Fluorescent lights are very popular economic lighting option all over the world and the regular CFL bulbs are 4 to 8 times more efficient than incandescent lights. That is why they are becoming the dominant light source. But how do CFL bulbs compare with T5 fixtures and are they good enough for your to grow plants under them or it is best to stick to T5 technology when growing plants under artificial light? To fully answer this question we must compare both light sources in various different categories.
Like always the most asked question when comparing these two bulbs is which one of them is more efficient? To get the correct answer you must know that CFL bulbs in their core are just like T4 bulbs or a bit smaller tube that is curled up to create a bulb-like structure. And because of this CFL bulbs will never be as efficient as long-tube T5 bulbs because they cannot be as long and the manufacturing process is much harder as those long curved tubes need to be coated from the inside and that is a painstakingly difficult process. To be precise CFL bulbs usually have somewhere from 40 to 70 lumen per watt efficiency but T5 bulbs have from 80 to 110 lumen per watt efficiency which means they are almost two times more efficient!
The price of these bulbs is another major factor. Here the differences are bigger and you need to take into consideration more factors not just the base price of the bulb. For example CFL bulbs will be more cheaper to purchase but they have shorter lifespan and they also are less efficient so in the end you need to calculate the total value for each dollar you spend and only then can you decide which one is cheaper. But overall T5 lights will be a bit pricier to purchase but as the hours roll by they will use up less electricity and their ballast will work for longer hours so when the bulb breaks you will need to change only the bulb not the whole lamp.
Ease of use
Ease of use is another factor that we need to take into consideration and this implies how easy it is to use these bulbs. For CFL lights it is very easy to screw them into the regular light bulb socket and they are ready to go but with T5 lights you need to attach the whole fixture to the ceiling and then put the bulbs in. T5 lights are very low profile but they are long and some fixtures are also very wide but CFL lights are compact from all directions. So ultimetelly you need to figure out what are your requirements and only then think about witch one will be easier to use.
Color rendering index and color temperature
CRI and Kelvin color temperature are two factors that are crucial to know if you are thinking about growing plants under these lights as plants need specific color temperature and they also need great color rendering index to get the most out of that light source in light diversity. Basically T5 and CFL technologies are so advanced and widespread that you will be able to get any color temperature light bulbs but in general T5 lights have a little better color rendering index than CFL bulbs.
As the lifespan goes T5 lights are again better than CFL bulbs as they have much more efficient and long lasting ballasts and the bulbs themselves also have the average lifespan of 30000 hours where CFL bulbs usually last for 10000 to 20000 hours.
Combining all these factors we can conclude that T5 lights are far better at almost all factors and they are the best choice if you want to maximize efficiency and grow your plants as cheaply as possible.