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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
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Grow Lights Empty Grow Lights

Post  middlemamma 7/20/2010, 12:39 pm

I have been doing some reading about grow lights and what I have surmised is that I am T-TOTALLY confused.

My husband is going to build me a mini greenhouse. I will have 4 foot ballasts hanging above the shelves. So I would be using T lights, not screw in bulbs.

That said....is a GROW LIGHT an actual different kind of LIGHT that is emmitted from the bulb? Or is the difference the way it connects into the ballast. T-8, T-5 etc?

If it is a different kind of LIGHT I am totally confused on what they types are etc. I dont understand. What would I need for seedlings of varying types in a greenhouse.

Also I see these lights can be very expensive...often times people here on the forum will talk about a product and say you dont need that expensive thing try this is works just as well...if anyone has pointers like that concerning grow lights I would be much appreciative.

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Jennie

PS: I did search for grow light topics in the forum before I posted. Grow Lights Icon_surprised
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Post  camprn 7/20/2010, 12:56 pm

Here are a couple of wiki articles that will clear up some of the confusion and will undoubtedly lead to other questions.

houseplants

Full spectrum light
these are what I used for starting the seedlings in March.

Buying an indoor grow light
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Post  quiltbea 7/20/2010, 1:23 pm

I don't know if I'll be much help.
I got the 4' shop lights ($17.98 each) this spring at Lowe's and for the lighting (requires 2 bulbs), I got the long 'Sunlight' bulbs for 2 for $6.98 down another aisle. Mine screw into the light fixture. It said 'Sunlight' right on the package. With taxes my light sets cost me $26.21 complete.
I grew my transplants under the lights and they were great. The bulbs are supposed to last something like 7 years.
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Post  Odd Duck 7/20/2010, 7:11 pm

If you have a greenhouse with the sun coming through clear or translucent panes on the roof, you shouldn't need grow lights unless you have an incredibly cloudy/foggy climate. Growlights are usually used when the seedlings need to be sprouted inside a house with limited light available through windows.
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Post  middlemamma 7/20/2010, 11:46 pm

I should have been more specific. I have a bonus room on our house that has windows on 3 sides, but is not heated or cooled. In the winter it will be cold out there but not as much as outside. I plan to make a shelving unit with the lights and cover with clear plastic to hold warmth from the day and the lights in. So its kinda a halfway-greenhouse. LOL

Jennie
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Post  Patty from Yorktown 7/21/2010, 7:46 am

Hi,
I have used regular fluorescent bulbs. They work just fine. Somebody commented that fresh bulbs should be used, however I read that long after I had been using the older bulbs. Everything grew beautifully, I never turn them off. Enjoy your new growing space.

Patty in Yorktown
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Post  camprn 7/21/2010, 8:48 am

I used 2 full spectrum lamps and a regular florescent for my seed propagation project last spring. I ended up rotating the trays under the various lights as the seedlings responded with more robust growth to the full spectrum light. I left the lamps on for about 14 hours a day. The plants do need a period of darkness for optimum growth.
http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0170/pnw0170.pdf
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Post  Odd Duck 7/21/2010, 10:04 am

@middlemamma wrote:I should have been more specific. I have a bonus room on our house that has windows on 3 sides, but is not heated or cooled. In the winter it will be cold out there but not as much as outside. I plan to make a shelving unit with the lights and cover with clear plastic to hold warmth from the day and the lights in. So its kinda a halfway-greenhouse. LOL

Jennie

Ah, that makes more sense. Grow Lights Icon_smile

I have my grow lights suspended over seedlings that are as close to the window as I can get them (still about 8" or so away). I have the light hanging more toward the inside of the room and angled with the window edge of the light fixture is higher so the plants still get as much as possible from the window.

I also use lights that are specifically for plants and found much stronger stems and better growth with plant specific lights (and fresh bulbs). Flourescent light spectrum will change with time and the part that the plants need is, unfortunately, the part that declines the most. There are lots of studies on reptiles (which is how I know about the problem) that show the spectrum shift very clearly. I haven't honestly researched it specifically for plants, but I have seen a couple papers on it, just haven't looked recently (I used to keep a lot of planted aquariums).

You can get plant bulbs from box stores or pet stores (same as planted aquarium bulbs) or order them on-line for best price. This is my favorite source, but there are plenty of others, too.

http://www.blackjungle.com/
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Post  chocolatepop 7/21/2010, 10:07 am

Ive used both, and both will work. However, I noticed a larger growth with the full spectrum. In on e of my ballast I used one cool and one warm, another held two full spectrum, and another a full spectrum and a cool. The full spectrum did the best, and the mixed cool/full spectrum did ok, but the plants always leaned toward full spectrum.

i think i paid $10 for the ballast and $7 for the two grow lights. Have you consistered a therostatically controlled space heater? or a timed heating lamp (just make sure its REALLY stable on the table Grow Lights Icon_redface )
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Post  middlemamma 7/21/2010, 12:58 pm

Chocolatepop-where did you find a $10 ballast? Was that for a 4 foot one?
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Post  middlemamma 7/21/2010, 1:21 pm

Odd duck: Ok I guess this is where my brain walks out of the room on this subject. I just have a mental block for some reason...the lightbulb isnt working lol (pun intended).

So I DON'T want a flourescent lights because of the spectrum decline? And if I got that part right what do you call the light that isnt flourescent?

Grow Lights 828840
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Post  chocolatepop 7/21/2010, 1:40 pm

I dont use "bulbs" I only use the 4ft lights because I cant see where the cost benefit, for ME, would be in purchasing that many bulbs.

I cant remember exactly, I know I got some from the local habitat for humanity restore, some from craigs list, and some from either kmart, walmart, or menards. I know lots of help right?
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Post  middlemamma 7/21/2010, 1:54 pm

Ok good places for me to look Chocolatepop...thanks.

ok...bulb= (to me) either a screw in bulb or the 4 foot long thing that goes in a ballast. If that isnt technically a "bulb" what is the right word....?

If I can get my terminology right maybe some of this light stuff will start clicking.
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Post  chocolatepop 7/21/2010, 2:10 pm

Humm, IDK, I just call it a flourescent tube or light.
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Post  quiltbea 7/21/2010, 5:18 pm

I couldn't suspend my lights from the rafters, so I just placed the ends on bricks or old VHS tapes I was going to toss out. You could use books, too. As the plants grow, I pile up more VHS tapes at the ends.
I can easily move the light up above the seedlings by adding another brick or old video tape to the pile on the ends.
Grow Lights 04-05-10
This was my first one. It worked so well, I bought 3 more sets and started all my seedlings this year. My light tubes are Sunlights.
Grow Lights 05-06-11
As you can see, the seedlings grew large and strong.
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Post  Odd Duck 7/21/2010, 7:01 pm

@middlemamma wrote:Odd duck: Ok I guess this is where my brain walks out of the room on this subject. I just have a mental block for some reason...the lightbulb isnt working lol (pun intended).

So I DON'T want a flourescent lights because of the spectrum decline? And if I got that part right what do you call the light that isnt flourescent?

Grow Lights 828840


I say bulbs, but I'm talking about the flourescent tubes. I'm not sure if it's correct, but I think of them as interchangeable. They do make flourescents as screw-in type bulbs, but that's not what I have. The only type of plant light that isn't a flourescent is metal halide and they are very expensive, produce a lot of heat, need to be several feet away from the plants to prevent scorching, but last quite a long time (not sure how long).


Careful with books and tapes/plastic as the support, those fixtures can get pretty hot. Bricks are fine, of course. I had a plant bar that I used to suspend the fixture by chains and I left the top end of the chain open as a hook and I hook that around the bar at the top and hook to different places in the chain going down so I can adjust the height of the fixture.
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Post  boffer 7/21/2010, 7:08 pm

Florescent light fixture: is what Bea is showing in her first picture

Ballast: is an item inside the florescent light fixture that you don't need to worry about if everything is working properly

Florescent light bulbs or florescent tubes: go into the florescent light fixture

T-12: is the size of florescent light bulbs that have been around forever and most people think of as a 'normal' florescent bulb

T-8: is becoming the replacement for T-12s in new installations. They are skinnier, more efficient, put out more light than a T-12, and are slightly more expensive. T-8 and T-12 are not interchangeable in the same fixture.

Hope this helps Very Happy
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Post  quiltbea 7/21/2010, 11:10 pm

Mine are T-8s. The fixture sits right on the edge of the videos or books in my case. I've checked for heat. There is none. I was very careful about such things.
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Grow Lights Empty Thank you everybody

Post  middlemamma 7/22/2010, 12:33 pm

I am starting to put the pieces together in my head...thanks everyone.

Thanks Boffer for the technical jargon clarification. I though the ballast was the "hood" thing you put the "tube" into .

Thanks again! Everyone is always so helpful and I appreciate it so much.
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Post  chocolatepop 7/22/2010, 12:51 pm

yeah, i just call the whole contraption the ballast Grow Lights Icon_redface my electrically engineering husband would be disappointed Grow Lights Icon_lol
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Post  chocolatepop 7/22/2010, 1:23 pm

ELECTRICAL! I need to get this brace off!!
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