Grow light recommendations

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Grow light recommendations

Postby jbergeson » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:12 pm

I know we've had a thread on this fairly recently, but I wanted to bring it up again to see if anyone has any "bright" ideas for creating a growing area.

For any newbies, I think it should be noted that it is likely a waste of money to buy special 'grow light' flourescent bulbs...it's more about getting the most light out of the bulb, which is probably from a Cool White high output T8.

Then what about white LED shop lights from Costco or Lowes, etc? My assumption is that the quality of light would be just fine.

Of course the m8rEwanna growers are the experts, but LED arrays sold to them tend to be super expensive and a combo of red and blue LED's that makes everything look purple.

I'd like to create a growing area about 4' x 8' that allows for plants of heights up to 4 feet or so - I have a lime tree in a pot that would be fun to keep actively growing for the winter. So I thought maybe I could find a good deal on a bunch of cheap 4' cheap LED or T8 shop lights and mount them fairly close together.

I'm too lazy to do serious research at this moment but thought I'd start a thread if anyone has any good ideas or scoops on where to get cheap but bright lights.
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Re: Grow light recommendations

Postby bvanderhoek » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:58 pm

Probably the plain ol' T8 shop lights will be the most light for your dollar. I have a 55-gallon fish tank with (of course) real plants, and the light fixture is a special red, white, and blue LED (purchased on Amazon) that is supposed to provide all the kinds of light the plants need. They do seem to grow well under the light, and it is cooler than fluorescent. Maybe, though, if you are growing roses in a damp basement like I did when I lived in Minnesota, the warmth of the fluorescent lights would be in their favor. LED lights like my aquarium light do cost more, but you don't have to replace the tubes, so that may be a point in their favor. Let us know what you end up choosing and how it works!
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Re: Grow light recommendations

Postby henry kuska » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:03 am

My understanding is that LEDs do not have the gradual decrease in light intensity that fluorescents have.
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Re: Grow light recommendations

Postby tsilvers » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:01 am

Hi Joe,

I've never done any real scientific comparison but have always just grown all of my seedlings (rose and otherwise) under ordinary cheap fluorescent shoplights in my basement. I also overwinter bigger things like small citrus trees and a pineapple plant and everything seems fine with the cheap shoplights. I know the bulbs are supposed to decline with age, but to be honest, I got lazy and haven't even swapped out bulbs for 3 or 4 years now. I'm still getting acceptable results. I have them hanging on chains so I can adjust them up or down with "S" hooks.

This past winter I bought two relatively inexpensive LED shoplights to try out and these seem to be working well too. I started a bunch of Citrus and Calycanthus seedlings under these and they all seemed very happy.

Good luck with your set up!

Tom
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Re: Grow light recommendations

Postby henry kuska » Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:49 pm

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Re: Grow light recommendations

Postby philip_la » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:31 am

LED's don't really cost that much more (search online for sources) and will save you a good deal of money in the long term due to their long life and lower energy consumption. They don't fade out as quickly as flourescents, and don't put mercury in landfills. You can easily google either "spectral analyses of..." or "spectrometer charts" and see that the newer lights have very full spectrum (high CRI's or "color rendering index" and show true colors) and many have little peaks in or around the blue range. (I think the blue is the primary color emitted from the led and the others come from phosphor coating, if I recall correctly.) In principle, it seems LEDs should compete very favorably with flourescents, but I don't know enough to draw any real conclusions. I suspect you are ideally wanting to match the absorption spectra of the two chlorophylls?
Dunno if it means anything to those more in-the-know, but it looks like the peaks in a 3500k led align moderately well with the absorption of Chlorphyll b with the added benefit of actually permitting one to see the plants as they appear -- generally much truer color than with a flourescent bulb, typically having a CRI around only 60.
LED's don't require ballasts, but you *can* get tubes that can be popped into a flourescent fixture without having to rewire to bypass the ballast.
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Re: Grow light recommendations

Postby philip_la » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:59 am

1000bulbs.com has T8 1800 lumen 3500k replacement LED tubes for about $7, but if you can, you might do better to avoid the ballast of an existing fixture. The same site offers fixtures as well as panels, and panels come to about $15 per 1000 lumens in the 3500k color. (Don't take my word on appropriate color though!) With a life of 50,000 hours, you will probably never replace, unless you get a dud.
https://www.1000bulbs.com/category/led-panel/
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Re: Grow light recommendations

Postby david zlesak » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:07 pm

Hi Joe!

This past winter with more space in a walk out basement I got more stands and lights. I really like the bright white LED shop lights. Each brand I think may have a different spectrum. I called and eventually got a spectrum graph from what Sam's CLub was selling (about $35 for a 4' LED shop light) and it looked kind of comparable to cool white florescence (good blue and a bit less red). The lumens were about 4200 or 4500, which was nice. With LED's so directional, I suspect you may like to use at least some LED's above your plants as you have some tall plants. It'll help direct more light downward to them than a florescent light that high in the air diffusing light more directions. Menards has a nice 4200 Lumens one that is lighter weight and not as wide with a diffuser and about $32. With that one I like that they are narrow and can accumulate more in tighter space then to get a lot of light over an area.

I also kept some of my florescent lights too and on many shelves put one LED and one florescent one too. Some of the other species I grow (ninebark seedlings, etc.) seem to be more particular to light quality and stall out under typical cool white florescence, but when I put grow lights in them with more red they grow well.

At Menards at least by me in the electrical dept. they are selling LED strips that have red and blue for photosynthesis for $30 each. They come in square long units that can be linked together. They are about 18" or 24" long and $30 each. I haven't bought one yet to see how much light they emit. It seems kind of expensive to me to cover a shelf. Maybe I should just try one and see how the plants do.
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