grow lights

Colfax, NC

Hi, this will be my first year gardening and I know in order to start seeds inside I need a grow light set up. I have already gathered ideas for the shelving set up but I need to know what fixtures and bulbs to purchase. Do i need t12, t8, or something different? Cool white or warm, or one of each? Please help.

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

i am a novice myself at using the grow light method, and to tell the truth, i have my setup kind of cheapo, lol. Just a cheap office desk lamp with a pose-able head, and i put a flourecent aquarium grow light in there, it has a cool white coloring to it. i have heard that plants use blue light for growth, and red light for flowering.

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

of course i always start off a very small amount of seed indoors too, so thats how i can get away with doing it like that

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

The most cost effective solution is T8 fixtures hung on chain so that you can change the height as the plants grow. T12s are slowly being phased out. 6500K bulbs work the best. I have also used a 26 watt CFL in a utility or even better a brooder light fixture. That will cover about a square foot.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Doug is correct. T12's are being phased out and aren't as efficient as T8's. I am in the process of replacing all my old T12's with T8's for the past 3 to 4 years. A double expense in a way. I am running about 75 lights and maybe have a dozen to go to replacing them all.

I wouldn't worry about grow bulbs or anything special. There was an article in the last Fine Gardening Magazine about lights. The ultra expensive LED lights came in at the top (but then it was nearly $1,000 per fixture) with shoplights coming in second compared to grow lights and cheap LED lights. That is good enough for me.


An example of one of five wooden shelves I built and one of many chrome shelves I bought and use for growing plants.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Colfax, NC

Thanks for the advise. Ill be buying 2 4 bulb t8 fixtures tomorrow :-)

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Check this website:
http://www.hydrogalaxy.com/categories/growing-lights/flourescent-lights.html?sort=bestselling
I bought these lights:
http://www.hydrogalaxy.com/growing-lights/flourescent-lights/t5-4ft-4-tube-designer-system-w-bulbs/
They are having a 20% off and free shipping.

I love this company.
I started with 6 lights system (4ft), then I added 2 of these lights on the bottom shelves.
I do have a 3 floors system (bought at Lowe's on sale for $53) where I grow everything I need for my vegetable garden all year around.
The lights are superior and I had them for 5 years now. I never replaced the bulbs and I can grow fantastic plants.

They are not cheap, but much cheaper than to grow average plants that will give you average vegetables.

The second picture you can see how the 4 lights fixture is enough for 4 trays (each with 18 4" plants)

Good luck

PS. shop around the website, their prices are very good.

Thumbnail by drthor Thumbnail by drthor
Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Here are the pictures

Thumbnail by drthor Thumbnail by drthor
Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

I made a stand using an adustable wire rack from Lowes. It uses standard shop lights on chains. The lights are all connected to power strips and the power strips into a timer. I have 6 bulbs (3 fixtures) per shelf. The shelves are deep and wide enough for 4 standard nursery trays each.

David

Thumbnail by dreaves
Clover, SC

Here's a great explanation of how grow lights work to start veggies along with the advantages and disadvantages of each kind. http://www.tomatodirt.com/tomato-grow-lights.html

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

The best fixtures are what you can find for free. Don't turn down a few free T12 fixtures, if you can find them.

T8s are more efficient, and T5s could be more efficient AND brighter, but T5s ARE more expensive.

If you can afford higher-output bulbs (more lumens), you will get sturdier seedlings without fussing to keep the bulbs right down almost TOUCHING the seedlings. But HO bolbs will be more expensive and might not last as long as regular output bulbs.

Efficiency counts if you'll be using the same fitting for several years. My belief is that, in 3-5 years, LED bulbs and fittings will be cheap enough that their electrical efficiency will displace even modern T5 bulbs.

if you pay full price, probably T8s are still a better buy than T5s, unless you'll run them 18 and 7, for several years.

My suggestion is to avoid buying the most expensive rig "to save on electricity". If you're only running lights 2-3 months per year, save money now and replace them with LED lights when those prices drop (Or T5 bulbs when those prices drop more.)


I think that, for starting seedlings, you want mostly blue fluorescent bulbs. Maybe 1 -2 "warm red" bulbs out of 4-6 bulbs total. I think the old rule of "half cool blue and half warm red" came from low-intensity indoor pot growers who needed to grow vegetatively AND encourage flowering.

http://allthingsplants.com/blogs/entry/93/

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I start thousands of Tomato, peppers and Eggplants plants with simple cheap shoplights. I usually use the cool spectrum. Over the years there have been many threads on this topic and that always seems to the agreed upon method when it comes to cost and end product. Many professional growers on DG use this method. It's easy and cheap.

Colfax, NC

I bought 2 t8 4 bulb fixtures a 10 pack of 6500k bulbs and a power strip with a timer i suspended the lights from an existing wire shelving rack. Total cost $170.
Thanks for all the advise :-)
Georgia

Thumbnail by organicNC
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Nice photo!

I was going to suggest keeping the bulbs closer to the seedlings, but you said FOUR-tube fixtures!

That is REALLY nice! I bet four T8 tubes gets you enough brightness that you don't need them to be right down there leaf-to-bulb. And you can use average-output bulbs that will be cheaper and last longer than HO bulbs.

Good luck!

The tall plastic containers might block some air circulation to the cups. If it gets humid, or too warm, you might want a fan or an intermittent fan. Or just a cool drafty location!

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

Quote from RickCorey_WA :

If you can afford higher-output bulbs (more lumens), you will get sturdier seedlings without fussing to keep the bulbs right down almost TOUCHING the seedlings. But HO bolbs will be more expensive and might not last as long as regular output bulbs.



Also HO bulbs need to be on HO ballasts or they won't put out more light.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Quote from Doug9345 :


Also HO bulbs need to be on HO ballasts or they won't put out more light.



Thanks, I didn't know that!

Is that still true with 'electronic' ballasts and the "CFL-type" tubes like T8 and T12?

Colfax, NC

Thanks..I had not thought about airflow a fan would also strengthen the seedlings...note to self set up fan :-)

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

Quote from RickCorey_WA :


Thanks, I didn't know that!

Is that still true with 'electronic' ballasts and the "CFL-type" tubes like T8 and T12?



Yes as far as I know. Basically the current is higher is the HO lamps and you need a ballast that is wet to supply it.

Fergus Falls, MN(Zone 3b)

Good info! Like organicNC, I'm building some seed-starting shelves this year. I'll most likely be putting them next to some large south-facing windows. I'll be using 4' 2-tube t8 shop lights on a 36 in. W x 18 in. D x 72 in shelf. Would one (2-tube) unit per shelf work for the shelves at window height? Or would you recommend a couple (4 tubes)? How 'bout for the lower shelves below window height?

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Here is what they use for orchid seeds at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Not all that fancy on the lights.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Fergus Falls, MN(Zone 3b)

Gotcha, hcmcdole. :) Thanks.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

We use double fixtures of CFLs with a hood and have had fantastic results. I don't know how to add a link, but I showed how we constructed them, if you're interested, in the thread Looking for Source of Cheap Grow Lights. Two CFLs are covering about 3 1/2 square feet.

You can set up a fruitful system without big bucks. Thank goodness!

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