Grow Lights

3 Best Fluorescent Lights For Growing Indoors

“Let there be light!”

-God and basically every indoor grower ever

Proper lighting is the life force of indoor growing. It substitutes the natural heat from the sun, allowing plants to thrive inside a grow tent or room. And unlike HID lights, fluorescent types are much cheaper and easier to come by. However, there are other aspects to consider here to ensure that you’re getting the right lights. So in this post, I tested 25+ units and came up with these best fluorescent lights for growing that you can consider:

GROW LIGHTSBRANDEXPERT RATINGCHECK PRICE
 Our Top Pick! 
Hydrofarm Agrobrite FLT24
Fluorescent Grow Light
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Durolux T5 Fluorescent
Grow Light System
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HYDRO PLANET T5
Fluorescent Grow Lights
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When to use fluorescent growing lights

Nowadays, indoor growers prefer LED lights since it lasts longer and cheaper in terms of long-term costs. It’s also the ideal choice for large-scale growing since the savings will be exponential.

If that’s the case, why would you consider fluorescent lights in the first place? Most hobby growers and small-scale farmers use fluorescent lamps since it’s economical. Fluorescent lights are also traditional options and have proven to be effective for low-light development stages.

Overall, fluorescent lights are ideal for plants that require a low to medium amount of light. And if you’re just starting to cultivate vegetables indoors, fluorescent lights are a good option.

However, for fluorescent lights to work, you have to choose the right size and color temperature. I discussed this part below in length to help with your purchase.

3 Best Fluorescent Lights For Growing Indoors

OUR #1 CHOICE

OUR TOP PICK: Hydrofarm Agrobrite FLT24 Fluorescent Grow Light System
best fluorescent lights for growing

Product Name: Hydrofarm Agrobrite FLT24 Fluorescent Grow Light System

Product Description: When looking for the best fluorescent lights for growing indoors, you shouldn’t miss the Hydrofarm Agrobrite FLT24 T5. This light system comes with four 6400K T5 tubes in powder-coated housing. Overall, it has a maximum of 8,000 lumens, and you can hang it overhead, horizontally, or vertically. Aside from that, these grow lights have an 8-foot grounded power cord. This makes it easy to install inside your grow tent or grow room. Based on the size of the installation area, you can get this in 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 tubes. It’s also available in 2 feet, and 4 feet designs to suit your growing needs.

Offer price: $$$

Availability: InStock

  • Lux
  • Ease of Use
  • Burn Time
  • Value For Money
Overall
4.9

Summary

This Hydrofarm Agrobrite grows light system has a low-profile design, so it won’t consume a lot of space inside grow tents. Each lamp also boasts 20,000 burn hours and can be used with all Hydrofarm T5 slots in the market. Overall, you’ll get a complete growing light set in the box. You just have to assemble the parts, and it’s good to go. However, make sure that you place these lamps at least 18 inches away from the plants. This is to prevent yellowing and burning the leaves.

Pros

Available in multiple lamp packs Complete grow light kit It can be hung overhead, horizontally, and vertically Long-lasting lamps Sturdy and solid frame

Cons

It draws moisture from the soil quicker than other grow lights.


RUNNERS-UP

Durolux T5 Fluorescent Grow Light System

best fluorescent lights for growing

Another grow light system I recommend is the Durolux T5. This comes with four T5 lamps, a frame, an 8-foot power cord, chains, and hooks. It’s a complete set straight from the box and for a very reasonable price.

Overall, this set will produce 20,000 lumens that you can control with a built-in switch. You can even daisy-chain up to five fixtures together for large grow rooms.

This grows light kit comes with an aluminum frame that’s lightweight enough for overhead hanging. It’s less likely to come crashing to your plants. I also like the domed design of the frame, which concentrates the light.

Moreover, this set is safe to use in damp environments without sustaining serious damages. It’s even covered by a 5-year warranty, which is already a steal for this price range. Also, it doesn’t require any form of complicated assembly, which is perfect for first-time growers.

Just know that the hanger mounts are way too long on this set. You may need to rig a different mount if you want to place the frame flushed up on the shelf where you plan to install it. Other than that, this is a great set that lasts long.

Pros
  • Aluminum frame that’s lightweight and durable
  • It allows daisy-chaining up to five fixtures
  • Plug-and-play design; no assembly needed
  • Covered by a 5-year warranty
  • Unbeatable value for money
Cons
  • You may need to use a different mount, depending on your installation area.
  • The packaging can be improved to avoid dents.

HYDRO PLANET T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights

If you’re willing to invest premium money for grow lights, you should definitely consider the HYDRO PLANET T5 Lamps. You can get this in two or right lamp packs available in 2 and four feet sizes. Overall, it can connect up to 10 lights in its series circuit.

Aside from that, this comes with two controls, one for the inner lamp and one for the external lights. There’s also a daisy-chain outlet, so you can connect more light kits for your grow room.

These HYDRO PLANET T5 lamps are fitted into a solid frame that can be hung horizontally, vertically, and overhead. The cherry on top is the 15-foot grounded power cord that allows you to position the light any way you want.

I also like that they included aluminum reflectors to concentrate the light into the plants. It’s also compatible with GFCI outlets for added safety. And to give the best value for money, you’ll enjoy two years of warranty coverage.

Overall, these lights are worth every dollar for the serious indoor farmer. The only issue I see is that the tubes fit too tightly that it can be difficult to remove for replacements.

Pros
  • Equipped with daisy-chain function
  • Available in large sizes
  • Equipped with aluminum reflector
  • Long 15-foot power cord
  • Compatible with GFCI outlet
Cons
  • The tubes fit too tightly.

How to choose the best fluorescent lights for growing

When it comes to fluorescent grow lights, there are four major aspects I usually consider. Here’s each one discussed in length:

✔️Foot-candles your plants need

Foot-candles refer to the intensity or brightness of grow lights. The amount of light per square foot of floor area and one foot away from the light source is considered one foot-candle. Each plant requires different foot candles to thrive.

For example, tropical rainforest plants only need around 250 to 1,000 foot-candles or around 2,500 to 10,000 lux. On the other hand, some plants may need more than 1,000 foot-candles for ideal growth.

For this part, you can check the lux rating of the fluorescent grow lights you’re going to buy. This is always indicated on each bulb.

✔️Fluorescent tube diameter

Next, you have to check the diameter of the fluorescent tube. It’s often available in T5, T8, and T12. The letter ‘T’ simply represents the tubular shape of the lamp. Meanwhile, the numerical values 5, 8, and 12 are the actual tube size. For example, a T5 lamp is equivalent to 5/8 of an inch, T8 is 8/8 of an inch (1 inch), and T12 is 12/8 of an inch or 1.25 inches.

Take note that when it comes to grow lights, thinner diameters mean higher heat production. Here are the differences of the fluorescent tube diameters mentioned above:

  • T5. This is the narrowest and warmest fluorescent lamp you can find. It produces light in the blue spectrum. And since T5s have a smaller surface area due to their smaller size, they will appear brighter and hotter. It’s perfect for germination and growing young plants.
  • T8. This is slightly cooler to touch than T5s but a bit larger too. It’s suitable for the earlier stages of plant growth once the plant is past its seedling phase.
  • T12. Growers rarely use this, but T12s come in handy for very small seedlings that are susceptible to heat damage. It’s also a good choice for plants that require minimal heat.

✔️Kelvin rating

In general, fluorescent lamps are between 5,600 and 6,400 Kelvin. This refers to the color temperature of the light it will emit. However, you should know that the Kelvin rating only indicates the light color, and it will not affect the heat the lamp will produce.

Fluorescent lamps on the lower spectrum will have bluish light. As the Kelvin rating goes up, it will become whiter and cooler to the eyes.

Plants usually thrive in Kelvin rating, similar to natural sunlight. This is between 2,700 and 7,000 Kelvin, based on the specific needs of the foliage.

Growers use a 6,500K or daylight fluorescent lamp during the growth stage of the plants. As the plants near or start to flower and bear fruits, you should transition to a 2,700K lighting system. Still, this depends on the specific plants you’re cultivating.

✔️Size

Fluorescent grow lights are available in varying lengths between 2 to 8 feet on average. You can also get them in multiple lamp packs to suit the lighting needs of your grow room or tent. Always consider the installation area so that you can get the right configuration.

✔️Cost and scalability

Lastly, you should think about the scalability of the fluorescent grow lights. You should calculate the cost of the grow lights as well as the wattage it uses. Higher wattage translates to more electricity consumption.

Take note that fluorescent lamps are quite fragile and may require additional cost in replacements if you happen to damage one. The upside is that most fluorescent lamps are compatible with most light fixtures. You can also find it in adjusted ballast to achieve the color temp that you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you use regular fluorescent lights to grow plants?

A: Ordinary fluorescent lights will work for most plants. However, if your plants need more warmth, you may want to get a bulb with a higher Kelvin rating and a narrower tube. Nevertheless, many indoor growers have seen success in using fluorescent lights available in supplies stores.

Q: Do fluorescent bulbs produce UV for plants?

A: Fluorescent bulbs emit UV radiation, but in a very low amount. In case your indoor plants need more UV, you can use a dedicated UV bulb for this purpose. However, you should use it with caution as excessive UV exposure is dangerous to humans.

Q: How close should fluorescent lights be to plants?

A: In general, you should keep fluorescent bulbs at least 4 to 6 inches away from your plants or seedlings. This is to prevent the heat from drying your plants too much. Take note that even if fluorescent lamps emit lower heat than other bulbs, they can still cause damages to plants if not used well.

Q: Should I run my grow lights at night?

A: It’s not required to run your grow lights all day long. After all, it’s intended to mimic natural sunlight, which isn’t available 24/7. Usually, growers will turn their grow lights on for 12 to 16 hours during the flowering phase. With this, you can turn off your grow lights at night. However, there would be an exception during the winter season when your plants need extra heat.

Q: How will you know if your plant is getting too much light?

A: Too much light will cause your plants to have burned patches and singed tips. In worst cases, the leaves will wither and fall off. This is why control is a must if you’re setting up a grow room or tent. Also, the amount of light will depend on the specific needs of a particular plant.

Q: Do grow lights affect humans?

A: LED, fluorescent, and incandescent grow lights don’t really affect humans negatively. However, you have to be extra careful with UV lights as the rays from these lamps can cause adverse health problems. You should wear protective gear whenever entering your grow room with a UV light on.

Final words

Proper lighting is crucial in growing healthy plants. With the best fluorescent lights for growing, you can take the guesswork out of this aspect. Just make sure that you get a system that matches the color temperature, installation size, and warmth that your plants need. Which of these grow lights suit your plants? Share your thoughts below!

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