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I am looking to set up my system with a T5 or T8 fluorescent bulb for a 5 gal system. I was thinking of growing herbs like thyme and basil, as well as leafy greens like kale, spinach, and possibly arugula. would the T5 and T8 bulbs grow these types of leafy greens well?

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Yes, for those type of plants either would do. The T5 being the better choice. How big is your grow space (dimensions)?
These are growing in a darkened garage (no sunlight) with a pair of 36 Watt T8's above them...
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thank you! my dimensions are 16 x 11 in (i don't have much space lol). here is what the system looks like so far....

 

the windowsill is cramped and doesn't allow for me to give the plants the most light (especially due to the building that blocks the sun 75% of the time)

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Yeah it does look like your tight on space! You should be fine with a pair of florescents. T5's and T8's come in a number of sizes. One of the T5 sizes is 21 inches (960 lumens), which should do you just fine. The T8's that might do you good come in 18 inches (860 lumens) or 24 inches (1325 - 1400 lumens).

Now, if you have the space, I'd suggest the 24 inch T8's.

Make sure you get the bulbs, (or tubes rather) that say "DAYLIGHT" or "DAYLIGHT DELUXE" since a typical summer light comming from the sun is about 6500 CCT's (correlated color temperature) and the "DAYLIGHT" tubes are rated at 6300 which is good. The "DAYLIGHT DELUXE" tubes are rated at 6500. Stay away from any tubes that are called "Warm" or "Natural".Daylight or daylight Deluxe's are real popular and easy to find...

Just make sure that you set them up so that you can lower and raise them as needed (like on small chains). And keep the no more than 4 -  6 inches above your plants. 

It would be advisable to change your tubes AT LEAST once a year (six months if possible), as the light degrades (you wont be able to see the difference, but trust me your plants will... The T8's (if you go with those) are only a couple of bucks so it shouldn't be a problem...

Awesome Vlad, thanks for the response! much appreciated!

 

I have been wanting to learn more about lights, but the main type of bulbs that are discussed (at least in the hydroponics stores) are high pressure sodium and metal halide. Plus I have been wanting to keep my system as inexpensive as possible, naturally steering away from the indoor lighting. 

 

Now the Daylight deluxe are the tubes, but do they need a special fixture? and I may have a fixture, but no reflectors. is there anyway i could buy reflectors and install them in the fixture myself?

Leafy greens do just fine under fluorescent bulbs, and they put off a lot less heat than the MH and HPS lights.

 

There are two pole and single pole bulbs, but the most common tend to be two poles.  HO (high output) tubes usually come as singles, but you really don't need HO's.  They tend to be more expensive, and are not readily available at hardware stores.

 

If you are concerned about budget, you can line the inside of the fixture with aluminum foil to serve as a bit of a reflector.  Far from the quality and reflectivity you'd get with a commercially made reflector, but still pretty good.

No type of special fixture is required for either the Daylight or Daylight Deluxe, just a regular old T8 fixture of the appropriate length for your space. I think I paid around $25 for mine, and they are twice the length that you'll need. They are not High Output, so they hold a pair of tubes. 

Now, MH and HPS are some serious grow lights, that you may want to leave alone for now. They are a much more expensive investment, much more expensive to operate, and like Kellen says, they give off some pretty serious heat.

You should be able to walk into a lighting/hardware/home depot store and ask for the least expensive 24" T8 2-tube fixture and be done in a snap. The same store probably also carries the Daylight tubes...let us know how it works out. 

I will definitely be posting pictures of the system after it gets assembled. I am planning on building a stand for the light so it is mobile and a bit easier to handle. I have seen some stands that are already assembled online, but either the reviews were horrible or the stand was way too expensive. I think I am going to get the aluminum foil, thank you kellen, and go that route for now. I am looking to assemble this baby by the end of this month!

 

Thanks again for both of your help! much appreciated!

No problem Anthony.  Happy to help!

Check out our side by side comparisons with our wide spectrum induction lamps and T5/HID combinations.

 

We are producing 30% more lettuce, basil, peppers, etc. for less 40% less wattage.

 

http://www.inda-gro.com/gallery/album/12

 

These low wattage lamps are perfect for aquaponic gardens.  Let me know what you think.

thanks for the link, i will definitely check it out!

darryl cotton said:

Check out our side by side comparisons with our wide spectrum induction lamps and T5/HID combinations.

 

We are producing 30% more lettuce, basil, peppers, etc. for less 40% less wattage.

 

http://www.inda-gro.com/gallery/album/12

 

These low wattage lamps are perfect for aquaponic gardens.  Let me know what you think.

They would grow them really well. I like the t5 myself. I also suggest changing out bulbs every 6-9 months. I have made the mistake of running the same bulbs for an extended length of time - and have noticed that a bulb change makes a huge difference.

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