75% Seed starting, 25% Winter growth - recommendations?

phoamNovember 19, 2007

Have been browsing around for ideas... figured I would go ahead with a post...

I'm looking for recommendations on selecting a type of light. As indicated in the subject, of the light sources I purchase, 75% of the light will be used for a wide variety of seed starting (mostly vegetables). There is also a need for some indoor winter growing.

- Budget is an important factor. However, I'm willing to spend more for one "more capable/high output" light for the winter indoor growing needs.

- Probably six sets of 4' fluorescent fixtures for starting seeds in trays. If it's worth it, buying "premium" fixtures one-at-a-time is an option.

Are there any particular recommendations that fit these needs well?

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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

For seeds, I'd buy cheap shop lights. For the indoor winter growing, are the plants high light and how tall are they? It would help if we knew what kind of plants they are.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 11:06PM
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Thanks for the tips on the cheap lights for seeds. For the winter growing, typically growth could reach 3-5' tall. Kinda difficult to narrow it down as to what could go under this light, but probably the best starting point would be tomatoes.

As for the "cheap shop lights" - could I do any worse/better than standard T8 40w bulbs?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 11:02AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

For big, high light plants like tomatoes, you probably need an HID light. They work well, but they're expensive.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 9:55AM
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Any comments on the light system in the link below? Wondering if the $160 system will work.

Also, any tips on types of bulbs or anything regarding the cheap lights for seed starting?

Thanks for the advice...

Here is a link that might be useful: SunSystem 400W

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 11:29PM
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More precisely (re: fluorescent lights)...

$40, 4' T8 2-bulb ballast w/10" reflector
$25, 4' T8 2-bulb ballast w/o reflector

Is it worth the extra $15 for the reflector with regards to seed starting?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 9:01PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Some sort of device to get the majority of the light onto the plants is almost essential. Without it, probably half the light will be going somewhere else, sideways, up, or out the window. That is light you want on the plants. Get a reflector, surround the whole thing with white card, put the propagator and lights inside a big white box, drape it in mylar, do whatever you have to, but get the light on the plants. Placing the lights close to the plants is a very poor substitute for having a reflector.

The real comparison, to get equivalent growing conditions for the plants, should be:

$40 4' T8 4-bulb ballast w/o reflector $2/month to run


$40 4' T8 2-bulb ballast w/10" reflector $1/month to run

I think you see your answer now :) Although there are home-built methods of getting the light on the plants, as I mentioned.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 6:52AM
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Hi, I use 1241cw lights from cheaperlights.com they are cheap and have nice reflectors. this is a discontinued item, so buy now, and get a few extra. I use 10 of them for a 4' x 6' suspended growing area that I built from plywood and 2"x2" lumber, hooks and chains, etc. they use 40w fluorescent t12, so I mod them out with t8 ballasts, but if you're on a budget, run the T12's until you have a budget for T8 ballasts (available cheap on ebay, $35 for 10, if you look hard) For myself, I actually overdrive them with 2 ballasts per set, with a switch to control the overdrive. see my pic at flickr:

Here is a link that might be useful: My gro op, rose cuttings, etc.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 1:45PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

I'm curious what is wrong with the original T12 ballasts?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 3:44PM
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