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LED Lights For Seed Starting

Seed starting is such an exciting time for gardeners it’s hard not to start your seed too early. We watch the new seedlings grow, and grow, into floppy leggy things! If that has happened to your seedlings, you need more light. A sunny window rarely provides enough light to keep healthy seedlings vigorous so we have started using LED lights for seed starting. The seedlings will grow tall trying to reach for light.

Here are a few of the set ups I have tried for seed starting. All where fine, depending on what one wants to do. I have listed the pros and cons of each type of grow light set up.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
When I had just a few seedlings to start I opted for compact fluorescent bulbs because I had them and they are cheap and produce bright light. I could use them in my regular desk lamps. I had two 25 watt bulbs that produce the equivalent of 100 watt each. So that was 200 watts of light for one seed tray. This setup was quickly abandoned when I wanted to grow twice as many seedlings.

High Output T5 Lighting
My next set up was with my two aquariums double high output T5 fluorescent. I had a total of four 24 watt HO tubes. That worked even better than the compact fluorescent bulb because they where light strips with reflectors. The light was distributed evenly over the seedlings. I loved it but these aquarium lights are quite expensive. So I abandoned that system when I wanted to grow even more plants.

Metal Halide Lamps & High Sodium Pressure
First, I have never had a HSP lamp so I can not talk about it. I did get my hands on a used metal halide lamp. I loved it beyond words but it was still not what I was looking for. First the light was a 400 watt lamp and cost 16$ a month to operate. Metal halide lamps produce enough heat that I did not have to heat that room, even in the dead of winter. So the expense of running the lamp was evened out by the heating bill. That worked rather well until late spring, as the temperatures rose to 30°C in my grow room.

Despite the fact I could grow just about anything the light works best placed above the seedlings. I have limited space and need to use vertical space.

Another important factor was home insurance. Since these lamps get quite hot and even risk exploding under certain circumstances, the lamp has to be enclosed in tempered glass to comply with insurance companies, mine was not. So lamp had to go.

Fluorescent Shop Lights
Finally I found the grow light my small nursery needed. It’s a double four feet long standard fluorescent shop light. They are the same length as Whitmor metal 4-Tier Shelving Unit . They come with everything needed to suspend them under the shelves of the metal racks. These shop lights don’t produce much heat and they are energy efficient. My nursery is fully functional and I use up less space to grow more seedlings with this set up.

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