$200 is pretty expensive for lights. I paid $27.99 for a big square one (in 2017- it looks like this particular one is more now) and $8 to $10 for a couple that you could stick into a normal light socket.
AnnaBee: no need to spend crazy money on fancy grow light bulbs for starting seeds. You can use standard T12 / T8 / T5 fluorescent bulbs. Just get two ‘colors’ such a 5000k and 3000k <— basically mix and match different color fluorescent bulbs.
3K is for flowering, so I only use 5K (perfect for vegetative growth). Mine are for plants, but I agree you don’t need them. Mine are also, well one fixture is not HO (High Output) it is VHO (very high output) you could easily grow hemp under them all year. Much brighter than regular T5 HO bulbs. It’s like the sun, hard to look at. I started these figs under them. They too could grow year round under these lights. All the same LED would be easier. When the ballasts go bad I will replace with LED
for seedlings those lower powered ones are great but if you want to grow and fruit under them you need more watts.
I think the low power lamps are fine for seedlings and baby greens, but they need to be too close to the plants to be useful for much else. 225 LEDs sharing 45W is pretty weak for fruiting anything taller than 1 foot.
LED’s need to have more than 1.8j/w to be more efficient than T5s and you need to add in the watts if they have fans. So the cheap ones are not better than a cheap T5 with a decent blue bulb.
seeing t5s fixtures and mid priced LEDS are about the same price id go with the LEDs for electricity savings and longevity. bulbs go quick in t5s and you have to keep them pretty close to get the light to the plants. with my LEDs i start at 30in. away and let the plants grow up to them. the tops will tell you when to move the lights as they will start to bleach out. then move them a few feet away again. this is for growing full sized plants to fruiting.
The Heath Cling (and most of the other peaches too) in my yard has a very sparse crop. The one at a rental about 4 miles SE from me is loaded. I thinned the lower branches, but didn’t have a ladder with me for the top. Maybe I should just cut the top branches off next time I am there, as it would be far easier to manage.
I guess that is the difference between 5 miles from the water (Long Island sound) and 2 miles. The rental is also near the top of a hill, so it has good sun and air drainage.
Time to move.
If it was going to be that big a difference each year, I would think about it!
I think this year was just on the line though, so 2 degrees colder and both sites would be impacted and 2 degrees warmer and both would be fine. But, I’ve only had the property for 1 full growing season, so I’ll be watching to see if this is a long-term trend.