You can adjust all the parameters of your indoor garden to the T, but without optimal lighting, you wouldn’t see the lush green growth you’re hoping for.
Grow lights have several characteristics that describe their performance. Each one of these properties will affect your plants, so you might need to go a little deeper into that.
We have the right kind of information, and in the following sections, we’ll explore the different effects of grow lights and how to make the best of them.
We’ll also assess the performance of the best T5 grow lights, and by the end of this article, we’ll reveal our number one pick.
Top 5 Best T5 Grow Lights Comparison Chart
Reviews of the Best T5 Grow Lights
Grow lights can be used in several ways, that’s why it’s important to look closely at the capabilities of each one, and see how it fits your setup.
This is a ready-to-use configuration. Just pick the setup you need, hang it up, plug it in, and you’re good to go.
It’s a versatile model that you can install vertically on a side wall, or horizontally from the ceiling. There’s a wide selection of lamp sizes and clusters, but the basic fixture is the same. You can choose combinations of 2 x 2 ft , 4 x 2-ft , 8 x 2-ft , 4 x 4-ft, and 8 x 4-ft lamps.
The color temperature of the T5 bulbs is around 6500 K, which is prominently cold light, often recommended for the vegetative phase of your plants.
To enhance the intensity of light, this fixture comes with a highly reflective aluminum interior. It’s capable of reflecting out nearly 95% of the light, pretty much doubling its power.
The housing is made from a powder-coated material, which is suitable for weathering the humid environment. There’s a built-in daisy chain outlet, which allows for future expansion and adding more lighting units.
The price is a little above mid-range, but let’s keep in mind that it’s a ‘plug-and-play’ model. It’s suitable for beginners who’d benefit from the no-hassle installation. Veterans could also use it as a supplement light or for confined spaces.
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The Lightingwise bulbs have two remarkable features: the seriously high output of 5000 Lumen, and the availability of 6500 K and 3000 K lamps. You can set up a varied and comprehensive indoor garden on these parameters.
The combination of cool 6500 K and warm 3000 K spectrum helps your plants to grow in their various development stages. The high-intensity light is sufficient to sustain a medium-sized area.
Varying the height and angle of your fixture will give you different results, so take a look at your intended or current plantation and see which arrangement is correct.
The Lightingwise bulbs are sold in flexible packages of 1,4,8,20, and 40 4-ft lamps. You can order a single color temp lamp 3000 K or 6500 K, or a combination of both.
The price is around the mid-range, and considering that these lamps are durable and cost-effective, we recommend them to any user, as they’re pretty versatile.
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These grow lights offer you flexibility, coverage, and easy setup. First of all, they offer 3000 K and 6500 K lamps, which come in several packing options.
You can also get various configurations for the Oppolite Grow lights, so if you prefer the 2-ft lamps, you could either get a 2 or a 4-lamp fixture. With a 4-ft type lamp, you can choose from a 4,6, or 8-lamp clusters.
Even switching has options in these lights! Quite often we need to operate half of the lighting only, and that’s hard to do with a single switch system. Here, you control the lighting and one of two outlets.
This integrated system is quite versatile, it should work nicely for all skill levels and indoor garden sizes. You just need to specify the requirements of your plants and order the configuration that corresponds to it.
If you’re planning to expand, you could buy a system a little larger than your current needs, and the dual switching system will let you use half of it as long as you like. Later on, you can use it in full.
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These 22-inch light bulbs are versatile and you can combine them in various ways to illuminate your indoor garden.
These bulbs give off about 2000 Lumens of soft light. You can choose the blue/violet 6500 K light, which is suitable for germinating seedlings and plants in their early vegetative states.
Alternatively, you can install a red/orange 3000 K light, which enhances the development of budding plants.
The VIVOSUN lamps might serve you best if you’ve already worked with indoor gardens and need specialized lighting. They need some creativity in coming up with the right configuration of color temperature, suitable height, and the overall number of lamps needed.
You’ll also need to make sure that the lamps are compatible with your fixture. Otherwise, you could purchase one of VIVOSUN’s fixtures. There are some pretty good models that could save you the hassle of brand-matching.
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The beauty of these lights is in the way you could connect them. Use one or use a 100 of them, they connect just like a Lego!
You can join them like a train with little connectors from one light fixture to the next, or you could attach a 48-inch cord between them. You can also hook them up individually. They come with separate power cords for that flexibility.
Having that opportunity to add power and distribute light gives endless possibilities to what you can plant and where you can plant it. You can get a well-illuminated room, but the light doesn’t have to come from the same ceiling-mounted fixture.
These T5 lamps give off about 2200 Lumens of 6500 bright white light, which is an intense output. They also come in a 4000 K variety, covering the warmer side of illumination. You can use it for growing plants in various developmental stages.
These lights are great for beginners, they can expand as your knowledge and experience increases. Seasoned gardeners would also find some creative ways to add these versatile lights around their plants.
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What Are Grow Lights?
Most of us don’t have the luxury of enjoying pleasant bright weather all year round or owning a green-house.
Moving indoors, we might think of placing our plants near a window, but that’s hardly sufficient. Using regular house lights for growing is a nice idea, but the intensity required is barely enough to keep a shade plant happy.
High-intensity industrial lights provide the required output, but several types give off copious amounts of heat, which often interferes with the plant’s growth. Sometimes the leaves ‘burn’ from the harshness of that high-energy type of light.
Plants need the full light spectrum to grow properly, but that’s not always feasible, and some types of lamps are severely lacking in the basic wavelengths required for photosynthesis.
That’s why we resort to specialized grow lights. They need to have the correct intensity and include the necessary parts of the spectrum. They should also emit low heat as they work.
The way you install your lights, their angle to the plants, their proximity from the plants, and the amount of time you leave them ON, are all attributed associated with grow lights.
Don’t be overwhelmed though, we’ll get to all that in the next sections.
What Does T5 Mean?
T5 is one of several Tungsten-lamp types. The classification is based on the diameter of these lamps, which is ⅝ inch.
There’s a funny thing you’ll notice if you check out the specification sheet of these lamps: some of the names are based on inch-measurements while others are taken from the millimeter value of the metric equivalent!
The close cousins of the T5 are the T8 and T12, which were celebrities once. They’re now replaced by the much more efficient and power saving T5.
T5-lamps are popular nowadays as grow lights for several reasons. They’re economic, they have the correct intensity, and they provide warm and cold light. They’re also slim, so they can be installed anywhere, and they don’t heat up their surroundings.
Do You Need T5 Grow Light?
T5 lights can be used as the main source of light for an indoor garden with little or no access to daylight.
You might want to use different color temperatures for the various plant types and stages of growth.
You can also use grow lights as a supplement when the light filtering inside the room is insufficient for proper plant growth. In that case, you could choose a light with less intensity.
Winter is characterized by short days and cast skies. This limits the potential of growing many varieties, but thanks to tech, you can grow summer plants in the middle of January. However, You’ll have to adjust more variables, like ambient temperature and humidity level.
T5 lights are slim and safe to use within a short distance from the plants. They wouldn’t burn the leaves, exude too much heat, or subject the plant to overexposure. That’s why they’re suitable for shelve setups and confined spaces.
Other choices like LED lights and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) are either too bulky or too hot. In both cases, they shouldn’t be placed that close to any plant.
Cost-effectiveness is a bit more debatable when it comes to comparing T5 with LEDs. However, the start-up costs for T5 are much lower, and that’s always an appealing point for hobbyists operating on a slim budget.
Should You Leave the Grow Lights ON?
One of the first questions people often ask when they start their indoor gardens, is how long the lights need to stay on?
They assume that if a plant stays under the light longer, it’ll thrive and yield more. This is true to an extent, and your plant might bloom like an exotic tree for a bit.
However, some processes need to take place when the plant reverses its cycles in the absence of light. It’s like the human’s need for sleep and all the major activities that get to work only during deep sleep. In plants, we call this photoperiodism
Check out the natural behavior of your plant, and try to mimic the proper light cycle it’d have outdoors. You could boost its growth a little, but let’s not go for extreme schemes. Ultimately, it’d show in the way your plant develops.
The general recommendation for germinating plants is to leave the grow lights on for 16 hours/day, vegetative plants need around 18 hours light/day, and the flowering phase is fine with about 12 hours of grow light/day.
Red Light or Blue Light?
The easy answer is: red light looks like summer, so use it when you want fruits. And blue light is symbolic of autumn and winter, so put it up for more vegetation.
This golden rule is lovely in theory, but it doesn’t always hold in practice. We’ve seen several plants flourishing in red lights and standing still in blue light. There are unique preferences for each plant, and you might need a little trial and error to know what works best.
Baby plants are different from full-grown ones. Seedlings have different needs than fruit trees. The best results are often a combination of knowledge and practical experience.
Usually, a mixture of wavelengths yields the best results with your plants. Even green light, which is mostly reflected, is still essential.
A dash of ultraviolet was also found to be beneficial in adding flavor. This is pretty logical, as nearing the composition of sunlight is the best-case scenario for grow lights.
Color temperature isn’t the only variable at play for proper plant growth. The light intensity, exposure time, and distance from the light source are all essential factors.
How to Tell if Your Grow Light is Excessive or Deficient?
Plants that don’t get enough light are often ‘spindly and leggy’. It’s like they were reaching out to get more light, and they didn’t, so they grew thin and lanky. Their root growth might also look weak and short.
Insufficient light could be caused by using a lamp with low power, a color temperature different from that needed by the plant, or installing light too far from the plant. It could also be fewer exposure hours than the ideal for that particular plant.
When plants are subjected to too much light, they often show burned tips and irregular leaf shapes. The root growth could be plentiful, but it doesn’t reflect on the plant’s overall health.
Too much exposure could also stunt the plant’s growth altogether, and you might see a dwarfish plant instead of the vegetative one you’re used to.
Excessive light means that the power is too high, the light fixtures are too close to the plant, or the delivered spectrum is overwhelming the plant. Daily exposure hours are also a critical factor.
Balance is always good, and that often comes after plenty of trial and error!
How to Choose the Right T5 Grow Light?
Here are some parameters you should consider as you choose your T5 grow lights
The placement of T5 lamps in extra-large rooms is a controversial choice, and the use of LEDs for that space is usually present as an option. They come with their installation requirements and cooling needs of course.
In a smaller space, LED light could be too much. It might even burn the leaves of your plants or cause photosynthetic saturation. T5 is often the better choice. T5 is optimally placed 2” to 6” above the plants, and that’s perfect if you’re using a shelving setup or a similarly confined space.
The initial cost of setting up your indoor garden is a legitimate concern. T5 lamps have appealing initial costs and their run-time is pretty long, often 20,000 hours.
In comparison, LED lights were traditionally expensive but they had long and happy lives, spanning about 50,000 hours. Nowadays, the initial cost of LEDs went down substantially, and that’s why they compete a little with T5.
Both T5 and LED consume little power. The latter gives off more light per watt though. Ultimately, grow lights aren’t just about initial or running costs. It’s more a question of what suits your plants best.
There’s a wide range of brightness levels you can get from your T5 light. The portable units give around 200 Lumen, and the larger 4-ft lamps could go as far as 5000 Lumen.
Think of the kinds of plants you have, how far you’ll install the light, and the number of light fixtures you’ll eventually install.
This is an expression of how warm or cold your light is. Natural Daylight seems to be just white, but that’s not exactly true. Scientifically speaking there are three types of light:
- Warm white light goes from 2700 K to 3000 K
- Cool/Blue-white light is from 3500 K to 4100 K
- Daylight is considered from 5000 K to 6500 K
These values have different effects on your plant, and it’s imperative to know when and where to use each type of lighting. You could also install a combination to create a more integrated grow light.
To Wrap Up
Our top pick is the Oppolite T5 Ho Grow Lights. This fixture has the most flexible configuration we’ve come across so far. You can pick the lamp size, the number of lamps, and preferred color temperature. It’s easy to install and comes at a nice price.
If you need a higher intensity light, then you can go for the Lightingwise T5 HO Fluorescent Grow Light Bulbs. They have an impressive output of 5000 Lumen, which covers up a wide range of planting needs. These lights also come in warm and cold varieties and various sizes to suit your set up.