Ask a Question forum: Grow lights

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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Sep 6, 2016 2:08 PM CST
I want to get a tube grow lite to start my vege seeds in november for spring planting.
Do reg florescent bulbs work ? Or do they have floresent grow lites ? I was just reading answers to another members question.
Now #!#!#! Its !!# Brain-Overload...T.M.I. !!!
Whats a T-5....a T-8 ? What do i get ?
Keep it simple. I think the teachers mind is as overloaded as mine.( T.M.I. ) Danger !
Will Robinson ! Danger !
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Sep 6, 2016 2:19 PM CST
Philip - who would have thought that choosing grow lights could be so confusing? Confused I think you'll have to decide how big a light setup you want, how long you'll be using it, where can you do the setup and how much to do you want to spend. Certainly standard fluorescent shop lights would be the least expensive option and they will get your veggies plants started and growing decently IF you keep them no more than an inch or two above the tops of your plants. Us cold-weather seed starters have to grow under lights a little longer to get plants big enough to produce in our shorter growing season and I've gone over to T5 lights for that reason.
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Sep 6, 2016 2:23 PM CST
Philip, you can get the T 5 or T8 bulbs in any big box store like Home Depot or Lowe's.
http://www.homedepot.com/b/Electrical-Light-Bulbs-Fluorescen...
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Sep 6, 2016 2:32 PM CST
I've read that. But what is this t-__ bulb ? Grumbling Confused
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
Tip Photographer Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ferns
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Gymgirl
Sep 6, 2016 2:45 PM CST
I use regular old T12 fluorescent shop lights to start my seedlings. What Shadegardener said above.

Keep in mind the T12s are being phased out, so getting bulbs will be harder. However they're cheaper. I recently bought ballasts to convert my T12s to T8s. Haven't done so yet, because this season I made some seed trays outta pallet wood and fence pickets, filled em with potting mix, sprinkled the seeds and put them outside, under my covered patio. All the seeds germinated, and all the seedlings are growing.

Didnt need a single one 'a those 16 double bulb light kits...That's 32 tubes!!! (I use two kits, side x side, or 4 lights per shelf.

If you go this route, get some concrete blocks and cheap boards to make shelves. Use eye bolts, hooks and Jack chain to suspend you're lights.

Don't spend a lotta $$ on this. You actually live in a temporate climate, and can start your seeds in trays under a shaded tree... Lovey dubby

Hugs!
Thumb of 2016-09-06/Gymgirl/1049a9

Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
Tip Photographer Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ferns
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Gymgirl
Sep 6, 2016 2:51 PM CST
Philip,
A "T"_ is just a fluorescent light tube, usually 48" long, for a light kit....

T12s are the older, fat ones, $
T8s smaller, brighter, $$
T5s, smaller, brightest, $$$$

Look up at your light fixtures at work. Those are probably T5, soft white bulbs.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Sep 6, 2016 3:19 PM CST
To really confuse you, may I suggest you get LED lights? Hilarious!

Bright Daylight bulbs cover the same light spectrum as bulbs labeled as grow lights but are cheaper. The important number is the "K" which stands for Kelvin - a measure of color temperature. You don't even want to know what that all means except that you want bulbs, whether T-8 or T-5, that are rated near 6500K.

I use a T5 light over my terrarium full of Masdevallias because T-5's give out more light with less heat (and Masdevallias hate to be too warm). T-8's will be much easier on your pocket book but do give off more heat. Don't buy T-12's - they have not been made since 2014.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Sep 6, 2016 6:35 PM CST
Philip -- here is an entry from my blog, where I've collected some info from this website (disclaimer: all of this may confuse as much as enlighten you; my short answer to your question would be yes, you can buy fluorescent grow lights, and yes, you can just use regular fluorescent lights, aka shop lights. That's what I've been using very successfully for years; but you do need to keep the lights just a very short distance from your seedlings (like, within an inch or so) and leave them on for about 16 hours ever day).

"Growing under indoor lights
Posted on Oct 30, 2014 10:28 PM
from PSA:
I start ~10,000 plants every spring under highbay fixtures with mirror reflectors and six T-8 daylight bulbs each across an 18" x 4' fixture. The larger number of bulbs reduces the drop off in light over distance, so I don't have to move them as the seedlings grow.

When I buy bulbs I look up the spectral curves for contractor boxes of T-8 bulbs and match them to the PAR charts to get an adjusted light output rating. I used to do the mixed color bulb thing, but I found that the drop off in PAR (which is the amount of light that's available for the plants to use) dropped off too rapidly with most bulbs to make a difference. Mostly I just buy the bulbs with the color temperature spectrum that I need for vegetative growth, which is on the blue side.

When I do need to induce blooming or something, I add red supplementation. I think the T-8 bulbs are the best bang for the buck right now, and the ballasts that are available today are far more efficient, even in the lowliest shoplights. Whatever you do, make sure you have daylights in the mix.

from drdawg:
There has been a lot of research that identifies which plants need what sort of light (wavelengths) and intensity to germinate, grow, and flower. Generally speaking, plants utilize two sorts of light and for discussion I will call them "red" and "blue." The wavelengths between the red and blue peaks of the spectrum are more what our eyes see. This "visible" wavelength is something like 430-660 nanometers. At the extremes are UV and infrared, and neither of these is beneficial to plants. An overabundance can cause plant mutation and even death. UV is less than 400 nm and infrared greater than 700 nm. Excess UV mutates cells. Excess infrared burns plants. (For orchid growers and many other tropical plant growers, this infrared is what "sunburns" our plant's leaves.)

The so-called "visible" light, the range that our eyes can actually see, is not really beneficial to plant growth/bloom. That means that the vast majority of incandescent lighting won't help you much.

Most plants need a good measure of both red and blue spectrums. The useful blue is 400-450 nm and the useful red is 650-700 nm. These numbers become important IF you want to use some sort of Gro-Light.

For spring and summer bloomers, during the fall our light will move gradually from the red spectrum to the blue spectrum. I'm talking about the Northern Hemisphere. As the sun gets lower in our southern sky, the blue spectrum increases. The blue triggers the plants to "change gears" from growing (vegetative) to blooming (budding). For fall/winter bloomers, just the opposite occurs. During the spring/summer, as the sun moves more overhead, there is more of the red spectrum and this triggers the plants to bloom in the fall/winter.

From RickCorey: http://garden.org/blogs/entry/93/ "
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Name: Dave
Southern wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Region: Wisconsin Lilies Dog Lover Garden Photography Daylilies
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Nhra_20
Sep 6, 2016 7:42 PM CST
Now this is an informative thread. Should be a "sticky" for every group on here from amaryllis to whatever is the last in alphabetical order lol
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee
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plantcollector
Sep 6, 2016 8:29 PM CST
Don't feel bad Phillip. I can never understand grow lights no matter how much I read about them. And I use them all winter in my storage building I just have a mixture of different kinds of bulbs but none of them are T5 or T8 I don't think.
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
Tip Photographer Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ferns
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Gymgirl
Sep 7, 2016 9:40 AM CST
Phillip,
Here's a resource in your area. I suggest you subscribe to her channel. She'll take you from A-Z on growing veggies in your climate. I believe she does have a video about growing under lights, just to stay on track with this "Grow Lite" discussion, LOL!

https://www.youtube.com/user/CaliKim29/videos I tip my hat to you.

P.S. Here is the light shelf system I use. I built it just like his, except I have four shelves. Piece 'a cake. You can even paint the shelves to match your room decor, LOL! Just make sure your shelves are deep enough so you can suspend your hanging lights evenly over all the trays. I suspend two, 2-bulb lite fixtures side x side for a total of FOUR lights per shelf. Also, lining the wall behind with the mylar or aluminum reflector sheet will help bounce more light to your seedlings. Light, light, light, is key. Keep the lights no more than 2" from the tops of the seedlings. My lights are on 16 hours per day, 7a-11p.

You can take your shelves down in the off season (mine are in dedicated grow rooms, and stay up, year-round). I do have a plan to move the bulk of the set-up into the garage, especially for the cool/cold, fall/winter seedlings that can take the chill out there. This will help me grow more seedlings, to stagger the transplanting throughout the entire winter season.

I'll still use the indoor kit to start peppers & tomatoes indoors.

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/48/ I tip my hat to you.
[Last edited by Gymgirl - Sep 7, 2016 9:53 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1265446 (11)
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Sep 7, 2016 11:24 AM CST
Hurray! Thank Y'all !!! I tip my hat to you.
I sure am nodding i asked Thumbs up
I wanted some knowledge of wanted before i put myself at the mercy of some store for info. Crossing Fingers! :grumbling:
Now im ready !
Plus +++ ! Got good ideals to. Like putting foil in back to reflect lite like
(? Gymgirl? ) said. Im gonna start spring veges in November. So i'm gonna take the foil ideal a step further and surround enclosure.top included.with some air space at bottom for air flow.and to help keep heat inside. Heck there not house plants. Many Thanks again !
nodding Hurray! I tip my hat to you.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Sep 7, 2016 1:00 PM CST
If you get the fixtures with hoods, you only need to put foil inside the hood. The light will be reflected down toward the plants.

What you are describing sounds like a solar reflector oven. I can make you a cake in one of those. Smiling
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
Tip Photographer Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ferns
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Gymgirl
Sep 7, 2016 1:05 PM CST
Phillip,
I suggest enclosing your setup on three sides with the foil/mylar sheeting: the back & the two sides. Leave the front open for EZ access for watering, tending, looking, air flow, etc. Your top will be a shelf, LOL!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Sep 7, 2016 8:52 PM CST
Gymgirl said:Phillip,
I suggest enclosing your setup on three sides with the foil/mylar sheeting: the back & the two sides. Leave the front open for EZ access for watering, tending, looking, air flow, etc. Your top will be a shelf, LOL!


I agree -- not sure what the conditions are where you will have those plants, but air flow is really important; running a fan to provide better air flow is not a bad idea. If the plants are too warm, and no air flow, they will be very weak. That said, my plant light shelves are set up out in our workshop, which stays quite cool until the weather really warms up (our furnace is in that room, but no actual heat ducts or whatever; so it stays around 50 in the coldest winter weather, and progressively higher as the outside temp increases). I do have a big sheet of plastic wrapped around the entire unit to hold in the heat from the lights when I start seeds in February, but open it partially as the temperature starts to rise.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Sep 7, 2016 10:51 PM CST
Philip,

I am curious about what kind of vegetable plants you start so early. When I lived in CA (Zone 8), my seeds were started March 1 for planting out April 1.

In Reno, I now start my seeds April 1 to plant out May 1 - 15. We got half a foot of snow at the end of March this year.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Sep 8, 2016 9:37 AM CST
Ok : Im not making bread. I know about air flow. I'm going to start seeds in spare bedroom. Depending how much heat lites put out. I may not put much or any foil around set-up.
Farmers hear in central valley direct seed tomatoes febuary. If i recall right sunset shows zone 8 and 9 cut right through fresno. USDA lists my zipcode as 8A. I looked up frost dates. I cant find my note right now.but dates were something like.
Dec 12 to jan 20. It also said. Now this date i remember.because its the important date.also the day before my sisters birthday . it said to start seeds indoors
November 28. Thank You! I tip my hat to you.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 8, 2016 10:48 AM CST
We have a basement corner full of plants every fall.
Buy extra, more than you think you will need, in advance as it can save you a goodly amount of money.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Sep 8, 2016 10:54 AM CST
In my experience, only the T5H fixtures put out a significant amount of heat. In my greenhouse, when the four T5H fixtures come on mid afternoon, the temperature rises about 10 degrees. That's pretty significant.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Sep 8, 2016 12:08 PM CST
Philip, when do you actually plan to put the tomato plants outside? I like to start mine about 6 weeks before planting, definitely no more than 8 weeks, because in my experience they get way too big to keep under the lights by that time.

For the record, my old T12 shop lights do raise the temperature significantly for my plants; when the temp in our shop is around 55-60F, the temp inside the plastic-enclosed plant shelf setup will be in the mid 70s (with four 2-light fixtures turned on).
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
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