Posted March 8, 2008 by Jay in Peppers

Makin’ Habaneros – Part V: Makin’ up the “Grow Op” – Lighting

There are many different types of indoor growing setups you can buy. Some of the prices are out of this world (up to $300). I am not even talking about mega-expensive Metal Halide grow lights that commercial greenhouses use, I am still talking about simple, cheap, 4 foot fluorescent lighting here.

We will need at least one, 4 Foot 2 Lamp 40 watt Fluorescent fixture. One will do you for 2 flats of seedlings (36, 48 or 72 cell trays). This is more than enough for most people. They cost either $20 at Home Depot, or a couple of bucks at an online community page such as Craig’s List or Kijiji.ca.

The most important characteristic of your lighting that you are going to want here is full spectrum lighting (or close enough). To get this with a simple 4 foot – 2 lamp fixture you are going to need to purchase two types of bulbs. You will need a Cool-White and a Warm-White. Together, these will provide a good enough spectrum for our seedlings to help grow and think that they are getting real sunlight. You will see the difference between the light that the bulbs create; the Cool-White produces a bluish light, while the Warm-White a reddish or pinkish light.


There are several ways that you can now use this lighting to provide the light to your soon to be seedlings. You first need to think about a couple of things;

Your light needs to be as close to your seedlings as possible. I am talking no more than 3 inches away, (the heat from a fluorescent light is negligible, there might be a degree difference). You need to consider the fact that the seedlings will be gaining height on a daily / weekly basis, always reaching for the light. To accommodate this, we need to ensure that we can move the light up and up some more.

There are several ways to accomplish this, one is that you can put your light on a chain system where you can simply raise the lamp by putting a bolt through progressive loops in the chain, or you can build a stand that will allow the light to traverse up a support that will accomplish the same effect.

What I propose is a simple, cost effective way that we can do this on the cheap. The only tools you will require is a handsaw (or other cutting tool), and a screwdriver.