Canada are a hot commodity for ACMPR growers for a few reasons, but the main one is that a T5 fixture won’t break the bank. It’s easy to stay within budget when you’re running a fluorescent grow op, especially compared to HPS, CMH, and LED light systems.
That said, it’s not easy to stick to a budget if you go with the cheapest T5 grow light that doesn’t come with a warranty. If the system breaks, you’re out of luck, so check to see about warranty coverage (and try not to go with the cheapest T5 fixture just to save a few bucks).
Best Overall T5 Grow Lights for Cannabis
The only way to get the best of the best when it comes to a T5 light is to go with a well-known manufacturer, like Hydrofarm. Hydrofarm is a trusted name brand that has been around for years, and growers all over Canada have been using the FLP44 fluorescent grow light system for years with tons of success.
Hydrofarm FLP44 4-Feet
The FLP44 4-foot fixture is definitely not a cheap Chinese product that will fall to pieces after your first harvest. When it comes to Hydrofarm, you can trust this brand for safety and durability, but most importantly, results.
These are great lights for keeping mother plants, clones or seedlings, and the system comes in a few different options for number and length of bulbs. The price is higher than your average fluorescent light system, but your plants will thank you (and the 5-year warranty doesn’t hurt).
Best T5 Fluorescents Lights For Big Marijuana Grows
For big grows, you want to make sure you go with a high output light that includes at least 8 bulbs. Standard or HE bulbs won’t get you there, so it’s important that you look for the letters HO next to T5 if you want bigger yields.
VIVOSUN 4ft 8 Lamps T5
Just like Hydrofarm, Vivosun is a household name for Canadian growers, especially ACMPR growers who are licensed to grow hundreds of plants. If you’re growing with a big license, the Vivosun 4 foot T5 HO fluorescent grow light is a great choice, especially for seedlings and clones.
Every bulb in this fixture shines 5,000 lumens down onto your plants, so a fixture with 8 bulbs will emit up to 40,000 lumens. The coolest feature of all is the dual-switch designed so that you can choose the light intensity based on the needs of your crop.
Best T5 Lights for Clones in Canada
More and more growers are opting to start their crops from clones instead of seeds. Taking clippings from a strong mother plant is a sure-fire way to end up with a healthy harvest, and since clones don’t need a lot of light, there’s no point in spending a ton on a fancy fixture.
DuroLux T5 Grow Light
The DuroLux T5 grow light is the best option for clones since it’s an inexpensive fixture that will keep your young plants going strong with just the right amount of high output light.
The standard DuroLux T5 fixture comes with four 4-foot bulbs, but if you just have a few clones, you can easily remove a bulb or two. It’s built with Daisy Chain wiring, which means that you can string multiple grow lights together on a single power cord.
Best T5 Grow Lights for Seedlings
For growers who choose to start their plants the old-fashioned way by popping seeds, a T5 grow light is the perfect choice for small seedlings that aren’t ready to handle higher-intensity light. Just be sure to go with a fixture that’s sturdy and reliable, like the Agrobrite T5.
The main thing we’re loving about the Agrobrite T5 is the range of fixture options you can choose from. You can use the larger 4-foot fixture for lots of seedlings or opt for the 2-foot fixture for a smaller amount. Either way, we suggest using 4″ pots – this is the perfect size for seedlings and clones (red solo cups also work well).
Aside from the variety of configuration options, another great feature of the Agrobrite this fluorescent light is the high-efficiency specular aluminum ballast for maximum reflectivity. To top it all off, the company offers a 5-year warranty on this ballast.
Best T5 LED Lights for 4 Cannabis Plants
Just because you’re running a small grow op doesn’t mean you can slack on your choice of lighting. You still need to give your few plants the love, attention, and light they deserve, and the Monios-L T5 LED fluorescent grow light can help you to do that.
Monios-L T5 LED Grow Light
This isn’t just a T5 grow light… it also adds in LED technology so that your plants can thrive with the full spectrum of light color. It basically serves as a replacement for natural sunlight for indoor growers.
You can either go with a 2 ft or 4 ft fixture, but both are built with only 2 bulbs. This provides the perfect coverage for about 4 plants, but if you’re running a larger operation, another option is to buy multiple Monios T5 grow lights.
Best T5 Grow Light for a Small Garden
So we’ve covered a T5 grow light for hundreds of plants and for just 4 plants. If you’re looking for something in between to handle your small garden, the best choice is the DuroLux DL822N T5.
DuroLux DL822N T5
Great for seedlings and vegging, the DL822 N T5 fluorescent grow light is a go-to choice for growers who are starting their grow room with just a few seeds or clones. It’s a 2-ft, 2-bulb fixture that gives off 5000 lumens and 50W.
This T5 light is built with a full alum body and sturdy ballast and always operates at a cool temperature, and all of these factor into the long 20,000-hour lifespan. Since the lamps are 6500K and emits blue wavelengths, this T5 fluorescent is only ideal for the early phases of a small garden.
Tips on How to Setup the T5 Lighting System for Cannabis
The nice thing about fluorescent lights is that they give off very little heat, so you can hang them a lot closer to the plant canopy than HID (HPS, CMH) lights, even as close as 1-4 inches from the tops of the plants.
When setting the plants under a T5 fluorescent grow light, try not to have them more than a few inches outside of the fixture perimeter. Even with a winged reflector and the best high output bulbs, T5 lights don’t have a huge coverage area, so your plants will do much better if they’re positioned directly under the fixture.
Are T5 lights good for vegging?
Yes. Plants in veg do best under a large blue spectrum grow light, which means you’ll want to go with T5 6400K fluorescent bulbs. This type of grow light will give off wavelengths in the blue light spectrum, which is best for the vegetative state.
Are T5 lights good for flowering?
Remember what we said about there being pros and cons to T5 bulbs? Well, the main con is that T5s are not known to be the best option for flowering. Technically you could use fluorescent bulbs all the way through, but you’re not likely to get the same results as you would if you switch over to a stronger light for flowering.
The general rule of thumb is that it’s OK to use T5 grow lights up until your plants reach 24 inches tall, but then you’ll want to switch from blue bulbs to red. Changing to stronger grow lights like LEDs or HIDs for the flowering will usually give you way more yields because of the higher wattage.
Which is better, LED or T5?
Here at CGC, we talk a lot about how much we love LEDs, but the best grow light system really comes down to your grow room. Every type of light has pros and cons, and you have to look closely into things like:
- Purchase cost
- Energy usage/efficiency
- Heat output
- Color temperature/Light intensity
- Overall design (like Plug and Play)
In terms of heat output and efficiency, these two types of lights are neck and neck. In terms of cost, T5s are definitely better for budget growers, but LEDs win when it comes to color output since they give off the full spectrum of lights, meaning they can be used for every phase of plant growth.
If your main priorities are energy efficiency and low heat output but you’re also trying to get the highest yields from your plants, here’s what we suggest: start with T5 HO fluorescent lights for seedling and veg stages (until your plants reach about 2-ft tall, then switch over to LEDs for the flowering stage to give them that extra boost.
We’re not going to sit here and tell you that T5 fluorescent lights are the best type of grow light out there and you should forget about using LEDs or HID bulbs. But we will tell you that incorporating T5s into the grow op at some point (specifically seedling, cloning, and veg) is a solid idea. Here’s why:
T5 bulbs give off very little heat, they’re cheap to purchase and cheap to run, and the color they give off is great for starting your plants off on the right foot.