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  • 1 Post By mauraec
  • 3 Post By pavel
  • 2 Post By Kassie
  • 3 Post By pavel

Looking for uncomplicated growlight supplements...

This is a discussion on Looking for uncomplicated growlight supplements... within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hi - I have lots of natural bright light in front of my southern sliding ...

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  1. #1
    mauraec's Avatar
    mauraec is offline Senior Member
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    Default Looking for uncomplicated growlight supplements...

    Hi -

    I have lots of natural bright light in front of my southern sliding door, but as I expand, I want to grow on some shelves to the right of the glass doors. I'm posting a picture so it gives an idea of what I'm working with. I really can't hang anything from the ceiling; I'm not into buying things on those multi-purpose auction sites; and this is an experiment, so I'd like it to be as flexible and inexpensive as possible - but I'm needing more space for my catts, and as fall draws nearer, a lot of our warm/bright-light orchids will be coming in. Any thoughts, anyone?



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    Thanks as always -


    Maura

  2. #2
    pavel's Avatar
    pavel is offline change is the only constant
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    LOL. I recognize your metal plantstand -- I use those for a shelf set up in front of my sliding glass doors.

    As to your predicament, that depends in part on how concerned you are with "appearances". The cheapest route would be to utilize 4ft shoplights with 40W T12 daylight spectrum bulbs. This will require a stand of some sort of course ......

    PVC
    You could build said stand out of PVC pipe and use either the "eggcrate" light diffusers or metal racks for the shelves. PVC is relatively inexpensive and such a stand can be disassembled for storage. PVC also has the advantage of your being able to cut the pieces to size for the number and size of shelves (two is probably the most practical), and you can, via use of connectors, add on to it at a later time. You could even spraypaint the pipes black if you wish to at least present the illusion of it being wrought iron.

    Wood
    Far more expensive but more aestetically pleasing to most people. This would require careful measuring out unless one doesn't mind spending the money to replace mistakes. Generally not easy to disassemble unless it has been carefully designed to do so. On the plus side, it can give Bigfoot something to do other than stomping on defenseless orchids.

    Storage shelves

    Thrift stores
    If you shop around at such or even haunt garage/yard sales or Craig's List, you might get lucky.

  3. #3
    mauraec's Avatar
    mauraec is offline Senior Member
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    Okay, pavel - you found me out - I actually have that particular shelving on my deck, separating my living room from the "office" area, and in front of my sliders - I like being able to move the shelves to the different heights I might need at any one time. Anyway.....


    Assume I'm stupid about setting up growlights because I have no idea what the structure(s) you're describing would look like. Bigfoot and I bought daylight spectrum lightbulbs today and put one in a generic worklight aluminum hood/clamp thing, clamped it to one of the shelving posts and turned it on the plants. Is this way too simplistic a way to think about this whole deal? What might be the drawbacks of using the single bulb(s) and some sort of clamping hood/lamp to direct the light where it needs to go? I'm sure I'm missing something, but I guess i'm so clueless about this that I don't even know what that might be

    Thanks so much for taking all the time to explain - I'll get it sooner or later - I promise.


    Maura

    PS We are the most regular customers that the local thrift stores could ever hope for - I have a hard time thinking of anything we own that wasn't "pre-owned".
    Last edited by mauraec; August 25th, 2011 at 11:47 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
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    Phillip is aka Bigfoot?

    The 4 foot wide 5 shelf high wire pantry shelf units are not hideously unattractive, allow for good airflow, have adjustable height shelves and if you sit down with the circulars from the Sunday Paper, you can usually find one on sale somewhere for under $60. Requires less actual construction skill than Pavel's pvc (my lack of efficient building skills illustrated below). I keep looking for these at the thrift places, but eventually broke down and bought new. A 4 bulb T8 shop light will run you under $50. I would not use less than this for as many orchids as you have.

    I was at roughly the same stage of this orchid disease last fall as you are now. I waited too long to get enough lights to cover everything. I started the winter in a small south window with one of those "Grow Light" single bulb 20" fluorescent things from a big box store and a clamp light with a "plant" bulb. WOEFULLY, heinously inadequate. Then I borrowed a relative's full-spectrum Seasonal-Affective-Disorder light. My plants were happy and I was SO happy, my collection quickly outgrew the light source.

    After my brain fell out trying to find an inexpensive source of T5's and/or decide if LEDs were hero or hoax, I progressed to two-bulb T8 fluorescent shoplights, eventually propping all my plants up so everything was within inches of the bulbs. This winter, my phal shelf will still have 2 bulbs, but all the other shelves will have 2 2bulb fixtures and everything will be in close proximity to the lights.

    This picture depicts the early stage of my winter lighting saga. The shelf is 3 foot, but the shop light is 4. That was OK, because the end overhung my circa-1958 green enamel butler table where I put my tallest stuff. Note the shoplight is hanging askew because I couldn't figure out how to raise my mini-catts any higher and some of them were turning deep hunter green. Also note the woeful "Grow Light" casting shadows in the natural sunlight on the phals on my lower shelf.

    This feels a little like modeling my worn-out holey underwear at a Victoria's Secret trunk show, so everyone please don't snicker too much. Maura seemed to want illustrations. It will look more put-together when my catts move back in for the winter.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    ...put one in a generic worklight aluminum hood/clamp thing, clamped it to one of the shelving posts and turned it on the plants. Is this way too simplistic a way to think about this whole deal? What might be the drawbacks of using the single bulb(s) and some sort of clamping hood/lamp to direct the light where it needs to go?
    The disadvantages to the set-up you describe:

    1) First and foremost, the light being provided will only do a couple plants any good. Light intensity falls off inversely with the square of the distance from the source. For example, let's say for that one bulb you have one plant a foot away from the bulb and a 2nd plant 2ft away from the bulb. Because you doubled the distance of the 2nd plant from the lightsource, the intensity of light that 2nd plant will receive will be only 1/4 of that the 1st plant receives. (And in reality, unless you have a really high wattage bulb, the distances you will need to use will be much less than those used in this example. Typically with set-ups like the one pictured below, plants and/or lights are placed so that the plant is only an inch or two -- give or take -- from touching the bulbs.) So, in short, that one bulb will offer no benefit for most of the plants. The longer flu. bulbs light a larger area.

    2) With the above in mind, your set-up would require a LOT of clamp lamps which would not only be more expensive in the long run, I suspect, but also look much more cluttered.

    3) With #2 in mind, think of all the cords you would need to have plugged in .....


    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    Assume I'm stupid about setting up growlights because I have no idea what the structure(s) you're describing would look like.
    The structure would simply be that of a regular shelving unit with the PVC serving as the frame of the unit and racks/diffusers serving as the actual shelves on which the plants sit. The diffusers are those grid-like things you see in the fluorescent ceiling fixtures of many offices used to diffuse the light from the bulbs. These can be found at any big hardware store. Note the stand below which happens to be made of wood:

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    If using PVC, then instead of the wooden frame seen in the example, you would used PVC pipe instead. PVC connectors would be used at the joints to connect the pipes together. To keep the shelves from slipping around, twist ties or zip ties can be used to secure the racks to the frame.

    Personally, if going on the "thrifty", I would use the T12 shoplights as pictured above instead of those for T8s or T5's. (T12 bulbs are the larger diameter standard fluorescent light bulbs, T8's and T5's each are progressively thinner.) On the stand pictured above, each level has 2 such shoplights. Each holds 2 bulbs. As opposed to being a 4ft 4 bulb T8 shoplight for under $50, each of these 4 ft 2 bulb T12 shoplights runs from $10-15. Thus still cheaper than the other type. Also, T12 bulbs are cheaper than either of the others. Also, the fact that there are two units instead of one, there is greater flexibility as to the heights of light & plant placement. Note too that part of the problem Trish mentioned with regards to trying to get some plants closer to the lights is addressed here by using pots to raise those smaller plants higher. For those who find the mishmash of pots unsightly, you can always shop around for nicer more uniform props.

    Does that help, Maura?



  6. #6
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    Pavel,
    Thanks for this info! It's helpful to me as well. I am hoping to expand my collection some day!

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