The T-5 Bulb: Friend of Plants and Wallets Everywhere
The first glance at a T5 fluorescent bulb will elicit snickers from the unaware. Eyes used to the bulkiness of a T8 or T12 fluorescent grow bulb will look at the slender T5 and ponder if the lighting industry has a cog loose.
Ecologically speaking, Al Gore would pin a medal on the lithe grow light. It’s constructed with 40% less glass than the T8 as well as 30 % less phosphor. The T5 contains only 3 mg of mercury, which is 70% less than the T8. Landfills around the world will rejoice since this little fellow also gets more lamp life than the T8.
Small size defies with the T5. First off, its color spectrum works optimally for plant growth. Photosynthesis peak rates (435 nm and 680 nm) are virtually even with the spectral rates of the T5 (the blue spectrum bulb peaks at 435 nm and 615 nm). Seeds can begin their lives under the T5 sun and even graduate to full term growth without being subjected to other forms of light.
Heavier feeders like tomatoes may be slow going under the T5, although we have had success at our Asheville store with fruit developers like the jalapeno pepper plant.
Efficiently speaking, T5’s register an amazing amount of lumen output. Lumens are a form of light measurement. One lumen is equal to the light intensity emitted by one candle that sheds on one square foot away from the candle. A 24 watt two foot T5 will emit 2,000 lumens, while a 54 watt four foot T5 will give out 5,000 lumens!
Gardeners need not worry about plant burn. Since the T5’s have little to no heat, a plant can virtually grow within several inches of the bulb without being fried. Light bills will remain under control and the initial costs of the bulbs (Individual Spectralux bulb range from $8.95 to $12.95) will keep the wallet’s belly from being emptied. Ballasts specific for holding T5 bulbs (numbers range from holding two to twelve or more) can drive up the costs, but it’s still minimal compared to some of the bigger lighting systems.