Lighting dilemma

I found a reasonably priced 4' four light T8 fluorescent (<$50) at home depot that I'd like to use for the planting/growing/flowering process and would like to hear from others who have tried this inexpensive method.I'd also like to compare the growing period using this system against MH or HPS,I'm trying to save money as you can tell so I can spend more on other garden issues. :)
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Even cheaper are the white enamel 6 bulb bath fixtures like you would put above a vanity. Fill them with 6 compact flourescents which around here have been on sale for 1$ ea. Flourescents are in no way equivalent to hps or mh bulbs unless you have a truckload of them.
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Interesting,I'll check the 6 bulb fixtures out..hopefully they are the cool white or warm white variety but I don't think they put out the luminance of the T8 tubes,we'll check. I also realize the fluorescents won't be near as strong of light source..that's a given,my interest is will I get almost equal results with the flories over a longer period?
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BTW,I just located a company that manufactoers T8(32watt) and T5 (53watt) 4,6,8,10 tube 4' Floresanct fixtures, 10 tubes in a 4 footer,impressive ..no prices yet.
http://www.aeilighting.com/t5l6810.htm
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They probably don't, but I think fluorescent lighting all have comparable lumens per wattage output. For example, it looks like 2 T-8s using 2x54 watts puts out the same magnitude of lumens as 9 CFLs @ 9x12 watts or 4 CFLs at 4x27. Exact lumen comparisons are an exercise left to the reader.
Aside from the vanity lighting, you might want to check the track lighting section for fixtures that take standard medium base bulbs. With track lighting you can direct the light towards the plant(s) and so focus most of your lumen output over the desired area, esp. if you splurge and get PAR bulbs.
Some older CFLs (or maybe they were high wattage) have a warning about not using more than N bulbs on a 20 amp circuit. I think N was around 15 bulbs. Not sure what that means for people on standard 15A residential circuits. Haven't seen the same warning on newer bulbs.
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Flourescents are great for some species and insuffucient for others- any clues as to what you are growing here? Low light house plants will be very happy, but very high light plants (needing full sun for instance) may struggle.
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Toni
South Florida USA
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