When it comes to indoor gardening, lighting is a crucial element for the health and growth of your plants. Two popular options for indoor grow lights are T5 fluorescent lights and LED lights. While both types of lights can be effective, there are some key differences between them.
The past few years have introduced us to products that can provide such lighting - lighting which is suitable for indoor plants. Fluorescent bulbs, like T5, are the most common lighting today. Plant growers use these, but the advent of LED lighting has started to take over the business.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at T5 Vs LED grow lights, the pros and cons of each, and what to consider when choosing the right lighting option for your indoor garden.
Defining T5 & LED Grow Lights
A fluorescent light bulb. The T5 grow light number refers to the bulb's diameter, which is ⅝". Lengths are available in 2 feet and 4 feet.
Previous models were T8 and T12. But because of their inefficiency in performance, the development of T5 happened. And this model has proven itself efficient in plant production and power usage.
T5 bulbs can last long and effectively give your plants the desired light. T5 combines mercury vapors, xenon, argon, krypton, and neon gases. These elements are all compounded in a tube with tungsten electrodes. These materials contribute to producing great lighting.
LED grow lights, on the other hand, are more recent than T5 lights. They are the most current kind of lighting made in the market now. That's why a lot of people aren't using them yet. LED lights seem small and inefficient, but they're powerful. These lights are efficient and will save you a lot of space as you grow plants indoors.
LED grow lights have become very attractive to indoor growers. They were only used as a supplementary kind of light in the past. Growers used LED lighting to add light as needed. But now, they stand alone as grow lights for plants.
Nowadays, even LED panels can light a whole room full of plants. This light will keep your plants vibrant and healthy.
LED grow lights have light-emitting diodes. They are usually placed in casings and built-in fans. Unlike fluorescent bulbs, they do not require ballasts. They are directly powered into standard electrical outlets. They are now becoming a better alternative to fluorescent grow lights.
Table 1: T5 Vs LED Key Differences
|Feature||T5 Fluorescent Lights||LED Lights|
|Energy efficiency||Less efficient||More efficient|
|Lifespan||Around 20,000 hours||Up to 50,000 hours|
|Heat output||Produces more heat||Produces less heat|
|Cost||Less expensive upfront||More expensive upfront|
|Maintenance||Regular bulb replacement and cleaning||Requires very little maintenance|
Because of their ease of installation and replacement, the T5 is very efficient. That is why it's widely used by plant growers today. Furthermore, the model provides just enough lighting for healthy plant growth.
Some models can even do better, surpassing 100 lumens/watt efficiency. But LED grow lights also have many benefits for you and your plants. Let's compare the benefits of these kinds of lights:
Efficiency & Ease of Use
The T5 fluorescent bulbs win over the LEDs in this aspect. The installation and replacement of T5 bulbs are easier. Dispose of burned-out bulbs and replace them with new ones the old-fashioned way. The T5 also has very small ballasts. They need small spaces, making them more convenient to install than LEDs.
Let us define two terms here. First, the Lumen it is a unit of measurement for light. The more lumen, the brighter the light. Second, the Watt is a unit of electrical power. The more watts, the more lumens produced, resulting in brighter lights.
Efficiency is the amount of light produced from one watt of electricity. You can express this in lumens/watt. T5 fluorescent bulbs can have an efficiency of 80-110 lumens/watt. That depends on the bulb length and brand. Right now, they are the most efficient grow lights available.
But LED grow lights are efficient too. This is because they give off bright lights while saving energy. LED lights do not emit as much heat as traditional lighting systems. They are more efficient when it comes to energy saving.
They consume 60% less energy than traditional lights but still give off the same light level. Unlike T5, LEDs do not burn anything for them to produce light. So, there will be lower energy bills.
In a non-stop lighting condition, the T5 will last 1.7-3.4 years or between 15,000-30,000 hours. This is a good life expectancy for lighting your plants.
But LED lights have a longer life expectancy. LED lights produce minimal or no heat, so they have a longer lifespan of over 50,000 hours. That is a lot longer than traditional lighting systems. Fluorescent bulbs expand heat in their operations, significantly reducing their lifespan.
By deduction, a longer lifespan will mean more crops harvested. You also won't have to replace LEDs as often, which means great savings.
These days, the T5 fluorescent bulbs are the most available grow lights in the market. They prove to be efficient and cost-saving. They are popular not only as grow lights but also for industrial lighting conditions.
They are mass-produced, so the price is cheaper. Compared to LEDs, which are relatively new in the market. That's because there is not much demand for them yet. So right now, the T5 rules.
LED grow lights are more costly. This is because they are more recent and they last a lot longer. So when deciding which lights to get, consider the cost against the light's longevity.
Plant Grow Quality of T5 vs LED
Although the sun is vital to plant growth, the UV, IR, and heat rays that it radiates are destructive to plant life. These rays cause plants to dry quickly, making them thirst for water to thrive. With the use of LED lights, these rays are considerably reduced. So the plants use the water and energy for their growth instead of healing themselves. This allows you to grow healthier plants.
LED lights will permit you to enjoy a faster harvest cycle. Plants grown indoors don't have enough environmental exposure. They don't know what season it is. Thus they don't know how to behave. Confused is a good word to describe indoor plants. So, in this situation, you can dictate how the plants should behave. With LED lights, you can alter daylight hours.
You also control the amount of red wavelength light. When given at a precise time, you can maximize plant growth rate. With this control, many harvests are possible. And that's just in one season, instead of one harvest. Changing flowering times will increase productivity.
The plants you grow using T5 lights are more average than those with LED lights. They also have regular harvest cycles. But that doesn't mean that they are of lower quality. Growing plants with T5 lighting will produce healthy plants, especially if you care for them well.
With T5 lights, you have to be careful in terms of placement. When in operation, these lights tend to give off heat, so you can't place them too close to your plants.
Because LED grow lights do not give off a lot of heat, there is no need to install cooling systems in the growing area. As minimal heat is released, there is no effect on the operating temperature.
LED lights are 100% recyclable. They do not contain toxic substances like mercury in their composition.
T5 lights can also be environmentally friendly. If you use solar panels to power your grow lights, they can run on solar energy.
The Downsides of T5 Vs LED Grow Lights
The biggest downside of using T5 grow lights is that it gives off heat. This is especially true when you compare it to LED lights, which give no heat. When using these kinds of lights, you must be careful in positioning them. The reason for this is that too much heat can cause damage to your plants or hinder their growth.
Another downside of using such lights is that you may have smaller yields. This is especially true if you use the lighting when your plants are in the flowering stage. T5 light doesn't reach as far as LED lights, so positioning is important.
Since T5 grow lights have a fuller emission angle of light, you need supplementary equipment. You must use good reflectors to point the light at your plants directly. Light emitted by LEDs is like those in flashlights and covers only small areas. This may be good for plants that fall in the range, but it might not reach others. It's not spread out like the lighting of T5 grow lights.
LED lights give off very bright lights. If you're not careful, the bright blue light produced by LED grow lights can cause blindness. Also, since they are sensitive to high temperatures, the LEDs may fail when exposed to them. The quality of light they will produce could suffer. This is why they will need a good heat sink and a fan system in their installation.
Finally, unlike T5 lights, certain changes may occur as the LED lights age. Color changes and the quality of light may not be as good, more so if the LEDs are low quality. If you buy LED lights from reputable companies, the quality will not be an issue.
The choice for lighting your indoor garden will depend on important factors. These factors are efficiency, cost-saving, and productivity. Right now, many people prefer T5 grow lights. This is because of price consideration. It's also because of its ease of installation and replacement. T5 lights prove to be efficient in productivity and power usage.
LED grow lights are becoming more popular. Nowadays, many growers are switching to this lighting. This is because of its many beneficial features. Because it is a new technology, its price is costlier. But give the LED lighting system a few more years and it will gradually take over the market for grow lights.
The bottom line is that it all comes down to your personal preferences and budget. Now that you know all about these two lighting options, choosing one is easier. You can go with T5 grow lights for a cheap but efficient option. LED is the better choice if you're looking for a longer-lasting grow light.