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You may have heard about T5 grow lights, and that they can be beneficial for use by growers, but how much do you actually know about them, and is their potential exceeded by LED grow lights? We’re going to take a look at what T5 lights are, how they can be beneficial to use, and how LED grow lights could provide an even better growing experience.
As a cannabis grower you need to ensure that your lighting system is performing at optimum levels in order to make the best use of your budget, while also producing the best quality and yield of crop. It follows that you want a lighting system that is the most efficient for your needs. T5 grow lights can provide that efficiency, LED grow lights can add further improvement.
What exactly are T5 grow lights?
The term T5 grow lights actually refers to the style of a fluorescent light bulb. Specifically, these bulbs have a diameter of 5/8” which adds to their level of efficiency. The lights are available in a variety of brands, and T5 grow light fittings can be used in conjunction with either traditional fluorescent bulbs or with LED grow lights.
T5 grow lights get their name from the diameter of the tube, and they come in a variety of length, although the most common lengths in use by growers are two foot and four foot. These are the best suited to most growing environments.
The materials that are used to create T5 fluorescent lamps enable the lights to be long lasting, and create effective lighting for your plants. These materials include mercury vapor, neon, xenon, argon and krypton placed inside the tube, and tungsten electrodes; the combination of which helps to produce high quality light.
What are the benefits of growing with T5 grow lights and can LED grow lights outweigh them?
Given the importance of having the most productive lighting system you can, you can see why it’s so important to examine the efficiency of any lighting system. It’s relatively easy to obtain grow lights whose only function is to flood your plants with light; the problem is that many of these lights actually waste a lot of the light they produce, and they can be ridiculously greedy when it comes to power usage. You need a grow light which only produces light that is focused on the growth and development of your crop. T5 grow lights provide the efficiency that you are looking for, but if you want to make an even better investment, LED grow lights offer high efficiency, together with a high level of flexibility.
Let’s look at the facts; T5 grow lights have the ability to produce 100 lumens per watt. This is far and away the best solution in this type of lighting system, and is a huge improvement on fluorescent tubes such as the T8 and the T12. What this actually means is that the T5 grow light uses less energy to produce more light. In real terms this means that you can reduce the amount of energy required to cultivate your cannabis crop by as much as 60%. Not only does this save you money but it also helps to protect the environment. Of course, it’s also an important space consideration; using T5 grow lights means that you can use less lights to meet your overall requirements, thereby reducing the amount of space you need to produce your crop. That being said, this is only comparing T5 grow lights against other lights in the fluorescent tube range, in all tests, LED lights come out as the best with regard to their light intensity. You may not necessarily be able to see the difference immediately but tests prove that overall LED lights make the value sense in the long term. If you have been using a T12 or T8 lighting system then, although changing to T5 grow lights will improve your light efficiency the best option for your is to change to an LED lighting system which has top level efficiency.
A demo video from katie
The lifetime efficiency of T5 grow lights compared to LED grow light
When you’re looking at the overall efficiency of your grow lights you will obviously want to factor in the length of time the light will last and still retain its functionality. T5 lights are rated to have an effective lifespan of approximately 20,000 hours, which means that you can produce many worry free crops. This is a vast improvement on older models, and T5 grow lights are also renowned for retaining their power over their entire life cycle, with little degradation. Let’s compare that with LED grow lights which have an average lifespan of 50,000 – 100,000 hours, and you can clearly see that if you’re a dedicated user of a T5 lighting system, it’s worth making the switch to an LED grow light system in order to have a higher number of trouble free crops over the years.
The problem with light producing heat
If you are a grower you will know the problems that can occur when your lighting system produces not just light, but a large amount of heat. Too much heat can cause damage to your plants, so you end up spending a large amount of your budget on cooling systems, which not only use additional power but also take up valuable growing space.
T5 growing lights produce very little heat when they are lit. This means that you can save money on cooling and you can release space to concentrate on housing your crop. The lack of heat that is produced also means that T5 grow lights can be positioned closer to your crop. Many growers keep them as close as 2-6 inches away from their plants. Of course this doesn’t only apply to T5 grow lights, LED grow lights produce hardly any heat at all, so they can often be positioned almost touching your plants, without causing any burn damage. As we’ve already discussed you get all this plus the best light intensity, and a vastly higher life expectancy.
T5 grow lights are becoming increasingly popular with growers who are used using this type of lighting system, as they are the most efficient in the range. But, if this is you, maybe it’s time to make the change to an LED lighting system which, as you can see, offers so much more.
Adjusting T5 grow lights for an LED lighting system
More and more the benefits of LED lighting in the cultivation of cannabis crops are being recognized. LED grow lights have a long life cycle, low power usage, low heat output and a high level of flexibility. If you want to use a T5 grow light system, while still reaping all the benefits that LED grow lights provide, that isn’t a problem. You merely need to replace your traditional T5 grow light fluorescent lighting tubes with LED lighting tubes of the same diameter, which easily fit within the T5 grow light system.
This type of lighting system is often used in public buildings, such as office blocks, but it can be just as effective when used for cannabis cultivation. If you are already using a T5 grow light system you may find it hard to believe that you can make your growing any more cost effective, but many growers have found that LED grow lights are an even better option financially. If you are looking to move away from T5 fluorescent lighting to LED lighting, just replacing the tubes is the most cost effective way of making the change.
Making the switch to LED lighting can be well worth thinking about. Aside from the financial benefit to you, you will also be helping to protect the environment. If you are using T5 lights then you have already made a step in this direction, when compared to some of the older lighting models. But if you are really concerned about the environment you can do no better than invest in LED grow lights, which are completely recyclable and which don’t contain any detrimental chemicals.
Why is it so important to use newer model lighting?
Older lighting systems, such as T12, are not only highly costly in respect of their power usage, the manufacture of these bulbs and ballasts is also prohibited in both Canada and the USA. Of course, this doesn’t mean that many people don’t still use existing T12 bulbs in their growing process. Having seen how much more efficient T5 grow lights and LED grow lights are, you can see why it’s not a good idea to continue using old systems. You may be wary of the cost of replacement but in the long run you’ll be saving money by having the benefit of the increased efficiency. For instance, the estimated cost of running a T12 grow light system can be as much as $16,000 for 160 watts. Making the switch to T5 grow lights, or even better LED grow lights, can lead to savings of up to $13,000. T12 grow lights also degrade by about 20% over time, whereas T5 grow lights do not degrade to any really noticeable level; 5% at most. LED grow lights retain all of their efficiency for their entire lifecycle. This means that you benefit from the full efficiency of the light for its entire lifespan.
So are T5 grow lights the best, or is an LED grow light system the best you can get?
If you have been growing cannabis for any length of time you are probably going to be very set in your ways as to what you think is the best lighting option for you. It’s natural to want to stick to what you know best. But that doesn’t mean that this is always the right thing to do. Just because it’s easier, and cheaper in the short term, to stay with the system you have, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider what the best solution is in the long run.
You need to consider a lot of things before you make the change:
· Weighing up the long term cost benefits.
· Budgeting for the short term investments.
· Practicalities of actually making the changes.
If you can make the sums add up then it is definitely worth upgrading to a more efficient grow light system. If you are a dedicated user of the outdated T8 and T12 systems then it may seem to make sense to upgrade to a T5 grow light system. This will make your growing more cost effective and energy efficient than using the old systems. But, if you really want to secure the best possible growth and yield then you really need to consider making a change from what you are used to, and opting for an LED grow light system. Arguably T5 lights are only outperformed by LED grow lights for their efficiency. Growers often report that LED lights, although requiring a high initial outlay, are the most effective in the long term. That being said, if you are a grower who is used to using T8 grow lights, and you want to make gradual change, adopting a more efficient T5 grow light system enables you to invest in LED grow lights at a reduced extra cost, as you can use the same fittings. Whichever way you decide to go about it, either gradually or all at once, there is no doubt that adopting an LED grow light system is the way forward if you want to ensure that you get the best possible cannabis crop you can.