Decided to build my own Grow Light Setup

SneakyP86(7B)February 13, 2013

I was going to buy a grow light setup I found on Craigslist but it had T12 bulbs which I know are fine but not as efficient as they could be and they are going to quit making the T12 fixtures or so they say. Which I'm sure will make the price of bulbs and ballasts go up unless you start stockpiling now.

So I have decided to build my own setup using either T8 or T5 48" 4 bulb fixtures.

I will be using the 4 pack cellpacks and the trays they come on to start my seeds so roughly 96 seedlings to a tray. I want to run the trays front to back and not side to side so I can fit 4 trays per shelf. I don't know what if any difference but seeds I will starting are tomato,pepper (bell, hot and sweet) corn, green bean, cucumber, onion, melon, zucchini and lettuce.

The T8 does not come with bulbs I know I can get them in the 6500K range so the cost for 3 fixtures plus bulbs will be roughly $200.

The T5 comes with the bulbs included and the price for 3 fixtures is roughly $400.

So my questions are as follows:

Will the performance of the T5 be so much better as to justify the added expense?

Which setup would be more economical to operate?

Well that is all I can think of at this time but any other advice you can give concerning these two lights would be most appreciated.


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Okay did my ordering for the stuff I needed (or at least what I think I needed).

Got 3 heat mats 20 X 48
Would getting a thermostat for it be advisable?

Get these 3 lights
Roughly how many hours a day should I run the lights for vegetable seeds?
Would getting a timer be worth it?
Had a shelving unit that is exactly like this one.
I'm sure I'm missing something any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:37PM
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Thanks "SneakyP86" for starting thread. It's a knowledgeable thread and can be useful in future.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 4:18AM
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Okay I got my unit up and finished today. I used 3 48" T5 HO 4 bulb light fixtures using chain I looped over a rod attached to the bottom of each shelf. They are daisy chained and plugged into a timer that I will be setting for 18-24 hrs a day since I am getting a little bit of a late start. I got 3 20x40" heat mats and thermostat from hydrofarm. I enclosed the shelves in mylar to help bounce the light around and to help keep the heat in since it is in my garage. If I have the time I will take a couple pics tomorrow and post them here if I can remember how.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:13PM
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T-5 HOs are great for seed starting, However the veggies you are starting will do better on an 18 on & 6 off schedule Than 24 on. Most plants grow healthier with some off time for a process called respiration. It's what they do when they are not photosynthisizing. As a matter of fact they don't need much light at all until they have germinated, broken the surface,and shed their seed hulls. Get a timer and keep those 6500K bulbs close to the tops of the seedlings. Keep your soil moist at 75 -85 degrees.
Good Luck,

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:17PM
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