LED grow light box made with LED CHRISTMAS lights?

Annapolis, MD

I saw a video on youtube where someone made an LED grow light box by drilling rows of holes in the lid of a plastic bin, inserting bright LED Christmas lights thru them, and then planting seeds/seedlings in the box. Will this actually work? It was my understanding that you need certain color spectrum rays to grow plants. Any feedback on this? Thank you.

Thumbnail by SueGee1950
Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

I assume they used the white ones or a combination of red and blue ones. I suspect that Christmas LEDs aren't all that efficient. I have used a CFL for a couple of plants and they did well. I screwed a CFL into one of those Utility lights that have an aluminum reflector and clipped it to the window trim so it was over the plant. not very fancy but it worked. I still think fluorescents are still where it's at as far as cost and energy use. Total brightness seems to have more influence than having a perfect spectrum.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Suegee, there is one thing you will find here is, there is no requirement for all things of beauty when it comes to making things for the garden, I cant see the the Christmas lights working as they really wont be strong enough however one other thing I've found out is, someone will always prove you wrong so that is just my opinion I have had no practice with these lights.
One of my gardening friends has for years used 2 table lamps (without the shades) a home made box she lined the walls with her foil cooking wrap (shinny side out) placed her pots with seeds onto trays and set them into the 3 sided box and had perfect results each year from this set up, the shinny foil reflects extra light and there is a small amount of heat comes from the light bulbs too.
The best advice I can give is, you try whatever suites you best and don't be worried about how it looks, it's the end results you get that matter so Good luck. WeeNel.

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

Doug..if you placed your light next to the window, then maybe you were getting good results because of the light from the window, & not from your light. Also, I believe its the red & blue spectrum that the plant needs. Its the seeds that need the warmth of the bulb to germinate. This is just my view.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Behillman, I would never argue with that as I don't use lights in the way that you guy's do in USA, and some friends who do find they are only about 2 weeks ahead of me, but I seed grows without lights but in a bottom heated propagator.
I think my own view is, it all depends on how quick you need the germination and will the temp be right for the seeds when I have to set the seedlings outdoors, is night frost gone by then and other factors, so I can only give info passed on to myself, I was interested in the different light colours required by plants as I just assumed sun light was best but think even this must be made up from different colours as nature has a way of doing wonderful things we all take for granted.
Good luck and happy gardening. WeeNel.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

I think this topic deserves more research. It's my understanding that some, perhaps not all, LED lights are very efficient in terms of candlepower per watt, but I've never seen where anybody has showed us the math for LED lights versus fluorescents, compact or non.

As far as light color goes... Well, this is one little factoid I picked up somewhere along the way: natural sunlight is higher in the green portion of the spectrum than any other, and that's why most plants are green, most of their chlorophyll-producing organelles have evolved to match what's most available. So if I were choosing lights of any other color than white, I'd go for some greens.

Sort of off-topic but: if you have problems with SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, the "winter blahs," having a natural-spectrum Gro-Light in a part of your house in which you spend a lot of time, turning it on for a few hours after sunset in the winter, can help with that. But it's my understanding that compared to ordinary fluorescents, the improvement for PLANTS isn't really economically efficient. The bulbs themselves just cost too much... so they may be better for people, really, than they are for plants!

Arlington, TX

I wouldn't think the Christmas tree LED's are the most efficient LED lights out there in terms of power use. But LED's are over all more efficient then compact or linear florescence's and will come more into use when they become ad cheap as CF lights are now.

and for plants i would stick with the natural light ones, not sure they even have LED plant lights yet in proper spectrum.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

Oh, there definitely ARE some LED lights with natural-sunlight spectrum on the market. I've seen them used at coin shows, where they're quite handy for showing off coins more as they appear under sunlight.

As for how efficient they are, I have no idea, and I'd bet they're quite expensive, but I don't know that either. But I'd imagine that over time, they may come down in cost.

It is of course not necessary to have plant lights turned 24 hours a day in any case. Plants need periods of relative darkness to grow most efficiently, because that's when they go into their oxidation cycle. I'd guesstimate a maximum of 16-18 hours of light per day, natural and artificial light combined, is all need for almost any purpose. If anybody has more authoritative figures, please post.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

This topic is a bit old, but an easy way to test...if you have a string of lights and access to a photographer, borrow the photographer's light meter, then measure the intensity of the lights at 1-3 inches. That's the distance that those of us that use florescent lights maintain for our seedlings.


Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

I've acquired a few LED gadgets like flashlights, and I've noticed that the light they produce is much different from that of incandescent or flourescent bulbs. LED light is extremely bright (it hurts to shine it in your eyes) but you can't see too well with the flashlights. It's like the light doesn't reflect back very well. So I don't know, but I suspect that the kind of bright white LED's I've got wouldn't be very good for growing seedlings.

I keep my flourescent bulbs on a timer so they burn 16 hours a day. That's about our maximum length of daylight here in summer, and my idea is to make the new seedlings "think" it's already late June and they need to hurry to catch up. It seems to work real well.

Annapolis, MD

Last Christmas we bought new blue LED lights to put on house. I was surprised to see HOW BRIGHT they were, much brighter than previous LEDs we had purchased. You could see the glow of our house for blocks away. I have not tried the light box yet, but it just might work!

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

I've noticed that the light they produce is much different from that of incandescent or flourescent bulbs. LED light is extremely bright (it hurts to shine it in your eyes) but you can't see too well with the flashlights.

They appear so bright when you stare at them because the light is produced in a very small area but the total light isn't all that great. It's kind of like grabbing a hold of a candle flame. It's going to burn you because in that small space it is very hot, but it's not going to heat your house.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Cool spectrum for growth and warm spectrum for blooming. I'm only familiar with florescent shop lights.

Now that I think the weather has stabilized for good (I think /hope) I'm going to move all but the smallest of my pepper plants out to the back porch. I keep thinking that they grow better under lights but then I move them outside and they grow much faster, if the weather stays warm. Why can't I get this thru my thick head?

Ozark, you should know better then to shine a flash light in your eyes. Lol

Jonesville, SC(Zone 7b)

I like to have some air circulating around my seedlings. It supposed to help keep diseases to a minimum and I put a fan blowing on them for a little while as well each day to make them stronger. You would have to take a pencil, pen, sheet of paper, etc. and gently brush the seedlings to help develop strong plants in the container described above. Plus, I do not like them being contained in a closed area without any air flow. Just my opinion.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes, to me air circulation is a given its good in disease prevention as well as strong seedlings. You can always run your hand across the top a few times a day. They smell so good.

Lebanon, TN

Have low light plants on top of kitchen cabinets. Travel a lot now and need a consistent light source. Any LED light recommendations?

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