Choosing Fluorescent Grow Lights

Choosing Fluorescent Grow Lights

– Hey, guys, this is Nate
Storey with Bright Agrotech. Today we’re going to talk
about T5 fluorescent lights. (light upbeat music) A fluorescent light is
basically this glass tube with a gas inside of it, and a filament. So as electricity is
passed through this tube, the gas heats up and emits light. There are lots of
different kinds out there, but they all function a similar way. When fluorescent lights first came out, a lot of people were
using them in conjunction with incandescent lights for grow lights. There are actually lots of different fluorescent grow lights
out there these days. However, there are some that
just out-perform others. One of those is the high-output T5 light. When you’re looking at purchasing a light, first off, it’s really important that you’re buying a grow light. There are lots of
fluorescent lights out there for interior, for exterior, for all sorts of different applications. But the ones for growing
plants typically have a very specific Kelvin rating. The Kelvin rating basically describes the temperature of the light. On a T5 like this you’d have T5, which basically denotes
the size of the tube, that’s 5/8 of an inch. You have 54 watt, which tells you how much electricity it consumes. It says 6400 Kelvin, which
is a pretty cool light, cool temperature light. It’s really important to pay attention to that Kelvin rating specifically to make sure you’re getting
the right kind of light for the right time in
your plant’s life cycle, and also to ensure you’re
getting a grow light and not just an off-the-shelf T5. T5s are a great grow light. They are more efficient
in warmer temperatures. So the kind of temperatures you see in a growing environment,
they’re going to be a little bit more efficient, often times, than T8s or T12s. They’re high output. They’re low profile. They generally emit in a
range that’s a little bit more friendly for most
vegetative plant production. By and large, these are the lights that we really, really like. These lights are really, really great for applications where you don’t need tons and tons of light, and you don’t need light that has a variable spectrum. Most fluorescent lights tend
to be cooler in spectrum. That means more blues. Which means you get, in
the vegetative stage, you get stockier plants. You get more dense vegetative growth. You get more color. But at the same time these kinds of lights still have limits on how
much light they give off. Which means the kinds of
crops that you put under them, you just have to understand
what the crop’s needs are as far as light goes, and
make sure you’re matching that with this fluorescent light. As great as these things are, they’ll never give off as much light as, say, an HPS, a metal halide, or an LED growing fixture
of the same wattage. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Like with the metal halide,
or a high pressure sodium, similar wattage, similar output. But you can just dump a lot more wattage into an HPS, or a metal halide light, so you can get a lot more light out of it, which for high light demand crops means that those lights are great. Similarly with the LED fixture, we can tune it up or down, and we can deliver an awful lot of light to a relatively small area
with an LED grow light. We become a bit more limited
when we’re talking about big, big numbers from a
light application standpoint when it comes to fluorescent. These are great for
seedling, great for cuttings, and great for relatively beginning vegetative stage plant production. These are really, really
great hobby lights. Almost everyone uses these
lights at hobby stage. I’ve used them. Everyone that I know has used them. They’re just a great, all around light. They’re inexpensive, they work well, and they’re actually pretty
darn energy efficient, comparatively, especially
compared to T8s or T12s. It’s a great, great light. Now the limitations are
when you start to move into really big production environments, and when you start looking
really, really closely at your operating costs. If you’re thinking
about a commercial farm, I would think long and hard
about putting in fluorescent over, say, something like LED. The reasoning for that is that fluorescent is a great light at very small scales. But it’s still not the
most energy efficient. It’s limited in its
spectrum, and it doesn’t put off as much light as
other options out there. The big pros about these lights are that they’re relatively inexpensive, in comparison to
something, say, like LEDs. They have a nice low profile, so if you’re doing stacked
production or something, these lights slide in and
can light beds really nicely. You know, for what they are, they’re pretty darn energy efficient. By and large, they’re a great
light for smaller applications and applications where you’re
only doing vegetative crops, you’re doing cuttings, you’re
doing very small plants. The cons are that you
still are fairly limited on light output. There’s just so much light you
can get out of these things. They do tend to get pretty hot, hotter typically than LED fixtures get. The temperature is fairly set. You can get warmer or cooler ones, but you start to sacrifice efficiency as you move towards
some warmer temperatures with these things. Again, just to recap, a great light for small scale production. But once you start getting
bigger and bigger and bigger, you should be concerned about your energy, your light output, and your just overall operational efficiency. That’s the point where
you should be moving from something like this, to something like an LED fixture. Thanks so much for watching. If you guys watch these
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26 thoughts on “Choosing Fluorescent Grow Lights

  1. Want suggestions? Here's a good one:
    Explain LED color ratios for vegging and maybe flowering/fruiting too. As a DIY LED builder this is one of the hardest obstacles I ran into, how much of the right light to give. Plants mainly need red and blue, but there is other beneficial lighting like UV light too. The problem when mixing colors with say 3w LEDs, you're limited to how many LEDs you can add to each driver, which is really annoying. Maybe also explain the best lenses to use?
    I'm currently building the light system for my boss' aquaponics system so I am still in testing phases. But so far whats built is a ratio of 3:1 blue:red for growing basil. Works very well with lenses but I can't help but think I should be adding some other colors of the spectrum. Anyways hope this comment finds you well!

  2. Hey, just thought id stop by to say hi. I stumbled across your channel a while ago whilst looking for some information about LED lights. To begin with and to you let you know which part of your subscriber demographic I fall into – Im a complete beginner. I have a pipe dream…. living completely sustainably and self-sufficiently, growing my own veggies. Im not a tree-hugging hippy utopian daydreamer though there's nothing wrong with those types, I just would consider myself to be pragmatic over what is achievable in the climate in which I live.
    Which brings me to my next point, I'm from the UK, Scotland specifically, and whilst I'm aware that climate is cold here – it's much warmer than it should be given our geographic location. Climate change has seen our temperature range fluctuate enormously from year to year to the point where I'm now questioning growing anything outdoors without a poly tunnel.
    I really enjoy your videos because they're extremely informative. Farming techniques, number crunching on LED costs, even your recent video of designing a verticle grow space was great to watch.
    I guess id say though what id like to see more of – is maybe more specific styles of growing (commonly grown) plants if this is an area of expertise that you guys have experience in. No worries if you don't, but I enjoy learning about new kinds of plants and how they survive, breed, and any history or interesting features about them. I cant remember if I've watched many of those
    on your channel thus far. Anyway, im babbling now… Just hope this helps you in any way with the feedback you requested at the end of this video. Cheers for all the content up til now too. 😀

  3. I'm starting a mini Microgreens farm in my apt… I'm definitely using T5… Thoughts on Transcend T5 Led replacement bulbs as options? Is it worth the cost and are there enough benefits in production?

  4. Could you cover lighting density/flux and distance to plants? It would seem that some of your statements are qualified by assumed lighting distances.

  5. great video, keep the good job, i have been using fluorescent bulb with input 105w output 525w – 220v and i noticed a hug difference between fluorescent 18w tube. in vegetation stage., i was wondering how to spot a bad seed ? and how to make the perfect condition for seedling ?

  6. Hi. Im trying to get started in indoor farm
    Will florescent light of 2x 36w @6500k be enough to grow plants like lettuce

  7. Great video, very helpful. I'm just getting into growing in my garage and I'm probably gonna use the t5s for lettuce

  8. Well that was helpful.
    I am bringing a plant indoors until next spring. And am going to use lights to start my vegetables this winter.
    Went to a big box stores and they said everyone uses t5's.
    But have listened to some pepper hydroponics growers debating flourescent as opposed to led.
    Not many talk what lighting is the best except for their own scenarios.
    I don't have chests or dungeons full of pieces of eight. So I have to spend and research before making a decision.
    Was going to go with t5. But now I'm thinking led for the amount of energy. Plus LED's say they last a long time. Not sold on that. Because I believe the manufacturing process and differences in quality control at the manufacturing level dictate that.
    Not to mention overpricing manufacturers that started with a good product but then got entangled in growing the company output without keeping their quality control in check. So there's that.
    But at least you explained flourescent. Thanks.

  9. So the led t5 replacement tubes wouldn't have any problems running electrically on a system meant for fluorescents t5s?

  10. nate good video. I want to grow some lettuce in our converted shed. now I know fluorecscent lights are fairly cheap but I don't have the budget to buy special growlights. I had a thought but don't know if it will work effectively. I can get standard down lights very cheaply. If I were to fit a few of them on a bit of ply say, and put 6500k gu10 lamps in them would that not work? I would love to fit all them with red/blue mix gu10 grow lamps but they are not that cheap so I was thinking of using 4 white lamps in a square pattern then a 5th one in the middle of this 4 which would be a red/blue grow lamp, to give the lettuce that little boost but keeping cost down. what do you think? I'm just wanting to grow food for us to eat with the least cost. I don't have my own garden but have a shed with power.

  11. Hi, Thank you for the video. I had a question though,
    If you get a Fluorescent bulb and the bulb has no Kelvin rating, can it be used to grow?
    Also Between T5 and T8 does this make any difference for plant growth? or is it purely bulb size?

  12. In a store near me, I have found 54W 5000K T5 lamps. Do you think they would work? Most of the people use only 6500K lamps.

  13. Great video. There is a grow plant unit (second hand) I would like to purchase that holds fluorescent lights. I would like to know if a T5 bulb fit into any grow plant fixture? any thoughts?

  14. Thanks for this video, I have a 5ft rubber plant in a dark area of my apartment and wanted to know what you would suggest as supplementary lighting as where it is located at the moment gets a little sun but enough for it to be happy. Any help would be appreciated 🙂

  15. Anyone know if a diffuser or bare bulbs would be best for growing? Diffuser would reach more parts of the plant, but bare bulb would not stop part of the light. Has someone tried both?

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