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Question about grow lights?

I don't get it? Some of these 'kits' are not cheap ($200+) plus you need to have them on 14+ hours a day (think electric bill), so why do it aside for the pleasure of growing indoors if you don't have a ton of natural light? Don't get me wrong, more power to ya but I just can't get past the math. I can go to a place like Wal-Mart or a local nursery to buy small plants and probably pay less than what it would cost me in aggregate to buy the seed, electric, etc. What am I missing?

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Re: Question about grow lights?

RuHappy69 wrote:... so why do it aside for the pleasure of growing indoors if you don't have a ton of natural light...
For me, that is the main reason. It is a hobby, and I'm willing to deal with slight increase in the bill. But I know, my seedlings are dz free, healthy strong roots, and varieties of tomatoes, peppers and cukes no store can offer.

Besides, and I speak just for myself, there is nothing like watching new life emerge from a dry little seed and watch it progress throughout the season. Can't thing of any better way for myself to "bring spring" a little closer :wink:

As for the lights, 4 tube 2x4 fixture is just over $40 with bulbs, spread the cost over X number of years, so not a big investment in my mind, but I indeed see your point.
RuHappy69 wrote:... can go to a place like Wal-Mart or a local nursery to buy small plants and probably pay less than what it would cost me in aggregate to buy the seed, electric, etc...
Better yet, K-Mart usually sells 6 packs of "tomato" and "pepper" seedlings for $1.75, so that is just under $0.30 per plant, even eggplants and squash early in the season. But, not the same...


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...6 packs of "tomato" and "pepper" seedlings for $1.75, so that is just under $0.30 per plant, even eggplants and squash early in the season. But, not the same...
Nope! Not when they are labeled exactly "tomato" and "pepper" :lol:
If you look around the forum, some of us (:wink:) even specify dinner and recipe ingredient vegetables and even some herbs by their specific cultivar names. 8)

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1) Some people have more dollars than sense and think nothing of buying a $400 plastic compost tumbler for their organic raised beds (made with pressure treated lumber no doubt). A $1000 light and hydroponic setup for growing lettuce or starting seeds in their basement is another way to spend their money.

2) They will use the expensive lights to grow pot.

3) They will use the lights for growing blooming plants such as orchids. i.e. a hobby less expensive than owning a boat (or a dog if you like to buy expensive food, toys, heartworm medication etc for your dog).

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I wouldn't buy the kits, do it yourself for about $40, I am sure if you search the internet you will find tutorials on how.

the thing about buying the plants at the store is that they don't always (or rarely) give any info about the plants. previously I didn't care but now I want to know what diseases they are resistant to. I noticed this year that lowes seems to have more info about the veggies they sell than any other place, walmart, I am not sure they are getting any veggies this year as they haven't gotten any yet

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I run several lights, usually 1500 watts or more to grow seedlings. I figure the cost in under $125, probably less because that presumes I keep them under lights for more than seven weeks. Six weeks is the max, after that they go outside.

But for the past two years, without really trying hard, I have sold about $600 in plants annually, plus had all the plants I needed to grow in my garden.

Now this winter, yes, I did buy three 600-watt HID systems. I had hoped to grow about 50 tomato plants but couldn't get the aeroponic build correct and ended up with 12 plants. (So I only run one light!). But had I been able to grow 50 plants, which I will do next year, I could pay off my lights in a month.


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I have made it work because choosing the right lights, bulbs, and purpose is critical.

I cannot move into HPS systems because I do not see a net positive on the cost. For me, the cost of the correct flourescents, shop lights, and timers was quickly paid for by the produce throughout the winter. The overall cost will continue to go down because the durable pieces of the setup will continue to be used for years to come.

Calculating the usage and purchase cost is pretty easy.

I wrote this a mont or so ago in response to some friends asking about costs of production. I posted to the blog as well.


Grow Light Expenses????
Ok, so how much does it cost to purchase and operate artificial lighting?

Lighting expenses continue to be a concern for my indoor growing endeavor because I want to keep this cost neutral or preferably net positive if at all possible. After all, this is "Frugal Hydroponics" right?

The lights I use are simple 2-bulb, 32W, T8, 48" shop lights with on/off pull chains. "T8" fluorescent bulbs are much more efficient than the standard T12 40W bulbs. "T5" systems are more expensive for the initial purchase, but are more efficient than the T8s. I may switch to T5 in the future, but for now I am happy with the results and efficiency of the T8 system.

I bought 3 of these shop lights for less than $9 each and fashioned them together to operate as one 48", 6 bulb fixture of which all are plugged into the same light timer. In effect, I have 6 32W bulbs covering a 48" x 24" growing area. This easily accommodates several standard starter trays or least 3 of the hydro systems. I recommend watching your local big box stores for sales and manufacturers rebates. The lights I bought normally retailed at over $20 each, so wait for the sale.

Since vegetative growth is achieved in the "blue" spectrum, I use 6500k bulbs. A 2-pack of Sylvania T8 6500k bulbs is around $3.50. Since I am growing lettuce, herbs, and my spring starters, the blue spectrum is all I need. If I were to grow plants requiring a flowering stage (peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, decorative flowers etc.), I would need red spectrum bulbs and additional shop light fixtures. At this point, I believe that is cost prohibitive for me as I will grow those type plants outdoors.

Calculating Energy Consumption: 32W bulb x 6 bulbs = 192 watts. 14 hours of use per day x 30 days = 420 running hours. 420 running hours x 192 watts = 80640 monthly watts used. 80640 / 1000 = 80.64 Kilowatts used. My energy company charges $.0783 per kilowatt, so my total monthly expense to run these lights is $6.31.

Expense re-cap: Total cost of shop lights: $27. Total cost of bulbs (replace yearly): $10.50 or $.875 per month. Total energy usage per month: $6-$7.

I feel this is economically feasible for the production I am wanting to achieve. I recommend researching "High Intensity Discharge" systems for anyone wishing to produce flowering plants or increasing production by several magnitude. These systems do require many additional considerations, so research diligently.

Zone 4a.

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If I spend a little more in electricity, it's exactly as others have stated. Varieties you will never find in a store. And knowing that they were organic from seed to dinner plate.

Not to mention, as you save and regrow your own seeds, you are creating plants that are specifically suited to your garden's conditions. It's also quite satisfying to know that when you have a dinner plate full of garden harvest, you brought it about all the way from beginning to end. IMO anyway.

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Failure is only a fact when you give up.

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