Growing with non-tube light?

TheCakePlantMarch 10, 2014

I'm using a 60w CFL grow light with a 65w "normal" grow light for my seedlings. Both of which are about maybe 2ft above them. I hear that people like to use tube lights about 2 inches above their plants. Is what I'm doing sufficient? Should I get a tube light? At my local hardware store, they're about $40, which to me isn't that cheap. I'm worried my seedlings will get leggy, though. Any advise?

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Whether the lamps are tube or not is not really important if coverage and amount of light is sufficient. Tubes have the advantage of distributing light over a wider area, and, if your seed are not planted in a single small area, the broader coverage is needed.

Your light probably should be closer to the seedling. The amount of light is greatly influenced by the distance from the bulb (and other factors, like reflecting surfaces), so seedlings that are 2' from a light source will only receive a small fraction of the light they would receive with the same size bulb placed a few inches away.

If your seeds are planted in a small pot, could you place something under the pot to lift it up closer to the light source?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 2:25PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

How many seedlings are we talking about? 1 small tray, a couple of plants, or 4 or more trays full of seedlings? Makes a big difference.

The lights you list, if moved much closer to the plants, may be sufficient for a couple of plants or 1 small container but not for more than that.

It isn't so much the shape of the lights as the number of them and the footprint they create. But no I sure wouldn't pay $40 for a shop fixture and two 4 foot bulbs when they are available so many other places for less than 1/2 that price. Do you have a Walmart, a Home Depot, Lowe's, Menards, Target, K-Mart or any similar stores near you?

Dave

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:16PM
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TheCakePlant

The lights I described are some name-brand plant light. I have a Lowes not very far away from me. They do sell lots of lights, but no "real" plant lights except for a few small bulbs (the 65w one is the biggest thing they had for plants, last time I checked). Do typical shop lights work?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 5:14PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Typical 4' shop lights are what everyone means by "tube lights". Thousands of home gardeners use them every year to grow seedlings. You don't need the so-called "grow lights" or " plant lights".

There is a FAQ and lots of discussions here all about lights and many contain photos of set-ups.

But how many seedlings you are talking about will determine how many fixtures you will need.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 5:28PM
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TheCakePlant

Right now I have about 20 4" pots, although I have a good 20-40 ungerminated peat pellets that may not germinate for another week or two.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:01PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Then you might be able to get by with two 4' fixtures double bulbs each but 3 would be better if you can find them cheaper and more if you plan to transplant the pellets into pots too. 4" pots can use up a lot of room under lights.

Before next year, depending on how they do, you might want to do some reading here about the problems with using the peat pellets if interested.

And be sure to strip the netting off them before transplanting them.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:33PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I agree exactly with what digdirt said. I would only add (and this was what one of the other recent threads were about) that you should go for bulbs in the 4100K to 5000K range, or maybe up to 6500K. Personally, I'd go for the 5000K bulbs. These are "normal" fluorescent bulbs, but not all "normal" fluorescent bulbs have the same type of light output. The ones on the far red extreme don't put out as much useable light.

Shop around for the fixtures and don't spend a fortune on them. Reflectors help, but they don't need to be the large expensive kind. I frequently use what Home Depot calls shop fixtures (they can be suspended fairly easily and come with small side reflectors). I just checked Home Depot's site and they are just under $20 per fixture (not including bulbs).

BTW, if your seedlings will receive some outside light, you may be able to get by with just two fixtures without problems, but if not and you plan on potting up and holding the plants that are now in peat pellets, I'd go with the three fixture option.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:29PM
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TheCakePlant

digdirt, I know peat pellets are lousy but it was just cheap when I got it. I've used both seed starting soil and peat pellets to start plants, and I had success with both, but peat pellets had a stronger smell, harder to control moister levels, and, like you said, you need to take off the netting. Not perfect, but hasn't caused deaths yet. I wait until they grow out of their 4" pots (about 3" tall for peppers, and 4" tall for tomatoes) until I use soil anyway.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 6:21AM
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TheCakePlant

I checked Lowes and they do in fact have 5000k tube lights in stock, lots of them. They are actually pretty cheap, at about $6 for x2 1 inch bulbs, but the fixtures, at minimum, at about $15, and I'm not 100% if it's one that will be easy to install (not sure if they are ones you simply plug in or ones that require wiring).

The cheapest ones are 1 inch bulbs which output 2600 lumens. With a shop light with two of these side by side, will it produce enough light?

Also, when my plants get bigger, will this light suffice, or will I need to get more or a bigger one?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 6:57PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Ignore the lumens it is the K rating, the Kelvins and you want something between 4000K and 6000K. They are usually labeled "Daylight".

Lowe's website lists the Utilitech 48-in Fluorescent Shop Light Item #: 420865 Model #: MXL-101 for $11.98. Takes 2 T12 bulbs look for 4000 to 6000K T12 bulbs (they are the bigger 1 1/2" diam bulbs..

They also list the Utilitech 48-in Fluorescent Shop Light Item #: 420866 : Model #: MXL-102 for #14.98 that uses T8 bulbs (better than T12) and look for 4000-6000K T8 bulbs (they are the 1 inch diam. bulbs.

Both fixtures are hang and plug in.

You have to buy the bulbs that fit the fixture. You cannot use T8 bulbs in a T12 fixture and vice versa. (Well you can but not without doing some re-wiring so forget that.)

Dave

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 7:43PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"Ignore the lumens..."

In other words, the lumens will take care of themselves, IF you have chosen the right lights and number of lights. Since we've been talking about the specific lights and number of fixtures, the lumens are already calculated in.

"Lowe's website lists the Utilitech 48-in Fluorescent Shop Light Item #: 420865 Model #: MXL-101 for $11.98."

Wow, that is one super price! The only thing though is it appears to be black (even the reflecting surface is black). That seems like it could greatly reduce the amount of light output. I don't think I've ever even seen a black fixture before. I wonder if Lowe's is just trying to run though their inventory on these things because of the color? And, I wonder if it's really a good deal, since it's black.

I just googled and found another site that had a similar fixture with a black-light bulb in it. Maybe that was the original idea for the Lowe's fixture?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:22PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Brandon it is the T8 fixture for $14.98 that is black. But it is also available in white. The $11 one is white.

But it is a minor point. I have several black T8 light fixtures. They are only black on the outside/top/non-reflective surface, white on the inside. They work just fine.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:33PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

That is so weird. I copy/pasted the number to Lowe's site the first time and got the black fixture. I did it again just now, and got the white one.

I thought about the black fixture possibly being white on the inside, but the picture and text appear to indicate all black. Oh well, I guess it doesn't matter since I wasn't getting the right search results anyway.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:59PM
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TheCakePlant

Can these plants be placed two for each column?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 3:25PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Can these plants be placed two for each column?

Sorry, have no idea what you mean by this question.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 6:14PM
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TheCakePlant

I got a fixture that is currently holding 2 t8 bulbs, which each emit 2600 lumens. A problem, though, is that the fixture is completely black. Can I use foil or something on the inside of it to reflect light?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:33PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

CakePlant, have you considered spray painting the fixtures (at least inside) with white enamel? That seems like an easy long-term solution to me.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:03PM
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