Ask a Question forum: Suggested Plant Lights?

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Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
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ljones26
Jul 6, 2016 5:56 AM CST
Hello all,

While I am home from school, it is difficult to get all my cacti and succulents the proper amount of light they need. I have a really cool ladder book shelf with many of my plants on it, and I think my plants would really benefit if I bought a plant light for every shelf (4). Any suggestions? Nothing too too expensive since I would have to buy 3, and preferably something that would attach to the top of each shelf.

Any suggestions? Thank you!
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jul 6, 2016 12:40 PM CST
Lindsey - if you want to keep your expense minimal, you could look into fluorescent shop lights. They come in 2 ft or 4ft lengths and most will accommodate two fluorescent bulbs. They usually come with chains for hanging. When buying bulbs, get the highest lumens rating you can afford. The tops of plants can be within a couple of inches of a fluorescent bulb without burning. But the bulbs often need to be quite close to the plants. The lights should be on for around 16 hours per day minimum. You could check out the houseplants forum for additional information on lighting.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jul 6, 2016 1:54 PM CST
Yep, I agree with Cindy. Shop lights with 6500K tubes.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
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
Jul 6, 2016 7:27 PM CST
I agree. Florescent lights are the best value considering purchase price and efficiency. And "shop lights" (long, striaght tubes) are the cheapest form of fluorescent.

For efficiency (more light for less electricity), T-5 fluorescent tubes are usually a little more efficient than T-8s, and MUCH more efficient than T-12 tubes. But T-5s are still rather expensive to buy, so T-8s may be the "sweet spot" for buydget -vs.-light intensity.

LED lights are claimed to be much more efficient than any fluorescent to RUN. But they are much MORE expensive to buy. Wait a few years before investing in LED lights for plants. Some of the cheap LEDs now sold are said to have poorly balanced resistor networks, which makes some LED elements burn out very early.

But what is CONVENIENT for book-case shelves? Maybe clamping a "CFL" fixture onto each shelf, aimed at the shelf below it? "CFL" or "compact fluorescent light" bulbs have a thin white glass tube wrapped up like a twisty pretzel into a light-bulb-shape. I'm pretty sure they are less efficient than a shop light. But they may be convenient for your setup.

If you go with CFL bulbs, you'll need cheap clamp-on fixtures, so check out Goodwill or Salvation Army or especially Habitat For Humanity "Restores". Buy the most powerful bulbs you can afford (the most lumens).

If you Google "clamp-on cfl grow light", you will see many, but those are priced for the indoor "recreational drug" grower. Expensive. For example: http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/lights.shtml
Lots of lumens, but LOTS of dollars!

If you can find the same gadgets at Harbor Freight, intended for backyard mechanics, they may be cheaper. I can't browse most of those "indoor hydroponics" sites from work!

Target calls it a "clip lamp" and is cheaper than some.
Room Essentials Clip Lamp - Black (Includes CFL Bulb)
Room Essentials ... $12.99 - Target

Wal-Mart has a NICE clamp with big reflector for only $6.28, bulb not included ... but it seems designed for incandescent bulbs. I would think that a modern CFL bulb, with its own built-in ballast, would also work.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Bayco-8.5-Clamp-Light/14003467

P.S. Ignore hype about "grow bulbs". A cool blue bulb is fine for most applications not involving flowering. For the same price as a "white" bulb, you'll get a "grow light" only 1/3rd as bright. You would need three of them to equal the brightness of one white bulb. If something about weird-colored bulbs with high prices appeals to you, consider: plants mostly just need lots of photons. Indoors, it is always too dim for them. When they don't get enough brightness (photons, or lumens), they are just plain unhappy. The idea of "a little more blue" or "boosted reds" is more suited to washing white and colored fabrics than to growing plants. They just want bright, reasonably balanced, light!

If you are tempted to spend three times as much for a pink-purple "grow light", instead just buy a "white" bulb with three times as many lumens. Or two fixtures with white bulbs. The plant will be 2-3 times as happy, or you can position the bulbs twice as far away and still keep the plant happy.

I never turned this blog entry into an article because I couldn't find reliable spectra to prove the point. If you click on it, you'll have to page down or go to the "second page" to find the entry on fluorescent tubes.
Also, I see that all the "carriage returns" have disappeared, so it's hard to read.
http://garden.org/blogs/view/RickCorey/?offset=5

"But don't spend money on "spectrum" at the expense of brightness. Brightness (intensity) is more important, and it comes from lumens, plus closeness to the plants, plus good, clean reflectors. I plan to continue using one cool blue and one warm red tube to cover both ends of the spectrum at least cost, greatest efficiency, and better bulb lifetime.

Broad spectrum "grow-tubes" (tri-phosphor coatings) are a little different from color. Broad spectrum tubes have tri-phosphor coatings to "spread out" narrow spectral peaks. They have a more uniform distribution of intensity all across the spectrum, instead of sharp peaks and low valleys.

I've read that really expensive grow-tubes are just moderately expensive "broad spectrum" tubes that were re-labeled with marketing claims.

Both broad spectrum and grow-tubes are less efficient, more expensive, and don't last as long as regular tubes. It's debatable whether broad spectrum tubes do any better for seedlings at all.

I believe that chlorophyll absorbs it all and turns it all into energy (except for the narrow green band that makes plants look green). But there may be seedling subtleties that I'm unaware of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamp#Color_temperat...

See "Phosphor composition" .
Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
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ljones26
Jul 6, 2016 7:31 PM CST
Wow!!!! Thank you so very much that was extremely helpful thank you so much!!!!!!!
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jul 6, 2016 7:44 PM CST
Anything with 6500k or more is good no matter the 'color'.

I ordered this at the beginning of June:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AKKUNIY/ref=oh_aui_sear...

I love it! I have it over a terrarium full of sun loving orchids. They are happy, happy, happy. A little pricey but I suspect worth the price. They daisy chain so you could hook multiple lights together.

Daisy

Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jul 6, 2016 8:09 PM CST
Lindsey, keep in mind that 6500K does in no way relate to lumens. I would not worry about the lumen factor.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jul 6, 2016 8:18 PM CST
K = Kelvin

You can look that up and be REALLY confused... Or look for the little 'k' with the number in front (always in small print) and believe us when we say at least 6500k. Smiling
Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
ljones26
Jul 6, 2016 8:49 PM CST
Thank you all so very much! (:
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jul 7, 2016 6:26 AM CST
Typically, 6500K is about the max you'll find. Getting much higher than that will get you in the UV range, and area you don't want to go. This article I published on NGA/ATP might be helpful, Lindsey. http://garden.org/ideas/view/drdawg/1639/

You can also use the (more standard) 4500K fluorescent tubes or a mix of the two spectrums in a 2-tube, shop light. The 4500K will help more with flowering whereas the 6500K will help more with plant growth. But this is not an exact science. Plants will grow under 4500K lamps and will flower under 6500K lamps. Have I confused you enough? Whistling
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
ljones26
Jul 12, 2016 9:44 AM CST
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GR68U5C/ref=ox_sc_act_t...

Opinions?
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
Jul 12, 2016 11:14 AM CST
"10 Watts"

It is pretty low power. I see T5 and T8 tubes that produce 825 or 850 lumens from 13-15 Watts of electricity. They say that LEDS are much more efficient than fluorescent tubes, so maybe it is more practical than I thought at first.

"Irradiated area: 1 square meter. " - very small, like a spot-light.

"great for supplemental lighting. This LED Light helps provide an enrichment support for plants ..."

Intended to ADD some light to a setup that already has almost enough light.

>> Wattage: 10 Watts
>> "Actual Power: 5W(saving your energy) "

I would love to know what that means.

After I saw all the text about "spectrum" (a negligible concern) , then saw them contradict themselves about the second most important stat (power consumption), and never even mention the MOST important stat (light output in lumens or brightness), I thought "this is not a company I would buy from".

But who knows? If it is lots more efficient than T5 or T8 tubes, it might put out about half as much light as a shop fixture costing around the same amount. If you want some spot lighting and have other light sources, it might be useful.

But I have a stubborn prejudice against someone selling a light and NOT saying how many lumens it puts out. Like a gas station that will sell you designer gas and rave on and on about how good the gas smells, but won't tell you how many gallons you got.



Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
ljones26
Jul 12, 2016 11:52 AM CST
Thank you so much!!!!! That was extremely helpful. I was trying to see how many lumens also and I thought that it was odd they didn't mention the amount...
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jul 12, 2016 3:33 PM CST
I would never say that spectrum is of negligible concern, Rick. Also, I can assure you, LED's, even the very, very low wattage ones, are far more expensive than a typical "shop-light", particularly if you figure in the amount of (usable) light available from each. My T5H (or HO, same thing) produces many times the same usable light (we are talking lumens here) as an LED of the same cost. I have tried them all, you name it, and have been greatly disappointed in my LED lights. Though they are supposed to last longer, in my experience, they do not. I had every single one of my 18" LED fixtures die at approximately 1 yr. Those were the largest I could find that were water-proof, something that I must have because of these lights positions.

I have never had a truly "powerful" LED simply because they require a fan to cool them. Apparently, they generate a lot of heat and must have internal fan-cooling. Thus, they can't be used in wet conditions. They are also extremely expensive compared to my T5H, six-tube fixtures.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
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
Image
RickCorey
Jul 12, 2016 3:37 PM CST
I just hope that being a skeptical curmudgeon myself doesn't turn you off to something that (I guess) is good for certain applications.

But "10 Watts, or maybe 5 Watts" and NO mention of lumens suggests that they didn't want to advertise it as a "pitifully dim little light".

I would think that a "clip lamp" could be as inexpensive or cheaper, and then you could pick any CFL bulb including bright ones.

Sometimes they hint at the brightness (Lumens) from a CFL by citing the wattage an incandescent bulb WOULD need to be AS bright as that CFL.

Like a CFL may say "60 Watt equivalent" because it puts out as many Lumens as a 60 Watt incandescent (870 Lumens) but the CFL actually only uses 13 watts of electricity to create that many Lumens.

A "100 W equivalent" CFL only uses 23 W of electricity but produces 1600 Lumens.

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
Image
RickCorey
Jul 12, 2016 4:32 PM CST

I totally agree that LED lights are still too expensive to compete with T5, T8 or T5-HO.

I've heard that LEDs from China often have an "early death" because their resistor networks that deliver a little power to each "pixel" LED are poorly balanced. Then some "pixel" LEDs die early, and the whole thing runs hotter, then the whole thing dies years before it "should have died", had it been well built.

But of course, everyone likes to bash Chinese imports when they are obviously cheaper. In this case, I believe the bashers.

Will it be 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years before LED lights put T8s and T5s out of business?


drdawg said:I would never say that spectrum is of negligible concern, Rick. ..


I guess for flowering under all-artificial light, that's true. And some VERY unbalanced light source, (? maybe like sodium vapor bulbs?), can encourage elongation. I should qualify what I said.

For starting seedlings and growing-on plants to be transplanted, spectrum matters little as long as there is SOME red-end and SOME blue-end, such as "daylight white" or mixed "cool" and "warm" tubes. Countless seed starters proved that by paying no attention, or just using "some of each" in their setups, and still getting vigorous seedlings. They seem to agree that intensity/brightness matters a lot.

That's not the same thing as "spectrum is of negligible concern". More like, "it's easy to get a spectrum that's as good as any for vegetative growth using the cheapest fluorescent tubes, as long as you avoid all-one-extreme color".

Maybe flowering requires a little more attention ... and some species might be fussier than I know.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jul 12, 2016 5:18 PM CST
It can be a balancing act, using artificial light as the sole or major source of light when growing plants. If money were no object or the price obtained selling said plants was huge (think marijuana), a huge greenhouse lighted with powerful, high wattage LED would perhaps be the way to go. For me at least, growing mostly orchids in my greenhouse, T5HO gives me the most bang for the buck. But I only use those lights to supplement winter-light. I still have natural light in both greenhouses. I probably am not your typical grower.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
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
Image
RickCorey
Jul 12, 2016 6:42 PM CST
Over-wintering orchids and keeping them happy and willing to bloom sounds challenging and unusual to me!

For merely starting seedlings a few times per year, I would get 4-foot T5 fixtures if they were on sale, and otherwise T8 or T8-HO, if they sell such things without big markups. Mainly to keep the original purchase price as low as possible.

Right now I only have (blush) a pole lamp with three relatively high-wattage CFL screw-in bulbs. It's what I had on hand, needing no mounting.

Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jul 12, 2016 8:21 PM CST
I did not know that there was a T8-HO fixture. I went away from t-8 fixtures long ago. Not nearly enough lumens for my needs. You know that you cannot use T5-H tubes in a T5 fixture or T5 tubes in a T5-H fixture, right?

When growing any plant with or without artificial light, there is always a learning curve. I have been growing tropical plants for over 40 years. I am still learning. Whistling
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
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
Image
RickCorey
Jul 13, 2016 4:07 PM CST
>> You know that you cannot use T5-H tubes in a T5 fixture or T5 tubes in a T5-H fixture, right?

I know to triple-check the fixture manufacturer's specs, and still be skeptical. But it makes sense that they would not put in any more powerful a ballast than they need to.

Sometimes I read about people "over-driving" a ballast. Then I read someone's claim that the risk of fire was not AS great as others were saying. Snort! Thumbs down

That is not something I yearn to to research at home, to narrow down just HOW dangerous it is.

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