The T500 from Cirrus LED Systems (link to product page), previously known as the Titan 5, is arguably the most technologically advanced light on the market and certainly the most advanced we've reviewed. Naturally, it costs quite a bit more than its direct competitors as a result.
Is it worth it?
If you're just starting out and have a limited start-up budget, this is not the light for you.
There are plenty of other lights that cost less and deliver similar results. The difference is, those lights will cost you more to operate in the long run. The Titan's low power usage and heat output result in far lower operating costs than other lights.
The Titan's other strength is customization. It comes with Cirrus' Leaf app, which gives you complete control over the light spectrum and schedule from any smartphone or similar device.
The T500 certainly has its drawbacks, most notably the high initial price, but it is one of the newest LED fixtures on the market and features technology not yet found in any other light. And in the long-term, it will save you money.
But is it the right light for you? Read on to find out.
Read the rest of the Cirrus T500 LED grow light review:
Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead)
Actual Wattage and HID Equivalent
The T500 is about equivalent to a 1200 watt HPS light, but most first-time LED growers will probably get lower yields than they did with HPS. Much of that is due to the differences in growing with HPS light and with LED light.
Once you've gotten used to the differences, you can expect yields well above those of a 1000 watt HPS bulb. More importantly, the quality will be much higher, with an increase in resin production of up to 20%.
The best news?
The Titan 5 only uses 500 watts of power. That is far below any other 1200 watt equivalent LED fixtures and even below almost all 1000 watt equivalent lights.
This low power usage is one of the biggest strengths and is due to the unique mCOB array, which I will talk about in more detail below in the section on LED types.
Cirrus T500 LED Grow Light Spectrum
Titan lights emit a full-spectrum light that includes infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths. Most of the light is in the red and blue ranges, which is exactly the light plants need most.
Moreover, each mCOB array emits the complete spectrum you see in the image above. Other LED fixtures are made up of many diodes that each emit a single wavelength. Some diodes emit a blue light, some emit a red light, etc.
As you can imagine, this leads to an uneven light distribution. One part of the canopy might be getting far more blue light than another part, for example, because it is located beneath more blue diodes than another part. By alternating colors, manufacturers try to minimize this problem, but they can't eliminate it entirely.
With their proprietary mCOB arrays, Cirrus has eliminated the problem. Each LED emits every wavelength, and every part of the canopy gets the exact same spectral makeup.
It sounds good in theory, but does this spectrum actually make a difference in real life?
The ideal color ratio and the uniform spread of full-spectrum light increases bud quality (this is something you see with all quality LEDs, just to a lesser degree) and the addition of UV and IR light stimulates resin production, which increases THC.
Finally, Cirrus' Leaf app lets you control the spectrum (or choose one of the many presets) from your smartphone or tablet. You can control the brightness of each part of the spectrum. If you want to turn off UV light and turn down the reds during vegging, you can do that. If you want to have the UV light come on for only two hours every afternoon, you can do that, too.
PAR and Coverage Area
The image above shows the PPFD (PAR) footprint for the Titan 5 at 24 inches from the top of the canopy. You've probably noticed that the highest value in the center is far lower than many competitors.
If you've looking for the highest PAR value, the T series of lights are probably not for you.
Cirrus has chosen to spread the light out more than most other manufacturers. This gives you a larger coverage area of 5 by 5 feet and a more even light spread. Whether this is good for you, depends on what you're doing with the light.
If you're growing a single plant or have a different reason for needing a lot of incredibly intense light directly beneath the fixture then there are far better fixtures out there for you.
The T lights are meant to maximize the amount of light that hits every part of the coverage area. If you've got a garden that measures 5 by 5 feet or larger, you actually don't want a very intense light in the center. You want the light distributed as uniformly as possible throughout the coverage area. That way, even plants on the outside of that 5 by 5 area still get plenty of light and don't go hungry.
Another reason for the lower PAR values is the inclusion of infrared and ultra-violet light. The mCOBs used in the Titan emit more IR and UV light than most other LED fixtures. This light does not contribute to PAR at all, but it does make your plants happy. The sun contains both UV and IR light, after all.
A common complaint about LED lights is poor canopy penetration. Most LED fixtures use 3 watt diodes, which simply don't give you the same penetration as a powerful 1000 watt HPS bulb. 5 watt diodes give you better penetration, but emit far more heat.
The mCOB arrays are a completely new technology that give you a far more intense light than any standard diode. As a result, canopy penetration is not an issue. The light from this fixture gets deep beneath the canopy just like an HPS bulb.
This light is perfect for a 5 by 5 foot tent. It would still work well in a 4 by 4 tent, but you could also go with the T300 for that tent size and save a bit of money. Any smaller than 4 by 4 and you definitely want to go with the T300 instead of this light.
LED Type and Configuration
COB LEDs give you more output, while using less power and producing less heat. They also give you a full-spectrum light that is perfect for all stages of plant growth.
The T500 has 36 of these mCOB arrays and you won't find them on any other fixtures (apart from the T300) and they're what give these lights their unique advantages. This is a new generation of LED technology. The only drawback is a higher cost.
The T500 emits far less heat than any of its competitors. Most 1000 watt equivalent LED grow lights give off around 2100 BTU. This light only produces 1200-1300 BTU.
There are two reasons for the low heat output. One is the mCOB arrays. They run much more efficiently than standard diodes and thus give off less heat.
The other are extra large heat sinks. They do a great job of dissipating any heat produced, but the drawback is weight. These things are heavy and the T500 is one of the heaviest grow lights out there as a result.
The T500 can be completely customized (in terms of spectrum and schedule) from your smartphone or tablet, using the proprietary Leaf app. It works on both Android and iOS.
There are a few other LED grow lights that offer the same level of customization, but none of them are as simple to operate. This app is light-years ahead of the remote controls or series of switches found on other lights. Just like the mCOBs, the ability to control everything from your phone is the technology of the future.
The app is new, though, so there are still a few issues that need to be ironed out. The most glaring is that you have to close and reconnect the app every time you adjust the light.
Hopefully by the time you read this review, Cirrus will have fixed this bug. Overall, the app works well and it will only get better as they get more feedback and make the appropriate updates.
Note: I talked to a representative from Cirrus about this and he explained this issue. You can make as many adjustments as you like without closing the app. But most people, once they're done with the app, will disconnect the phone from the light's wifi. Naturally, this means they will need to reconnect if they wish to make additional changes.
The T500 can run on 110 to 277 volts AC. For more specs, check out the product page.
The Cirrus T500 measures 35 by 15.7 by 4.5 inches and is very heavy at 52 pounds. The weight can come as a shock when you first pick it up, but that is the drawback of having such a low heat output. The heat sinks inside this fixture are huge and heavy, but they ensure your grow room stays cool.
When you buy a T500, you also get Cirrus' Leaf app, which allows you to fully control the light spectrum and schedule from your smartphone.
You also get a standard 110 volt power cord and hanging cables. The cables work fine, but they're pretty basic.
All Cirrus LED Systems lights come with a 5 year warranty that guarantees you against all manufacturer's defects. You also get a 90 day satisfaction guarantee that allows you to ship back up to two Titans for a full refund, if you are not satisfied. Unfortunately, you are responsible for the shipping costs both ways, but it's still nice to know you can get most of your money back if the light does not meet your expectations.
The warranty is longer than most, but on par with the other top brands. The same goes for the satisfaction guarantee. Almost all top brands offer something similar.
Pros and Cons
- Incredibly low power usage (500 watts) for a 1200 watt HID equivalent light
- lowest heat output for any light this size by far
- Leaf app gives you full control from your smartphone
- Even light distribution
- Ideal spectrum for all stages of plant growth
- High price
- Very heavy (due to huge heat sinks)
- Brand new light, so no established track record
The T500 costs $2199. This price is higher than other 1000 watt equivalent LED lights. Of course, the T500 is actually equivalent to a 1200 watt HID light, but more than that, the price is a reflection of the ground-breaking technology included in this fixture.
You can certainly get a perfectly good LED plant light for a lower price and if that's what your're looking for, this is not the light for you. Only get this fixture if you're looking for the absolute newest technology and highest quality.
Summary of Cirrus T500 Review
The T500 is brand new and so is the technology contained within. Cirrus LED Systems have achieved something remarkable here.
They've given us an LED plant light that finally delivers on the expectations LED technology has long promised the horticultural industry.
Here is a light that produces higher quality yields than HPS (most top-quality LEDs do this) as well as a higher quantity (very few LEDs can do this). And it only consumes 500 watts of power to do so, which is far below any equivalent LED. It also runs cooler than any other LED fixture of this size.
But there's always a drawback.
In this case, it's the price. This light costs considerably more than most of its competitors and you have to ask yourself if the advanced technology and improved performance is worth it.
The Cirrus T500 is a great light, but I do not think it is worth paying the considerably higher price as compared to its closest competitors. This is even more true now that Black Dog have lowered the prices of all their lights by several hundred dollars.
I ended up buying the Black Dog Phytomax-2 600 even at the higher price. Now that it costs much less, it is the way to go if you want a light spectrum consisting of a mix of red, blue and white (as opposed to all-white light; in that case the NextLight Mega is by far the best option). You can find our Black Dog review here.
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