Grow lights... looking for advice!


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I start a lot of tomato and pepper plants inside every year. I have a mini greenhouse, but it does not work really well because I don't get a lot of sun. I would like to get a nice grow light set up, but I have no idea what to get. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks!
 
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Don't waste money. First, for germination you don't need light. After germination as much light as possible is beneficial. This may mean moving the pots outside into sunlight when the temperature is suitable.

I have a greenhouse which can be kept above freezing when the outside temperature is about minus 10C. If colder the max being about minus 20, I cover the trays with a heavy towel. The greenhouse is used for starting seeds and making strong plants for placing in the outdoor garden about the 24 of May. I place the seedling pots on a heating pad along with a gas heater in the greenhouse.

My greenhouse is only used from about February to May, and nothing is kept to over-winter. I consider lights a scam in most cases.
 
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Durgan.... I should clarify a bit. My greenhouse is an indoor one. I have no trouble with germination, but the seedlings grow very slow and spindly after germinating. I tried a heat pad under them last year, which seemed to help a bit, but I have been assuming low light levels have been the culprit. Maybe it is not?
 
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I have both an indoor and 2 outdoor greenhouses. I use t5s, cfl , and have done okay with those. They don't just provide light, they also supply a little heat as well which supplements the seedling mats that my trays sit on. I made my own fixtures to save a little money.
 
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Durgan.... I should clarify a bit. My greenhouse is an indoor one. I have no trouble with germination, but the seedlings grow very slow and spindly after germinating. I tried a heat pad under them last year, which seemed to help a bit, but I have been assuming low light levels have been the culprit. Maybe it is not?

Assuming a reasonable temperature, light would appear to be the most important parameter I consider it so important that often the plants are moved into full sun daily in a sheltered position outside and placed back in the greenhouse overnight, when the temperature drops. It is very difficult to get sufficient artificial light, and after experimenting over the years, I have abandoned completely. The stage of growth after germination is certainly critical.
 
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My seedling top shelf area of my indoor space is about the same size.

Hmmm, I'm thinking that your most reasonably priced option is fluorescent lights. They quite often have the ballast for the 4 foot tubes on sale at the hardware store-Lowes, Home Hardware.

I also attached light sockets, you know the cheapie plastic guys people use in the cellar, in series along a board to power compact fluorescent bulbs and it worked well too. The board, the sockets and wiring only cost about 10 bucks. The bulbs, well watch for them to go on sale too.

I did buy a pressure sodium fixture but it only covers two square feet and cost me over $100. Not the brightest (pun intended) purchase on my part.

You also have to be able to adjust the fixtures so they are close to the seedlings - not so close as to burn, but close enough that the seedlings don't "stretch" trying to reach the light. So you need either chains or some other means to make the adustments.

You might find it less expensive in the long run just to buy one of those indoor, prelighted setups sold by TSC, Lee Valley etc.
 
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I've used the 4 foot fluorescents in the past and they do just fine. As Lori mentioned, you'll want to suspend them in a way that makes the height adjustable. I've never had a problem with burning. I keep the lights really close, and just keep raising them as the seedlings grow. This is a cheap setup to build. The chain, some S hooks, and the light ballast. If you want to make a fancy one, you could use some cable and a pulley to make adjustments a little smoother.
 
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That's what I use, too, LawnLilly. A regular workshop light with fluorescent bulbs. Pretty inexpensive and very effective.
 
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I'm also browsing lighting solutions for my indoor garden, as I currently live in an east facing apartment and by about 11am any sunlight my plants receive moves right over to the other side of the building (though my dawn redwood trunk does have a very cool snaked trunk effect from the constant rotating of it once I notice it leaning too much towards the window in any direction)

So far based on all my research I've found that the most appropriate, and cost effective method of lighting would appear to be LED. Pound for pound they appear to give an outstanding amount of lumens illuminating a larger Sq. Ft area at a lower cost than CFL or HPS at about a 3rd of the watt usage whilst giving out a negligible amount of heat. They do not require a ballast, and are internally cooled with heat sinks and fans meaning you can move them as close to your plants as you wish. They are also calibrated to give off specifically red and blue light in the usable spectrum that plants require. They shine a sort of glaring pink/purple rather than white.

From what I've seen they come in square/rectangular panel or "UFO" construction.

The brand I've opted to buying is called Mars Hydro. They have very good reviews and seem to be the best bang for buck LED light on the market.

And again, whilst I reiterate that I myself am not looking to dabble with "indoor gardening" for illicit purposes, when it comes to tips and pointers in this area there is no better place to look than a cannabis forum. There is a wealth of advice on the who's who of indoor lighting set ups, for after all these people do specialise in covert indoor growing.

Beat of luck with your set up!
 
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I use T5 fluorescent lights for my herb garden and they work really well. I found a blog post about a LED light that seems better (uses less power and doesn't need bulb changes), but I can't find the post again at the moment. I'll keep looking and make a post about it later. It really sounded like a great option. But still, fluorescent light has been working really well for me too. Of course if you have plants that flower, fluorescent may not be strong enough.
 

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