Fluorescent lights were, until recently, an unlikely choice for indoor weed growers. However, in the last few years, grow light manufacturers have started producing stronger units that can actually guide a plant through its vegetative stage.
The reason for this? Energy savings and low running temperatures (about 95ºF). The low heat emissions allow growers to place them very near the plant without the risk of burning the leaves.
T5 is a code name to identify the size of the fluorescent light bulb. In physics, T refers to diameter and in this case, a standard fluorescent bulb is 5/8 of an inch big. There are many variations of fluorescent bulbs, including the mini-sized CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) and the larger T8 and T12 models.
However, T5 is the most popular size choice among hydroponic weed growers. They are ideal in size, power yield per watt and price. Also, their spectrum is ideal for growing plants in the vegetative stage, provided they are placed very near (about a foot) of your plants’ canopy.
In this article, we will look at some of the best T5 fluorescent grow lights for your indoor crop.
Top Five T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights for Cannabis Growing
|Apollo Horticulture T5 Commercial Fixture|
|Hydro Crunch T5 Fluorescent 432|
|AgroBrite FLT48 T5 Fixture|
|DuroLux Four Foot, Four Bulb T5 Grow Light DL844s|
|Sun Blaze T5-24|
Best T5 Grow Lights for Hydroponic Cannabis Grows
Despite all the LED grow light craze that has taken over the hydroponic growing world, there is a surprising number of indoor gardeners that can still appreciate the merits of a good T5 fluorescent grow light: They don’t run hot, they are highly customizable, cheap and efficient. In commercial operations, professionals use them extensively for seedlings and young plants.
Can You Grow with Fluorescent Lights?
This is a tricky question. Generally, plants take full advantage of the blue spectrum and cool white color temperature (6500K) that fluorescent lights emit, but only until they reach the flowering stage. Once you reach that point when your plant has come into maturity, T5 bulbs will not be enough, unless you purchase “warm white” (2500-3000K) ones.
Whatever may be your choice, you should always choose High Output bulbs to ensure that you get the most lumens for the price. T5 grow lights alone are not a complete solution for your indoor weed garden, they are bulkier than LED grow lights and they need ballasts to run.
Finally, fluorescent lights degrade over time and their average lifespan is about 22,000 hours, comparing to the average of 50,000 of LEDs. However, if you use them wisely, they can be a sound investment for your crop!
Apollo Horticulture is a company known to us for their quality grow tents and LED grow lights. Their company is dedicated to weed-growing accessories and equipment, so that allows them to offer reliable solutions on many different aspects of hydroponic cannabis growing.
The T5 Commercial unit comes in four sizes: 4’x2-fluorescent bulbs, 4’x4-fluorescent bulbs, 4’x6-fluorescent bulbs and 4’x8-fluorescent bulbs. For this article, we will focus on the latter as it is by far the most customizable and offers the biggest potential for customization.
In this package, you will find everything you need to introduce yourself to the world of fluorescent grow lights. The fixture itself is very sturdy and powerful and allows for a variety of setups. You can literally place this unit however you want, as long as the bright part is faced towards the plants!
Right out of the box, you will find a solid reflective hood with ballasts, that will house your T5 fluorescent bulbs, which are also included. Depending on the size of the fixture you decide to order, the T5 commercial fixture comes with two, four or eight 6400K bulbs, that can be customized according to suit your grow. The max wattage for this fixture is around 432W for 8x54W bulbs.
- 1 – Apollo Horticulture Lighting System
- 5’ Grounded 120V Power Cord
- Package Includes 2/4/6/8 -54W T5 Fluorescent Bulbs – 6400K
- 4’x2 T5 bulbs: 48” x 8” x 2”
- 4’x4 T5 bulbs: 48” x 13” x 2”
- 4’x6 T5 bulbs: 48” x 19” x 2”
- 4’x8 T5 bulbs: 48” x 24” x 2”
- Total Wattage: 54W per bulb, so 108W/216W/324W/432W
- This lighting system can be hung 3 ways – Overhead, Vertical, or Horizontal
A compact T5 fluorescent grow light fixture for the budget-oriented grower, the Hydro Crunch provides a 16sq.ft. coverage with a 54W output per T5 bulb. Although the size of this light unit might not make it look like much, there are more than meets the eye in its construction.
First of all, the lamp is built with a 95% reflective frame that adds more power to the output by scattering light all over your plants’ canopy. Setting it up is as easy as plugging it in and turning it on, while you can even use it vertically if you want (although that’s a fact for most T5 fluorescent light fixtures on the market).
This fixture is also daisy-chainable, meaning that you can link up to three at a time to increase coverage. Each fixture takes 8 lamps, reaching a max total of 432W, that will, however, degrade over time. Provided with the fixture comes a 15’ UL-listed power cord and 8x6400K T5 lamps of 54W each. Of course, you are free to customize this as it is compatible with 2700K-3000K lamps as well.
The T5 is not very heavy and relatively small-sized, so installing it shouldn’t be too hard. The fixture comes with built-in hang wires, meaning you won’t have to dabble with any wires or attach anything to the housing. The Hydro Crunch T5 is protected by a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Ideal for growing seedlings, clones and plants until the flowering stage
- Grow light fixture features steel housing with grow louvered slots for efficient cooling
- 95% highly reflective aluminum reflector for maximum light output
- 8 x 6400K lamps included
- 1-year warranty
- 8 ft. 120-Volt power cord that plugs into a standard outlet
- Bulbs included (54-Watt each)
- Daisy chain-able feature (up to 3 fixtures per outlet)
- Dual switch feature
- Dimensions: 46.25″ x 24″ x 2.4″
- Does not work with GFCI outlets
Hydrofarm T5 fluorescent grow lights are among the highest quality choices a grower can make for their indoor hydroponic garden. Similar to the Apollo Commercial fixture we presented above, this fixture comes in one shape, but many sizes: 2’x2-fluorescent bulbs, 4’x6-fluorescent bulbs, and 4’x8-fluorescent bulbs. Notice that, compared to the Apollo Horticulture unit, this one does not feature a 4’x4-bulb model, although this is by no means a deal breaker.
The power of this T5 grow light fixture can reach up to 40,000 lumens of light at a max of 8x54W=432W of power. A very pleasant addition to this fixture is the ability to control each lamp independently, via multiple on/off switches. That means that you can always control how many lamps you want to be lit at any given time, without adding and removing the bulbs.
The AgroBrite shines in terms of build quality, and we mean this in the literal sense of the word: The fixture features a highly-refined German aluminum reflector for maximum light intensity! The fixture is made from rust-resistant, powder coated steel that guarantees longevity and protection of your grow lights.
It is well worth mentioning that Hydrofarm offers a 5-year warranty on all their products, which is a pretty good deal, especially considering that T5 fluorescent lights are more prone to malfunction than your average LED grow light. All in all, the AgroBrite is a solid choice, backed by a reliable company.
- Multiple On/Off switches that allow you to control the amount of light output/coverage as needed
- FLT22 – 25”x5”x9”
- FLT46 – 46”x20”x3”
- FLT48 – 48”x28”x4”
- Hangs 3 ways-overhead, vertical or horizontal
- 10′ grounded power cord
- Includes 8 fluorescent 6400K, T5 tubes
- 5-year Ballast Warranty, 1 Year on material and workmanship
DuroLux offers two different choices for their T5 grow light fixtures, that are equal in the number of lamps but different in size. You can choose between a 2’ or a 4’ model and both can house up to 4 fluorescent lamps at a time.
Which one you will choose depends solely on your budget and growing needs. Our opinion is that although smaller fixtures offer flexibility, you can easily outgrow them. So, unless you are absolutely aware of your limitations, go for the larger model.
There are switches that allow you to control how many lamps are turned on at a time at 2 intervals. The four T5 light bulbs can put out a solid 10,000lm (lumens) that promises adequate penetration of the plant canopy. Bear in mind that the 2ft fluorescent light bulbs give 48 Watts of power each, while the 4ft ones are at 54W. The fixture is made of aluminum and is lined throughout with German Hammertone reflectors that are rated at 95% reflective.
The system is daisy-chainable, meaning you can connect up to 12 fixtures to a single power outlet and use their combined light output. The price of this fixture is on the lower side, allowing for bulk orders and more experimentation. Included in the package you will find four high output T5 fluorescent light bulbs that run in a cool white color temperature (6400K). The seller offers a 5-year warranty with their models.
- 10,000 lumens light output
- 2’x4-bulbs: 23” x 13” x 5”
- 4’x4-bulbs: 12” x 4” x 46”
- 95% Reflectivity German Hammer-tone Reflector
- Included: 2/4x2ft 6400K Lamps, Hanging hooks and chains, power cord
- Outlet on fixture – Power up to 12 fixtures off one wall outlet via daisy chain
- 2 switches on body, one for inner 2 bulbs, another for outer 2 bulbs
- UL/CUL safety approved. Designed to operate in Wet/Damp Environments, water resistant.
- Made-In-Italy AAG Stucchi Lampholder with I certificate to prevent fire if tubes get loose during operation
- 5-year warranty
The Sun Blaze sports a modular design and favors customizability over bulkier T5 fluorescent fixtures. You can purchase 1/2/4/6/8-tube models that are 2’ or 4’ long (2’-model not available for a 6-tube fixture). As you can imagine, these lights present us with a world of possibilities as they are a flexible solution for gardens of all sizes.
Of course, all models come with high output ballasts for easy installation and increased lifespan. The fixture is made of white powder coated steel, lined with reflective material on the inside. Fixtures are daisy-chainable and can be installed in any way you deem necessary for optimal light penetration. Similar to other models we’ve presented, this fluorescent light fixture also features on/off switches on larger models.
The eco-friendly recyclable packaging includes both the housing with the ballasts and the 24W or 54W T5 lamps (how many and how powerfully depends on the model you choose). You will also find a 17’ power cord and chains for easy installation and operation.
Overall, this is a cheap fluorescent grow light, suited to those who like to grow their garden incrementally. If you are just starting out with just a plant, you can go for one light strip and then expand accordingly. The manufacturer also offers a 1-year warranty on the lamps and a 10-year warranty on ballast and housing components.
- White powder coated steel housing.
- 2’ models
- 1-tube: 24.5” x 3.6” x 2”
- 2-tubes: 26.8” x 9.3” x 4”
- 4-tubes: 26.8” x 14.2” x 4”
- 8-tubes: 26.5” x 24.1” x 4”
- 4’ models
- 1-tube: 48” x 5.5” x 2”
- 2-tubes: 50” x 9.5” x 4.2”
- 4-tubes: 50” x 14.2” x 4”
- 8-tubes: 50” x 24” x 4”
- 6-tubes: 50” x 19” x 4”
- 17’ power cord and on/off switch allows for easy operation. Eight lamp model features two on/off switches to run four lamps at a time if desired.
- Run on 120V power outlets only.
- Daisy chain feature allows multiple fixtures to be plugged in together
- 10-year warranty on ballast components; ETL certified
- 2’ models
How to Pick the Perfect T5 Grow Lights
Taking into account that, at the end of the day, T5 fluorescent lights are not so different from one another, budget plays a big role in your final choice. However, the price is yet another similarity of all the models we presented here! Although some fixtures are more expensive than others, fluorescent lights are cheaper than any equivalent LED grow light and the price difference borders on the ~$20-40 margin.
Even the most advanced models don’t exceed $200, while fluorescent light bulbs are everywhere on Amazon. Just make sure you go for high-output units rather than any T5 light bulb. Remember, you are not trying to illuminate a dentist’s office. Grow lights (measured in Lumens) should provide enough power for the plants to feed on. The more lumens, the deeper the light penetration.
If you intend to complete a grow cycle exclusively with fluorescent grow lights, you will need to equip with T5 bulbs of all color temperatures and spectrums so that you will be ready for the blooming period.
We tried to be as unambiguous with product dimensions as possible in our reviews. Size matters, especially in indoor hydroponic grows with fluorescent lights. You should accurately calculate the dimensions of your grow room or grow tent before purchasing a fixture, so won’t face the ultimate frustration of a T5 light that doesn’t fit just by an inch.
Luckily, customizability is a big plus of fluorescent T5 lights, so it is highly unlikely that you won’t find something to suit your needs. Most of the fixtures come in various shapes and sizes and are daisy-chainable, meaning you can connect one to another and all of them to a single power output.
Color Temperature & Spectrum
You can find T5 fluorescent grow lamps that run on all color temperatures: From 2700K (Warm White) to 6000K (Daylight). Different temperatures are necessary for different stages of plant growth, although fluorescent tubes definitely perform better in the vegetative stage. Keep in mind though that fluorescents are weaker comparing to HPS/MH fixtures and less versatile than LEDs.
You can use either type of lights during either stage and still acceptable results. People also use “Daylight” (5000K) bulbs with success. However, it would be wise on your behalf not to rely entirely on fluorescent lights for the entirety of plant development. Unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing, purchase supplemental lighting for flowering in order to maximize your yields.
For the best results, choose fluorescent light bulbs that are labeled either as “Cool White” or “Cool” colored (also labeled as “6500k” colored) for vegetative growth and “Warm White” or “Soft White” colored (usually labeled as “2500K” or “3000K”) for flowering.
T5’s Do Not Accomodate FUll-Spectrum
T5 grow lights cannot accommodate a full-spectrum growth. You are responsible for getting the appropriate fluorescent lamps for each development stage and replacing them on your grow. Although this might look like a major inconvenience, there is a bright side to it: This allows for greater customization, as you can place your fixtures however you want. Don’t forget that fluorescents rarely need ventilation, so they can be placed everywhere in your grow space.
Full-cycle grows with fluorescent lights are definitely possible and much cheaper than any other option. Granted, many people will go for comfort over budget, but informed decisions can help you grow bigger and better with just the fraction of the money you would spend on other, fancier grow lights.
More on T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights
Always make sure that your fixture comes with a long power cord and calculate according to your needs. Whether you want to hang the light vertically, horizontally or overhead, you should be aware of the available space and the length of the cords.
You should always have replacement bulbs available as T5 lamps are prone to malfunction. Finally, it is strongly recommended to purchase red (warm white) lights to enhance flowering, or get a supplemental lighting unit. A small full-spectrum LED lamp will do just fine as an auxiliary light source.
Our Final Review
We’ll admit that this was a tough one. Nearly all of the models we presented are great and they don’t really differ all that much in terms of quality and build. Perhaps the most important point of concern for prospective buyers is the housing and ballasts material, as well as the dimensions of each fixture. Nevertheless, there is a T5 fluorescent grow light that stood out, so we picked that.
The AgroBrite T5 Fixture is by far the best-rounded choice for its price and competition. Featuring exceptional build quality (made from rust-resistant, powder coated steel), highly-refined German aluminum reflector for maximum light intensity, we concluded the AgroBrite light is the top choice.
Hydrofarm’s AgroBrite really is the best T5 fluorescent light that money can buy right now. To top it all off, Hydrofarm also offers a 5-year warranty on their products, making the deal even sweeter for those who are interested.
The team at LEDGrowLightsHQ.com is composed of expert cannabis writers and enthusiasts, many who frequent small grow operations for recreational purposes. We often provide insight from our partners or large publications or magazines.