Convert fluorescent shop light to grow light?

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I have a long counter that gathers junk, in front of large windows facing east and under a huge fluorescent shop light. Good place to grow plants, right? Is it feasible (and reasonable) to swap out the ballast and tubes in the shop light to turn it into a grow light? Or should I just get rid of the fluorescent light and replace the whole thing with a purpose made grow light?
If starting from scratch, what would you use?
Una
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snipped-for-privacy@att.net (Una) wrote in

See reply to other thread. If gro-light tubes fit the ballast and fixture why buy a new fixture?
--
Best regards
Han
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Agreed It is usually a regular F40 style lamp with a "Gro-light" phosphor.
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On Sun, 31 Oct 2010 17:49:21 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Yep, just change the bulbs. My father was a plant guy and he had many grow lights. Just plain 4ft. fixtures with Grow-Bulbs.
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I am tired of growing pot herbs (heh) that mash themselves against the window.
This fixture has just 2 light tubes, and not much in the way of a reflector. I'd like to keep it up high, out of my way, which means it has to put out more light. The ballast in it now makes a noise that is annoying, so I almost never use the light. I need to know more about these things; I don't know if this one has a "starter" or not.
Waste heat in the room is good because the room needs supplemental heat most of the year. Lights differ in how much of the heat they put out is radiated down on the plants.
Fluorescent light conversion kits are for converting shop lights to grow lights?
    Una
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On 10/31/2010 3:25 PM, Una wrote:

no ballast change necessary. just put in the tubes and go!
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Steve Barker
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On Sun, 31 Oct 2010 14:25:53 -0600 (MDT), snipped-for-privacy@att.net (Una) wrote:

The florescent light may keep a plant warm, when height is adjusted closer to the plant. Not ideal for "growing", IMHO.
Look into the color spectrum of a grow light:
Kelvin Temperature Chart.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grow_light
"Through the use of the color rendering index, it is possible to compare how much the lamp matches the natural color of regular sunlight."
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Spectral utilization of plants is not a good match to either any usual solar or daylight spectrum nor the spectral response of any mammal's eyes, nor that of most non-mammal animal eyes.
Strangely enough, many fluorescent lamps are surprisingly nearly equal in usefulness to many plants. One reason is "quantum efficiency" - red wavelengths where plants work best is where fluorescent lamp phosphors have higher "Stokes loss", and blue wavelengths where plants second-best-utilize (according to some sources only slightly better than less-utilized green) are counterbalanced by lower "Stokes loss". If you want to use ones designed for lighting purposes, my favorites are lower color temperature ones of "triphosphor" formulation and color rendering index rated to be in the 82-86 range. Higher color temp. whiter ones waste more output in green, but also better-utilize a wider range of UV mercury radiation to produce slightly more photons (low-luminous-efficacy blue ones that plants can use). I would use 82-86 CRI rated 3000 to 4100 Kelvin, higher towards 4100 when blue requirement is greater, 3000 for lesser-moderated growth (preferably with blasting with lots of light that may largely satisfy any blue light requirements), 3500 to "split the difference".
I discuss this more in the following web page of mine:
http://members.misty.com/don/photosyn.html
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- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)

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On Nov 1, 12:45am, snipped-for-privacy@manx.misty.com (Don Klipstein) wrote:

I've always been a bit skeptical whether there's any added benefit worth the cost of the high priced grow lights.
I've used the recommended two cool white to one warm white ratio for growing plants with regular fluorescent tubes, it works fine.
I'd caution the OP to check whether his shop light can handle F40 tubes. We bought some shop lights where i work designed for 32 W bulbs, and they overheated badly on 40's.
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I have now read up on the light emitted by various lighting systems and it seems to me there is little utility in using "tuned" growing lights. When efficiency is defined as some measure of photosynthetically useful light per dollar spent, most are less efficient than these fluorescents, except in the very long term. The very long lifespan of LCDs can be an important factor in some applications. My plan includes building a winter sun room with windows toward the equator, and people spend a lot of evenings in that room, so for me ordinary "white" fluorescents are a good choice. The question is do I want normal output or high output?
The lights will be used to overwinter tender plants, and start cuttings and seedlings. All the plants in question have survived many winters in the house with only ambient light but none of them are getting enough light for good health.
The fixture including bulbs came with the house. The 2 bulbs are 4 ft and marked F48T12CW Sylvania. Are these bulbs normal output (NO), high output (HO), or very high output (VHO)? "F48T12CW fluorescent" search results mostly refer to VHO bulbs. The cord on the fixture is very short and it is plugged into an outlet near the ceiling. So, no lowering the fixture closer to plants without an extension cord. Next step; take down the fixture to check out the ballast.
    Una
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On Nov 2, 10:20am, snipped-for-privacy@att.net (Una) wrote:

I'd agree that you're not gaining much by using "grow" fluorescents verses regular warm ones. But as far as light per electric dollar the metal halide and high pressure sodium are not even in the same neigborhood as flourescent. Even a 70watt hps is blindingly brighter than a whole collection of fluorescents. If you shop around you can get hps grow light fixtures on adjustable hangers pretty reasonably. Sometimes I see them on craig's list as well. If you are in the construction business most parking lot and exterior commercial building lights are hps and work fine as grow lights.
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Like I said, what matters is the amount of photosynthetically usable light per dollar spent, over some duration. Dollar spent includes capital costs and operating costs. If I had to start from scratch, and I didn't work in the same room, I would not go with fluorescent lights. But in my case it makes economic sense to use the existing fixture, if it can be made to do the job.
    Una
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On Tue, 2 Nov 2010 11:27:03 -0600 (MDT), snipped-for-privacy@att.net (Una) wrote:

IME there's not much "capital cost" anyway to light a lot of plants. I set up 2 of the standard cheap screw-together metal shelving units, You can usually find then for less than $20 each. 8 2-bulb 4' shop lights which I got on sale for about $8 each. Bulbs run about a buck each. That'll light a couple hundred seed containers. She has 360 degree garden around the house. She was a greenhouse worker when she was a kid. Less grass for me to cut, but more turns.
But - I put 8 4'x11"x1/2" boards on the shelves because the shelves are only 3'. Think I had that lumber, but it's probably worth 20 bucks. 2 strip outlets, maybe 10 bucks. Anyway, that's 100-120 bucks done the cheap way for a lot of seedlings.
Cupholder hooks on the overhanging boards hang the lights on the chain that came with the lights. Think she adjusted height a few time a season - just move chain links on the hooks.
It's all sitting there 20 feet away, minus a couple shop lights I grabbed to replace bad ones elsewhere. Probably idle 5 years. She did it for 3 years, then stopped.
Seeds aren't cheap, especially "exotics,"and you get too many that won't sprout. There's timing issues with transplanting outside. Labor in planting and caring for seedlings. Biggest deal is bad seeds though. That pissed her off good. Got bad ones from different suppliers. Anyway, she can get robust plants at the garden centers pretty cheap and ready to go. And she likes to shop there. I never figured out the cost difference, but it's not tremendous.
So it's probably best to start small as you are doing. Me, I've just got more "stuff" sitting around until I figure what to do with it.
--Vic
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jamesgangnc wrote:
<SNIP to this point>

A 70W HPS produces a little less light than a pair of 32W T8 fluorescents or a pair of T12 40W ones.
If you are illuminating a larger area with multiple fixtures, where you don't need the directivity that many HPS fixtures have, go with fluorescent. They cost less, last longer, and in the case of 32W T8 with electronic ballasts, they are more efficient than 70W HPS.
<SNIP from here>
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- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)

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On Nov 7, 9:31pm, snipped-for-privacy@manx.misty.com (Don Klipstein) wrote:

Don, you might have missed the subtext. She's growing those special "aromatic herbs."
Still better to go with fluourescents. Less heat signature when the helicopters fly over.
I have seen ads for LED plant lights for this exact application. They are clearly aimed at that niche market. Seem a bit overhyped to me though.
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Fuchsia is one of those!?!?! Who'd have guessed. You know this how?
Anyway, I still haven't got the blighted fixture down to disassemble and examine the ballast. It is *heavy* and the tubes project outside the carcass. This may be such a PITA that I should just replace it. Period.
    Una
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Una wrote:

I'd wait until you find out whether Proposition 19 passes in California.
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On 10/31/2010 3:25 PM, Una wrote:

Put some plants under it that resemble pot and sue the cops when they break down your door and stick machine guns in your face.
TDD
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On Sun, 31 Oct 2010 17:59:00 -0500, The Daring Dufas

I had an aralia plant sitting near the door entrance to my apartment one time. The landlord asked me why I was growing marijuana.
pic:
http://www.gflora.com/zen-cart/images/g_dizigot.jpg
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On 10/31/2010 6:54 PM, Oren wrote:

Four decades ago when I was a college student, one of my classmates who was one of the biggest pot heads I knew, had a brother who was head of the city's narcotics unit. The stoned hippie freak visited the office of his brother and noticed the big pot plant on display there. One day when his narc brother wasn't around Goofy decided to strip the leaves from the plant and stuff them down his jeans. I don't think his brother ever figured out who defiled his office plant. The stoned hippie freak is probably a senior government official now. 8-)
TDD
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