Indoor Gardening--Source for Grow Lights? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I'd like to experiment this summer with growing lettuce (my back yard is rabbit heaven) indoors, using grow lights. Anyone know of a good on or offline source? The stands I've seen (two tiers with built in light) are cost prohibitive for me, I just need a source for the lights. Also, has anyone ever done this? (We're talking about a basement with NO natural light). Thanks!

-- FM (, April 08, 1999


Well, we're using flourescent grow lights.

We heard from some neighbors (who have been farming for 20 years) that there's no difference between regular flourescent lights and grow lights - as far as the plants are concerned.

THe PRICE difference is $8 vs $.75. So we did an experiment (single blind)

I replaced one grow light with a "regular" light. They both were same brand (GE), and both had same wattage rating. We grew identical plants.

Both sets of plants grew just fine, with no discernible difference.

So I'm getting the cheap lights.

As for fixtures, we have several "Lights of America" 4' "worklight" fixtures that hold two four foot lights each. They cost $7.50 (less than a single grow light). The only thing we didn't like, is that the reflector in the light is white instead of silver. But the plants don't seem to care.

Jolly has seen the light.

-- Jollyprez (, April 08, 1999.

Regular florescent "shop lights" work just fine- hang them by chains so you can put them as close to your plants as you need early on, and raise them as the plants grow. No need to spend big bucks on "grow lights". You can, if you want, get "full spectrum" florescents for a bit more-check out local hardware stores. These work really well to grow transplants by the way- much better than windowsills.

-- anita (, April 08, 1999.

Be careful purchasing multiple grow lights. The DEA monitors sales of these products, I kid you not.

Not that there's anything wrong with that... :)

-- a (a@a.a), April 08, 1999.

Dang, you guys are GOOD! Jolly, as I make up my mind, where might I purchase Lights of America" 4' "worklight" fixtures?

And--how does the DEA monitor purchase of these lights? Is it like registering for a gun? Does the hardware shop owner have to write your name down? Honestly, all I want to grow is lettuce! (Although it might be fun to try tomato plants!)

One other question. . .I have ceiling flourescents in my basement. Too far away to do any good?


-- FM (, April 08, 1999.

You might give over just a little extra money for "full-spectrum" fluorescents,...even one in a bank of several will be beneficial. We have started many vegetable seedlings under lights, I have grown tomatoes to full-maturity in inside light only.

As far as the DEA goes,...BATF,..."LBJ took the IRT down to 4th Street USA. When he got there what did he see? The youth of America on LSD. LBJ...IRT...USA...LSD...." The old lyrics still make me smile. Go to Home Depot....Go to Lights R Us....People need to stop fearing as a result of the incessant fear-campaigns waged by the US terrocrats. Big Brother is a figment of his own imagination. Buy your lights.

By the way,...the oft-quote and pilfered phrase by FDR,(more lovely authoritarian-sounding initials), "...nothing to fear but fear itself", actually comes from Mark Twain's "A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Good ole FDR knew a phrase worthy of plagiarizing when he read it.

-- Donna Barthuley (, April 08, 1999.

...dang, thought I closed that tag... caught being human.

What the terrocrats look at it, if they look at all, is huge increases in power usage,..I'm not sure how they've gotten the power companies to capitulate and hand over customer usage records...but for greenhouse use, where edible veggies are concerned...don't worry.

-- Donna Barthuley (, April 08, 1999.

Gee FM, I'm surprised anybody's answering you, after you outed Dinosaur a few days ago.

-- badform (, April 08, 1999.

Builder's Square, if they have any left, DIY Homecenters, Lowes, all have grow light 4' bulbs and they aren't all that much more expensive. And when the detective comes calling, I'll just show him the flats, the castor beans, the lima beans, etc under the lights.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, April 09, 1999.

40 watt cool white bulbs are your best buy. the grow lights have a better light spectrum but much lower f.c. The blue light of cool white bulbs is good for growing leafy crops, when fruiting light from the red spectrum is better (i.e. warm white bulbs). The one bulb that I have found different is a Tube with a twist in it,(can't remember the brand name) The groove in the glass has more area and gives of more light. These lights are around $20 each. Remember that the ends off a tube give off allmost no f.c. for about 6", so a 48" tube has only about 36" of good light. Keep your plants very close to the tubes for the best light, the f.c. drop off quickly just inches from the tube. Replace your bulbs offen (60 days) as the f.c. drop off after that and they will use the same amout of watts. Most cheap 40 workshop light fixtures have small reflectors, you can get more light on the plants by extending the Reflector with cardbord/sheetmetal painted flat white. If you want to get the most f.c. for your watts these lamps are better.

Low pressure sodium (most f.c./watt but bad spectrum, ok if you use with Metal Halide) High Pressure Sodium (Heavy in the red spectrums, the best bulb is 430 watt son-agro from Philips made for growing plants) Metal Halide (Heavy in the blue Spectrum) Mercury vapor (not much better than fluorescents)

F.Y.I these are street lamps the orange is h.p. sodium, and the white is metal halide or mercury vapor Check out hardware stores for sales on low watt yard lights i.e. 70 to 150 h.p. sodium/metal halide they are great for a small indoor garden The D.E.A.? You have nothing to fear if your not breaking the law. ( still a drag to have to deal with)

Happy to answer any questions about growing. I have 10+ years experence working in the greenhouse field as a wholesale grower. (6,000,000+ Plants a year) I have also done a lot of hydro food growing. The Greenthumb G.I.

-- greenthumb G.I. (greenthumb@ i.g.i), April 09, 1999.

Thanks for all your input. I didn't realize there were so many experienced folk out there! (And as for "outing" Dinosaur--he started it! :))

Thanks again!

-- FM (, April 09, 1999.

Just found a relevant article in the Dec 1994 issue of Organic Gardening. Talks about the different color spectrums produced by varioous types of light, recommends soidum and halide (as also recommended by greenthumbs above). Says sodium is more cost-efficient than halide.

A 1,000 watt bulb will light an area approx. 64 sq. ft. Halides lose 25-30% of their intensity after one year, sodium only about 5%. Operating costs about equal. Sodium bulbs last longer. Recommends that when you buy your system, purchase also a "lens" (sheet of tempered glass) for the fixture to prevent injury/damage from shattered glass. Can easily happen if hot bulb is touched by droplet of cold water when spraying/watering plants. You can boost brightness by using white or silver material under your plants and on the walls of the growing area.

-- Old Git (, April 09, 1999.

Here is a really helpful site that I've found on starting seed indoors. Also check out the gardenweb forums. They are set up with the same format as this y2k forum.

-- justmy (justmy@2cents.worth), April 09, 1999.

We have used one cool fluorescent tube and one warm one in combination with great success for a long time. Cheap, easy to use, easy to find.

We made a table in a pyramid shape like the expensive ones you buy. Used scrap lumber. Purchased some small chains to suspend the lights. It doesn't take up much room either.


-- sylvia (, April 09, 1999.

Greenthumb and others beat to most of what I wanted to say (and more!). I also am a fan of regular fluorescents (in particular, the cool whites).

A big issue some posters touched on is to provide as much light as possible so they don't get leggy (not sure I would recognize a leggy lettuce though).

I understand that warm whites do not produce quite as much light intensity as cool whites.

I arrange my lights so that they are 2 or 3 pairs across, so any plant is receiving just that much more residual light.

Make sure you are buying 40W light bulbs, and not the 32W energy savers.

If plants (which to me means TOMATOES!) get too big and bushy to be fully close enough to the light source, try to throw them outside on good deays (but "harden" them off first).

Lots of fluorescents produce a fair amount of heat, so make sure you have good ventilation (use a fan periodically, if necessary).

There is also the issue of how long to leave the lights on. Most plants need a rest period at night. The recommendation I usually see is 14 hours on/10 off.

My most recent hard-earned lesson on growing seedlings: make sure the soilless seed starter mixture is fresh each year. (I had a major dieoff of seedlings the last couple years to "damp-off" because I was too thrifty and saved leftover mix to use from year to year.)

-- Brooks (, April 09, 1999.

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