newbie....growlight setup advice

Discussion in 'Plant Propagation' started by bullseye, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. bullseye

    bullseye Active Member

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    Hello everyone,

    Am a newbie that just recently developed the knack for gardening, and this past summer, I did so much to yard, and was pleased with the effort.

    I have some seeds and bulbs given to me, and am looking to give them a head start before transplanting outside in the spring.

    I came across a basement setup I like, and I bought a shelving stand like the one in the link already:

    http://www.flippygirl.com/growlights.html

    My question to the experts...what do you think of the light setup, anything you will change in the setup, tips, timer suggestions?

    I am just looking to keep it simple like the one in the link, by growing seeds from trays and little pots, and starting some rhizomes and bulbs in bigger pots underneath.

    I have a lot of homedepot and Lowes gift cards, so I'll rather buy from there, utilizing those cards.

    Looking forward to hearing from you all

    thx
     
  2. lhuget

    lhuget Active Member

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    Hi Bullseye. Looks like a great set up to me but its difficult to tell if the lights are movable. You will want to be able to raise them as your seedlings grow. I keep them 2-3" above the pots and then seedlings. Also unless you have very good air circulation you will want to have a fan to ensure your seedlings develop sturdy stems. Hope this helps and good luck growing!

    Les
     
  3. bullseye

    bullseye Active Member

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    Note: The setup isn't mine, am asking for advice regarding the same setup.
     
  4. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    I am seeing a T12 set up which is only good for shade loving plants like hostas. If this is what you want to grow it is a good set up. However, I bet you would like to grow something else. A T-5 set puts out twice the amount light as a T12. Then there is the issue of which full spectrum bulbs, a F. S. bulb will range from 5500 to 6800 K I like the 6500. Then there is issue of will it produce the light frequency that you what to make plants, this is measured in CRI or color rendering index to keep it simple that needs to above 85, however I think that is too low, I think it should be above 93 . So in short I would not have a T-12 set up unless it were free. Air movement is good but so is Co2 and propagation heat mats but we ain't talking about that. A 6 light setup using T-5 at 54 watts 46 inches long using a 6500K at 95 CRI is best, you can go up form that. A double lamp shop light using the old T-12 at 32 w using a 5500K bulb will grow hostas, but that ain't going to grow any weeds that you find to be pretty.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  5. lhuget

    lhuget Active Member

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    richard are the T5 vs. T12 labeled as such? If not how does one tell? I have shop fixtures with 2 lights that look very similar to the ones in the picture and I do have full spectrum bulbs. I've successfully started many different perennials and get an early start with my dahlias so I'm happy with mine.
     
  6. arcticshaun

    arcticshaun Active Member

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    I'd agree with more light being better. I still use T12s but I've added CFL's in 42, 45 and 85W to my system and for the tropicals that's really makes big difference. T12's for seedlings until they've toughened up a bit are fine but past that stage you need sunlight or bigger bulbs to get plants ready for outdoors.

    Shaun
     
  7. lhuget

    lhuget Active Member

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    aah Shawn I think you might have answered my question cuz I move the seedlings out to the greenhouse March 1 so if I have T12 rather than T5 it probably wouldn't make a difference at that stage. Any more info for bullseye that would help in his/her setup would be great.

    Les
    ps great to hear from Yellowknifer. I lived there for 13 years and luved every minute of it. Happy Gardening North of 60!
     
  8. bullseye

    bullseye Active Member

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    Thanks folks. Here is what I purchased

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Setup

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You can see the sunshine flourescent I purchased ( 4 ft ). Basically am just going to be starting seeds and giving plants a boost

    Can someone please help with this recommendation that someone gave me below

    "Some other items you may want/needs are power strip(s), GFIC outlet, small fan for air circulation, heat mats for starting tubers."

    I know the job of the fan, but what roles does everything else play in setups like these?????
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2008
  9. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    Well the T-5 have a very small diameter, 15 mm or 5/8 of an inch. They will read F54W or 54 watts for a 46 inch tube not 48 as in the T-12 then you will see T-5 HO and then it is up to the manufacture to put part number of it may just say what color temperature it is . ( You want to make sure your balast can run a 54 watt bulbs) One good balast can run two lamps. The glory of it is the small size, as you can stack a lot of tubes in a small fixture.

    Personal I feel it is important to blow the heat off the ballast, I think that will make everything last a lot longer. Once you hold a T-5 in your hand you will never need to wonder what is what because it is so tinny compared to the old T-12, don't get fooled by the T-8 because I don't think it will always be around like the 16 gage shot gun were used for years but you never see them any more. I have looked forward to seeing these bulbs making it to market, and that has been for about ten years.
     
  10. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    As I write this I don't have a clue as to where you are geographically but If all the lights are on, that will = 242 watts at 120 volts using 2.22 Amp of current . Most US current are 120 volts with 15 Amps circuits so that mean you can run up to 12 amps on that line. If you can spare 2 amps on that leg you should plug in a GFI power strip or outlet, or you will get a very good shock at some point down the line. Your code will call for a GFI circuit breaker or a GFI circuit outlet. I like GFIs because if you do get a shock it does not last long and it can kill you. As with anything the cheap GFI outlets don't last long and don't protect as well as a good one and it has to be rated as to the amount of amps on that leg, some circuits are 15 or 20 amps so you need to know that as well. A GFI outlet does not last forever and can fail in a week or in a decade, thus GFI circuit breakers. You will need to cut the power on that circuit to install a new outlet. Also you will need to know the quality of your ground, as that is how a GFI works. Code calls for two ground rods or more some times up to ten and I have seen it go to 15 on rocky sandy soils, so maybe you should call an electrician. I installed two eight footers yesterday, but I have seen guys cut there ground rods in half and it just looks like two but you really it is only half a ground rod and if it is dry you have no ground rods. See what I mean jelly bean. I write all this because I hate being electrocuted time and time again, as a matter of fact I should be dead myself. A couple of years ago I cut threw a sixty amp line with out my gloves on. Why it only blew a hole in my cutters and not blown out my eyes, I don't have a clue. Why I did something so stupid is also a mystery.

    Thermostat controlled heat mats are a must have. Your fans can blow the heat off the ballast. But with cheapo shop light who cares, fan are always good.

     
  11. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    I say scrap the fluorescent set up all together and buy a HID lamp. T-5 ballasts will probably be pricey. HPS and MH are much much much brighter
     
  12. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    So what do you grow with all that hight dollar HID stuff in Texas anyways.
     
  13. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

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    I am probably the only indoor-plant grower in the lower mainland who does not operate a grow-op. Instead, I use my set up solely for starting seedlings. No one believes me, of course.

    I built a structure out of 2x2's and particle board. It is like a shelving unit with lights: there is a pair of fixtures on the bottom of each shelf which illuminates the shelf below it.

    It has a total of 8, 2-standard-bulb, 48" fluorescent fixtures. They are all plugged into one standard house circuit, 15 amps if I recall correctly (and I wired the room myself so I can say that it is wired properly).

    I got the fixtures for about $12 each at a recycling-of-bldg-materials store here.

    The power draw is low: I can plug tools into the same circuit while the lights are on and have never tripped the circuit (or blown a fuse as us old folks still say).

    The illumination is great.

    The bulbs last for about 3 years on average. Admittedly, they are only on about 3-4 month a year, and about 12 hours a day.

    No measurable heat is generated.

    It holds 16 plant trays. There are 10 in it right now as I begin to start this year's seedlings.

    I used to increase and decrease the distance between the plant trays and the lights, not be adjusting the lamp height - impossible in this set up - but just by starting with, and then gradually removing, spacers below each plant tray. I finally stopped doing so: despite what all the books seem to say about 3" from the lights (or whatever) being desirable, I found that the seedlings grow well if they start 8" below the lights - decreasing to 0" as they grow higher - and so there is no need to gradually raise the lights (or, equivalently, lower the trays).

    The system is ugly - won't do for the living room - but works perfectly and was mucho cheap. My dad (who glued scrap pieces of wood together to make boards that he could then use to make windows) and my mom (who made lovely Christmas decorations out of old eggshells and coffee grounds) would have approved of it.

    I used to have a smaller version in the front window, but with all the lights on in the evenings our house looked like a searchlight battery in London during the Blitz, and the police used to drive by regularly and sniff the air.
     
  14. natureman

    natureman Active Member

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    I use a 150W CFL indoors over the winter for growing my chilis. It works well, plus it uses only 46W and lasts a long time.
     
  15. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    I finished some poinsettias under my 400W HPS, Im starting some pine and spruce seedlings (reflexa and asperata). I've grown winter tomatoes. Im sure the neighbors are suspicous because the entire room glows bright orange.

    It wasnt that expensive. I ordered from an online auction site, less than 150 i think. It came with a free lighter and some psychodelic decals for some reason :). I've never put it to such a questionable purpose allthough Im sure it would work very well.
     
  16. natureman

    natureman Active Member

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    Ahahaha!
     

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