Fluorescent Tube Fixtures

Hydrofarm FLT24Fluorescent tube fixtures are popular for hydroponic gardeners because they provide a nice even light output with minimal heat.  Modern fluorescent tubes have a higher light output than ever before and come in a variety of different color temperatures.

How it Works

Fluorescent lights contain mercury vapor which, when electrically excited, emits ultraviolet light.  This light strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the tube which glows.

Pros of Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent tubes provide an even light which covers the entire growing area better than most light sources.  The fixtures also emit less heat than many other fixtures, especially HID (high intensity discharge) lights.  This can mean less ventilation is needed to remove heat, cutting down on electrical use and noise.  Because the tubes themselves release practically no heat, they can be placed very close to the plants, even touching the leaves, without burning them.

Cons of Fluorescent Lighting

Because fluorescent lights put out light in all direction, some of that light is lost.  Having an appropriate fixture to direct as much light as possible to the plants does help.  Because the tubes contain mercury there can be health risks with broken lamps.  If you do break a lamp, air out the area immediately with fresh air before attempting to clean up.  Lamps should be disposed of properly.  Many communities offer free recycling services that will accept fluorescent lamps.

Popular Fluorescent Fixtures

There are a variety of fixtures available for different size gardens.  The Hydrofarm JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System is popular for gardeners starting seeds or for just a few small plants.  It is also good for small gardens where you have sunlight available and just need a little extra light.

For more serious gardening, there are fixtures of various sizes like the Hydrofarm FLT24 and the larger Grow Crew T5 Fluorescent HO 4ft 8 Lamp Fixture.

Most fixtures come with one set of lamps.  The lamps are high-output T5 type lamps which can be ordered online or can often be found at your local hardware or gardening store.  Most of the lamps used have a color temperature in the 6,400K to 6,500K range.

See the fluorescent tube lights available from amazon.com.

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