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Thread: Lighting a shelf

  1. #1
    Nepenthesian Nepfreak's Avatar
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    Lighting a shelf

    So basically, I have a four-foot wide shelf, about 15 inches high, and I need to light it without also lighting my wallet on fire... does that make sense? I've been doing research, and it's all gibberish. T5, T12, T8... whatever. There seems to be two "castes" of light fixtures. One costs about 200 dollars, boasts all this high-output stuff, and looks fancy. The other costs about 20 dollars and seems (to my untrained eye) to be about the same thing. Need I say which one I'd prefer?
    So, if I get a four-foot run-of-the-mill shoplight fixture with reflectors, and fit it up with, say, four ordinary strip lights of the right spectrum, would that be sufficient for a shelf of plants? Are there any specific bulbs that are good?
    Then, there are sources. My town is a town where all meat comes from the grocery store and all furniture comes from the furniture store. In other words, the hardware stores simply suck. Not a single four-foot shoplight fixture holding more than one bulb, and forget reflectors! And then the store employees are really nasty and look at me like I have three heads if I ask for something that's not a wrench or a shovel. Anyone know an online source for a good fixture that won't make my wallet cry? Likewise for bulbs... If I could just click a link, press the "Buy Now" button, and be done with it, I can't even begin to say what a godsend that would be.
    Thanks!
    Ben
    Insanity is a sane response to an insane world.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Have you considered anything like this:


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    Nepenthesian Nepfreak's Avatar
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    Interesting, a light and a shelf all in one! Would be convenient, but I already have my shelf set up and everything. All I really need is a couple of lights... thanks for the suggestion though!
    Insanity is a sane response to an insane world.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I buy four-foot, two-bulb T12 fixtures from my local Ace or Lowes'. They cost no more than $10 a piece. Four-foot T12 bulbs are also some of the cheapest out there, when you take their efficiency into account, since they're a bit of an industry standard. I'm not sure what to tell you if your local hardware stores don't have them - I've never seen the cheap ones online. But then, I've never looked for them in particular, because I could always just walk over to the hardware store for mine. And at $10 a piece, the price of shipping would be a significant portion of their cost to send away for them.
    The various T-numbers are the diameter of the bulbs in one-eighths inch increments. T12s are 1.5 inches wide; T8s are one inch wide. Generally, the smaller the bulb, the brighter it is, since you're using similar amounts of electricity along a smaller surface area of phosphors. But smaller bulbs also run hotter, for exactly the same reason. For grower's purposes, the difference in heat is negligible, unless you make the mistake of resting your hand on a bulb. High-output T5s are just about as good as it gets in terms of fluorescent lighting, and they're probably worth it in the long run if you can afford to set yourself up with some. (There are also energy-efficient, low-wattage T5s, if I recall correctly; those ones aren't desirable for our purposes.)
    If T5s are too steep of an investment for you, T12s will suffice - I've grown some really nice plants under T12s. But ultimately, T5s are cheaper to run, and their material costs will go down over time as efficiency becomes more important and contractors start following the trend. At 15 inches of elevation, you probably won't see too much of a difference between the two, except for on your electrical bill. Here's a bargain on T5 fixtures that Butch/Av8iator pointed out a while back:
    http://www.contractorlighting.com/hi...b97d2ddf616f75
    I'm trying to scrape the cash together to start switching my setup over to these. They don't come pre-wired, but $5 in wire nuts and an appliance cord and I'll be set. They should cut my electrical consumption about in half, I think, so I'll recoup the costs in a year or two. From what you've said, I think that if you can swing the cash, T5s might suit you better. But otherwise, you'll do fine with T12s.
    Hope that helps a little.
    ~Joe

    PS - Another thought is to call some local electrical contractors and ask them where they buy their lights. I bet there's a wholesaler within a few hours' drive of your location; the trick will be getting them to sell you something in small quantities.
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    Frilleon's Avatar
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    I'm currently using 4 ft T12 fixtures. They are working just fine! I have the Agro sun bulb which are expensive but worth it when you see your plants color up! The difference between the T5,T8, T12 is the amount of light output. The more output the better as you will get better growth and color. You don't have a Home Depot near you? Any such home improvement store will carry cheap fixtures. I got mine for like 20 buck each (2 4 ft fixtures with reflector). As for cheap bulbs I can't comment. I use the expensive bulbs and would recommend using them.
    Grow List: http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=116427
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    prmills's Avatar
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    I use 4 foot shop light T8 fixtures with 2 bulbs per fixture. Up here in the Great White North they are $20 and another $4 per bulb. That's all I use for my lighting, plus outside when it's not frozen. I use 6500k colour temps or 5000k / 5500k 'Sun Sticks', mainly the 6500k ones. If I remember correctly, each bulb puts out around 2900 lumens, more than T12 with less wattage. T5's seem the way to go if you can afford them. Just remember that you loose a lot of light if you don't use good reflecters for them.
    me?

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    Nepenthesian Nepfreak's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great info guys! Today I called a new Home Depot that just got built and asked if they had shoplight fixtures. Lo and behold, they did! So a few hours later, I'm back with two nice-looking T8 fixtures with a good reflectors holding two 32W 6500K bulbs each! I set it up and it's extremely bright, so again, thanks for all the help.
    Insanity is a sane response to an insane world.

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