T5 Vs. LED Grow Lights: Everything You Need to Know

T5 vs. LED grow lights, why does it matter? After all, when it comes to indoor gardening, you probably think of surrounding conditions. 

For example, how to deal with changes in humidity, temperature, and soil. 

However, your choice of lighting system and the type of lights should be the centerpiece of it all. 

And as it stands now, there’s been increasing debate on the best choice between T5 and LED grow lights. 

This article provides an in-depth look at both T5 and LED grow lights. 

What Are T5 Grow Lights

Now T5 grow lights are a member of fluorescent lights, along with T8 and T12. 

These are CFLs and linear fluorescent tubes, and indoor plant growers have found profound ways of applying these lights.

These lights work when current flows through the tube. And this occurs through a ballast that feeds electricity into the metal pins on both sides of the fixture. 

Then the gas produces light within the tube that reacts when current passes through them. As a result, they produce light that’s visible to the human eye.   

In case you didn’t know, fluorescent bulbs, including T5 grow lights, have unique features. 

Also, they’re cheaper and more efficient than incandescent bulbs. 

It’s no wonder that T5 grow lights are among the best options for seedlings indoors. 

What Are LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights

(Caption: LED grow lights)

Undoubtedly, LED growth lights are a remarkable innovation. 

They have two semiconductors that charge differently and emit light through the collision of the photons

And as you must have noticed, they have many colors. 

Colorful LED lights

(Caption: Colorful LED lights)

Now the quality and color of light that the bulbs produce depends on the quantity of emissions. 

And the bulbs channel the produced light in a specific direction. Because of this, the LED lights can emit a lot of light. 

Thus, they allow you to increase the light spectrum to meet your needs. 

Because of how energy-efficient and affordable LED lights are, there’s been increasing demand for them.   

Factors to Consider When Choosing Grow Lights

Now there are factors you should keep in mind when choosing grow lights. Some of these factors include: 

  • Energy efficiency: The energy required to run the lights should be a primary concern. After all, it determines how high your electricity bill gets. 
  • Longevity: This is the bulb’s lifespan from the day you installed them. You don’t want to keep putting in new bulbs, so this is another essential factor. 
  • Initial cost: This cost includes buying the bulbs, fixtures, setting up, and accessories. And you must consider all these costs to ensure they fit your budget. 
  • Light output: This is the amount of light the bulbs produce. 
  • Color temperature: What’s interesting about plants is that different types have different light color demands. So when growing plants indoors, it’s vital that you consider the color that best meets those needs. 

Acronyms That Make Comparing Grow Lights Difficult

When buying grow lights, you’ll come across certain acronyms describing different qualities of the lights. 

And understanding what these acronyms mean puts you in a better position to determine the type of lights you need for your indoor plants. 

Here are some common terms you may encounter: 

  • PAR vs. Lumens: Here, PAR stands for photosynthetically active radiation. And it means the wavelengths that induce and sustain photosynthesis. The lumen is a measure of photopic vision, which humans use to sense color. Interestingly, humans and plants perceive light differently, as expressed in PAR and lumen.  
  • PDF: Photosynthetic photon flux is the total amount of light produced per second by artificial light, be it LED or T5 bulbs. In other words, it’s the intensity of the growth light measured in micromoles per second. 
  • PPED: Photosynthetic photon flux density measures PAR from your fixture to the plants. 

Are T5 Lights Good for Growing? 

When it comes to growing plants indoors, while various options are available, T5 lights offer a great option. 

Granted, they emit UV light, which is harmful to all living organisms. 

However, the bulbs have a phosphorus coating on their insides, which helps absorb UV light so that instead, it radiates pleasant visible light. 

Now here’s why T5 lights are a good choice of lights.

 First, like LEd lights, they’re energy-efficient and cooler than incandescent bulbs, yet cost less than LED lights.

 Also, they produce less heat compared to HID and other fluorescent bulbs. 

Further, T5 grow lights have a longer lifespan, over ten times that of incandescent bulbs. Thus, they’re ideal for seedlings and cutting.

 Moreover, their light and color intensity suits a variety of herbs and vegetables as well as aquariums. 

T5 Vs. LED Grow Lights: Which Are Better

Here’s how T5 grow lights compare to LED grow lights in the following aspects:


If safety is a primary concern, then go for LED lights. See, T5 lights contain a certain degree of mercury in their tubes. 

Probably, you’re aware of its harmful effect on the kidneys, lungs, and nervous system. 

In contrast, LED lights contain no trapped substances, such as mercury and lead, and thus the safer of the two light types.

Plant Growth Spectrum

No doubt you’ve seen LED lights with full spectrum on the market. 

These are excellent for growing, although so are T5s as they also have an efficiency spectrum space that’s especially suitable for smaller plants and seed starting. 

Therefore, as far as the plant growth spectrum goes, you can choose either of the two. 


While T5 lights last approximately 20,000 hours, LEDs last 10,000 to 50,000 hours. Sometimes, even longer with ideal conditions. 

Therefore, LEDs are the best option when it comes to longevity. 


Regarding customization, both LED, and T5 lights have significant abilities. 

See, LED lights allow you to customize them to suit your specific needs in terms of light color. That’s because they comprise blue or red diodes. 

Similarly, T5 lights give you an option for different light spectrums. 

In fact, with a full spectrum T5, you can switch to any light color you deem fit. 

Energy Efficiency

As far as energy efficiency, LED lights are better than T5. LEDs are the best energy-efficient lights, enabling you to save up to 75% on energy. 

That said, the T5 light remains a strong contender as the best energy-efficient option of the fluorescent family. 


As mentioned earlier, T5 lights cost less than LED lights. Thus they’re an excellent option in terms of cost-effectiveness. 


LED lights produce less radiant heat (about 11%) than the 30% of fluorescent lights. 

And while T5 lights also have an incredibly cool feature, the LED’s coolness remains the best. 

Ease of Use

Now T5 lights are the most accessible type of light to use for your plants. See, they come with in-built WiFi, and you can program them.

 Thus, they’re easy to use as all you need to do is insert the bulb into the fixture and switch it on. 

On the other hand, LEDs have several features that allow you to change the look based on your needs. 

But this flexibility comes with a caveat. Undoubtedly, they’re complex for first-time users. 

Light Output

LEDs have more adequate light output than T5s. 


Is LED More Efficient Than T5?

Yes, they are. With LED lights, you can save 65% to 75% of energy. And when you compare them to T%, LEDs are 40% more energy-efficient.

 So while both flights use less energy than incandescent light, LEDs are more energy-efficient. 

What Does T5 Mean in Fluorescent Tubes?

So T5 is a family member of fluorescent tubes, along with T8 and T12, composed of glass tubes with argon and mercury vapor.

 Now the T represents the fluorescent tube’s diameter in eighths of an inch. And for T5s, it’s ⅝ inches. 

Can I Replace a T5 Light With an LED

Yes, you can replace your T5s with LED lights, likely to enhance efficiency, as long as they fit the light system. 


So that’s it on T5 vs. LED grow lights. Now you know the most important factors to consider when choosing lights to grow your plants.

 Also, you know how LEDs and T5s compare in terms of plant growth spectrum, energy efficiency, coolness, longevity, ease of use, and customization. 

Undoubtedly, both lights are good. But now you’re in a much better position to select the best grow lights depending on your needs and budget.