Last updated: April 8, 2021
Reliable, powerful, easy to set up, and with easy to replace bulbs, T5 fluorescents are a simple and efficient grow light for when you don’t want to mess around. In short, they’re the “ol’ faithful” of cannabis grow lights: While they may not be pretty, they’ll always get the job done.
Shopping online for fluorescent grow lights can be an unnecessary hassle, though. It seems like every company wants to lay claim to having the absolute best lights around – but how can you know which ones will actually perform best in your unique grow?
In today’s reviews, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at 7 fluorescent (T5) grow lights to see which ones are worth your money, and which you’d be better off passing over. By the end of the article, you’ll be fully prepared to decide on whether you need a T5 grow light, and which one is best for you.
|Best Overall||iPower GLT5XXPANL4T4 T5 Grow Light Fixture||
|Best Value||Hydroplanet 5 Fluorescent Grow Light||
|Premium Choice||Sun Blaze T5 Fluorescent Indoor Grow Light||
|DuroLux T5 HO Grow Light||
|Hydrofarm FLT44 System Fluorescent Grow Light||
This T5 fluorescent grow light from iPower is an example that all fluorescent lighting rigs could aspire to. High-output tube lights give it a powerful base, while an aluminum reflector makes sure to capture all the watts you’re paying for and direct them to your light-hungry plants. If we were only reviewing grow lights based on their maximum lighting potential, this one would easily take the #1 spot.
But to secure our pick as best overall T5 fluorescent grow light, we also needed a light that was durable and long-lasting, but easy to install. With bulbs rated for over 20,000 hours of use, and a 2-year warranty in case anything malfunctions, it’s definitely durable and long lasting! Combine that with a ready-to-go design that doesn’t require fiddling with installing your own hanging cables, and we can thoroughly recommend the iPower T5 grow light fixture for almost any grower.
And honestly, it’s quite a nice touch that they ship in “stealthy” packaging that doesn’t advertise to the world that you’re having high-powered grow lights delivered to your front door… A real class act!
There is one situation that comes to mind where our #1 pick would not, in fact, be the most economical solution: What if you’re trying to increase the size of your grow, and need to cover more space?
That’s where this offering from Hydroplanet would come in very handy. We were honestly surprised to see an 8-bulb fluorescent grow light array at this price! Covering a massive plant footprint, it’s a fantastic option for the experienced grower looking to increase their grow size, or the motivated beginner who has big plans for future grows.
In addition, it checks off all the boxes you hope for out of any T5 grow light: Great power from high-output bulbs, a reflective aluminum interior for catching maximum light, the ability to daisy chain multiple units, and easy to assemble. They sweeten the deal with thoughtful features like a 15-foot grounded power cord and 2-year warranty, making it an easy choice as our “best value” and honestly one of the best fluorescent (T5) grow lights for the money, period.
While most T5 grow light rigs are in the classic “office lights” style – wide, and somewhat bulky – premium options like this setup from Sun Blaze favor a more compact design. By condensing the bulbs into one smaller area, they make an important trade-off: Less coverage for your grow area, but at a much greater intensity.
Having the option to focus high-output light on your plants in a narrower band can make the difference between an impressive harvest… And a “meh” one. That’s why, whenever possible, we favor the most powerful and direct light for our own grows.
Energy efficient, high power outputs come along with easy installation and a generous 12-foot grounded power cord. We do wish they had a little bit longer warranty, though: At just one year, it’s significantly less than our top two picks. Like many of the fluorescent grow light kits available online, some people have also had problems with them getting damaged during shipping, as well.
We’ll be honest with you: We were hard-pressed to choose between the DuroLux and our top choice as “best overall”. They include so many of the same features, at an almost identical price: High power output, energy efficient bulbs, excellent reflectivity, and easy installation are all characteristics shared by the two units.
What’s more, the DuroLux offers two things that our #1 pick does not: An amazingly long 5-year warranty, as well as being rated for operation in wet and dry environments.
So, what’s the catch? Unfortunately, the top complaint against the DuroLux is the number of reviewers citing problems with the ballast.
It’s a given that you’ll need to perform maintenance on a T5 grow light from time to time – usually by changing out a bulb. But if the ballast gives out? You’ll have to send it in to be replaced… And that can be a huge problem if it happens during a grow. If it weren’t for this problem, the DuroLux would have easily nabbed our top spot in this review.
Hydrofarm is one of the better-known names in cannabis grow lights, specializing in lighting options for hydroponic grows. With this, their 4-bulb T5 grow light offering, they’ve put together a nice package that consistently gets praise from users… But might be just a bit too expensive for what it is.
They’ve covered all the bases: A robust 20,000 lumen power output, 10-foot grounded power cord, easy installation, highly reflective aluminum for excellent light distribution, and the ability to daisy chain with other units. Honestly, it’s a dead ringer for our #1 pick in almost every regard – except the price.
It really does seem like you’re paying for the Hydrofarm name when you’re purchasing this light over any of our top 3 picks. However, this does come with a serious perk: They have some of the best packaging around, and customers rarely report breakage during shipping.
Like our “best value” pick, the Hydro Crunch offers an absolutely huge coverage area for when you really want to expand the size of your grow. While it comes in at an excellent price as well, there are just a few things that we really appreciated more about Hydroplanet’s 8-bulb array. Before we get to that, though, let’s consider the features for this one:
Powerful, high-output bulbs are just as punchy as any other option on our list, and backed up by an excellent reflector for maximum light coverage. It’s daisy chainable, and has dual switches for optimizing light at different phases of your grow. Fairly easy to set up and install, you won’t have any problems getting it ready as long as you have some basic home repair tools lying around.
Where the Hydro Crunch doesn’t quite measure up, though, is in three areas: An 8-foot cord is one of the shortest on our list, which just isn’t appropriate for a light of this size. Their 1-year warranty isn’t spectacular, either – especially considering the number of complaints with ballasts burning out. All in all, go for our “best value” pick instead (unless it’s unavailable).
VIVOSUN is another well-known and respected name in the indoor growing community, and this T5 fluorescent grow light definitely lives up to their reputation.
Comparable to our top picks, the VIVOSUN is a real powerhouse of a 4-bulb overhead grow light: 20,000 lumen high-output bulbs, extra reflective aluminum for maximum coverage and efficiency, and a generous 2-year warranty all position it in the same rankings as our favorites.
Where the VIVOSUN really shines, though, is in the addition of their “plug and play” ballasts. Instead of being built into the housing of the unit, you can simply remove and replace 1 part if there is a problem with it. Unlike many of our other units, this makes it a convenient option even when you need to use the warranty.
Our only gripe with the unit? It’s only available sporadically. So, when it’s in stock, we can highly recommend it right alongside our #1 and #2 picks… But there’s no telling when that might be. And, if we’re to be honest, it could use a slightly longer cord (only 8 feet).
Before you can decide on which grow light is best for your needs, consider these questions to give you a better perspective:
Fluorescent lights are named by their style of bulb and diameter of that same bulb. So, a T5 fluorescent light is a Tubular, 5/8” diameter bulb. Most T5 grow lights come in a reflective housing that holds either 4 or 8 bulbs, each capable of producing about 5000 lumens – a measure of light’s intensity.
Two previous generations of tubular lights led to the development of T5s: The original T12, and more recent T8. While each generation has been an improvement on the last, T5s are the most efficient of all fluorescent lights available today – and often the most powerful. While they can be a little bit more costly for an initial investment, they’ll quickly pay for themselves with savings on electric bills.
Whether you’re in the clone, veg, or flowering phase, you need to make sure that you have enough light coverage for your plants. Measure the approximate floor space, and compare this to the area covered by your prospective T5 light’s housing; the two should be roughly equal. That way, you can adjust light intensity by raising or lowering your grow light rig.
Almost all T5 lights come equipped with bulbs in the 6000-6500K range – making them suitable for cloning and veg, but not the right spectrum of light for flowering. If you want your T5 lights to work for every phase of your grow, you’ll need to purchase an equal number of bulbs around the 3000K range to make them suitable for the final flowering phase of your grow.
To wrap things up, we’d like to reiterate that the iPower GLT5XXPANL4T4 T5 Grow Light Fixture is our #1 choice for just about any grow, owing to its fantastic combination of price and utility. For a value-priced option with amazing coverage, consider the Hydroplanet HP-T5-4X8 T5 Fluorescent Grow Light.
Thank you for reading today! We hope that these reviews have answered all of your questions, and pointed you in the direction of the perfect T5 grow light for your needs. Best of luck with all your indoor growing adventures!
Featured Image Credit By: DuroLux T5 HO Grow Light, amazon
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