Easy to Make a Grow Light
Grow lights provide the energy plants need for growing seedlings or cuttings. They'll also help keep your favorite plants alive during the long winter months. Learn how easy it is to make your own grow light with just 10 feet of PVC pipe and a fluorescent light!
Produced by the Department of Communications at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.kansasgreenyards.org
Easy to Make Grow Light
Many of us like to grow plants indoors, start our own seedlings, or perhaps bring cuttings in during the fall, and have some plants that we keep over the winter. But, most of us don’t have enough bright light in our homes to really have a quality plant when we’re finished. The seedlings tend to get stretchy and straggly. The way to correct that is to provide some additional light.
We’re going to make a really easy plant stand using PVC pipe, a shop light, and just a few additional things. The first thing that we’re going to need is a 10-foot section of PVC pipe with a 1-inch diameter. We’re already cut this into our sections. You can do this with a saw. But if you don’t have equipment, or you don’t feel comfortable cutting it, you can ask the staff at the hardware store and they can help you with that.
We’ll need one 4-foot section of pipe. We’ll need 2 of the 2-foot sections. And then, we’ll have 4 – 6 inch sections. So, that adds up to 10 feet with no waste. You’re completely using that 10-foot section.
Then, you’ll need to go to the plumbing area and pick up a few fittings. You’ll need 2 of the tee joints. The 1-inch diameter will fit your pipe. You’ll also need 2 elbows, and 4 end caps to use on the feet.
It’s tempting to glue this together. But hold yourself back and don’t glue it together because when you’re done, it’s very easy to take it down to store. So this is a great project for schools. They can grow plants in their classrooms. They can put it on top of a counter, or they can put it under a counter. You could have it in several places of your home. Then, at the end of the season, when you’re ready to put the plants out in the garden, you can take it all apart and put all the fittings in a bag. Just tape the pieces together, and you can simply store it.
Let’s start by assembling the legs or side pieces. We have a 2-foot section. We’ll insert it in the center of the tee. Then, on each of the arms of the tee, we’ll add the 6-inch pieces. And, on each one you’ll add an end cap. They’ll fit on very easily.
We’ll do the other leg the same way. Put the side pieces into the tee and add the end caps. Then we’ll put an elbow on each end of the long 4-foot section. Then, fit a leg into each end. Make sure that the two feet are parallel. And now we have the brace or stand for our light stand.
Now that the frame is ready, we’re ready to hang our light. This is just a basic shop-light fixture. It’s nothing fancy, just a regular shop light fixture that you can buy at any hardware store or lumberyard. These are just regular fluorescent bulbs, so you don’t need to buy anything special. While you have it down, before you hang it, you may want to check it to make sure that everything is working. So, we’re going to plug in the light and make sure that the lights work – and they do.
Next, turn it over. I’ve used S hooks to attach 2 pieces of chain to the light fixture. This will help us be able to raise and lower the light to make sure that we get it at the right height for the plants. Just bring the chain over the top of the rod, and hook it on. Slide it over, and bring the next chain over the top of rod and hook it through the chain. Then, you can use these chains to raise or lower the light fixture.
Many times, the chain will be in the box that comes with your light fixture, so you may want to check that out before you leave the hardware store. If you don’t have a chain, just get a basic piece of chain and those S hooks.
I have my flat with the seeds. I’m going to keep this light fixture right above the soil surface because the light intensity drops dramatically the further away you are from the light. You’ll always want to have the light source as close to those seedlings as possible. Then, as they grow, we can raise the chain up and have it a little higher.
So, if you don’t have a lot of light in your home, and you’d like to grow some plants in the basement or heated garage, or perhaps in a classroom at school, consider building a PVC light stand. It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s not very costly, and it’s a way to grow a better quality plant.
This feature story prepared with Evelyn Neier, Kansas State University Research and Extension Youth Gardening Specialist, 4-H Youth Development. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.