Seeds forum: advice for lights for starting seeds

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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 15, 2016 4:15 PM CST
I am getting ready to start my vegetable seeds inside so I can transplant them out into my raised beds in May. I would like to know what kind of lights I should buy to grow them under. I will be getting them from Menards or Home Depot. I have a 4 shelf greenhouse that I have in my garage. It is 20 inches deep and 47 inches long. The shelves are 13 inches apart. Once they outgrow the shelves, I can move them in a bigger area. I have one 48" florescent fixture that with 2 bulbs. It says it is a relamp with instant start F32T8. I am afraid this is an inch too big for my greenhouse but can use it in a bigger area.

The lights I am using with my greenhouse right now are short grow lights with one bulb. I have a few flower seeds growing there now. Any suggestions are appreciated.
Yard decor, repurposing, and flowers,
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 15, 2016 5:43 PM CST
I was going to suggest 4 foot shop lights (T8 or T5), but if they won't fit, yikes.

You might take a tape measure to HD or Menards. If they have some fixtures on display, you can measure length-overall and try to find one that's shorter than most ... but the tubes take up most of the fixture and finding one as short as 47" may not be possible.

That is a tough one.

My HD had a big display of many lighting fixtures including floodlights. They might be inefficient, but you can find something with lots of lumens and not too many bucks. Just make sure that replacement bulbs aren't more expensive than the fixture, if you get something unusual!

One fall back is just plain screw-in (mogul base) CFL bulbs, with as many lumens (or Watts) as you can afford. If the CFL bulb is a "floodlight" type, it has a built-in reflector that will aim the light into a cone. But those often have some diffuser over the bulb, which reduces lumens. If you have a pole fixture that accepts screw-in CFLs, the pole probably has built-in reflectors that throw SOME of the light forward.

It would not be TOO hard to construct four boards with 2-4 screw-in bases, wired to 120 VAC. Then you could mount each board to aim at one shelf. It might be hard to adjust.

This isn't a very good answer, but it's all I can think of. I think that 3 foot shop olights are rare, and bulbs would probably be more expensive.

LED lights are still expensive, and some cheaper Chinese ones just burn out very quickly due to unbalanced power going to each LED.

Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 15, 2016 6:42 PM CST
Thanks Rick. I am going to put my 4' shop light in my greenhouse and just see how it fits. I am afraid that it might be too close to the outside fabric. Maybe I can put something in between the light and the sides of the gh. I guess I could always mount 2 small florescent lights per shelf to cover the complete shelf.

Thank You! again for your help.
Yard decor, repurposing, and flowers,
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: Indiana Dog Lover Container Gardener
Seed Starter Herbs Vegetable Grower Cut Flowers Butterflies Birds
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mom2goldens
Mar 15, 2016 6:48 PM CST

Moderator

I agree that shop lights are really the most economical and practical choice.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 16, 2016 12:00 PM CST
If a shop light gets too hot, you might improve its ventilation by drilling some holes in the reflector to let heat out.

Good luck!

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