Need cheap bulb advice

artisticjenFebruary 8, 2014

I want to set up a little bit of extra lighting for my plants. I know some are not getting what they need. My questions are:

I have a clip on desk lamp, would it be okay to use that? If so, any bulb suggestions?

It doesn't have to be perfect, I just want to supplement the light they're getting.

Also, I need to keep the electric bill down and I'm working with a budget of about $10.


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Hi Jen,

Well, I think the reason you havenâÂÂt gotten any responses to your post is that without more information, any kind of an answer would be nothing more than a wild guess :-) Guessing can sometimes do more harm than good.

What kind of plants are you talking about and how many of them?
What kind of lighting (and how much of it) do you already have? âÂÂSupplementâ to what?
A clip-on desk lamp? Gee, there must be hundreds of different types and sizes.

More detailed information would be helpful.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Art, poppies, didn't think about that. Was suffering from brain fry after reading so much about different lights, etc.

I have 2 Sans (with cuttings ready to plant), 3 spider plants, a wandering Jew, an aloe Vera, and 2 pathos.

Currently, the only light they get is thru a patio door, they're about 6-7 feet from that. Patio door is in the east. It's just been a really grey yucky winter here, I know they're not getting enough light. Heck, I'm not, lol.

Desk lamp is about 8" tall and 6" across. My plants are on a wire shelving unit, and I already keep the light clipped to it so it's out of the way (I use it for crafts), so I know the light will clip to the shelves. I was considering buying a grow light bulb for it, but there's so many different ideas/opinions about lighting that the more I read, the less I have any clue what way to go.

The current bulb in the lamp is a 26w CFL that is bright white.

Sorry for leaving out the specifics. Any more questions, just ask.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 12:56PM
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Art really makes a good point. There are many knowledgeable, experienced, & talented members on this site that are willing to help out, but don't know how to respond because of a lack of information. Most also realize that giving an opinion, especially in regards to questions of: "will this work" or "is product A better than product B"?, know their responses are just that, opinions ~ because they truly know that what works for them may not necessarily work for you (too many unknown variables).

I realize that not everyone has the luxury of owning a camera (and/or do not know how to post a picture), but oftentimes a picture can really help in regards to securing answers to questions.

You mentioned a 26w 'bright white' CFL in an 8" tall by 6" across fixture. Is the bulb a screw-in CFL (the spiral type) or a linear CFL (pins) CFL bulb? If it is a screw-in spiral CFL bulb, is the bulb positioned vertically or horizontally in your fixture? I guess the addition of any added supplemental light would be of help in your situation, but the question of 'how much extra light' definitely comes into play.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 2:32PM
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O2tiller, I understand.

I can do pics. Here's one of the lamp. It's of the lamp hanging upside down.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 2:43PM
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Hi again Jen,

Yeah, that information should help you get some responses to your post. I see o2tiller is here already to help. Personally, I donâÂÂt grow any of those plants, so I canâÂÂt give you specifics on how much light is actually required for each of them. I can tell you that poppies are long-day plants; which means that giving them 14 hours or more of light will encourage flowering. I know that Pathos are not real particular about light; medium light should be fine for them.

As you suspect, the light from the patio doors is probably not near enough. IâÂÂm not sure one clamp-on desk lamp (although helpful) will be enough either. Your 26 watt CFL bulb (probably about 1700 lumens) is a good one. However if your desk lamp does not have a good reflector, much of the light will be wasted. I have several clamp-on type shop lights that have very good shiny reflectors. My light meter indicates that I get 85% of the rated lumens from those lights. You can get such lights at most big box stores for less than ten buck. The bulbs I like are the ones called âÂÂfull spectrumâÂÂ, usually 6500k bulbs.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 3:25PM
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Art33, see this is where things begin getting jumbled.

The link is the exact bulb I have, I confirmed thru packaging and part number. It says the bulb is 1600 lumen and 6500k.

Think using this bulb and current lamp will work for 3 weeks until I get paid? I just don't want to do something that will be causing any harm.

In a few weeks I'll be getting a light meter from my sister's mother in law. That will make things a bit easier.

I've become the person friends/family are now giving unwanted plants to, lol. So I want to give these guys as much help as I can. In a few weeks I also have someone bringing me 5 succulents, not sure what they are, I haven't seen them and the person giving has no idea. She just refers to them as "looks like a cactus, but isn't".

The aloe vera I got, the woman who gave it to me, thought it was one of those plants that doesn't need light and just water once a week. Poor thing was just a few droopy leaves and mushy roots. It didn't make it, but I kept some cuttings.

Sorry for rambling, just trying to give you an idea of what I'm up to. In the end I'm going to have plants that need the full spectrum of light amounts, lol.


Here is a link that might be useful: Bulb I have.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 5:04PM
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No disrespect intended... hoping Art does not mind me jumping in. Your bulb should work fine for growing plants. But, as Art mentioned, you may need more light than what your current fixture can supply. Spiral CFL's seem to perform better vertically, and your fixture has a vertical mount.

Budgets can make things tough sometimes. Many of the Big Box stores carry inexpensive aluminum dome clamp-on fixtures for under $10 along with the 6500k spiral CFL bulbs (again, way under the $10 mark), usually in their 'work light' sections/aisles. You could probably add a few more of the clamp-on fixtures (w/26w bulbs) if needed, although it would be more than the original budget you are working with. Sounds like you have a nice collection of plants!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 6:07PM
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I think the bulb you have is fine, I use several almost like that (but Westinghouse 1500 lumens) myself. I bought a package of four, for about 13 bucks, at my local hardware store. I canâÂÂt tell, from your photo, much about the reflector (except I donâÂÂt see any vent holes). The clamp-on work lights I have all have vent holes in back of the socket. ThatâÂÂs important because CFLâÂÂs have build-in ballast that can otherwise get too warm.

The fixture (because of the reflector) makes a world of difference in how much light the plants actually get. IâÂÂve tested the bulbs I have with and without the reflector. Using a good reflector, the meter shows almost five times as much light as with no reflector at all. So, when you purchase lights for your plants, pay as much or more attention to that reflector. If thereâÂÂs a choice, get the largest one.

Not being there, itâÂÂs impossible to judge your lighting situation with any accuracy. But IâÂÂm sure you need more light than that one fixture is able to supply. Is there a way you can surround the plants with some kind of reflective material, without completely blocking the air circulation? If you could do that, even one more light (the kind o2tiller mentioned) would be so helpful.


PS - To o2tiller ⦠Oh my, I will never mind you âÂÂjumping inâÂÂ. You always have good sound advice and I appreciate your willingness to help folks out, so jump in anytime :-)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 10:37PM
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