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Finished building a 14 tube fluorescent light seed starting setup

14 years ago

I bought a wire rack shelf system that has five shelves dimensions 24x54 inches. I hung seven 4 foot long fluorescent strip light fixtures from each of the top two shelves, for a total of 14 fixtures. If I want to expand I can add seven more fixtures to the next two shelves to give me a total of 28 tubes. I am using Phillips Alto Plus T8 daylight bulbs that put out 2800 lumens each at a color temperature of 6500K and a CRI of 85 with a life expectancy of 36,000 hours.

I put an insulating rubber mat on the shelves and covered that with aluminum foil to reflect stray light back in the direction of the plants. I covered the whole setup with these aluminized mylar space blankets they sell in sporting goods stores to reflect light back in and also keep the heat in. With seven tubes turned on and the space blankets closed up it gets up to 88 degrees inside, but if I open the blankets up to allow ventilation I can drop the temperature to 70 degrees. By adjusting the amount of ventilation I can probably get any temperature I want between 70 and 88 degrees. I put a humidity gauge inside too and it is running about 70 percent relative humidity. I do get some condensation on the inside of the space blankets. Each light fixture has its own power cord so I can turn on only the lights needed at the moment. I plug them into seven outlet surge protectors I happened to already have.

BTW, anyone living in southern California Edisons service area can buy these strip light fixtures for $1.99 each, subsidized by Southern California Edison, but they are bare bones fixtures and ballast, you have to supply your own bulbs and power cords and mounting hardware. If you want to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) you can get 23 watt equivalent to a 100 watt incandescent for 25 cents each, limit 14 to a family, again subsidized by Edison.

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