Seeds forum: Favorite grow lights?

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Name: Tabitha
Spring, TX (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Daylilies Amaryllis Hybridizer Butterflies
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madrid2000
May 30, 2016 8:21 AM CST
I want to buy a set of grow lights for my classroom. Does anyone have a favorite brand or company that you like?
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
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Onewish1
Jun 2, 2016 3:37 AM CST

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For cheaper ones nothing beats home depot or lowes shop lights.. been buying an led or two now.. just off of amazon
Name: Don Shirer
Westbrook, CT (Zone 6a)
Seed Starter
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DonShirer
Jun 2, 2016 4:36 AM CST
Best bets for small setups are T8 two-bulb shop lights. Two of them spaced about 10" apart will illuminate four 10x20" plant trays (see picture). Suspend them 2-3" above the leaves by chains, allowing enough room to raise them as the seedlings grow. T12 bulbs are obsolescent and T5's are more expensive, but may be useful for larger greenhouses.

Use "cool white" (4100°K), "natural" (5000°K), or "daylight" (6000°K) bulbs. Check the prices and lumen outputs---manufacturers differ. Ignore the pricey "full-spectrum" bulbs. They are useful in permanent indoor gardens but seedlings don't need the red end of the spectrum to grow.

LED shoplights are becoming available, but check their specs carefully. Some have cooler color temperatures or lower lumen outputs. I tried one model that was comparable with T8 shop lights and have noted no differences in seedlings grown under either.
Thumb of 2016-06-02/DonShirer/e8ba94

[Last edited by DonShirer - Oct 24, 2016 5:45 AM (+)]
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Name: Tabitha
Spring, TX (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Daylilies Amaryllis Hybridizer Butterflies
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madrid2000
Jun 2, 2016 1:38 PM CST
Thanks for the info. This will be a smaller set up, for starting tomatoes and other seedlings to get an early start.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jun 2, 2016 7:56 PM CST
Good advice from Don.

T5s will usually put out more lumens (brighter light), but they will cost more per lumen when you figure in purchase price. I thought that T5s usually had slightly higher efficiency than T8, but
(1) that might no longer be true
(2) they were only a little more efficient back then
(3) "special" T5s will be less efficient than T8s.

T5s can be found with extra intensity - for more money and lower efficiency.
T5s can be found with "extra-long-lifetime" - and less intensity and higher price.

T8s are probably usually a better deal until T5 prices come down more.
But if LEDs ever approach T5 pricess, T5s might never get cheap.

T5s may be "technically superior" to T8s, like BetaMax was "better than" VHS.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Jun 3, 2016 9:44 AM CST

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I've had t5s for a while. They work great and are available in a lot more sizes. Most shop lights are 4' lengths so if you want a shorter length you might need to to to t8s or t5s. Also, many shop lights need to be hard wired so if you go that route be sure you buy the kind that can be suspended from chains, don't have to be hard wired into a ceiling.

Karen
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
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mom2goldens
Jun 3, 2016 7:48 PM CST

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I have several fixtures that use 3 T-8 bulbs, and also have a few that use 4 T-5 bulbs. I'm happy with both. I tend tend to use the T-5 fixtures for larger plants that I'm overwintering. I have a combination of cool/warm bulbs in those.

But--my T-8 bulbs are real workhorses and use all cool bulbs. In spite of that, I often have plants flower under those lights. I think the important thing is to have a good reflector. My fixtures have a nice, wide reflector, so I can put my 1020 flats 4 across on a 48" wide shelving unit. The seedlings at the outer edges still do very well. I use chains and s-clips to raise the lights as needed.

All of my fixtures are 4' long, and I keep them on 16 hours on, 8 hours off during the growing season. I grow about 1000 plants from seeds each year, and my simple set-up works very well for me.


Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
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CarolineScott
Aug 26, 2016 3:38 AM CST
I like the three tube T8 fixtures which I bought at Home Depot.
I have several of the two tube T8 fixtures too.
But as $ allow, I am going towards the three tube ones.
Name: Don Shirer
Westbrook, CT (Zone 6a)
Seed Starter
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DonShirer
Aug 26, 2016 5:54 AM CST
Caroline:
My Home Depot website lists two 3-lamp T8 fixtures by Lithonia (both unavailable!)
A "Parabolic Troffer" whose model # begins with 2PM3n
and a "2ftx4ft Multi-Volt Troffer" whose model # begins with 2GT8.
Both seem to have a plastic screen under the bulbs. If you used one of these, did you take the screen off to get more light on the plants?
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Aug 28, 2016 9:24 PM CST
Mine did not have that, but I did take any screens off the old T12s that I used for years.
Mine are from Lithonia Lighting and called " 3-light Black Diamond Plate WorkLight".
The tubes are quite close together. Model number 1243DP RE
I think that I paid $40. CDN last year, but now they are $60. CDN here.
I am watching to see if they put them on sale!
[Last edited by CarolineScott - Aug 28, 2016 9:27 PM (+)]
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