CruelCrimsonIrony
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Grow Lights vs. Shop Lights

I was going to buy the Hydrofarm 4ft. Grow Light Setup on Amazon..but the downside is it only comes with one light. I see people using shop lights, but I have NO idea what to do. There are sites that show you how to build your own setup, but if I can just use the light and hang it somewhere, I'd rather do that.

Question is, do I need a setup or can I just hang it somewhere. I know it sounds dumb, but I just want to make sure. Also, do I NEED a heating mat?

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rainbowgardener
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Regular fluorescent tubes in a shop light fixture are just fine, BUT they have to be hung so that they will be just 2-3 inches above the plants and can be raised as the plants grow. The fixtures usually come with hanging chains. If you hang them from hooks, then you can just put different links of the chains on the hooks as needed. Leave them on 16 hrs a day.

Maybe you don't absolutely, absolutely need a heat mat (or some source of heat), but since I've been using two of them for years, I wouldn't try it without any more (depending a little on how warm the area is where your lights etc will be). Not only will your seeds germinate three times as fast, but you will have a better success rate. While the seeds are sitting in cold moist soil not germinating, they tend to rot out.

But you don't need a fancy one made for plants. What I use is ordinary heating pads sold at a pharmacy for people to use. Just be sure it doesn't have automatic timed cutoff.

Congratulations on being the first to write in about seed starting! :) I usually plant the first seeds under lights some time in January and I'm an early bird.

Here's a picture of my seed starting operation in my basement (the picture is from a couple years ago, there's nothing under the lights right now, and that area is about to become my Christmas gift basket factory). I start somewhere between 500 and 1000 plants from seed each year.

[img]https://i602.photobucket.com/albums/tt102/rainbowgardener/seedlings3-16.jpg[/img]

On the bottom right, the little blue lines are the edges of heating pads. Once the seeds are well sprouted and have true leaves, they can come off the heat pads.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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ReptileAddiction
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Wow that is one awesome setup! I actually use a small greenhouse. It is basically a tall shelf covered in thick plastic. The front opens.

Anyway, shop lights will be much cheaper to replace. They are essentially the same thing with a few minor differences. I have never used a heat meat so I cant say about that. I also live in southern california so even during the winter there are 70 degree days. If you lived in a cooler place you might need to use one.

DoubleDogFarm
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and a heat chamber is another option, but you will still need light or lights.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=33290

Eric

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gixxerific
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Very true DDF heat is another thing to think about. I have lights, lot's of lights. Yes I grow stuff in the winter indoors, even dwarf tomatoes. But my setup is in the basement, the cold basement. I am working on that but even though I can grow it is slow with weakened (not sunlight) light it takes longer and due to the cold temps it is even longer.

I use stadard 6500K floruescent lights.

CruelCrimsonIrony
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Thank you for replying. I'm mostly wanting to start cacti seeds and then use the lights for them to 'grow' under since my south window isn't working. Your setup is amazing. If only I could transport you here to build it for me. *laughs* Thanks again for all your help.

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rainbowgardener
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No particular building involved. The bottom shelf is just a wooden counter top, sitting on top of old kitchen cabinets (not even nailed down or anything). The cabinets make good storage for all the pots and cells and stuff. The top two shelves are wire shelving like they sell for closets. The only "building" was mounting the track for the shelf brackets to the concrete basement wall. Then all the lights hang from the shelves from hooks.
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Dillbert
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the 'traditional' advice is to use a 50-50 mix of warm white and cool white fluorescent tubes to 'approach' natural light.

the special spectrum bulbs are touted as being "best' - unfortunately and admitting my research is a bit dated. . . - their spectrum benefit "wears out" in fairly short order. i.e. high cost, short (effective) life.

the warm/cool mix is about 90% of "totally effective natural light" - does not "wear out" and is way lots less expensive.

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applestar
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Look at the amount of lumen (brightness) levels too.

DoubleDogFarm
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Maybe useful

https://www.3drender.com/glossary/colortemp.htm


Eric

Maineah_John
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The main difference between regular shop lights and fluorescent grow lights are the type of bulb/tube used. Shop lights are typically T8 fluorescent tubes these are normally 20 watts (I think) for the 4 footers. The grow lights are T5 high output these are higher wattage (54 watts) per bulb which provides stronger lighting for your plants. These are typically use in a fixture of 4 to 8 bulbs covering a 2' x 4' area. They also sell 2' length fixtures for use in a 2'x2' area.

Here is my small indoor garden with a 300 watt 6 bulb T5 fixture. This will support up to 1 to 1 1/2 foot tall plants where as the same light with T8 would support about 6 inch tall plant.

[img]https://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j382/johnny2pips/001.jpg[/img]

Edit: Forgot to mention T5's also produce more heat not a ton but noticeably more than shop lights. The plants can not touch the bulb without getting burned unlike T8's.

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