LEDs vs T5 Fluorescent Grow Light – Which is better?

Last Updated on August 15, 2020 by Daniel Cooper

LEDs vs T5 Fluorescent Grow Light: In cold regions where the sun doesn’t provide enough light to plants to grow or where there is not enough space to grow plants outside, a grow light can be a reliable lifesaver. An indoor garden and a hydroponic system with proper lighting provided by a grow light can be an alternative place for horticulturists and hobbyists to grow plants when an outdoor garden is too impractical to manage.

LEDs vs T5 Fluorescent Grow Light

Because every indoor garden has to rely on a grow light, the biggest question that every gardener has to answer is how to choose the best grow light for their indoor garden. Certain types of grow light, including fluorescent, grow light, already become standard for most indoor gardens.

New innovations, however, are continuously produced. Although innovations like LED grow light have not been very popular among gardeners, they promise many advantages that even standard grow lights are still deficient in.

In this article, T5 fluorescent grows light—a standard grows light for many indoor gardens, and LED grow light—a new innovation in the realm of indoor gardening will be compared.

The features of LED grow light vs T5 fluorescent grow light will be discussed thoroughly and specific characteristics that make a particular grow light better than its counterpart will be revealed. By learning about their difference, growers can easily decide which grow light that they will use to provide light to their plants.

LED Grow Light vs. T5 Fluorescent Grow Light

The following are five features that are often taken into consideration when two different types of grow light are compared.

Energy Efficiency

Grow light is expected to remain turned on for a long period of time (usually 8 to 12 hours) every day. An energy-inefficient grow light will thus severely hurt the electricity bills.

This is the reason why gardeners mostly want to opt for a grow light that uses electricity very efficiently. The energy efficiency level of a grow light is determined by how much light it produces for every watt it uses.

Both fluorescent and LED grow lights can be either efficient or inefficient. A straight T5 fluorescent grow light can be as efficient as a cool white LED grow light and a circular fluorescent grow light is as inefficient as a warm white LED grow light.

There is not much difference in efficiency between fluorescent light and LED light; however, in the long run, LED grow light is proven to be more efficient.

The end of a straight fluorescent light often becomes darker as time goes by and it also gradually becomes more and more inefficient. The problem with durability, which will be discussed below, also makes fluorescent light an inefficient light.


LED grow light is unquestionably more durable than any other type of grow light, including fluorescent light. The average lifespan of a LED grows light is about 50,000 hours.

However, if taken care of properly, LED grow light can still be used for 100,000 hours (which is roughly 30 years of continuous use) before it needs to be replaced. Fluorescent light, in particular, has to be replaced every 1 year.

Even if it is not dying yet, fluorescent grow light’s annual replacement is necessary because its end’s being darkened as time goes by. Being highly durable, LED grow light is the only light with manufacturers that are willing to offer a warranty that remains valid for 2 or 3 years.

Up-front Cost

Fluorescent light is cheaper to buy than LED grow light. However, because LED grow light lasts longer, the cost necessary to regularly replace a fluorescent light might outweigh its cheap initial purchasing cost.

Besides, gardeners who buy an expensive LED grow light can get a light that combines warm and cool LED diodes, which are capable to deliver a full spectrum of color to plants.

Gardeners who want to buy a fluorescent light with the same capability to deliver a full spectrum of color, which is also called a T5 fluorescent grow light, has to spend a significant amount of money.

T5 fluorescent light is generally much more expensive than ordinary fluorescent light. Therefore, although the initial purchasing cost of fluorescent light can be cheaper than that of LED light, in the end, if the cost is considered, LED grow light is regarded as a more cost-effective grow light.


LED grow light is considered safer than fluorescent grow light especially because it doesn’t contain any dangerous substance. Fluorescent grows light, on the other hand, may contain a significant amount of mercury.

As a consequence, fluorescent grow light may always present a pollution hazard, especially when it leaks or when it dies and needs to be disposed of.

The disposal of fluorescent light generally needs to be done cautiously to avoid any hazards associated with it. This safety procedure, unfortunately, is often disregarded by many people, including growers.


In theory, fluorescent grow light outperforms many other grow light types. Fluorescent grow light can reach 100 lumens per watt. LED grow light, on the other hand, only reaches about 20 lumens per watt.

However, in the long run, LED grow light may improve in performance, especially because LED light follows Moore’s Law, meaning that its lumen per watt output undergoes a significant increase every month.

Because LED grows light will remain practical for use for more than one decade, it will eventually outperform most other types of grow light, including fluorescent light.


On the whole, LED grow light is considered more superior than any other type of grow light, especially fluorescent light. Even the T5 variant of fluorescent light, which is considered the best for a grow light, still cannot compete with LED grow light.

The technologies used by LED grow light is still new and developing. In the near future, however, due to the increasing popularity of this grow light, LED grow light may provide more advanced features that make it a truly reliable grow light. If you are building your indoor garden, consider using LED grow light to grow your plants.


You May Also Like to Read