outdoor use of grow lights ????

lkenton9February 6, 2006

I have a wonderful vision of a shade garden full of tall ferns, solomons seal, hostas, caladium, trillium, lily of the valley, wild ginger, etc. I want to raise a two tiered bed, filled with 'perfect' woodland soil. My only problem is that, on the north side of my house, where this garden would be, the shade is deep...probaly too deep for the plants I want to grow. What I need to know is, could 1000watt metal halide FLOODLIGHTS provide the extra light I need? I know that indoors 1000w MH lights provide enough light for an 8ft X 8ft area. Would something similar hold true for outside depending on how I placed the lights? The floodlights are made for outdoor use and they have the same kind of buld as indoor grow lights. I'd deeply appreciate any info. The lights are expensive, so I'd don't want to totaly chance it.

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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

nygardener had a wonderful outdoor pergola structure with mh floodlights on it. I don't know if the post is still here (did a quick search and didn't see it). If he doesn't see your post, maybe email him and ask - he's a really helpful guy on this board.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 9:26PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Go for it. A 1000W floodlight would probably be useful for shade plants over more than 8'x8', probably double that area.

As well as being expensive, remember that these things will use $50/month or more in electricity.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 5:40AM
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I think the 1000w MH lights would work great. We have one 1000w MH outside of our office building that is amazingly brilliant at night. I always imagine how many plants it could support.

There is one concern you might want to think about, however. You might check out how visible the light is from your neighbor's house(s). I once had a fully-windowed back porch with grow lights that were not nearly as intense as a 1000w MH. I knew my next-door neighbors enjoyed sitting outside in their backyard at night, watching the moon and stars. I went into their backyard and noticed my lights were really obnoxious. I made sure that I turned them off when my neighbors went out to sit.

I also did the same "next-door" check with my stereo at different volumes. My neighbors thought I was absolutely wonderful. They requested that I never move out, but eventually I did.

My new house has more space and a street light on a pole in the back yard. I told my new neighbors where the switch was, and that they could turn it off whenever they wanted "dark-sky serenity". Now they love me too!

Just consider the benefit of good neighbors when you light up.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 8:37PM
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I have a couple of follow up questions to this. A little background first...The front of my house faces north, where there is little to no sun light. However, we do have an overhang that would be conducive to adding some sort of grow light. Would it be possible to provide enough light with a grow light to support any kind of plantings that require full or partial sun light? Also, the overhang is a good 8-10 feet above the ground. One last thing, is it really $50 a month in electricity to run a 1000W MH light? Any information would be helpful. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 11:26AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Thanks, watergal. Here's the link.

If you use outdoor metal-halide or high-pressure sodium flood lights, you should be fine. Hire an electrician to wire them using outdoor electric cable to wall current. A ground fault circuit interrupter (an inexpensive wall-socket replacement) is a good safety idea.

The outdoor lights I've seen are up to 400 watts only. I used metal halide and HPS in combination. It worked beautifully. (lkenton9, can you post the source of your 1000-watt outdoor lights?)

zink's comment about a neighbor check is a good idea. Even during the day, some neighbors might not want a bright outdoor light: less likely outside an urban area. Many fixtures have optional hoods that will restrict light spillage.

If you grow low-light plants, one or two 400-watt lights, or a few 250-watt fixtures, might be enough. It's worth experimenting, since the electricity is expensive, as shrubs says. In cold areas you can leave them off during the winter, when the plants are dormant. Where I live, electricity costs about 15 cents per kWH (check your bill to find out your rate). Figure on 16 hours per day during summer, down to 10-12 in fall and spring. Also, make sure your circuit, including the GFCI, is rated for at least 30% more than the power your lights will use. Perhaps start with one light in a small area and see how it goes for a season.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 3:50AM
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The source for 1000 watt MH floodlights is Dyna-Bright Lighting. I think thier web address is www.dyna-bright.com I'm not sure because I linked to them form another site. I'd like to thank everyone for all the info and encouragement. I'll start preparing the raised bed this summer and fall. Fortunately, my father is an electrician so getting the lights installed shouldn't be a problem. I can't wait!! But, unfortunately I've got about four inches of ok top soil then it turns to almost pure clay ,rocks (big rocks) and maple tree roots. It's a real joy. I dug out two beds by hand this past summer. I shovled, cut, and pick-axed 18 to 24 inches down, then refilled with good dirt, peatmoss, manure, and all that good stuff. The area I want to use for the shade garden is to big for that kind of treatment, so I hope a 12" raised bed will do the trick.

About how long I'd have to run the lights everyday, I did plan to use them during the day. Would it really take 16 hours a day for shade, part-shade plants. I was hoping for mabey 4 to 6 hours a day.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 9:10AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Your best bet might be to grow plants that can make do with the amount of natural light you have. If some sunlight falls on the walls, you can reflect it back onto the growing area by lining them with Foylon, which holds up well outdoors.

If you're already getting 4-6 hours a day of decent sunlight, you could use artificial lights to lengthen the day. If your garden is in deep shade all day long and the plants need more light to thrive, then 10 hours a day of artificial light is a bare minimum, and they'll do better with 16 hours during summer. (For shade-loving plants in say a 10' Ã 10' area, as shrubs says, you would need fewer than 1000 watts.)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 6:53PM
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Thanks again for the info. I really like this forum thing. My poor husband isn't all that into plants, and I talk him to death. I can see his eyes glaze, when ever i really get started. Its nice to be able to 'talk' to people who share my interest. And it's WONDERFUL to learn.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 12:25PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

lkenton, my husband does the same thing. I suppose my eyes glaze over when he starts talking trains and hockey...The forums are great!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 3:41PM
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green2gardening(Zone 7)

I found this thread while Googling.. see it's a few months old but thought I'd post a follow-up question anyway. There was a Carolina Jessamine that was growing along the top of a chain link fence by the driveway of the house I just moved into. It was woody & not getting much sun because of a tall oak tree but still flowering enough for me to fall in love - so I trimmed it back & killed it in the process. I bought a new one a couple of weeks ago & I'm hoping it will grow along the rail on my front porch. My question - would it benefit from a plant light or bulb? It's in the only spot in the yard that gets a very little bit of sun so it's doing ok, but soon the 2nd oak tree will take care of that, unless I trim some branches, which I'm reluctant to do. I'm just wondering if I put a little grow light in that corner of the porch if it would make a difference.

Thanks in advance for any opinions or tips.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 2:57PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

You can put one of the outdoor lights mentioned above and it will help the plant ... it's a rather expensive solution, though. The light would need to be directly above the plant, or nearly so, and just a few feet away. And of course, use an outdoor HID floodlight, which are rugged and in a sealed, weatherproof enclosure; an incandescent or fluorescent bulb isn't bright enough, and an indoor fixture would fry and short out the first time it rained.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 11:39PM
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I know this is an really old thread, but I just want to know.. Will a floodlight being used as a growlight require ducting/cooling like so many indoor growlights I've seen?


    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 1:40AM
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Two considerations:
1. If the fixture operating instructions do not require ducting/cooling for its use, then you don't need it.
2. If the fixture is installed in an environment which will not cause overheating either to the plants or to the surroundings, then you don't need it.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 9:13AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

If you use an outdoor floodlight indoors, you will need to pay close attention to cooling, especially cooling of the bulb housing itself since it is usually quite enclosed as an outdoor fitting. Overall heating of the grow room itself is always going to be an issue when you are creating hundreds, possibly thousands, of watts of heat continuously.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 8:12AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs is absolutely correct.

Based on the title of this thread I had automaticlly assumed that the fixture is to be used in an outdoor environment.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 9:06AM
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dcarch and shrubs_n_bulbs

Thanks guys that is exactly what I needed to know!
Oh yes sorry it is outdoors.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 10:30PM
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Outdoor fixtures are generally designed to be mounted on a junction box which is grounded electrically. If you mounted in any other way, make sure it is grounded properly.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 10:39PM
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I realize this is a 3 year old thread I am revisiting but I am hoping to learn more and build upon what has already been written.

I just planted a few new spruce trees in an area that I thought would get full sun but is getting a bit less sun than I thought. Less than 4 hours and of that sun, its splinted through shadows of other trees.

Poor planning on my part.

So I do want to install a growlight outside to turn on maybe 2-3 hours every few days.

I read this thread and one other about HPS, metal halide and flourescent. But for a Norway spruce, what light setup/spectrum of light should I consider?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 9:56PM
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