Build A Simple Indoor Grow Light System
In this article we provide a guide to building a simple indoor grow light system for starting seeds and young plants. The goal of using grow lights is to give your seedlings a jump start before planting them in a more permanent position. There are many different kinds of grow lights on the market, including some very expensive models. The three main technologies are indoor LED grow lights, Higher Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights such as metal halide lights or high pressure sodium, and fluorescent grow lights.
LED grow lights are becoming recognized as very energy efficient and effective for plant growth, however they are by far the most expensive to buy at the moment. The good news is that not only are fluorescent grow lights the cheapest option but they are also perfect for starting seeds. They emit a blue/ white wavelength of light that is used by plants in their early growth phase. If you want to take your plants all the way to flowering and fruiting you would need to switch to a yellow/orange wavelength of light when they approach maturity. But for now, at the seedling stage, fluorescent lights are what is needed.
Head down to your local home improvement store and purchase at least two fluorescent tubes, an electric timer and a fitting. The fittings used for fluorescent lights are normally reflective and will help direct the light downwards to your plants. If you can, purchase a fixture that is height adjustable. This is because as your plants grow you’ll want to keep raising the light so that the leaves do not come into direct contact with the bulbs.
An alternative is to purchase a wire or chrome stacking rack, the kind you see in many kitchens, and use this as a wire frame for your grow light system. All you need to do is attach the fluorescent grow lights to the underside of the top shelf and place your planter in the tray below this. If you don’t find a stacking rack with adjustable shelves, simply place the planter on some wooden planks to raise it closer to the lights. Then as the plants grow out, lower them by removing a plank at a time. A simple indoor grow light system can be perfect for raising seedlings and young plants and it does not need to cost very much to get started.