led vs T5T5 grow lights are one of the most efficient artificial lights on the market where some models surpass the 100 lumen per watt efficency. These lights are low profile, they are cheap and burned out bulbs are very easy to replace. But there is another lighting technology emerging that has the promise to beat fluorescent light technology in every aspect but at the moment they are not there yet. In this post I want to elaborate on the differences that both these technologies have and in which areas one is better than the other.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy is the time that it takes the bulb to burn out and this is measured in hours. T5 fluorescent lights have anywhere from 15000 to 30000 hour expected lifespan and that means they can work from 1.7 to 3.4 years in nonstop lighting conditions. LED diodes however will work longer and they can work from 50000 to 100000 hours or 5.7 to 11.4 years in nonstop lighting and  that is at least 3 times more than fluorescent technology. So we can conclude that in life expectancy LED diodes are already better than fluorescent tubes.


Efficiency is the amount of light that is produced from a single Watt of electricity and that is usually measured in lumens per watt. T5 lights are the most efficient fluorescent lighting and they have this efficiency in around 80 to 110 lumens per watt depending on the bulb length and manufacturer. LED diodes however have the efficiency of about 50 to 150 lumens per watt and that is because smaller diodes are very efficient but they give off too little light whereas the larger diodes are not that efficient and produce much more heat. LED diodes if properly manufactured could in theory get past 200 and maybe even 300 lumens per watt but we are not there yet and in the meantime fluorescent lights are a bit more efficient than LED fixtures.


Price is another major factor that we need to consider before buying our next grow light fixture and here T5 fluorescent lights are cheaper than LED diodes because they are mass produced for industrial lighting conditions but LED bulbs are new and do not have the economies of scale working for them. That means that LED diode lights will become increasingly cheaper as the years role by but at the meantime Fluorescent tubes are much more cheaper to buy and to replace.

Ease of use

As the usage goes LED diodes usually have no way for you to change the individual diodes but as for the fluorescent lights you can easily change the bulb when it burns out and that can be very convenient. Fluorescent bulbs are very low profile and their ballasts are very small so they do not need a lot of space. But LED diodes are even smaller and that could become their greatest strength but while the technology is not finished they need large cooling fans and they are bulky and loud.

Heat output

As I mentioned in the efficiency factor then LED diodes produce more heat as they become bigger and that also means that their efficiency drops, but in T5 lights you get the opposite factor and they become more efficient as you increase the bulb size. This is why 4 feet bulbs produce less overall heat than 2 feet ones but on average their working temperature is around 32 C degrees. But LED diodes overall produce much less heat from the diodes themselves but they need those fans and they also produce some heat so overall those fixtures are producing considerable amount of heat.

Fluorescent fixtures compared to LED lights at this moment in time are still superior but LED lights are gaining momentum and in a couple of years they can become cheaper and more convenient to use. But in the meantime let’s get some T5 lights and reap those efficiency and ease of use factors.