Inexpensive Grow Lights for Seedlings?

keodark(9)January 17, 2014

Hello,
After discovering that none of my home's windows provide adequate sunlight in winter for starting seeds indoors, I'm now turning to grow lights.

My question is: Does anyone know of a reasonably inexpensive grow-light setup, considering that I'm *only* growing seedlings indoors for transplant, and that I'm only growing perhaps 100 seedlings at a time (very small veg garden). I'd especially like to use LEDs (blue+red?) for the energy savings.

I'm also planning to build the framework to support the lights, so I don't particularly need an "all-in-one" kit. That said, hydroponics LED grow lights appear to cost in the $300 range! Any help appreciated.

Thanks!
-Nathan

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dowlinggram

I have 3 -4 foot shop lights in my basement with T-8 bulbs and I can grow 8 trays of plants under them. If you buy shop lights make sure you get ones with fins on the sides. The fins direct the light down onto the plants. Without them The light spreads out and your plants lose up to 70% of the light

This whole set-up cost me less than $100

If you grow in trays with 6 celled inserts you can put 48 in a tray and 2 trays under 1 set of lights.

We put hooks in the rafters and chains from the hooks and the light chains are hooked into the chains. They are suspended over a table but you could use shelves too or anything really to hold the lights. Just make sure you have enough room to move the lights up and down. I keep the lights about 1 inch or less from my plants

My plants grow very well under this light set up. Better than in my greenhouse I think.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Mister.Guy(7)

Grow lights are one of those things that it's easiest to ease in a little at a time, but that's the most expensive way. Getting a more powerful highly efficient light will be overkill at first; it's easy to grow many seedlings under a double T12 shoplight with daylight bulbs. Rule of thumb wise, you really can't grow young seedlings any better than under florescent strips. If you start to expand, you will be the most flexible with cfls in clamp lights, and you may find some deals with those making them slightly cheaper than a high wattage option. However, bang for your buck jumping straight to a digital ballast that can handle the future might be worth it.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 8:27PM
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Phantom2487

I checked my local area and asked several of my friends at work and found one that knew a guy who does distribution for warehouse lighting (sounds odd right?). So I found (unfortunately) after I purchased a 4x 2' T5 HO setup for ~$100 that I could have gotten a 6x 4' T5 HO for the same price with similar bulbs.

Moral of the story:
1) 'grow lights' are nothing more than 6500K bulbs*
2) There is no such thing as a 'special' 'grow light' fixture -- with two caveats: Some grow light have 'lenses' behind the bulbs for focusing light down, and/or have several mounting brackets on the frame for hanging/vertical/horizontal mounting.
3) Simplicity is key. If I knew a week ago what I know now, I could have more than doubled my light output/area.
4) LED's are an expensive option at this point in time (from what I understand)

So it's a learning process, but I guess that's why we're here right? I'm somewhat an newbie but done several hours of reading on the indoor growing/starting subject with artificial lighting.

* 6500K bulbs work, from what I understand having half a set of 2800K's on hand for fruit/vegetable production is possibly a 'bonus' during that stage. Also I have read several posts regarding purely 6500K full production so I guess hands up on this one? -- Though scientific journals indicate that proper red/blue spectrum are important for proper development, blue being key i.e. 6500K's... So I'm still looking for a correlation from the pure LED documents to pure florescent.

Good luck, I'm doing my indoor grow project now with what I've researched.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:05PM
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susanzone5(z5NY)

I successfully grow transplant seedlings under 40" shop lights, each having one cool white tube and one full spectrum tube. Keep the plants no farther than an inch away from the lights. Use enough light fixtures so all the plants are under the bulbs or else they will stretch. You'll be fine.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 5:46PM
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