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Thread: A Newbie's Plant Rack

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    mcantrell's Avatar
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    A Newbie's Plant Rack

    I recently moved from a house to an apartment, wherein I went from an old rickety iron shelf system on a South Facing Window that gave good enough light all day, to an Eastern facing window that gives light from 1-2 PM to 5-7PM.

    While my plants seem to be mostly doing fine -- The Adelae didn't survive the trip, and the LFS in the Monkey Cup died back, and I have a bit of a white mold infestation that seems to finally be under control (things are doing a lot better than my original fears) -- I do not have any room to really expand my collection anymore.

    What I'd like to do is expand into finally having some shelfs and artificial light for my plants -- ideally I'll have the "taller" plants in front of the window and the smaller ones under the artificial lights, or perhaps have the shelves in front of the window and just boost the daylight with artificial lights as well.

    Therein lies my questions, as I'm completely lost. I am probably going to get the same shelf kit that Darcie mentions in her sticky post -- just a nice sturdy wireframe shelf with wheels under them (and a nice throw rug protecting the floor under that). They have them at the local Lowes for about $75 -- didn't see the wheel kit, but I'm sure it's around someplace.

    My major worry is the lighting. I know I need 2 bulbs per mount in order to provide enough Lumens per shelf, give or take. Lowes in the area carries shop lights that look like they're what I want, they hold 2 bulbs and come with an electronic ballast and all that.

    But all the talk of T8, T12, T5 bulbs kinda throws me off. Will the shop light fixtures usually mention that sorta thing? I didn't notice them on the boxes at Lowes, but it was just a passing glance. Are there online stores someone could point me at that would have these?

    What about an Terrarium lid that can hold 2 lights? I don't think I necessarily need one -- my current setup is thriving -- but I could not find one to save my life, and the nice lady at Pet Smart gave me a funny look when I asked. Kinda a matter of personal pride at this point.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    You should be able to find the T12/T8/T5 info on the packaging, but sometimes it's a little hidden. T12s are about an inch in diameter. T5s are noticeably smaller, about half that width. T8s are somewhere in between but I haven't seen many of them so I'd be guessing as to the size.
    T12 shoplights will be the cheapest, by a factor of 10x or more. As far as I understand, you can use T8 bulbs in T12 fixtures with no problems. T5s are far better, but prohibitively expensive. Skip aquarium hoods - they aren't as affordable or as sturdy as a shoplight. If you get those four-foot shoplights that Lowes' tends to carry, get 2 per shelf (so that you have 4 bulbs per shelf.) 3 per shelf would be even better, but isn't entirely necessary.
    Good luck! It sounds like you're on the right track.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    mcantrell's Avatar
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    Oh wow, 4 lights per rack?

    I don't suppose you know offhand how much my light bill will go up if I have, say, 2 or 3 four foot racks with 4 lights each rack going?

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    My wife was researching racks online and there does exist a rack that has the lights built in, for eash tier. Is that a possibility for you. She didn't go with that for me but got me a rack that I manually screwed in S-hooks that fit in the holes for fluorescent fixtures. Mine is at the living room glass windows and I'm going to be moving the lights slightly in from the windows. Below is an older picture.


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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I was surprised to find that my power bill didn't jump too dramatically when I first set up one of these racks. I had six shoplights going for a total of 12 bulbs. It kept the room well-lit and warm so I think most of the cost was offset by having the heater and lamps off more. Of course, I run twice as many now and it costs me about $20 or $30 a month, I think. It's hard for me to tell because I have roommates that run the power bill up pretty high, but when I was living by myself my bill never went above $70 a month and the lights couldn't have been anything more than half that.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    Lover of Mountains nightsky's Avatar
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    As far as I understand, you can use T8 bulbs in T12 fixtures with no problems.
    Not necessarily. Depends on the individual fixture. Some will allow, some explicitly warn against it - so be sure to double check.

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    mcantrell's Avatar
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    Wow, $20 isn't too bad, and that's probably a lot more than I intend to set up. I was thinking just 1 rack unit and only putting in 2 rows of lights (so 8 lights total, 4 on each row). That would give me enough light for my entire collection AND some more Sundews.

    Idaho has the lowest power bills int he US (for some reason, guess potatoes are cheap), so ... yeah. I hope a small (for now) setup won't cost much. I half expect to have a nice police officer stop by for a chat if my power bill jumps that high that quickly, though.


    I did happen to see this while I was finishing up today at work:

    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=111080

    That's pretty much the EXACT setup I want to set up. I doubt it'll be too expensive, the rack will be the most expensive part I think. The drop down thingy is absolute brilliance, too.

    I am kinda wondering if a Drosera filiformis or a Tuberous Sundew will have problems with a setup like that though. Maybe take out one of the rows or move ti down a bit...


    So, with the lights... I do have to worry about heat, right? Since I am going to dangle the lights under the upper racks? Which should I aim for if I'm worried about that? T12s?

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    It's not a significant amount of heat. Enough to warm a terrarium lightly if you put one above the warm end of the light (where the ballast is.) Older lights probably got hotter but ones on the market now don't seem to. You may see some police interest, but I doubt it'll be much trouble. I live in a college town and I haven't once had police bother me about the lights. I even had some cops come by on a noise complaint and they could almost certainly see the lights through the doorway, and they didn't even mention them. Although, that could mean I'm on some sort of list now...
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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