Pulleys to lift fluorescents - any info?

susanmc5February 5, 2005

Hi: I am finding my fluorescents are really in the way when I want to move flats and water plants. Has anyone tried a pulley arrangement to lift the lights up and out of the way? Any info. would be appreciated. Thanks. SusanM

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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

Well, you could do that.

Or you could use bungie cord to hang the lights, and then pull them down and latch them off where you want them with a chain. Or weigh them down with magnets.

Then, when you need the room to move plants, unlatch the chain or remove the magnets and let the bungy pull the lights back up to the ceiling.

The only trouble with pulleys is that you'll need to pull up on both ends of the fixture evenly and steadily. Or the fixture will lurch and maybe break a tube.

If I were going to do this, I'd have pulleys right above the hooks in the fixture, then run the ropes to a double pulley halfway between the first two.

Then run the ropes down or sideways and tie them both to a hook.

When not in use, this hook is right up against the double pulley. It's the 'stopper' to determine the height of the lights.

When you need to lift the lights, you reach up, grab the hook and pull it down or sideways to snap on to a ring somewhere.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 11:03PM
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Jkirk3279: Thanks for your reply. We have joined three fixtures together so that their weight is really the problem. They are hanging from strong chains, and the only way I can get them out of the way now is to push them out of the way. I think I should forget about a pulley system as they are just going to be too heavy to haul up in a secure manner. Back to the drawing board. Thanks for your suggestions. SusanM

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 11:46PM
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Find a clothes hangar with heavy wire. Use a wire-cutter to cut off a 3" to 4" piece. Bend it on each end to form a hook on each end. Make enough of these for each light (2 per).

When you need to raise the light, simply hook one of the new homemade "double-hook" onto the chain, raise that end of the light up, bypass a foot of the chain, and hook the other end of your "double-hook" back onto the chain. Then use another of your homemade hooks to raise the other side of your shoplight.

It is very easy to raise/lower a shoplight, one side at a time, with a homemade double-ended hook.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 12:41AM
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I don't use them, but I've seen I've seen retracting self-contained pulley devices that you might want to look at. They're more expensive than a DIY system but assuming they work as advertised, have the advantage of being extremely convenient and are esthetically neater. The only I could find quickly is called the "Sun Lift" - on Midwest Hydroponics' site at: http://www.midwesthydroponics.com/products/hydro_products.asp?category=140 . I'm sure it's sold elsewhere and other mfr's may have something similar as well.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 10:33AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I use fixtures with knobs on the ends that screw into U-shaped tracks. They're the ones with part numbers ending in -S. (The "S" stands for "sliding"; you unscrew the knobs and then can easily raise, lower, or tilt the fixture.) Though they're designed for use with plant stands like those listed at the left of the page, you can buy the tracks separately and inexpensively and install them on a kitchen cart or home-built stand. You can also hang them inverted, or use the -C fixtures (which have chains at their four corners).

Another possibility, rather than raising the lights, is to lower the plants when you want to water or move them. Use lengths of 2Ã4 or 1Ã4 lumber to support your trays, and remove them when you want some clearance. It's best to have a helper to pull them out while you hold the tray horizontal. Or raise and lower the whole platform using corner supports.

A final idea is to consider using high-intensity (HID) grow lights, which hang at a distance above your plants. Apart from penetrating the foliage to a greater depth, they also make it easy to view and tend your plants without moving the light. They're also several times more efficient (light intensity per watt) than fluorescents.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 12:06PM
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I have a loft bed that I am using, it's 6 ft long, it has a shelf across it, we tied a rope across and holds the 4' light fixture with its chains and s hooks,the light can be adjusted up and down over a foot. I can slide it back and forth up to about 10 inches as well which is nice for watering, or just checking plants. hope this gives ya some ideas, I was just trying to use what i had this year, reminder before buying a loft bed for your kids make sure there is enough ceiling room so they don't knock theirselves out climbing into bed )


    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 1:17PM
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Thank you to everyone who took the time to repond to my question. All of your great suggestions really have helped me to try and figure out a solution to this problem. It will definitely be an improvement in my system to be able to get these lights up and out of the way. Thanks again to all of you that took the time to respond to my question. SusanM

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 11:30PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

If you do decide to use pulleys, you can get a very nice crank-handle winch gadget from a Marina or Marine catalog.

They're used for winching boats up onto trailers.

They don't cost more than $35 or so if you get the lightweight model. My nephew is a Black Belt in TaeKwonDo, and I helped him make an exercise machine a few years back that needed a winch.

(You'll laugh, but it's literally a leg-straightener ! He used it for exercises to increase flexibility for high kicks).

As for the bungie cord idea, I tried it and don't like it, so I take the suggestion back. It's working okay, but I'll be bringing the plants up TO the light rather than vice-versa.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 8:40PM
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jKirk3279: I think your idea of a marine winch is a wonderful idea! Now I think I could hoist these lights with that! My husband joined the fluorescents together (6 - 2 footers) and their weight is surprisingly heavy. I kept wondering how I could hike them up and secure them using a pulley - but a winch makes perfect sense. Thank you so much! I can't wait to tell him your great suggestion. SusanM

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 10:48PM
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andy_mayfield(z6 md)

just keep it simple. I bought some extra chain from lowe's with a few S shaped hooks. to move the lights I just take the chain off the hook, move the light up and put the S shaped hook in a different link in the chain. takes a few seconds

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 10:45PM
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Thanks, Andy for your wise suggestion. The problem really is that this bank of lights is actually 6 fluorescents fastened together over a wide germination bed. It is surprisingly heavy - too heavy for me to adjust. I wish we had known at the planning stages that getting the lights up and out of the way was an issue. Thanks for your reply. SusanM

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 2:42PM
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Hi All: Just an update - problem solved. Hubby installed a winch, pulleys and steel cables and this huge bank of fluorscents now lifts safely up and out of the way. Word to the wise, don't build a wide germinating bed that requires this many lights. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. SusanM

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 7:32PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

"Just an update - problem solved"

Can you post a picture?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 10:01PM
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Jkirk3279: I wish I could post a picture for you - I don't have a digital camera. The only thing I could do is try to describe the set-up for you. It was very straight-forward. Two pulleys mounted in the wooden ceiling above the fixtures, two eye-bolts at each end of the fixtures to thread the steel cable through (to keep the fixtures level). Note: The fixtures were already joined together as one big unit. After threading the cable ends through the eye-bolts and connecting the cable back to itself with a cable clamp (the kind that screws tightly together, we found the centre of the length of cable and attached it to the winch and wound onto the winch drum. The winch was bolted down securely across from the germinating table. This is not a light-weight boat winch - it is one heavy piece of machinery! It is the kind of winch that is used at a marina to lift things off boats onto the dock - definitely "overkill" in the winch department but it was what we had so we are using it. (at least it's better than under-sized) My germinating set-up is in our old dairy parlour so there was good wood at the ceiling and we used a plank bolted to the stanchions to bolt the winch down. Not your average situation, but it really works and that's what counts. Hope that describes it for you. It sure is an improvement to be able to get those lights up and out of the way. Thanks for your suggestion and interest. SusanM

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 11:51PM
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pauhaus(z5 MI)

Hi Susan, I'm glad you solved your problem. I found a less expensive pulley type system at Charley's Greenhouse just in case anyone is interested. They have a more expensive version, but I think this could do the trick for smaller set ups.



    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 9:09PM
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Pauhaus: Thank you for the link, I will check it out. I can't believe how nice it is to be able, at last, to get this bank of lights up and out of the way each day. I wish we had done this years ago. SusanM

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 11:55PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

I found a nice winch at Harbor Freight. I'm going to get one tomorrow.

That Down-Up hook is interesting!

Here is a link that might be useful: Winch

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 12:23AM
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Rollie4620(Ontario, Canada)

I can see myself having the same problem coming up. Now I'm thinking that each light should be kept separate from the others. This way I can adjust each light to match the height of the plants. I have been starting seedlings by placing them on top of the lights and the bottom heat that is produced gets the seeds sprouting very quickly.

Perhaps drawer slides could be used so that the lights can roll back a bit to allow access to the plants underneath them.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 6:30AM
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Here is my pulley system to lift shop lights and keeping them level the entire time. It works Great!

Click the link to watch the video.

Pulley System to raise and lower fluorescents (youtube)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 10:46PM
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