Indoor Gardening Grow Lights
Setting up Your Grow Lights for Indoor Plants
If you want a garden in the basement or any other household area, you might want to look into homemade fluorescent grow lights setups that are readily installed. Before setting up an extensive amount of light fixtures, check with the power company to see if your current electrical system can manage the extra load.
You don't need to be an electrician to set up some basic and effective units of grow lights for plants. All you need do is buy the unit complete with legs, reflector, and tubes, set it on a table, counter, or the floor. Simply plug it into any household electrical outlet, turn on the switch, and you have light or plant grow bulbs for a garden.
A pair of 40-watt fluorescents, 48 inches long, would be a great starter unit. You could easily grab hold of these since they are the same lights used to light up offices and homes. This unit would light a garden area 2X4 feet. A pair of ordinary 40-watt fluorescents, with starters and a reflector, will cost about $30. You can switch grow lights for indoor plants on and off manually, but it is advisable to buy a timer that will do the job for you. Timers cost about $15 each, and it is not strange to find three at work in a basement-lighted garden of considerable size: one to handle the lights, one for the humidifier, and one for the circulating fan. Or, you may invest in a heavy-duty timer that is able to handle a totally automatic setup.
Whenever possible, get a 15-inch reflector with the tubes and starters. Smaller reflectors are not that effective in forcing the light down on the plants. If a reflector is not available, mount the lights on a section of plywood that have been given two or three coats of flat-white, rubber-based paint for light diffusion.
Suspend the light fixture at least 18 inches from the plant table or counter. Burn the lights between 12 to 18 hours in your indoor garden daily, depending on the plants you grow. Flowering plants require more light than foliage types. Anchor stationary fixtures using chains; use pulleys for adjustable fixtures. The tubes could be a pair of the new agricultural lamps; one natural and one agricultural lamp; one daylight and one warm white; or other combinations of white fluorescents.
As your lighted indoor garden builds up you might want to add more lights. You can add single or "strip" tubes or pairs of tubes. Each 40-watt fluorescent positioned close to the other tubes adds around 150 foot-candles.
If your growing area for your indoor garden is big, consider the 74-watt, 96-inch slim line, single-pin type base tubes instead of 40-watt tubes placed end to end. The larger tubes shed an unbroken line of light while 40-watters placed end to end have a blank spot in the center growing area where the fixtures meet one another.
Fluorescent grow lights are available in 14-, 15-, 25-, and 30-watt sizes as well, but most dealers don't stock them. If you can find the growing space, don't settle for anything less than a pair of 40-watters, since they are the most economical.
How Fluorescent Lights Promote Growth and Flowering