Author Topic: building grow lights for seed starting  (Read 25174 times)

Offline Cedar

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2015, 09:48:41 AM »
I will post pics of my seed starting racks tonight. The lights I have used for 10+ years are cheap aquarium full spectrum lights and last year, I got two expensive ones for plants.

Cedar

Offline digitalartranch

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2015, 01:08:22 PM »
That would be great @cedar - looking forward to it.  I haven't finalized my plan just yet. 

Offline cohutt

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2015, 05:47:37 PM »
Couple years ago I built an insulated reflective box and it works unbelievably well; this is what ilooks like with the top and front off of it:



That's an over-sized speedling tray on the left- the dimensions allow 4 standard trays like the one on the right


http://cohutt.com/2012/02/09/i-cant-go-to-jail-for-tomato-seedlings-can-i/
http://cohutt.com/2012/04/10/the-easy-bake-seed-starting-oven/

Offline Cedar

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #33 on: January 08, 2015, 07:45:09 PM »
This is the newest one that Z, SP and I built it in an hour or so, out of 1x2"'s. We built this one last year and we will likely build another one this year, one of these days. This rack alone will hold 1,080 cells. I don't use the top tier, as I cannot reach. It usually holds empty trays. It will be nice to have one more. I have a metal 3 tier one I have used since 2000 and used it in my apartment when I was first up in Canada.

Yesterday I was just starting to rearrange the lights, I don't have them on all tiers yet, so I don't have them nicely bundled up yet. There is nothing planted in them yet.





I guess I ought to have pulled out a tray. There are 2 'beams' under the flats to hold it in place. I don't like solid 'floors', as I think it lets the heat up better. I have the room at 63F right now for the last two days.

Cedar

Offline ResidentCelt

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2015, 10:10:42 AM »
Cedar, what is your growing medium? Regular potting soil? Homegrown potting soil?

Offline Cedar

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2015, 10:12:53 AM »
Cedar, what is your growing medium? Regular potting soil? Homegrown potting soil?

Both... and seed starting soil. I should mix some more rabbit poo in it this year, since this is recycled.
It usually depends on where I am, what is available and what is too frozen.

Cedar

Offline digitalartranch

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2015, 12:17:49 PM »
excellent set ups!  Thanks for sharing photos.

@cohutt I actually found your easy bake blog entry while researching... I like this set up a lot!

Offline PorcupineKate

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2015, 01:06:17 PM »
I built my seed starting set up out of a 74" x 48" x 18"  metal shelving unit.   We got ours a Lowes on Black Friday a couple of years ago.   
http://www.lowes.com/pd_71034-80752-184874C-DS_0__?productId=3473479&Ntt=metal+shelving+units&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dmetal%2Bshelving%2Bunits&facetInfo=

I set it up with 2 shop lights per shelf.  They are the T8 size and I put 6500k daylight florescent bulbs in them.  They are on chains except the very top shelf where the lights just sit on the shelf.




 This photo is from the old house.  This year I am setting it up in the new house next to a second one  so I am doubling my seed starting space.   We are also going to put in a cold frame and I will be shifting flats out there as the season progresses.  I have the lights on timers so I don't have to think about turning the lights on and off.

I will post an updated photo once it is up and running.


Offline cohutt

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #38 on: January 10, 2015, 07:18:20 AM »
excellent set ups!  Thanks for sharing photos.

@cohutt I actually found your easy bake blog entry while researching... I like this set up a lot!

thanks
The temperature in the "basement" during the time I'll have seedlings down there can be anywhere from maybe upper the 30s to 60, so the insulation helps the mat's thermostat regulate the temp pretty consistently. I vent it just a little at all times by leaving the front panel slightly askew.   If I don't get distracted in the next 3 weeks I intend to run a spur line for watering  from the well pressure tank in the back of the basement so that I'm not carrying watering cans in and out.

Offline Papijoe

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #39 on: January 10, 2015, 05:32:09 PM »
Great thread. Looking at a similar set up to PorcupineKate's. Based on this and some other threads I've seen as far as fluorescent lighting, T 8 is more efficient than T 12, 6500K is optimal, as is four tubes per tier. Does that sound right?

Also does wattage matter? I've seen both 32 and 40 watt in the 48" tubes. Thanks!

Offline PorcupineKate

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #40 on: January 12, 2015, 01:16:38 PM »
Great thread. Looking at a similar set up to PorcupineKate's. Based on this and some other threads I've seen as far as fluorescent lighting, T 8 is more efficient than T 12, 6500K is optimal, as is four tubes per tier. Does that sound right?

Also does wattage matter? I've seen both 32 and 40 watt in the 48" tubes. Thanks!

Go with a bulb with higher lumens.  It will be brighter.

Offline mxitman

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #41 on: January 12, 2015, 05:00:17 PM »
The lights I use are T5, harder to find but really intense I only need one light for a 4'x8' table... I think the T8's are better for the stacked approach...

Offline strangetanks

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #42 on: January 12, 2015, 05:50:00 PM »
My wife and I start all our seedlings mid february. We're zone 7.  I know its like anything else and there are plenty of opinions.

My philosophy has always been as simple and cheap as possible.  Best system I have found is one of those bathroom vanity light fixtures that takes 4 or 5 or 6 incandescent light bulbs in a row.  Take that and screw in thw Y light bulb connectors in each one so a single socket can take 2 bulbs.  Fill it with regular compact flurescent bulbs and rig it to hang as close as you can above your seed starting stuff.  Throws off enough heat to warm things but not enough to cook you dirt.

Cheap, easy to change the amount of light.  Works like a charm.

Offline strangetanks

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #43 on: January 12, 2015, 05:55:13 PM »
Oh by the way on the topic of flourescent bulbs. The grow light bulbs are all marketing, dont spend extra money on them. 

Offline Zone 3

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #44 on: January 24, 2015, 10:23:11 PM »
Hi... The seeds don't have to be started in the garage, or anywhere it is cold. I start mine on a TV tray behind my wood stove. No wood stove? Could be top of refrigerator or propagating mat (doesn't use much juice), or any place that is 75 to 80 degrees. I start mine in Zip-lock plastic sandwich containers or any other shallow container that fits your need with lids on loosely or with holes melted w/hot screwdriver to vent. You also need a few holes for drain.  If you don't have lids plastic wrap or cut bread bags would work to hold the moisture in. Put in damp milled sphagnum , coconut coir, vermiculite, or perlite (aka. steril growing media) to depth of 2 inches. Keeping each kind to one container so as not to mix, sow your seeds w/tweezers about a half inch apart all ways. Cover loosely w/about a quarter inch of media and tamp. Water good w/sprayer, cover w/lid or plastic. Put in a constant warm spot 75 to 80. At 80 degrees, probably 4to 8 days depending, they will start to sprout. When they have their second set of leaves, or the first set after the seed leaf, you transplant to pots. This prosess is called "pricking out". Then I take 12oz. or 16oz. plastic cups (most plants 12oz.) & put holes in the bottom with a hot ice pick heated with a propane torch outside. Fill w/potting soil, tunk on table a couple times to fill within 3 quarters of an inch of the top. Make a hole in center w/a kitchen spoon handle, take ahold of a seed leaf, pull while taking an ice pick or smal wire and loosen the soil around the plant at the same time. Holding on to the leaf, lower the root into the hole making sure the root is going down. Water the soil in. I usually set in a pan of water before it goes to the light.
 

Offline Zone 3

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #45 on: January 24, 2015, 11:53:26 PM »
My grow lights have always been in my house or at my camp (cabin) which has never been that warm that time of year(65-75 degrees), just ask my wife. One year I was a little premature with some squash and had blossoms. I have always used 4- four foot T-8's ( any light will start if a plant will grow there) in 2 shop lights side by side fixed to a pole that adjusts with a hole and pin rig, so you can get the lights down to as close to the plant as possible. Because if you don't use new bulbs every year and get them as close as you can ,the plants will be leggy. This year I'm going to purchase 2 T-5 light fixtures w/4 bulbs, one fixture per stand. You can get them with 2,4,6,and 8 bulbs in alum. fixtures, 10 ft. cord. T-5's are supposed to be real good for plants. Can even grow to fruit. Low energy usage, bulbs last years. They have come down in price from around $200.00 to $150.00 ea. In the long run, if you can afford it, I think it's the best bet. Lasts longer, more economical, and preforms better, covers a good area (20X48). Also more user friendly, because that fixture is sweet! Some are metal, some are alum. Both that I looked at was powder coated. They also can be daisy chained. The halogen lights are expensive for the area they cover. I have money that a place I do lawn maintenance on the side owes me and with the money I'm going to get two 4 bulb fixtures and let you know what I think. I grow all my plants, because a lot of diseases, and bugs come from a greenhouse. I'm pretty sure I got soil nematodes one year that way. I would like to have a greenhouse, but I would still want the lights. I messed around with shop lights (T-8's) for years and if these T-5's work I'm going to have a camp full. Maybe in my basement too! Hope this helps. Any questions I can try to answer shoot me a line. Zone 3.



Offline Papijoe

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #46 on: January 25, 2015, 07:54:20 AM »
Great info on the T-5s Zone 3

not sure if they'd be a budget-buster but I'm going to check them out and see if I can work them into my set up

Offline never_retreat

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #47 on: January 25, 2015, 11:25:35 AM »
Sorry the pictures are not that great. There is not a lot of room right there.
Here is the main area. Its 4' deep and 6' wide. I usually have 5 4' 2 lamp t8 fixtures up. One is down right now. I stole it for somewhere else in the basement. The table area is about 2 feet off the floor. There is a very bottom shelf for storage. The whole thing has wheels on it. Its about 6' tall all together. It fits under a low area because of the duct work.
The hot air furnace is right behind it. So I can roll it forward to get to it. This is in a storage room with the furnace so it stays a bit warmer. There is no door yet to the rest of the basement but I have plastic to hang over the opening.



And here is a detail of the system, Eye hook front and back. Para cord up and over to the lights. Just pull them up and down as needed.

Offline painless

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #48 on: February 14, 2015, 09:20:52 AM »
Here's my temporary  set up.  A 10 dollar shop light from walmart, and a set of these thingys I found in the Camping department from the same walmart.

[

Cost about 7 bucks.  You can pull the line and lock it anywhere you need it.



The great thing is that it hangs right above my workbench.  When I am not using it as a grow light, I simply pull it up to the ceiling, and it becomes my workbench light.

Offline gopack84

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #49 on: February 14, 2015, 01:54:41 PM »
Nice setup.

I'm of the "use a cheap 4 foot tube fixture" option to start with and go from there mindset. Too many people don't do anything because they analyze their setup to death and hold off until they can afford "the best". The best is going to give you a probably single % to maybe 10-15% increase over just a cheap new 4 foot standard shop light. Doing something, anything, will give you an infinite increase over doing nothing and the cost is minimal. Heck, sometimes you can get this stuff for free and your only cost is the bulbs. Back in college we were able to scavenge fixtures and ballasts from a dorm remodel out of the junk pile outside the building. Most of the fixtures worked as is. The few that didn't we could swap parts from others until they did. At least you'll be getting practice on the non-light aspects of seed starting and when you eventually upgrade the lights all the better.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #50 on: February 14, 2015, 01:55:25 PM »
Grow lights are looking good. 

I'm hoping that they are so far off the plants for the pictures.  You want to keep them down where it's only an inch or 2 from the top of the plants. 

Offline painless

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #51 on: February 15, 2015, 03:01:33 AM »
Grow lights are looking good. 

I'm hoping that they are so far off the plants for the pictures.  You want to keep them down where it's only an inch or 2 from the top of the plants.
The lights are actually about 2 inches above the top leaves.  Don't worry about them 'maters.  I am in Texas. (about 2 hours south of Jack.)  They spend most days outdoors, under nature's grow light.  They'll be in the ground next week.

Offline Papijoe

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #52 on: April 06, 2015, 07:01:51 PM »


Finally!

Two trays of micro/baby greens, some goji,Roma tomatoes, habaneros, pole beans, broccoli, and tulsi/holy basil

Not too ambitious this year due to listing the house...

Offline Papijoe

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #53 on: April 08, 2015, 08:38:11 AM »
How long do you folks leave your lights on each day? I heard 18 hours somewhere but haven't been able to find the source reference

Offline DDJ

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #54 on: April 08, 2015, 10:43:51 AM »
I followed the same basic outline as others.  2 Simple 4Ft fixtures.  I made a frame out of PVC pipe (note watch for the ability of the couplings to rotate and cause issues as you decide which to glue and which to Dry fit).  Cover it with plastic sheet and you are good to go on any 4 foot surface. I then built a plywood box to store it in when not in use. 


I have some detailed pictures of the orgional version posted on Flickr in the  link below.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimisod/sets/72157624445752072/with/5402813181/

Offline Charlie17

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #55 on: April 08, 2015, 01:11:21 PM »
Anybody using LED grow lights to start seeds and grow them out till its time to plant them outside?

Offline Papijoe

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Re: building grow lights for seed starting
« Reply #56 on: April 11, 2015, 07:54:02 AM »
Greens are looking good!



Tried some left over seeds from last year but so far only the beans and a couple of gojis have germinated
« Last Edit: April 11, 2015, 07:59:25 AM by Papijoe »