I must not be doing this right... (Light set ups)

clumsygrdnerDecember 3, 2008

I know it's supposed to be cheaper to build a light set up for indoor sowing, but I can't seem to find a way to do it right.

By the time I add up the cost of the shelf, the light fixtures and the bulb, I'm at the cheapest spending 350 dollars. At that price I might as well order it from Burpee.

Please tell me how much you spent on your light set up and how you built it.

No wood working please. I'd like to keep all my fingers. lol

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If you're not willing to build things yourself about the only option is to try and find something and re purpose it. I made my setup with a hand built workbench, 3 4ft florescents, mylar safety blankets and a hand built light rack made from scrap lumber for about $80 all told. It's too bad it's not yard sale season. That would be a good place to scrounge the random parts needed. Then again I made mine and put it in the starage portion of my basement. You'll proabably want something that looks nice if you will have to look at it every day. If you have a medium sized closet that's unused you could probably turn it into a grow closet without spending much.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 11:28AM
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I dont know what you're trying to do for sure here? How big are we talking? At a hardware store you should be able to find a 8' by 12" shelf for about $12. Add $4 for heavy duty brackets. I'm not real sure on the cost of lights, but I'm thinking the fixture should be less than $20, and the bulb around $10. How many lights and shelves are you wanting?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 12:10PM
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It's not that I'm not willing... well, just look at my user name. I just know that no one should let me near a table saw. lol :)

I've looked at chrome and steel shelving, I'd like it to be 5-tier with casters, preferably about 36-48 in shelves. the most appropriate one is 86 dollars.

The fixtures are florescent, for T12 40w bulbs, those are 30 dollars, the others are too small to bother with others don't fit right. But the fixtures don't come with bulbs which cost about 12 dollars each. So, 30 times 4 plus 12 times at least 8 equals ouch.

I haven't found an 8' by 12 inch shelf. What kinda shelf? Free standing? Wall mounted?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 4:22PM
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A standard 4' shop light that will run t12's should only cost 9-15 dollars. The shop lights that are $20+ almost always have the digital ballast for running t12 and t8 bulbs. At least those were the prices at all of the local places I've looked at be it lowes or the local farm supply store. I managed to find a local place that had the good t12 GE full spectrum daylight bulbs for $6 a piece. Shop around a bit more I'm sure you can find someplace that sells these things at the prices I did or better. Better yet with as many lights as you want find someplace that sells them by the case. They can be had for much less in quantity.

As far as the shelving if you want one of those nice multi teared grow racks you may find them for less that $80 something, but I doubt it.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 5:45PM
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I purchased a five shelf unit from Menards for under $50. It's frame is metal and the shelves are particle board. I bought 10 sets of light fixtures at $8/each at Home Depot and brought a 12 qty pack of bulbs (I don't remember the price but less than buying individually). I just buy to cheap bulbs not the special ones and have had very good success. I attached the fixtures to the shelving unit by drilling a small how in the frame and using s-hooks. I'd say the total cost was probably around $150 and I can get 20 flats (4 per shelf) on the unit.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 11:53PM
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Wow! Melrose! I don't have a Menards, but I'm going to try to find some cheaper shelving that's for sure. I asked a restuarant owner where she got her shelves and she said at any restaurant supply place.

Thanks for your help guys, I'm going to shop around some more and hopefully find some good deals!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 6:46AM
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You might like the version I made. It's PVC pipe, so you can change the dimensions around to suit your own needs. We changed the side pieces to 20 inches (blue pieces, 14 inches in the plans) so I have more room up as they grow.

They fit the standard 4 foot shop lights so that's a plus, and you can lower and raise the lights to the right height as the plants grow. (We used those cup hooks screwed into the cross pieces instead of wrapping the chains to make it easier).

Because I didn't glue anything, I take the whole thing apart and store it for the summer and it's a peach to pop back together when I need it again come spring. And it was cheap, cheap, cheap.
I love the stupid thing!

Here is a link that might be useful: T's PVC Plant Stand Plans

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 8:35AM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

Check craigslist.com and freecycle as well. People in your area might be getting rid of things and be willing to give or sell them at a very low cost.

I have a 4 shelf chrome rack with 4' shop lights. I think the whole thing was less than $100. I use rope lights for bottom heat. I'm propagating lots of plants right now in the basement.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 10:04AM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Can you find someone to help with the wood work? My set up holds a lot of starts and didn't cost me close to your price. I used all left over materials except for the shop lights ($8 at HD) and bulbs (can't remember the cost but bought the cheapest cases at HD and they weren't too much). For enough room to hold 12 trays I think I spent about $180 and it was only that much because I packed the shop lights in as close as I could (15 shop lights total). I could definitely get away with fewer but last year I didn't even need to harden the plants off since I put them out fairly early.

Here's some starts from this spring.

Since then I added the additional shop lights to the point were they are touching and cover the trays.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 7:49AM
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go to Wallmart- 4 tier PVC shelf is $28, shop light is $9, set of 2 bulbs is $4. You can also find set of 10 lights at Menards for $15 or so. Sure, inital investment is there but I have been using it for at least 5 years and it is still there...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 9:02AM
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Thanks for the ideas everyone. :)

I posted on Freecycle and someone tried to sell me their shelf! lol

I managed to find some good shelves for not a lot of money at Lowes. I'm hoping to get the lights at HD. Like I said before we don't have a menard's nearby, but I checked the stuff at the Wal and it was just to shaky and flimsy to risk my seedlings on.

Thanks for your help! I haven't bought anything just yet, I'm hoping to save more if things go on special. :)

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 3:42PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

For starting plants in my basement I use a 4x2 folding table with 4 shop lights hanging over it. It can handle 4 trays which hold 21 newspaper pots each, so 81 plants. The table I picked up from the side of the road (someone was throwing it out, but I have seen them for about $20), the shop lights(4) were less than $20 each and I use the cheap bulbs (>$2 each). The lights are suspended using the S hooks that come with them, clothes line, and eye screws(8) and lanyards(4) in my floor joists, so I can raise and lower them individually.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 4:20AM
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I managed to get a shelf at Lowes. It was really supposed to be some sort of green house. A plastic cover came with it but I've put that aside for now. I have the shop lights ($9 each. Yay!) hanging on the shelves and it seems pretty good so far.

Thanks for all your help!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 12:14PM
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