Question re Grow Lights for My Indoor Gardening.

KendraSchmidtSeptember 21, 2012

I would like to purchase a grow light for my plants.

I'm currently looking at a grow light that has florescent tubes. It allows me to choose between a two foot long and four foot long lamp.

Additionally, I can choose between four or eight florescent tubes (long light bulbs) in the lamp.

What is the difference between the amount of tubes? Does having more tubes make a difference? Does this mean that if I purchase the one with eight tubes, that I'll somehow have better plants/plant growth?

I'm trying to ensure a headstart for my short growing season and I grow a lot of peppers and greens. I want to experiment with growing them indoors...please tell me what is the difference between the amount of tubes you choose? Thank you.

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cole_robbie(6)

It sounds like you would get more light with more tubes, so you would cover a larger area efficiently. When the footprint of the light is not big enough, seedlings will get leggy and lean in the direction of the light source.

Fluorescent lights that are not labeled as "grow" lights will also work just fine. Often they are cheaper as well.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 4:23PM
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KendraSchmidt

Thanks Cole Robbie. So does that mean that my plants won't have to be directly under the lamp if I get additional tubes? Does that mean they can even be a foot away from the edge of lamp and still get light if I use the additional tubes?

Or does that mean that I'll have to cram all of the plants directly underneath the lamp for them to grow? This is my first time trying to grow with lamps.

I'm also wondering how much they can grow with a light? Can it grow until it produces fruit or seeds?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 5:30PM
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cole_robbie(6)

It's more about the number of plants and square footage you have to cover. You still have to keep the tubes right above the seedlings for best results. Growing seedlings with fluorescent lights is popular, cheap, and works very well.

Trying to produce good-tasting fruit entirely under artificial lighting is another thing entirely. The problem is that the hps lighting you would need will use more electricity than the value of the tomatoes you would produce. I don't know about producing viable seed with fluoros - enough of them will make a fruit or two, but I doubt it would be anything you want to eat.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 8:05PM
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ParadigmDennis

Good day KendraSchmidt,

I'm a sales rep for a hydroponic store as well as an active Hydroponic Indoor gardener. T5 Florescence are the best option for seed starts, cloning, and vegetative growth. I'd absolutely recommend a t5 florescent for your needs. You'll be able to get very healthy and tall starts out of your light. There are two ways to look at your florecent light.

T5's work best when the light is 4-8" from the plants you are growing. They produce little heat. So whatever size light you buy, 4'x1.5' (a 4' 4 lamp system), that is the area you'll be covering very well. So lets go further...

A) Seed starting/cloning/basic veg: In this situation you can raise the light up and cover a larger area because you are not focused on super productive growth. You want your seeds to pop or clones to root and that doesn't require a lot of light. When your plants are growing up, meaning they have rooted, you can leave the light 12" or higher to cover more area but the downside is that your plants may stretch for the light. But that is ok if you plan on going outdoors or wanna just start a bunch of plants for cheap.

B) Productive growing/flowering: Ideally you want that light directly on top of the canopy, 2"-8". Now your light's footprint is as large as the light fixture, but the quality of light is significantly greater and that means the plants in this area will grow rapidly. Your yield will be much greater as well if you choose to flower indoors.

The more lamps, the more area you can cover.

I hope that helps. Sun Leaves Pioneer T5's are GREAT lights. Quantum's BadBoys are really nice too.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 5:17PM
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halfway(5a)

T5 / T5 HO are awesome.

T8 for non-fruiting is maybe the most economical depending on the vertical growth of the plant. With greens and lettuce it is a great (and cheap) approach.

Add a little mylar and extend the photons a bit further.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Hydroponic Adventure and Journal

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 1:13PM
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KendraSchmidt

Dennis, thank you very much for your detailed response. Does this mean that a t5 with 4 tubes and 4 feet of length can indeed be used for vegetative growth indoors? (I'm growing peppers mostly.)

Does this mean that I simply have to raise the height of the lamp above the plants and adjust the height of the lamp depending on what exactly I'd like to do with the plants? (e.g. have them flower, grow peppers, etc?)

And does this mean that the taste will be off because it's indoors and with a lamp?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 3:37PM
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halfway(5a)

Kendra, try some ratcheing hangers. They allow very easy maneuvering of the lights.

With flouros, keeping them as close to the plants as possible is key since they lose penetrating power quickly compared to HPS and MH.

With T5's, about an inch to one and a half inches should be correct.
Changing bulb colors will allow flowering.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Hydroponic Adventure and Journal

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:11AM
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superstupidhydro

The more light (tubes/wattage) you give to your plant, the more potential your plant has to convert it into energy through photosynthesis i.e., more growth and production. With more wattage you will see faster growth in less time than if you had less wattage.

As for fluorescent fixtures, depending on the fixture style, they usually throw out a useable footprint 6" wider than the fixture is. E.g., if your fixture is 2'x2', then your footprint will be about 3'x3'.

I'm growing six jalapeno plants that are each about 3 ft tall in an ebb and flow system under 216w of flouorescent lighting in a 4' - 4 bulb fixture. It's working marvelously. Product I'm using in optional link URL.

Here is a link that might be useful: Quantum 4' 4 bulb

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 4:01PM
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willardb3

HID lamps are more efficient than fluorescent lamps.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 3:59PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

willard3 is very right.

They are the most effcient. They put out more lumens per watt then even the best T5 lighting.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:39PM
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KendraSchmidt

The last three posts here are INCREDIBLY helpful and exactly what I wanted to know. Tremendous thanks to you all!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:43PM
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project_gardener(5)

I put together a web page that compares the different types of grow lights. I covers grow area, heat output, energy use, bulb life, and how high to have them above the plant.

link to it: http://www.tomorrowsgarden.net/node/5

Here is a link that might be useful: Grow light information

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:51AM
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willardb3

Your charts confuse heat output with lamp temperature and it should be corrected.

Heat is measured in btu, temperature in degrees. The most efficient lamp has the lowest heat output, HID in this case. Lamp temp is higher, heat output is lower.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 10:50AM
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