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Fluorescent lights

This is a discussion on Fluorescent lights within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Over the weekend, I bought one of those black 4-shelf carts that ncclimber and Liz ...

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  1. #1
    orchid_fan's Avatar
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    Default Fluorescent lights

    Over the weekend, I bought one of those black 4-shelf carts that ncclimber and Liz recommended. I'm ready to attach some fluorescent lights and would love to get some advice. The shelf is 36 inches wide, and I was wondering if I should get 36 or 48 inch light bulbs. I noticed that most people who use fluorescent lighting use 40 watt bulbs. The 36 inch bulbs only give off 30 watts. Of course, since the shelf is only 36 inches wide, asthetically it would be nicer to use a 36 inch light fixture. Would 30 watts be sufficient for growing paphs? I'm planning on using 4 lights per shelf, as recommended by several of you.

    Hope I didn't make this too confusing. I'm not very adept at using technical terms when it comes to lighting.

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    Nancy, just my guess, but I'd go with the 36" lights. Whatever slight reduction in light would be offset by the increased asthetics, in my mind. I'm going to have to add lights to my shelf soon, so I'm curious to hear what anyone else has to say. Do you like the shelf?
    Liz

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    I have limited experience with fluorescents (used them a long time ago). I think four 36" bulbs would be fine for most paphs, as long as you get the full-spectrum ones and a good fixture that reflects most of the light downward. The high-light multiflorals may be trickier--you may have to put them very close to the lights to get them to bloom. But for Maudiae-types, fluorescents should work very well (the plants may have to be moved when they come into spike).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jmoney
    I have limited experience with fluorescents (used them a long time ago). I think four 36" bulbs would be fine for most paphs, as long as you get the full-spectrum ones and a good fixture that reflects most of the light downward. The high-light multiflorals may be trickier--you may have to put them very close to the lights to get them to bloom. But for Maudiae-types, fluorescents should work very well (the plants may have to be moved when they come into spike).
    Thanks Jason! I have a few Maudiae-types, but I also have several multiflorals (mostly with primulinum as a parent) and some phrags. I was planning on putting all the plants around 6 inches below the bulbs. Is that close enough?

    I'm going to be ignorant here and ask, what are "full-spectrum" lights? Ncclimber mentioned that he uses a warm and cool light per fixture and I was thinking of following his lead. Are there specific bulbs I should look for?

    Liz, I really like my shelf (except for the fact that it's 36 inches wide instead of 48 inches.) I bought it at Target, and it didn't cost very much at all. Thanks for your suggestion!

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    Hi Nancy,

    By multifloral, I meant the simultaneous types, i.e. roths, philippinense, etc etc. primulinum & the other sequential multiflorals will prefer much lower light, i.e. right in with the Maudiae types.

    Regarding light, I know people who mix warm & cool fluorescents with good results. But they have a myriad of "full spectrum" bulbs that are supposed to mimic the sun's spectrum. Even boxstore has had at least 1 or 2 varieties, and I last use fluorescents 5-6 years ago. I think these are better overall for the plants, but they are not required for success. If I recall, they were about 6-8 bucks per 24" tube.

    If you have four 36" bulbs, I might keep Maudiae types 10 inches or so from the lights. Things like roth hybrids or other simultaneous multiflorals might appreciate being 4-6 inches from the tubes. Also keep in mind that the center (middle) of the bulbs have significantly greater light output than the ends. And you can compensate for overall lower light intensity by increasing the hours. Way back when, I used 16 hours of light during the summer and maybe tapering to 12 in the winter.

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    Thanks Jason. I remembered that you gave those exact same time suggestions in another thread, and I was going to just follow your lead. I think what I'll do is make another trip to the hardware store and see what's available. My plan was to affix lights to just one of the shelves, test it out for a few days and snap some pics to share with you all for feedback. I'll check out the full-spectrum lights you recommended. Thanks again!

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    I do use cool and warm bulbs, but also have two full spectrum bulbs in my fixtures to make sure that I provide the orchids with everything that they need to grow.
    Also, I agree with what Jason saiid in that additional "daylight" hours will help you achive blooming and make up for less light intensity. I currently run my lights 16 hours, altough I have begun cutting the light back by 15 minutes every 2 weeks to make the plants think that fall is comming on. the reduction in "daylight" duration will make some orchids set buds and produce spikes. Hope that helps. Good luck with the new setup! make sure you post some pictures when you get your cart setup.

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    Default Shelf in front of window?

    I understand, that if you place your shelf in front of a window, you don't have to worry. The light that comes in, will provide for any difference in the spectrum .

    Sterling

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    Thanks to everyone for his/her input. Ncclimber...can you please clarify something for me? I plan to have 2 light fixtures per shelf, and 2 bulbs per fixture. What kind of bulbs do you suggest? Would you recommend 2 full spectrum lights, 1 cool and 1 warm? Thanks!

    By the way, the shelf will be in front of a east facing window so the plants will still get some natural light. As Sterling pointed out, will this affect which bulbs I need?

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    Hmmmm. I am hinking....Why 40 w bulbs? How much money do you have to spend? Are you getting cheap fixtures? Some of the best lights are those T-11 flourescent lights. they are much smaller and use less energy with a higher output of light. You can adjust levels each shelf gets by adjusting how much time the light is on. personally I would never get 40w fixtures or bulbs again with all the Compact Flourescent and newly designed flourescent light out there.

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