I know they sell them at Walmart in the US for $8. Is there anyone in Canada who sells something similar or an alternative?
Hi .. all you need to do is go to Canadian Tire or someplace like that and pick up some shop lights. Make sure you purchase the proper florecent bulbs for plants and your off and running. I hooked mine up with chains so that I can adjust the height of the lights.
For $8 are you talking about the grow light fixture or the replacement flourescent tubes? I know there are some mini sort of "under the counter light" fixtures (with bulb and all) but I think those are too low wattage to grow plants under.
I second Peatpod's suggestion. I bought shop light (the type that plugs in and has an on/off switch, not the ones that are hard wired directly into your ceiling). Anyways, the fixture was $20+ but has lasted for many years. As for the flourescent tubes, you have to purchase them separately. I bought the ones that are meant for plant growth but I have heard of some people just using regular cheaper flourescent tubes (though I imagine the plant ones would work best).
What are the proper flourescent tubes? Do you put one warm white and one bright white?
Some companies call them full-spectrum or wide-spectrum or for "plants and aquariums". I've had pretty good success using just the plain white cheap 4ft 40watt flourescent tubes.
The actual grow-lite flourescent tubes can be expensive and it's best to wait till they're on sale or changing stock over and reducing the price.
I went to Canadian Tire today and bought 4 GE 48" wide-spectrum Plant & Aquariam flourescent tubes. They were $5.99 each. I also bought 2 48" shoplights (hold 2 tubes)with a plug for $18.49 each - they are 1/2 off this week, in case anyone is interested. I don't know what the difference is but it said they were suited to cold conditions and growing plants (high humidity?). I'll let you know how I fare.
I was given some regular flourescent lamp fixtures from a couple of sources where people were redecorating, and didn't want these ugly lamps any more. So I built some shelves; connected them; acquired some regular tubes, and now I have my indoor plant room.
Recycling is great!
yes please. JROOT, you need to include instructions. I suppose this can be done with IKEA shelves ($25 per 3 tiered shelf) but what would be most interesting is how the lighting was set up.
I had some left over 2x4's from building the house, and also rescued from the burn pile from others that were being built in the immediate area. I put up the 4 corner posts, and then made a few shelves with plywood tops. These were screwed to the upright posts. The lights were screwed on to the plywood bottoms, and one on the very top. I must admit that I have been lucky finding salvage lumber and plywood, but it is also available at the recycle shops as well.
I find that the heat from the lamp below the plywood also gently heats the plywood, so it is like placing plants on a grow mat.
The plastic on the front tends to keep the moisture and heat in. It is merely clear plastic tablecloth covering available on the roll at the local hardware store. It is also beneficial when I spray for spider mites or any other critter that comes in with the plants in the fall, in spite of careful washing.
The lights I can control with switches for each shelf. They are also on a timer so that they come on early in the morning, before I arise, and shut off about 10:00 p.m. without my having to worry about remembering them.
I decided to build shelves for the purpose and go with plain cool-whites. If you want to see my setup:
Here is a link that might be useful: My shelving system for seedlings
I've been using plain old cool whites for years - there's really no point in paying extra for the special plant lights. The cool lights are the best frequency for seedlings anyhow - the warmer ones are optimal for flower and fruit production, while the cool lights are optimal for vegetative growth.
For overwintering mature plants, I'd be tempted to add in some warm bulbs, but I wouldn't say it's necessary.
Those are some nice shelves you built jroot! It looks like you cut the plastic into strips in the front for easier access?
I use shope lights,,,yes from Canadian Tire, as well...but one cool and one 'sunlight' not expensive. I wonder if the plastic may make the area too humid? My best and healthiest tomato (thats about all I grow) plants have been with the two types of lights, started in soilless mix, and set up in a room in my house...not too warm, not cool either. Once did it all in the basement and my plants picked up some kind of fungus..
looking forward to starting my seeds soon...Martha/zucchini
I can't say that I've ever had mold or fungus growing on them under the lights. I was thinking that I actually WANTED to have more moisture there, because the house heating makes it quite dry for new plants. The slits on the front keep the moisture level up a bit which they seem to like, and the plastic seems to trap some of the heat in, which they also like.
...my two cents worth.
One place to look for lights is the Habitat Restore if you have one. I found 4 ft double flourescents for $10 each and a 4 tube for $20. Also 2 4 Tube suspended ceiling fixtures for $25 each. I will use the regular 4 tube in my plant room as well as the 2 double tube. Thinking of using the others for a lowered light box in our kitchen
As for electricity usage...
How most breaker boxes work these days is that 220 volts comes into your house. That's for the big appliances like electric clothes dryers and stoves. If you go to your breaker box you'll notice that the breakers are divided, some on the right side and some on the left side. What they've done is split the 220 volts that comes into the house into two, 110 volts on either side of the box. Now when they install the wiring in your house they should balance the loads, but they seldom do. The balancing is important though because your electricity bill is based on the side (right or left) that is using the most current at anyone time.
For example, say that you are only running two appliances for the whole house, a hair dryer 1500 watts and a coffee maker 1000 watts. The hair dryer uses more power or wattage. Both appliances are run at the same time for one hour. At the exact same time is the key here.
Scenario A: The hair dryer is plugged into an outlet that goes to a breaker on the right side of the breaker box. The coffee maker is plugged into the same or another outlet that also goes to a breaker (or the same breaker) on the same right side of the breaker box.
The power calculated by the meter will be 1500 watts + 1000 watts or 2500 watts for the hour or 2.5 kwh. And based on a total cost of 13 cents per kwh = 32.5 cents
Scenario B: The hair dryer is plugged into an outlet that goes to a breaker on the right side of the breaker box, same as in scenario A. BUT, this time the coffee maker is plugged into another outlet that goes to a breaker on the opposite or left side of the breaker box.
The power calculated by the meter will only be 1500 watts total for the hour or 1.5 kwh
And based on a total cost of 13 cents per kwh = 19.5 cents
Electricity meters determine power usage by which side of the breaker box is drawing the most current at any given time. Because in Scenario B the load is balanced the coffee maker running at 1000 watts is basically running for free.
So it is possible to run two fluorescent grow light fixtures for the price of one, if you wire it correctly or use different outlets that go to different sides of the breaker box. OR four for the price of two.
This only applies to power used at the exact same time.
Is that really possible? I thought that your meter just measured total energy consumption. It doesn't make sense that they would do it this way.
Get a stop-watch and record how fast your meter is turning. That's how quickly wattage is being used and metered. Make a chart.
Trace your breakers and circuits then shut-off and unplug everything except two devices like in the examples. Then chart the power usage by counting the turns of the meter and use the stop-watch to measure how long it takes to do 5 to 10 turns.
Test it for yourself.