Led grow lights - how to select

i used regular 5000k 100w equivalent led light bulbs with the covers taken off. get a 4 way splitter screwed into a regular socket and hang them above your plants. also if your husband is good at electrical wiring, he could daisy chain them in rows under the shelves or make a fixture using some sheet metal so the light coverage is even. this is by far the easiest cheapest way. i don’t know what thread but someone on here posted a pic of one they made like that. t5 grow lights with 5000k bulbs are also a good cheap option for growing seedlings.


Thanks so much. That helps a lot! I will forward your advice to my husband. I am sure glad he understands electrical and construction. I can grow stuff, he can build stuff!

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Here’s one I did this year. The light fixture was about $15 and the bulbs were around $10. The light chain is those outdoor string lights that just hold regular bulbs.The cheapest bulbs I could find was from Menards. They’re the 15 watt/100 watt equivalent. Just give the globe a good twist and pop it off. The nice thing about this is you can mix the spectrum or change it if you want. I missed it. Depending on what you’re trying to grow a couple shop lights with LED bulbs or LED shoplight with built in lights work well for seed starting. They’re around $20-$25 each, but I would put two per shelf right next to the plants.


Thanks Travis. I hadn’t considered using individual bulbs. I didn’t think they would cast enough light - be able to cover the area completely, I mean. I like the idea of buying different spectrum bulbs to get a mix that way.

I started out this process thinking if we went the LED shop light route, we would need 2 per shelf, and call it good. They come in approx. 4’ lengths, so that works with our shelves. 5000K bright white, 3200 lumens, CRI 80, for $15 each at Menards looked like a good deal to me. The more I read, I became concerned the wavelength wouldn’t be good enough to grow healthy plants.

Then we thought we could maybe get better lights (full spectrum grow) for similar price if we went with LED strip lights and ‘constructed’ them to fit what we needed. It looked like we could get 4 strips for $30-40. Those ended up being out of stock.

I really appreciate your input. All of this information helps a bunch!! We should be able to make a decision and get some darn lights ordered already!

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I forgot to ask - How long and how wide are your shelves in the picture?
And what are your containers made of?

The shop lights work just fine for starting seeds. Some plants like a little more light than others. Like peppers and tomatoes I usually make sure and put them under my stronger lights. For things like cabbage and broccoli I don’t worry about it as much. I’m probably going to end up doing a rotation this year because I’m running out of space and don’t want to buy more lights!

Those are the standard wire racks you can get at Menards or Lowes. I think they’re 4’ by about 20". They fit 4 of the 1020 trays about perfectly which is why I really like them. If you watch Lowes has sales on them a few times a year. They’re around $50 on sale.

The light bulbs are rated at 1600 lumen each so that’s 16,000 lumen per shelf. I know you’re not supposed to measure light for plants with lumens, but it makes it easy to compare the standard lights IMO.

This is my third year starting plants with LED and they’ve always been healthy. I have some that are 3000k and some that are more around 6000k. They both grow fine. Peppers seem to like to put on bloom early with the 3000k. I’m not trying to grow year round, once they go outside they all need to get adjusted to the sun anyway and take off.

I’ve also made my own with the strips I listed above. Those are good too. They put off a lot of heat and will sunburn the plants if they too close. I’ve been running them half power this year and it’s going fine so far.

The containers are just plastic 1020 trays. The pots are ones that @Barkslip recommended. I’m loving them so far! If you need a tray for the whole shelf these fit perfectly. They’re out of stock now though. Giant Garden Tray The Giant Plus ones do not fit the wire shelves though.


Good. I’m glad you’re liking them. I’m liking them, too.

I had a fella say his fig roots were going into each container and it made wonder if another variety could pop up later because of. I don’t know? Otherwise, I think he liked them too. The roots they make are superior.


My peppers are doing that too. Their roots aren’t quite as intrusive as a fig though. I think you just need to space them out so they can air prune better. I’m trying to make sure they dry out plenty to almost the point of wilting before watering again. That is seeming to help dry up the roots.


Yeah, peppers, sure. I wouldn’t recommend (drying that far)_ for anything else.


for trays i use shoe/ boot drying matts instead of buying the ones specifically for seeds trays. they are only $5 for the same size at walmart. they are heavy duty also.


i grow all my plants in fabric pots that aren’t in ground. i have 3 tiben currants in 20gal. that will fruit for me in their 2nd year from a cutting. amazing growth in them. normally it takes 3 yrs. in ground before they fruit here. i saved a whole year by growing in these pots. they grew 4ft. in 1 summer!

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Great information you guys! I am more confident in spending some money on things when I hear that they actually work well for other people first. I really appreciate everyone’s input.
I am going to check out those pots. They sound cool.

Do you plant the fabric pot in the ground then? The description said you can do so… Do you need to slit the bottom or sides, or the fabric really does not constrict outward root growth when planted at all?
I wish I would have see these before yesterday! Just bought some more supplies, now I want to try these. Seems like these would be great for melons/pumpkins that don’t like to be transplanted to begin with.

This is my first year using them so I can’t really say. I do know the roots are growing freely into the tray and into some other pots so I don’t think it should be a problem. Depending on what they look like I may try and slit them before planting. The material is pretty thin. I was thinking the same for melons. I’ve never started them indoors, but may try this year since I never get them to produce.

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I’ll have to look for those. My garden center sells the 1020 that are made from really heavy duty plastic. They’re about $5 too. I think Jump Start brand. I’ve been trying to pick up a few more every year to replace the flimsy ones that break after a year or two.

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Thanks Travis. I have only tried starting melons indoors once. They didn’t transplant well. They do OK here direct seeding anyway, unless we have a cool wet spring. Then the germination can take a long time, I lose seeds to rot or critters and have to replant. I want to try starting a few pumpkin varieties indoors, so I can get them to harvest by early Oct. I guess I don’t remember for sure, but thought pumpkins were finicky as well, being in the same family.
I like the looks of these fabric pots. So glad you shared that info, thanks! :grin:

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Below is a set of photos of the lone Indian Free Peach that germinated for me from last season’s pits stored in my fridge.

The series runs from FEBRUARY 7 to MARCH 7, 2020 (today) so it is as current and as actual as you can get.

I use the 4000 K LED FLEIT brand shop lights that I picked up at COSTCO. Interestingly one is 4000 K, 4000 Lumens at 42 watts and the other 4000 K - B, 3700 Lumens at 38 watts. Maybe the ones here with electrical skills can explain.

PLEASE NOTE in the 2-13-20 & 2-22-20 photo the ruler shows the measurements in centimeters not inches.

LAST WINTER (2019) I tried to grow tomatos to fruit under the same lights. The harvest was OK but the flavor was Ehh!. I don’t know if it was the lack of intensity of the light or other factors but I did not repeat the effort this winter. See photo of those at the end .

Also attached are the labels on the units.

Hope these prove helpful


Heat is the key to good flavored tomatoes. If they mature at temps below 70F, flavor will be poor to very poor. A few varieties are exceptions and can mature decent flavored fruit down to about 60 degrees. Don’t expect much from any commercial hybrid variety. They don’t have the genetics for good flavor.

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Interesting, These were grown in a room near an outdide wall where the nightime temps were definitely under 70 and the rest of the day, if they eere above 70 then it was by a degree or two.
Temperature range never even entered my thoughts


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Interesting that this popped up as an updated topic… though the last post was back in March. I’m putting my lighting together for some indoor gardening, I’m using standard screw in LEDs (10-15W actual watts used per bulb) with dimes removed as well. I going to use vanity light fixtures to minimize the building/wiring, and to have a clean look. These are a good deal but I went with the 5 bulb fixtures myself.
Those sockets are About 6” apart, and two of those next to each other will give solid coverage.

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