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Fluorescent lights work, but they have a few huge disadvantages.
First is the need to change bulbs.
This costs money and takes up time. Not only do you have to swap out the bulbs, you have to buy the new ones first.
Second are operating costs. Fluorescent lights consume a lot of power, relative to their output. They are not nearly as efficient as MH or LED.
So why not just use MH or LED?
Both cost more and MH generates a lot of heat.
So what if you could have a light that uses minimal power to generate the same output?
And produces little heat?
And costs only a little more than a fluorescent fixture, so that it actually pays for itself within a year?
Well, I have good news.
That product exists!
The NextLight Veg8 LED grow light was designed for one specific purpose: to replace an 8 tube 4 foot T5 fluorescent grow light.
Specifically BECAUSE it was designed to replace one specific fixture.
This gave the designers exact goals to shoot for and allowed them to ensure their light outdoes the light it's replacing in every area.
Other LED lights simply try to replace traditional grow lights in general. Manufacturers claim they are equivalent to a 1000 watt HPS light, for example, but that's not completely true.
They've certainly improved on the weaknesses of HPS, but they haven't addressed its strength. Growers still get larger yields with HPS than an equivalent LED.
Let's think about it in terms of movies. Hollywood loves remakes, but most are not well received.
Because they're either taking something that's already great and is almost impossible to improve on (Psycho) or they're taking something that could use an update but they only do a better job in one area, like employing better actors or updating the special effects, etc. (Clash of the Titans).
The end result is the same: the new version doesn't really excite anyone.
The remakes that work take a flawed movie and improve upon it in every area, including the things the original did well. Think Ocean's 11.
If manufacturers want LEDs to replace traditional lighting, they have to improve upon the traditional light in every way. And the best way to do that is to create LEDs that directly replace one specific fixture.
Just like NextLight did with the Veg8.
Growers who are using an 8 tube T5 fluorescent light for growing weed (i.e. vegging) or other non-flowering plants, now have a light that is better in every way.
It beats both the weaknesses of T5 lights (power consumption, heat, short bulb life) as well as the strengths (spectrum, low hanging height, price).
Here is a great video that shows the Veg 8 in a side by side grow with one of the best 8 tube T5 fixtures on the market.
Let's compare the lights one feature at a time.
The Veg 8 has the same coverage area as the 8 tube T5 fixture (2 by 4 feet), but it has a higher PAR rating throughout that area, from dead center to the far corners. There's a comparison video on the product page that compares the PAR footprints in detail.
The Veg8 uses full-spectrum white LEDs that were designed to mimic natural sunlight, which is exactly the light plants crave. It is similar to a cool fluorescent spectrum, but with more output in the blue and red bandwidths.
This is where the Veg8 really shines. All good LED lights are expensive, but most pay for themselves after 2-4 years.
The Veg8 saves you some money within the first year and then a lot every year after.
Let's look at the numbers:
The Veg8 panel costs $535.50, while the average 8 tube T5 fixture costs $255 with bulbs.
The Veg8 consumes less than half the power (190w, compared to 430w-450w), which saves you about $180 per year.
The T5 bulbs need to be replaced once a year, costing around $160. The Veg8 diodes are rated for 100,000 hours, so you won't need new ones for over 15 years.
So the first year cost of using a T5 grow light instead of a Veg8 is: $255 + $180 + $160 = $595
The Veg8 costs $535.50
After the first year, using the T5 fixture costs you $180 + $160 more than the Veg8 = $340/yr
And that's per fixture, so replacing 5 T5 lights saves you 5 x $340 = $1700/yr.
Sorry for all the math. The video comparing the Veg 8 to a T5 fixture does a better job of explaining it.
This table might make it a bit simpler, too:
|T5 Expenses||Year One||Years 2-15|
|Energy consumption||$180 more than Veg8||$180 more than Veg8|
The Veg 8 costs $535.50 (down from $595) to purchase. You save almost $60 in year one, then $340 every year after that.
Can you see now why this is a game changer?
There is no area where you're better off growing with T5 fluorescent lights.
The Veg8 even costs less after the first year, which is usually the big drawback of LED lighting.
On top of that, it is designed and manufactured in the US and comes with a full 5-year warranty.
The longest warranty I've ever seen for T5 lighting is 3 years. And that's for the fixture. The bulbs usually carry a one-year warranty.
The Veg8 is hugely popular and will hopefully encourage other LED manufacturers to start designing LED fixtures to specifically replace one traditional light fixture each.
We will finally get all the benefits that LED manufacturers have been promising, but, with a couple of exceptions, have so far failed to deliver.
Instead of LED lights that are better than HID lights or fluorescent lights in some ways, but not in others, we will get LED fixtures like the NextLight Veg 8 that are better than their counterparts in EVERY way.
THAT is a game changer.
Well, that's no longer the right question.
I highly recommend checking out the Veg8 before making any decision.
Your plants, and your wallet, will thank you.
What do you think about the new Veg8? Are you as excited as we are or will you happily continue growing cannabis with fluorescent lights?
Let us know in the comments below!