If you’re wondering which type of grow light is best for your indoor garden, you’re not alone. Many growers go back and forth on T5 fluorescents and LED fixtures, and some even lose sleep over the T5 vs LED debate.
It’s no surprise that the decision a difficult one since both light types have pros and cons. Take LEDs as an example. They’re super efficient on energy and operate at an even cool temperature, but the initial cost is expensive.
Then there’s T5s. Similar to LEDs, T5 lights are efficient and they give off very little heat. The downside is that they’re not as powerful and versatile, and fluorescent lighting is only really suitable for early plant development.
So what’s a grower to do? It’s actually very simple… The answer is to go with a T5 LED grow light system. They come with all the same benefits of T5s and LEDs, and even though they’re pricy, they’re 100% worth it.
What are T5 LED Lights?
Most LED light fixtures are lined with tiny light-emitting diodes (that’s where the name LED comes from) that efficiently shine down over the plant canopy. T5 bulbs, on the other hand, have the traditional tubular shape of standard fluorescent lights.
But what many people don’t realize is that a T5 bulb doesn’t necessarily have to emit fluorescent light. The “T” just stands for tubular (which is why these bulbs are always shaped as long tubes) and the “5” represents the ⅝” size.
When you put the two together, you get an energy-efficient LED bulb that takes the tubular form of a T5. It’s still ⅝” in diameter, but instead of fluorescent filaments on the inside, it’s filled light-emmitting diodes – AKA LEDs.
Types of T5 LEDs Available to Growers
There are currently two different types of T5 LED lights on the market: T5 equivalent LED lights and T5 LED direct replacement tubes. The first type is an entire fixture which includes both the light tubes and the ballast. If you go with this, you have everything you need for your grow room lighting system.
Direct replacement tubes are exactly as they sound; they’re basically just standalone light tubes that come without a fixture. They work with any standard T5 fluorescent fixture, so if you already have an old-school T5 fixture but just want to improve the bulb system with tubular LEDs, this is a great choice.
How an Indoor Garden Can Benefit from T5 LED Lights
In the past, most indoor growers raved about their powerful, high-intensity lights. It wasn’t until 10-ish years ago that LEDs started being used in the world of indoor gardening. This is because LED technology is still fairly new, but it has certainly taken the world by storm in a short amont of time.
Efficient Use of Energy
The main reason for the popularity is that LEDs are insanely efficient on their energy usage. They’re much more efficient than high intensity discharge (HID) lights, but you don’t have to give up on power and wattage.
To put things into perspective, The US Department of Energy says that “residential LEDs – especially ENERGY STAR rated products – use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.”
LED technology is designed to give off very little heat, which all growers can agree is a good thing. A light system that gives off too much heat can overheat the grow room, throw off the climate, and even singe the plants themselves.
LEDs run cool, plus many grow light fixtures are designed with cooling mechanisms to help even further. If you’ve got a small grow room, low ceilings, poor ventilation, or you just don’t want to deal with the risk of overheating, go with T5 LEDs.
They Last for Years
T5 LEDs are rated to last as long as 50,000 hours. There are 8,760 hours in a year, so if you were to run these lights nonstop, you could keep them going for almost 6 years. Most other light types, including traditional T5 grow lights for cannabis, only last for about 25,000 hours max.
Convenient Bulb Shape
One of the reasons that so many growers love fluorescent grow lights is the tubular bulb shape. Although these long, skinny bulbs are breakable (please, be careful!), they’re actually very easy to handle. When a bulb needs replacing, just pop the old one out and secure the new one in.
What’s the Catch?
With all the good things that come along with T5 LED lights, you’re probably thinking to yourself, so what’s the catch? There is one, and it’s the high initial price tag of T5 LED fixtures and standalone bulbs.
It’s easy to moan and complain about the high cost, but you get what you pay for. And in the case of an indoor grow op, it’s 100% worth it to spend more on a light system that will deliver the results you’re hoping to see.
Another thing to keep in mind is that T5 LEDs might cost more initially, but they’re likely to save you money in the long run. Remember, this is the most energy-efficient type of grow light available, and that’s a big deal for something that uses as much energy as a grow op.