Best T5 Grow Lights for Growing Cannabis 2018 : Reviews and Buying guide

If you are a regular indoor gardener or if you have a indoor marijuana growing project in hand and you are looking for an alternative to the traditional HPS and Metal Halides, then T5 can be a great solution to your problem. Not only will they replace your old grow lights successfully but will also cut down on your expenses. These lights come at an affordable price and consume a lot less power as compared to the metal halides while delivering the same light intensity and emitting less heat thus giving you a better yield.

Now before we discuss about some of the best T5 grow lights available in the market or the factors that may affect our choice let’s gain a little more knowledge about these grow lights, what they are actually and how they are different from the popular LED lights which are also alternatives to the metal halides.

What are T5 Grow Lights?

T5 grow lights are a type fluorescent grow lights wherein “T” represents the word “tubular” and “5” stands for a size, 5/8-inch in diameter. So T5 grow lights consists of fluorescent T5 tubes with a diameter of 5/8 inch attached to a ballast and a reflector. The ballast aids in enhancing the lifespan of the T5 bulbs by eliminating the risk of electrical insurgence and also prevents flickering that are harmful for grow plants while the reflector helps in light distribution. These lights along with their fixtures weigh between 10lbs and 30lbs and can be of varied lengths for example, 2feet, 4feet etc.

T5 grow lights have a lot of features that are considered to be advantageous for indoor growers. They are as follows:

  • They maximise the efficiency and spread an uniform intensity of light over the entire growing area.
  • They are affordable and come at a low price.
  • The running cost of these lights is minimum as they consume minimum electricity.
  • They have a high life span and will guarantee a minimum of 20,000 hours of operation.
  • They do not dim on prolonged use and will shine with the same intensity till it’s death.
  • They do not emit heat and can be hung very near to the grow plants without the fear of burning them.
  • They have an ideal spectrum to support the plants in the vegetative state.

T5 Vs LED Grow Light

Efficacy:

T5 lights perform better and have a significantly better efficacy level than the LEDs. According to a study conducted by the Institute of Electrical Engineers in association with the Illuminating Engineering Society and Acuity in 2009, to compare the thermal degradation and heat dissipation efficacy between T5 and LED, a 14W T5 fluorescent lamp has been seen to perform at 96.7 lumen/watt while the best LED performs at only 78.5 lumen/watt. The actual heat dissipation varies from that mentioned in case of LEDs. T5 has been proven to produce more light lumen in comparison with the amount of power they consume in watt.

Cost Effective:

T5 lights are more cost effective than it’s LED counterparts. They not only have a low upfront cost i.e the price of the fixture initially is low, but the running cost of T5 grow lights are also a lot less then LED. The per unit cost of fixture is a lot low for T5 grow lights.

Heat Dissipation and overheating:

LED lights dissipate more heat and require a significant cooling system to take away the heat. This high heat dissipation reduce the bulb life and increases the cooling cost of the system. The heat dissipated by the LEDs also increase with prolonged use and can be a matter of concern while T5 lights dissipate much less heat and do not require a cooling system and are also less prone to overheating.

CRI Index:

CRI or color rendering index is a measure of the bulb’s ability to reveal a small shade variation between colors on a scale of zero to hundred. T5 lights have a higher CRI than LEDs and produce a higher quality light that may help in increasing the productivity.

Light Spectrum:

Full Spectrum LED lights have a very long range of spectrum wavelengths which include rays from UV and IR region as well and can supports plant growth through all the stages from germination to flowering while T5 lights are more specific, have only one specific wavelength 6500k and are suited to the vegetative stage. They do not favour flowering or the blooming stage. Also LEDs have a better penetration level compared to T5 grow lights. Moreover you can control the spectrum light in accordance with the stage the plants are in, in case of LEDs. Some have switches that let you shift between VEG and BLOOM while some others are dimmable. This is not available in T5 grow lights.

Lifespan:

LEDs last a longer time. Though there are LEDs that claim to have a lifespan of 1,00,000 hours, it is yet to be proven if they last so much. Most LEDs have a 70% efficiency after 40-50000 hours and need a replacement. But yes they have a lifespan which is higher than your T5 grow lights. But if you compare the cost of replacement then T5s are a lot more affordable and easier to be replaced.

Best T5 Grow Lights Reviews 2018

it is a lightweight 4×4 feet T5 grow light that is capable of delivering over 20000 lumens while consuming only 216 watts of electricity. It has a 95% reflector so that most of the light is distributed to the plants and is capable of daisy chain option.

The Durolux DL844s is made from a high grade aluminium and measures 47.5”x12.5”x4”. The aluminum housing makes it light in weight and easy to hang. It can be easily hung with the help of the metal hangers that come with the fixture. The Durolux DL844s boasts of a huge German Hammertone reflector beneath which are four high output T5 tubes each four feet long and having a color temperature of 6500K. The reflector spans across the entire fixture and aids in maximum light distribution, so that maximum light reaches the plants and minimum amount is scattered and wasted. The reflector increases the light output by about 30% as compared to standard reflectors. The high output tubes facilitate more light emission with little or less electrical consumption. The design of the fixture is somewhat elliptical with curved edges. This does not only make it look nice and pretty but it also increases the efficiency of the light emitting fixture by directing the light from the T5 tubes downwards. Each of these units have a power out as well as a power in socket which allows you to power up 7 of these units from a single socket (daisy chain). The unit comes with a 8’ power cord.

The aluminum housing aids in easy heat dissipation which can be generated from the tubes as well as the ballast. No extra cooling system is required. Ballasts are sealed inside the body and are made to be durable and efficient. They are suited for high output T5 tubes and you are not supposed to put regular or normal output bulbs in these sockets.

You can switch on and off each pair of bulbs separately. One switch to operate the inner pair and another to operate the outer pair and hence you can replace the bulbs from 6500K grow bulbs to 3000K bloom bulbs or you can alternatively choose a pair of each one of them to provide a diversified spectrum available to the plants. The diversified spectrum will help you in the vegetative as well as the flowering stage. This feature also allows you to vary the intensity of the light according to your need.

The unit is rated for operation under wet or damp conditions and has a AAG Stucchi lampholder with I certificate that would prevent fire if the tubes get loose during operation. It is also safety approved by UL/CUL and has a warranty of 5 years.

PROS:
  • Lightweight aluminum housing with elliptical shape
  • German hammerman reflector
  • Can be hung vertically or horizontally
  • Paired control
  • Daisy chainable

CONS:
  • Aluminum housing can bend easily

Sunblaze 960 T5 Grow Lights are very popular among regular indoor growers and is available in a number of different combinations viz. 2feet 2lamps, 2feet 4lamps, 2feet 8lamps, 4 feet 2lamps, 4feet 4lamps, 4feet 6lamps and 4feet 8lamps. Though the most sought after model is the 4feet 8lamps unit and we would be discussing this model for the sake of the article. The 8 lamps are housed in a solid powder coated steel housing which is durable as well as light in weight. This sleek fixture measures47.75”x 22.5”x 2.675”and weighs around 29lbs. The steel housing has 24 small slits or louvers that aid in dissipating the built up heat and hence protects the grow light fixture from overheating. The wired cable hangers help in hanging the fixture. You can hang this fixture both horizontally and vertically.

The Sunblaze 960305 boasts of an advanced reflector design that delivers excellent reflectivity and diffusion. 95% of the light emitted is redirected to the plants and minimum light is wasted. The high output 6500K T5 tubes are perfect for your plants till their vegetative state. Alternately if you want them to support the flowering plants as well you can replace a few bulbs with 3000K T5 tubes to get a broader light spectrum to work with. A dual on/off switch let’s you control the operation of 4 tubes at a time. This helps you control the intensity as well as the different types of bulbs if you have fitted them. Each tube delivers around 5000lumens and the entire unit has a capacity of 40000 lumens while only 432 watts of electricity is consumed in an hour.

The fixture is daisy chainable and runs on 120V power only. It comes with a 12feet cord and the lamps are backed by a warranty of one year.

PROS:
  • Lightweight powder coated steel housing
  • Advanced reflector design
  • Louvered for heat dissipation
  • Sleek model can be hung vertically or horizontally
  • Dual control
  • Daisy chainable

CONS:
  • Has an audible buzz while running
  • Bulbs not as bright

Vivosun is a reputed grow light manufacturer and has already earned a name for itself in the market. The plug and play ballast is housed in a  47.3″ x 23.8″ x 2.4″ white powder coated aluminum housing. The entire fixture is of exceptional lightweight and weighs just 17lbs with the lamps. The adjustable height hangers let you hang them from the desired height without any hassle. The fixture can be hung horizontally vertically or overhead. This fixture is UL certified and has a high performance reflective aluminium inside to maximize the intensity of the light. It delivers 95-97% of the light and has a wider coverage compared to standard fixtures. The reflective surface has a peel-off covering that helps to keep it clean and also enhances the reflectivity. The fixture is louvered from the sides so that the heat is dissipated and there is no risk of overheating.

This fixture holds eight 54W 6500K high output T5 lamps and can consume a maximum of 432W when all the lamps are put on. You can add 3000K T5 lamps as well if you are in the look out for a broader spectrum. Dual switches control the operation of 4 lamps at a time. Each bulb is capable of producing around 5000 lumens. So the entire unit can deliver around 40000 lumens when in full swing.

The fixture is daisy chainable. The bulbs are rated for 20000 hours and come with a one year warranty while the UL certified fixture comes with a two year warranty.

PROS:
  • Extremely lightweight Powder coated aluminum housing
  • Aluminum reflectivity
  • Louvered for heat dissipation
  • Can be hung horizontally vertically or overhead
  • Dual control
  • Daisy chainable

CONS:
  • Not waterproof
  • Only two fixtures can be connected in the daisy chain

Hydrofarm is one of the oldest wholesalers and leading manufacturers of hydroponic equipments including high intensity grow lights. With over 40 years of experience to back its efforts Hydrofarm is well known for its premium quality products using the best materials and the latest technological innovation. The Agrobrite FLT44 stands testimony to this fact and is rated as one of the best T5 grow lights available in the market. It comes at an affordable price and is designed keeping in mind maximum efficiency and minimum power consumption . The Agrobrite FLT44 combines performance with flexibility and delivers a high lumen output for any growing environment. Though this model comprises of four tubes of four feet each, Agrobrite grow lights are also available in a wide variety of sizes from 2 to 12 tubes and 2 feet to four feet in size.

The Agrobrite FLT44 has a strong and durable powder coated steel housing coupled with high performance speculated aluminium which acts as a reflecting material for better light distribution. The 4 tubes of 6400K each are capable of delivering a maximum of 20000 lumens .They shell out double the light energy compared to regular fluorescent systems.The whole assembled structure can be hung horizontally , vertically or overhead so that you can deliver maximum lumen to the plants at any time. The tubes have a shelf life of 20,000 hours. There are controls to turn on/off each tube individually and hence you can change the intensity of the grow light according to your need. The unit is daisy chainable i.e you can run multiple fixtures from a single unit and comes with a 10ft power cord.

Above all the fixture is ETL listed and comes with a five year warranty.

PROS:
  • Powder coated steel housing
  • High grade speculated aluminum
  • 6400k T5 tubes
  • Individual controls
  • Daisy chainable
  • Emits less heat and consumes less electricity

CONS:
  • Larger units may require some ventilation

Quantum badboy is a high end T5 fixture. Quantum is a merchandiser of Hydrofarm which manufactures Agrobrite products. Though the Quantum Badboy does not bear the logo of Hydrofarm. Quantum products are expensive and are aimed for high end consumers. They are not only a lot more expensive than their counterparts but also do not come accompanied with the T5 lamps which have to be purchased separately. It has a premium design and a strong and highly durable built. The 4’ size is available in 4,6,8,12 and 16 bulb versions.

The Quantum Badboy T5 fixture is equipped with a German Glass coated aluminum reflector. The unique design with vented holes allow for maximum ventilation and helps it run cool. The Quantum Badboy uses the Fulham Race Horse Ballast which is one of the best in terms of the light output it produces. The Badboy has the highest light efficiency compared to other products in the market. It is rated at 23.32PAR per watt. It has dual switches to control the lights in two pairs.

The lamp spacing is responsible for uniform light throughout. Coupled with Quantum T5 tri-phosphor lamps it will give 28% more light without using additional power. The T5 lamps produce the color of light much closer to normal daylight and will give you better yield. You can choose from high output 2900K and 6500K lamps.

Aboveall, this T5 fixture is foldable and can be operated from 120V to 277V. It has a super high output that favors optimal plant growth.

PROS:
  • High end T5 fixture with German glass coated aluminum reflector
  • Fulham Race horse ballast
  • Dual controls
  • Vented housing
  • High light efficiency and super high output
  • Foldable

CONS:
  • Does not come with lamps

A US based company operating from the city of Walnut, California, Hydro Crunch aims at bringing simple yet durable and high quality hydroponic lights and light components to your homes. This lightweight efficient high output T5 fixture is all that you can ask for and comes at an affordable and reasonable price. The white powder coated sturdy housing measures 47”x22”x2”  and weighs about 30lbs. The unit can withstand harsh conditions and will hang in place even after the largest vibrations. You can hang the fluorescent T5 fixture with built in hanging wires either horizontally or vertically.

The Hydro Crunch T5 fixture comes equipped with a 95% reflective aluminum reflector that will reflect most of the light delivering maximum lumens to the growing plants. The electronic ballast inside the unit controls the power flow and eliminates the risk of any shortages or power build ups.

Eight 54W 6500K bulbs are housed inside the ballast that will give you the necessary light to favor growth. The unique lamp spacing typical to Hydro Crunch products has been developed for maximum coverage and optimal light distribution. The unit can be daisy chained and comes with a 1 year warranty. It is estimated to have a life span of 50000 hours.

PROS:
  • Sturdy powder coated housing with electronic ballast
  • 95% reflectivity
  • Maximum Electrical consumption of 432W
  • 50000 hour lifespan
  • Daisy chainable

CONS:
  • Not compatible with GFI/GFCI outlets

iPower Lighting is a leading US manufaturer of grow lights and has an experience of over a decade in this business. They come at a very affordable price. The iPower GLT5XX4 head start system comes with a light stand. The light stand has a feather touch height adjustment mechanism so that you can adjust the height of your grow light easily to fit in your plants. The lights are housed in a high grade steel housing that is powder coated in white. The housing that accommodates a single bulb has a triangular shape instead of the regular rectangular shaped grow light housings and contains the reflector as well as the bulb. The maximum height the light can be hung to is 30”.

The reflector along with the ballast has a study built. It is made of top grade aluminum and is in wider angle to optimize the coverage area. The premium ballast cuts off electrical insurgencies and provides a quick illumination once the light is turned on.

This single bulb fixture can house a 4 feet bulb capable of covering up to 4 plants. It consumes about 54W of electricity and is daisy chainable. An easy accessible on/off switch helps you with the operations. It has a 6’ grounded cord and is backed by a year long warranty.

PROS:
  • Comes with a height adjustable stand
  • Premium ballast
  • High grade aluminum reflective surface
  • Triangular shaped steel housing
  • Daisy chainable

CONS:
  • Height maximum up to 30”
  • Single bulb fixture

Best T5 Grow Light Buying Guide

There are a number of factors that have to be considered when you actually plan to buy T5 grow lights. Some of these factors are related to your growing area and what you are growing in it while some others are features that you should look for in your T5 Grow light.

Size of your growing room:

The first thing that you need to consider is the size and the shape of your growing garden. This would determine the size and the number of T5 fixtures that you would require for your indoor garden. Sometimes one grow light may not be enough and you may have to connect multiple fixtures to provide uniform light throughout. If you have to fix more than one light then you should consider buying T5 lights which are suitable for daisy chaining.

Size of the bulb:

We all know that T5 lights have a standard diameter but vary in terms of their size and the number of T5 grow bulbs that fit in a single grow light fixture. You can choose any combination of size and number of bulbs depending on the maximum availability of space in your garden. You can always go for the largest that you can well accommodate. But if you carefully choose the best combination in terms of the optimal output required for the number of plants you are growing that would save a lot of upfront as well as running cost.

Color temperature of the bulb:

Most T5 grow lights have a color temperature of 6500K and hence are more suited for the germination up to the vegetative state. However T5 grow lights are also available in 3000K and if you choose a combination of them you can facilitate flowering and fruiting as well. These bulbs are also available in 2 feet and 4 feet sizes.

Reflector Style:

Depending on the height from which you are hanging your lights, you can select the type of reflector that accompanies your bulb. If you prefer hanging them close to the plants you should go for encased rectangular reflectors while if you are hanging them higher, then you need to buy a fixture with a gull-wing reflector that will reflect the lights that were spilling out and guide them through to the plants.

Manufacturer:

Sticking to reliable and well known brands definitely makes a lot of difference. Its always worth investing in a brand that has a history of successful products. You can also check for the reviews written by consumers before buying the product, though sometimes consumer reviews can be misleading as well.

Extra Features:

Look for T5 Grow light fixtures that have switches to control the intensity of the light emitted. This way you can switch off two or more bulbs when not required and can save a lot of electricity as well. Apart from the fact that the lower intensity light will also favor the growth at some stages like the seedling.

CONCLUSION:

Though we have not included this in the list of factors to consider before you actually go and buy your T5 grow lights, the last factor but not of the least importance though, the budget plays an important part in your selection. Always choose the best that you can afford at your budget but that needs a detailed knowledge of the bulbs so that the choice can be wise. We have provided you with a list of the best T5 grow lights so that your choice can be easy. Choose the one that best suits your needs and enjoy watching your favourite plants grow just before your eyes.

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