Fluorescent grow lights are mostly used for younger or smaller plants so far. They are used in indoor growing systems like the hydroponics system. The main reason behind this limited usage is that fluorescent grow lights are not able to produce the higher intensity light needed by the vegetative plants to grow and to use it for flowering. Time has changed and so has the fluorescent grow lights. The fluorescent light that was just tubular light bulbs has now developed in many names like T5, T8, T12 etc. The latter two were the initial ones and they are now being replaced by the much powerful T5 fluorescent grow lights.
Types of fluorescent grow lights
- Standard Fluorescent grow lights are the T8 and T12 grow lights. They are still used for seedlings and an ideal choice for the green herbs like lettuce, spinach etc. They need to be placed closer to the plants and should be within 4 feet. Technology has made advancements to have these lights more colorful for a wider color band for the plants. It is now possible to grow African violets or other small flowering plants to be grown under these lights.
- High Output fluorescent grow lights are the T5 lights. They are more powerful than the T8 and T12 and yet not produce more heat. It has higher lumen capacity and can provide full spectrum as well. They are easy replacement for a 400 watt HID light. They are available as linear tubes and having even numbers of tubes ranging between 2 and 8. The longer tubes can make a wider coverage with either vertical or horizontal hanging.
- Small fluorescent bulbs are available as a package with a reflector. They are ideal for small growing spaces and can make sunlight like light. Available in both cool and warm colors, they run for about 10,000 hours. They can be used for both small and larger plants.
Pros and Cons of fluorescent grow lights
- More coverage: The linear make of the fluorescent grow lights can light up wider grow areas. It can also run longer to make the grow light more efficient as well. With high light intensity for the plants and not costing as much as the other grow lights, the fluorescent grow lights are much more efficient in all the fields that matters.
- Longer life is the major advantage of fluorescent grow lights over the other types. They are capable of running for more than 20,000 hours when needed, without compromising on the quality of the light. Only the LED grow lights are any threat for them in this regard.
- Low heat generation ability of the fluorescent grow lights makes it the coolest grow light. They can be placed as close to the plants as needed, which the other grow lights cannot. It also avoids the use of cooling system or the ballast like the HID lights.
The disadvantage of fluorescent grow lights is that they are not suitable for a full cycle growth for all the plants. Certain plant types can be grown under a single fluorescent light but not all of them. At certain stage, the plants will need a higher efficient light to have larger growth and yield. For a small scale grower of kitchen herbs, these grow lights are more than enough to have large yield with very less investment.