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Can You Grow Autoflowers with Fluorescent Lights?

Grow lights serve as a great way to replace natural sunlight. But, apart from that, they have their own advantages. For instance, you can’t control nature, and weather fluctuations can seriously ruin your crop. On the other hand, grow lights give you more control over your plants, allowing you to even “change seasons” by altering the light cycle.

In short, grow lights let you play God. And there are a variety of grow lights available today. Back when growing cannabis at home was pretty new, many people used fluorescent lights that are almost forgotten today. Some growers utilize it even today to grow their favorite herb, but not for an entire cycle.

Fluorescents have their own advantages. They emit very little heat and are easy to handle. So, don’t be too quick to write them off yet. If the idea of a cool Grow Room with minimal heat issues fascinates you, read on to know if you can grow autoflowers with fluorescent lights.

What are fluorescent lights?

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A fluorescent lamp or tube is a device that emits light due to a chemical reaction occurring inside the glass tube. When gases and mercury react, they produce a coating of phosphor on the insides of the tube. This reaction creates ultraviolet light that’s very beneficial for plants to grow.

Fluorescents can be used for several purposes, but horticulturists love them due to the UV light. They last for a long time, and unlike HIDs and LEDs, they don’t get too hot to the touch, making it bearable for plants and humans.

Fluorescents are also referred to as Compact Fluorescent Lights or CFL, but CFLs were introduced much later. Even CFLs use the same technology of exciting mercury to emit light.

Types of fluorescent lights

There are several types of fluorescents including T12, T8, T5, and CFL lights. T12 lights were the ones used for growing at the very beginning when they were just introduced. Basically, fluorescent lights are named according to their diameter, shape, and wattage.

While the “T” denotes that the lamp is tubular, “12” indicates that it’s twelve-eighths of an inch in diameter. Similarly, “5” in TS indicates that it’s five-eighths of an inch and “8” in T8 is eight-eighths of an inch.

T12 lights were the first ones to be used by growers. Lights in these fluorescents were produced by electromagnetic induction, and the only problem was that they weren’t very efficient to grow plants. T8 and T5 lights that came out much later were more powerful. T5 lights are most preferred today because they are significantly smaller in size compared to their counterparts.

Although T5 lights are a tad more expensive than T8 and T12 lights, they are more efficient. You’ll need many T8 and T12 lights to match the efficiency of a T5 light. Plus, the light output has more lumen compared to previous fluorescent lights, thereby making it an ideal choice for cannabis growers.

What fluorescent lights are best for autoflowers?

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Whether it’s a photoperiod or autoflowering cannabis strain, the best fluorescent light would be the T5 since it is small and highly effective. They are easy to maintain and last at least for 20,000 hours. Although they are not as effective as LEDs or HIDs, they can be used to grow plants in the vegetative stage because they emit blue light that’s particularly effective.

What are the advantages of fluorescent lights?

  • Easily available

T5 lights are extremely common and are available almost anywhere. You don’t have to walk into a garden store to buy them because most general stores carry them.

Image Source: 420ledgrowlights.com

You’ll never have to worry about soaring temperatures in the grow room. Often, heat issues can cause more trouble than you can imagine.

And that’s exactly why HIDs come with ballasts to reduce the temperature. As the temperature and heat increases in the grow room, your plants suffer. But, plants not growing may be your smallest concern, especially considering that excessive heat can literally burn your grow room!

Even LEDs emit a lot more heat than advertised by most manufacturers. Most LEDs are fitted with fans to reduce the heat, but growers use additional fans to reduce the temperature to prevent mishaps. Also, LEDs and HIDs need to be placed at least 20 inches above the plants so the leaves don’t burn. If you notice leaves turning white, you can bet they are burnt.

With fluorescents, heat is not a concern at all. No matter how close you place the lights, the plants don’t burn. Even if you place the lights about 2-3 inches above the plants, they tend to grow really well. For this very reason, fluorescents are perfect for seedlings.

  • Less expensive

Another major advantage of using fluorescents is that they are cheaper than LEDs and HIDs. Your initial investment will be a lot lesser than other high-intensity lights. And to top it all, they are cheaper to maintain as well.

HIDs are notorious to draw too much power once you start using them. The initial investment may seem cheap but it will dig a deep hole in your pocket if you plan to grow plants for a long time. For example, let’s say you invest in a T5 grow light for instance. Let’s use the Hydro Crunch fixture for this example.

Now, with 8 bulbs at 54 watts each, the total output is 432 watts. If you’re growing a good amount of plants, you’ll need at least two, making it a total of 864 watts. The average cost of electricity in the US is about $0.13, but it can fluctuate depending on where you’re located.

To calculate the cost of electricity per month, you divide 864 by 1000 and multiply that by the rate. So, that’s (864/1000) * $0.13, which brings it to $0.112 per hour. Now, whether you’re growing autoflower or photoperiod plants, let’s assume you’re going with the 18/6 cycle, so multiplying $0.112 by 18 gives you $2.02 per day, and the cost per month would be $60.6.

Applying the same formula to HPS lights, and considering that you have a 1000w bulb, the result would be $70 per month. The cost of additional fans and ballasts would be extra although many fixtures come with ballasts. The difference in costs may not seem a lot, but they do add up due to extra fixtures that are mandatory when using HIDs.

  • Uniform light distribution

Fluorescents are built in such a way that the canopy receives light in a uniform manner. Of course, the lights that were introduced earlier lacked this feature, but fluorescents in recent years have seen massive improvements.

Grow lights serve as a great way to replace natural sunlight. But, apart from that, they have their own advantages. For instance, you can’t control nature

Small scale autoflower t5 grow

CloudsOverCanada
New Member
az2000
Well-Known Member

I used T5HO with autoflowers. You want about 40w per sq. ft. You will benefit from using 2-3 CFLs as sidelighting in mid to late flower. Use 6500k lights in veg, 3700k in flower. I did something like 4 cool to 1 warm in veg, 1-3 in flower.

I’d recommend LED. But, the learning curve can be difficult. If you can get Cree LED “lightbulb” replacements, you could use about 8 of those in veg and 10-12 in flower. See this page for what I’m talking about. That’s not too complicated compared to choosing a grow light. Might cost about the same as a T5HO setup, uses less electricity (you only need 25w/sq ft.). Should be cooler. I’ve forgotten how warm my T5HOs were.

Regarding container size, do 3gal. Plant directly into it. If you’re not skilled at transplanting, the shock can set the auto back (they don’t have time to recover). Watering a seedling in a 3gal plant takes some consideration. After it’s 3 weeks old it will have grown into the container and watering won’t be as difficult.

In that space, you can grow two autos. Remember, veg and flower uses the same 18/6 light/dark cycle. What I do is have one in flower and one in veg. When I’m 2 weeks from harvest, I germinate a new seed and tuck it in between the plants to get shaded light during the first week. I harvest a plant every 6-7 weeks.

CloudsOverCanada
New Member

I used T5HO with autoflowers. You want about 40w per sq. ft. You will benefit from using 2-3 CFLs as sidelighting in mid to late flower. Use 6500k lights in veg, 3700k in flower. I did something like 4 cool to 1 warm in veg, 1-3 in flower.

I’d recommend LED. But, the learning curve can be difficult. If you can get Cree LED “lightbulb” replacements, you could use about 8 of those in veg and 10-12 in flower. See this page for what I’m talking about. That’s not too complicated compared to choosing a grow light. Might cost about the same as a T5HO setup, uses less electricity (you only need 25w/sq ft.). Should be cooler. I’ve forgotten how warm my T5HOs were.

Regarding container size, do 3gal. Plant directly into it. If you’re not skilled at transplanting, the shock can set the auto back (they don’t have time to recover). Watering a seedling in a 3gal plant takes some consideration. After it’s 3 weeks old it will have grown into the container and watering won’t be as difficult.

In that space, you can grow two autos. Remember, veg and flower uses the same 18/6 light/dark cycle. What I do is have one in flower and one in veg. When I’m 2 weeks from harvest, I germinate a new seed and tuck it in between the plants to get shaded light during the first week. I harvest a plant every 6-7 weeks.

unfortunately
i probably wouldn’t be able to get the LED for the t5s so would 4 36″ 40w lightbulbs work in that space and should i use a mix of cool light and warm light? and ill have reflective Mylar would that help the light spread if i put the Mylar all the way around like on the floor and top? and sides obviously.

az2000
Well-Known Member

Since you should strive for 40w per sq. ft, and you’ll have four 40w tubes, that should be sufficient for 4 sq ft. Your space is 3.6′ x 2.3′. That’s 8.28 sq ft.

Your light will cover something like 3′ wide by 1.3′ deep. Reflective material helps, but you still need to strive for 40w sq/ft. A full-size auto (in a 3gal container) doesn’t need 3′, but it does need a little more than 1.3′. 2’x2′ is ideal.

You could grow two smaller autos (in 1/2 to 1gal containers). If you grow only one plant within that narrow space, you’ll waste a lot of light. To me, your choices seem to be two smaller autos. Or, add supplemental lighting (like the Cree LED “lightbulb” replacements I mentioned, about 8-10 of them) along each side of the T5HO fixture. Then you could grow two larger (3gal) autos.

I guess what I’m saying is, with the proportions of that one fixture, you’re either going to grow two plants, or waste light. To make the most of growing two plants in your space, you’d need to supplement the fixture.

Regarding cool and warm bulbs. Some people do all cool in veg, all warm in flower. I liked to keep a little of one in the other. Just to be a little more “full spectrum.” It’s probably not important to mix colors like that.

CloudsOverCanada
New Member
CloudsOverCanada
New Member
az2000
Well-Known Member

My autos in 3gal containers become about 3′ tall (including the height of the container). My tent is 4′ tall. I usually have to bend a couple shoots over to maintain enough distance between the canopy and the LED. The link I gave you has a photo.

You have enough vertical distance for HPS.

I’d encourage you to stop looking at old tech and go LED. For a single plant, those LED “lightbulbs” I mentioned would work great. Would cost you about $80 US in bulbs. Maybe another $60 in materials to mount them (but that’s stuff you can use forever). If you’re going to fill your space, grow photosensitives, scrog, etc., two Area51 RW-75s would fit your space very well. 18.12w/sq ft.

If I were going to grow two autos in that space, I’d do one RW75 on the flower side, and Cree “lightbulbs” on the veg side. You don’t need as much light for veg. You could add bulbs incrementally as the plant grows. Ending up around 7-8 bulbs when it begins flowering.

You asked if you could grow two decent plants. With good light, temperatures, soil, nutes, yes. I got 180g from an autoflower under 6 T5HO bulbs and supplemented with a couple CFLs in flower. It can take some time to workout the good stuff.

If you’re concerned about investing too much, grow just one auto under your T5HO. (It’s not clear if you have T5 or T5HO. The wattage of the bulbs sounds like HO. That’s something to keep in mind when buying a couple warm bulbs for flower. Don’t accidentally buy T5.

CloudsOverCanada
New Member

My autos in 3gal containers become about 3′ tall (including the height of the container). My tent is 4′ tall. I usually have to bend a couple shoots over to maintain enough distance between the canopy and the LED. The link I gave you has a photo.

You have enough vertical distance for HPS.

I’d encourage you to stop looking at old tech and go LED. For a single plant, those LED “lightbulbs” I mentioned would work great. Would cost you about $80 US in bulbs. Maybe another $60 in materials to mount them (but that’s stuff you can use forever). If you’re going to fill your space, grow photosensitives, scrog, etc., two Area51 RW-75s would fit your space very well. 18.12w/sq ft.

If I were going to grow two autos in that space, I’d do one RW75 on the flower side, and Cree “lightbulbs” on the veg side. You don’t need as much light for veg. You could add bulbs incrementally as the plant grows. Ending up around 7-8 bulbs when it begins flowering.

You asked if you could grow two decent plants. With good light, temperatures, soil, nutes, yes. I got 180g from an autoflower under 6 T5HO bulbs and supplemented with a couple CFLs in flower. It can take some time to workout the good stuff.

If you’re concerned about investing too much, grow just one auto under your T5HO. (It’s not clear if you have T5 or T5HO. The wattage of the bulbs sounds like HO. That’s something to keep in mind when buying a couple warm bulbs for flower. Don’t accidentally buy T5.

I’m really interested in useing leds to be honest would this led light sytem be any good you think?

ATTETION I AM A NOOB! I have a closet 110cmx70cm wide and 180cm tall I have some autoflower seeds I wanna grow a only one plant, I just need some help with…