T5 vs. T8 lighting, and what’s the difference between them? Both offer energy-efficient lighting options but with unique advantages and applications.

Below, I explore the differences between T5 and T8 lighting and how these different bulbs are used in various settings and for different purposes for maximum effectiveness.

says T5 vs. T8 Lighting with 3 different t5 and t8 bulbs

As tube-style lights, they come in different diameters and lengths to cater to various lighting needs.

While T5 tubes are 5/8 inch in diameter and can be up to 40 inches long, T8 tubes are 1 inch in diameter and available in standard 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-foot lengths. T5 tube lights are 40% smaller than T8 bulbs but are just as capable of emitting a strong light, particularly in focused areas such as task lighting and plant grow lighting.

Understanding the key differences between T5 and T8 lighting can significantly impact your choice, whether you’re considering light fixtures for residential, commercial, or plant-growing purposes.

Factors such as energy efficiency, brightness, and environmental considerations determine which lighting type best suits your specific requirements.

Using the wrong bulb can significantly affect what you’re trying to achieve with the lighting.  Use this guide so you don’t miss the mark with your lighting needs. 

T5 Vs. T8 Lighting Content

• Detailed Differences Between T5 Vs. T8 Bulbs
• Residential Uses For T5 and T8 Lighting
• T5 and T8 Lighting For Indoor Plants
• Commercial Applications For T5 and T8 Lighting
• T5 and T8 Energy Savings and Environmental Considerations – LED OVERVIEW
• Frequently Asked Questions


T5 VS T8 Lighting Overview

• T5 and T8 tube lights have very distinct size and brightness differences, which I detail below.

• Both types of lighting are used across various commercial and residential settings.  Each type serves a different purpose and has specific benefits for the application in which the lighting is being used.

Energy efficiency and environmental considerations play a role in choosing T5 and T8 lighting.

T5 vs T8 Lighting: Key Differences


Size and Tube Diameter

The initial and most evident difference when analyzing T5 and T8 lighting is their dimensions. T5 bulbs are distinguished by a relatively smaller diameter of 5/8 inches, contrasting with the T8 bulbs, which exhibit a more robust diameter of 1 inch.

This disparity is not only limited to diameters but is also apparent in their respective lengths. Standard T8 bulbs are usually available in varying lengths of 2, 3, 4, and 5 feet. However, T5 bulbs, on the other hand, tend to be somewhat shorter in length compared to T8 bulbs, underscoring a crucial consideration when selecting appropriate lighting solutions.

Energy Efficiency

Regarding energy efficiency, T8 lights have marked a substantial improvement from their antecedent T12 bulbs. However, T5 lights advance this progression further, surpassing T8s in efficiency.

Notably, T5 bulbs exhibit a lower power consumption per lumen output, culminating in superior efficiency and consequently reducing energy expenditure. This critical characteristic renders T5 bulbs viable for those seeking energy-efficient lighting solutions.

Lumen Output

T8 lights generally exhibit a superior lumen output in comparison to T5 lights. Nevertheless, it is pivotal to note that this factor is influenced by the type of tube employed and the consumed wattage. Consequently, the lumen output is not an inherent property but a product of specific lighting configurations.

Cost and Cost-Effectiveness of T5 Bulbs Vs. T8 Bulbs

While T5 bulbs may offer higher energy efficiency, they tend to be more expensive than T8 bulbs initially. Nevertheless, T5 bulbs can be more cost-effective in the long run, especially considering energy costs. Consider your short-term and long-term budget goals to determine the best lighting option for yourself.

T5 and T8 Lifespan

Both T5 and T8 bulbs offer long-lasting performance. T8 lights typically have a life expectancy of around 20,000 to 50,000 hours, while T5 lights can last for 20,000 to 35,000 hours. Your experience may vary depending on factors like maintenance and overall usage patterns.

Color Temperature and Color Rendering

Color temperature and color rendering are other key factors to consider when comparing T5 and T8 lighting. Both types offer various color temperatures to suit various applications and tastes.

T5 and T8 bulbs are also designed with phosphor coatings that help improve their color rendering index (CRI), which measures how well a light source can reproduce accurate and vivid colors.

Residential Applications of T5 and T8 Lighting

In your home, choosing between T5 and T8 lighting can significantly affect energy efficiency, aesthetics, and space utilization. Since both T5 and T8 lighting fixtures share a tube-shaped design, they offer great advantages for illuminating larger rooms in your home.

When considering the size and design of these lighting options, it’s important to consider the space you have available.

T5 bulbs are slimmer and more compact, which makes them an ideal choice for areas with limited space. On the other hand, T8 bulbs are larger and can provide a broader light spread, making them suitable for more spacious rooms.

t5 Led Lighting under kitchen cabinets

T5 Lighting For Residential Purposes



Given their small size, T5 lights are excellent for under-cabinet lighting in kitchens or workspaces. They can provide bright, efficient light in these areas without taking up much space.

2. Garage and Workshop Lighting

T5 lights provide strong, bright light that’s perfect for detailed tasks, making them a great choice for garages or workshops where good lighting is crucial for safety and precision.

3. Accent Lighting

The high color rendering index (CRI) of T5 lights makes them suitable for accent lighting, where the true colors of objects need to be highlighted. They can be used for lighting artwork, decorative displays, or architectural features in a home.

4. Aquarium Lighting

T5 lights are often used for aquarium lighting due to their efficiency and high output. They can provide the light necessary for plant growth in an aquarium without using excessive amounts of electricity.

5. Indoor Gardening

Like aquariums, T5 lights can be used for indoor gardens, terrariums, or greenhouses, providing the bright and efficient light necessary for plant growth.

T8 Lighting For Residential Purposes

T8 lighting also has a wide array of applications in residential settings, often used where more diffused, less focused light is needed compared to T5 bulbs. Here are some common uses:

1. General Room Lighting

Due to their larger size and higher lumen output, T8 lights are often used for general room lighting. They can provide a broad spread of light suitable for living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and other common areas.

2. Kitchen and Bathroom Lighting

T8 lights can be used to provide bright, even illumination in kitchens and bathrooms. They are well-suited to areas where good visibility is necessary for tasks like cooking or personal grooming.

3. Garage and Basement Lighting

The bright, even light provided by T8 lamps makes them ideal for garages and basements, where strong general lighting is often needed.

4. Workshop Lighting

Like garages, T8 lights provide excellent workshop lighting, where visibility is crucial for safety and precision.

The main differences between T5 and T8 applications are related to their size, brightness, and efficiency. T5 lights are smaller and more efficient but generally produce less light overall compared to T8 lights.

This makes T5 bulbs better suited to task lighting, under-cabinet lighting, or other applications requiring limited space or high efficiency.

On the other hand, T8 lights, being larger and having a higher lumen output, are often used for general room lighting where a larger spread of light is needed.

t5 Grow Lights 3 tier shelving indoor houseplants against interior wall

T5 and T8 Lighting for Indoor Plants


Grow Lights

When you want to optimize plant growth indoors, choosing the right grow light is essential. T5 and T8 lighting are two popular types for horticultural applications.

T5 lights have a diameter of 5/8 inches, while T8 tubes are slightly larger with a 1-inch diameter source. Both types can support optimal plant growth, but there are a few differences that you should consider.

T5 and T8 Lights and the Influence of Light Spectrum on Plant Growth

The spectrum of light significantly influences the growth and maturation of plants. T5 and T8 grow lights provide a diversity of color temperatures to cater to different phases of plant development.

An LED grow light is a type of electronic light source specifically designed to stimulate plant growth by emitting light suitable for photosynthesis, thereby promoting healthier, faster growth while reducing energy consumption compared to traditional horticultural lighting.

Specifically, a cool white light within the range of 5000K to 6500K is optimum for the vegetative phase, whereas a warmer, red-tinted light within 2800K to 3000K is favored for the blooming phase.

Distinguished from T8 lamps, T5 high-output (HO) bulbs typically exhibit greater efficiency and possess a superior color-rendering index (CRI), which can enhance their aesthetic appeal.

T5 Vs. T8 Regulation and High-Output Choices For Grow Lights

In comparing T5 and T8 grow lights, evaluating the aspects of control and high-output options is crucial.

T5 High-Output (HO) lamps emit a greater intensity of light within a compact area, utilizing lesser wattage (approximately 75 to 90 lumens per watt) than their T8 grow light counterpart. This characteristic makes T5 grow light lamps more energy-conserving while ensuring adequate light yield for plant growth. 

Conversely, T8 lamps are more prevalent and easier to procure, presenting more adaptability to fixture choices and options for LED retrofitting.

As a horticulture aficionado, it’s vital to compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of T5 and T8 lighting to your specific requirements. Considering factors such as the light spectrum, efficiency, and control options is paramount in selecting the most suitable lighting solution for indoor gardening.

4 Foot LED T8 Light

4 foot led T8 Light in garage

Source: parmida.com

A 4-foot LED T8 bulb offers superior energy efficiency, often consuming less electricity than its fluorescent counterparts, which can significantly save energy bills over its lifespan.

LED T8 bulbs tend to have a longer operational life, reducing replacement costs and making them an environmentally friendly choice due to less frequent bulb disposal.

Commercial Real Estate Applications For T5 and T8 Lighting


Warehouse Interiors

Regarding warehouse lighting, both T5 and T8 lights can be efficient options. T5 lighting has the highest efficiency and is suitable for warehouses with high ceilings or larger areas that require brighter illumination.

These T5 fixtures typically have a lumen output of around 5,000 lumens per tube.

On the other hand, T8 lights offer great energy efficiency with a lumen output of approximately 3,000 lumens per tube. They can be ideal for smaller warehouses or spaces with lower ceilings.

Additionally, T8 lights have a longer lifespan than T5 lights, which can be a cost-effective solution for your warehouse lighting needs.

Commercial Real Estate Areas

For commercial areas such as retail stores, offices, and restaurants, both T5 and T8 lights can provide adequate illumination. T5 lights are well-suited for spaces that require higher brightness levels, such as display areas and showrooms, due to their higher lumen output.

T8 lights are a more practical option for general lighting purposes in commercial areas. Their energy efficiency and longer lifespan make them a cost-effective choice for your business.

Additionally, since T8 lights have a larger diameter, they can disperse light more evenly, providing a more comfortable lighting environment.

Hospital Interior areas

In hospitals and healthcare facilities, selecting the appropriate lighting is crucial for maintaining a comfortable environment for patients and staff. T5 and T8 lights can cater to the specific needs of these facilities.

T5 lights, with their higher lumen output and efficiency, are perfect for illuminating crucial areas such as operating rooms, where bright and consistent lighting is essential.

Meanwhile, T8 lights, with their larger diameter and even light dispersion, are ideal for patient rooms, waiting areas, and hallways, ensuring a comfortable and soothing environment.

Moreover, both T5 and T8 LED lights have a lower heat output than traditional lighting options, which helps maintain optimal hospital temperatures.

T5 VS T8 LED Tubes

YouTube video

T5 and T8 Energy Savings and Environmental Considerations


LED Lighting Alternatives

When choosing lighting solutions for your needs, it is important to consider LED lighting alternatives. An LED light offers various advantages, such as longer lifespans, instant start-ups, and reduced energy consumption.

T5 and T8 LED tube lights provide efficient and bright lighting without sacrificing performance.

Mercury Content and Fluorescent Lighting

Another aspect to remember is the mercury content in lighting solutions. Traditional fluorescent lighting, including T5 and T8 fluorescent tubes, contains mercury gas, which is highly toxic if the tube breaks.

On the other hand, an LED tube does not require mercury and is a safer and more environmentally friendly option for your lighting needs.

Energy Consumption and LED Lighting

Energy consumption is crucial in determining the overall efficiency and costs associated with lighting. Regarding energy savings, LED lights have the upper hand.

They consume less energy and generate less heat, leading to a more energy-efficient setup. Reducing energy consumption can also lower energy costs and contribute to a greener environment.

When selecting the right lighting solution for your needs, it is essential to consider factors such as LED alternatives, mercury content, and energy consumption.

By considering these aspects, you can make an informed decision and choose the ideal lighting solution for your requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the main differences between T5 and T8 lighting?

T5 and T8 lighting refers to specific measurements and sizes of tubular-shaped lighting options. The main difference between these two types of lighting lies in their diameter. A T5 tube measures 5/8 inches in diameter, while a T8 tube measures 1 inch in source. T5 tubes are also generally shorter than T8 tubes, which can impact their compatibility with certain fixtures.

Is there a significant difference in energy efficiency in T5 vs T8 lighting?

When comparing T5 and T8 lighting, there can be a difference in energy efficiency depending on the specific fixtures used. Generally, T5 bulbs are considered more energy-efficient than T8 bulbs. However, it is important to consider the specific needs of your space and the fixtures you have available to make the most informed decision.

Can T5 and T8 bulbs be used interchangeably?

T5 and T8 bulbs are not directly interchangeable due to their different sizes and shapes. To use a T5 tube in a T8 fixture, you would need a conversion kit that includes a compatible ballast source. Although possible, this conversion may not be the most cost-effective solution, and using the appropriate size and type of bulb for your specific fixture is recommended.

Is T5 or T8 lighting better for plant growth?

T5 lighting is often preferred for plant growth due to its higher light output and energy efficiency compared to T8 lighting. T5 bulbs can provide more concentrated light, which benefits plants that need a lot of light for optimal growth. However, the choice between T5 and T8 lighting for plant growth depends on the specific requirements of your plants and the setup of your grow space.

Are T5 and T8 compatible with the same ballasts?

T5 and T8 bulbs require different ballasts due to their varying sizes and energy requirements. T5 bulbs typically need electronic ballasts, whereas T8 bulbs can be compatible with both electronic and magnetic ballasts. It is essential to ensure your ballast is compatible with the specific type of bulb you plan to use.

Difference In T5 & T8 Lighting and Where To Use Bulbs Difference In T5 & T8 Lighting and Where To Use Bulbs