Grow Lights

Please do, always wanted to do a build.

This seems like an area that is crying out for mass-produced all-in-one item. I appreciate the ingenuity I see here, but why?

I impulsively picked up a Ferry-Morse T-5 setup last spring on an end-of the season clearance for $28. It was still overpriced. Had one two foot long bulb and a reflector that was about 3 mils thicker than heavy-duty aluminum foil. A non-adjustable (and none too sturdy) stand.

It worked, in that I was able to stack stuff beneath a couple small small seed trays to get them close to the light and start a few tomatoes.

Honestly, in this day and age it ought to be possible to get a two T-5 adjustable setup for under $50 and have something unobjectionable looking for the house.


my father used to use plain fluorescent shop lights on home made wood stands to grow out his seedlings and they grew fabulous but he only used them for about 10days after spouting then they went into the greenhouse to be transplanted to grow some more before being put out in the garden. he kept the lights about 4in. from the plants. unfortunately , if you want to grow out a whole plant its going to take the better more powerfull leds to get it done. the sun is not easily mimicked. if you’re not putting at least $200-$300 into your lights they aren’t going to thrive. some argue much more expensive than that. even if you engineer your own cob set up, it still isn’t cheap.

For a casual home owner wanting to grow out a flat of seedling tomatoes $300 is excessive in my opinion. I can think of a million things I’d rather drop $300 on before a high end grow light. That’s just me looking at my own budget and prioritizing spending.

I purchased a 48 inch led shop light at Sam’s club that is 5000k and 4500 lumens for $36. It’s been fantastic on the flat of tomatoes I sowed. I’m sure a $300 grow light would do much better. But I think the cheap light I bought has prepared my seedling well. If I was growing weed or had a nursery that was my business I’d make more substantial investments.


Really good lights are really expensive but you get what you pay for The good ones are a little rich for my blood.

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LED technology has gotten crazy cheap and efficient in the last couple years. You can get a ready to use fixture for as little as $75 shipped or $100 if you prefer more natural looking light. Keep in mind these are VERY powerful lights that can be used to grow a respectably yielding tomato / pepper plant or provide enough coverage for 4-6 sqft of growing leafy greens / cuttings / seed starting - and unlike florescent bulbs you can hang them as high as 1-2’ from the top of your plants versus a couple inches. The final nail in the coffin is that LEDs have a lifespan of 5-10 years before they lose any significant amount of brightness/efficiency which is 2-3X longer than any fluorescent bulb.


Amazes me that some people still use incandescent bulbs for their homes… I guess in the winter they can double as a room heater! In the summer they are crazy inefficient tho, especially when you consider the cost to remove the unnecessary heat from your home via AC!


This is the third year I am trying indoor strawberry with 100% LED grow light. I think I am more experienced and getting better result. Family think this is the best tasting strawberries :joy:

from 2 weeks ago:


some early harvest:


Those berries look great! I am also growing strawberries indoors with grow lights (see post there).

Couple of questions:

  • What grow lights are you using?
  • How are you fertilizing them?
  • Are you doing any foliage pruning or managment that you wouldnt normally have to do outside?
  • LED grow light panel (mostly claimed 45W but actual wattage is ~25W)
  • GH Maxigro and Maxibloom
  • No leave management per se, only took out old baby leave. I only keep these strawberry during the winter, I do not know much about any longevity.

Your NFT system setup is quite advanced!

The DWC system on the top started about 6 weeks later than the potted ones.


Plants look healthy, how long do they keep producing? Where do you get plants in the winter and what do you do with them in the summer? I have a strong aversion to purple lights so I retrofitted cobs into my previously purple strip and panel lights. Efficiency is much higher with cobs or more modern white strips, usually. What fertilizer are you using?

BTW for those interested in build your own lights, especially in shelf configurations, Id highly recommend these and they are quite cheap right now…

175 lumen/watt of 3500k light is very good…


Thanks! It’s actually not too complicated, just a water pump, air pump, some PVC pipe and a 4x4" vinyl post as channels for the water. The hardest part was finding the correct fittings for everything and the lights since they were DIY. But these days you can buy an off the shelf light fixture that has very good performance.

I see you are/were battling fungus gnats / aphids. Any suggestions for completely annihilating them? Seems that if I miss just one or two they come right back in a few weeks.


Hi @dimitri_7a

Thanks for sharing!

for fungus gnats,
yellow sticky trap seems work well enough for me. It captures most of the gnats. not a big problem for me.

for spider mites,
I did battle with mites outbreak during my 1st year trial and I lost. They came and go never end. Once they started, I do not know how to get them under control! :frowning: However since 2nd year, i no longer have mites issue. I changed couple my practices seems works for me:

  • “Before moving outdoor plants indoors you MUST give them a good soak with an insecticide” (as you stated in another thread)
  • before season begin, I use Clorox wipes to clean the surface of grow tent.
  • maintaining humidity (RH) 50%+
  • always wash hands with soap before work on the strawberry!!
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I do not know longevity. usually only get ~4 floral canes from each strawberry plant then winter is over. I stop the experiment, when summer comes.

I attempted to build my own, but not confident enough yet! :slight_smile:

Have you checked out one of the research about green light? (I think GL will be provided a lot by 3000K or 5000K light)

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Hadnt seen that study, but ive read a fair amount about it in the past. Strip lights are easier to build than cobs in general. You dont have to worry about heat dissipation much and they are mostly plug and play as long as you pay attention to voltages and max power. From my testing, as long as strips like I posted above are secured to some aluminum strip, they can be pushed pretty hard without any issues. If you keep them at 700ma you dont even need any heatsink materials, they can be open air… My preference is for 3000k 90cri led with peak from 630 to 650 but ive seen nice plants grown with more blue and the strips are hard to find in 90cri, most are 80cri but they seem to work well also.


When I renovated my house a couple of years ago with modern recessed lighting, Phillips was making a big push into the market with the improved more natural looking A19 LED bulbs. I replaced all of the incandescent A19’s in my house (about 30 total) with LED’s and by my napkin math the bulbs have paid for themselves at least a few times over by now, esp. when factoring in heat inefficiency. I think a lot of people miss that in calculating the energy savings


Post your plants under lights! Winter is so boring…

Here is an ornamental onion I started from a bulblette this fall, its over 2ft now and seems fairly happy. Its the kind that has big purple flowers at the top when grown outdoors. Probably wont flower inside…


lee8 juneberry seedlings happy inside under led…


Quick update on indoor strawberries planted in 2018. They are in full production mode now.
Probably doing something right this year. nice looking and large strawberries.
Couple problems: fruits are heavy and they need additional support. My current setup are not easy to add such support.

there are in small pots.



hydroponics are doing fine too. flowering stage.


How deep is the tray or pot they are in?