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How to Build an Inexpensive Grow Light and Garden Inside

Updated on January 23, 2022
reddog1027 profile image

I have been an avid gardener for over 50 years. I got my Master Gardener props from the Michigan State University Extension program.

Make an inexpensive grow light

Are you an avid gardener like me? Are you already anticipating the arrival of your seed catalogs? I know I am. Do you drool over the big grow lights and trays for starting seedlings but like me don't have that kind of cash? I am going to tell you how to have a 3 or four shelve grow light for a fraction of the cost of the ones in the gardening book. I build my grow light for about $150. That was a few years ago so it may be a little more expensive.

The first thing you need to do is buy the framework. Not handy no problem, there is nothing to build. Just go to any store that sells stand-alone wire shelf units, Meijers, Wal-mart, Lowe's or Home Depot are a few where I have seen this type of shelving. There is one thing that you have to remember, you want the shelves that have a depth of 18 inches. Any smaller and your seedling trays won't fit. I got the biggest one that Lowe's carried and it cost about $80. It had four shelves and the shelves were 18 inches deep. They had smaller ones but I wanted to start A LOTof seeds.

Once you get it home and out of the box, the fun begins. Somehow instructions never seem to translate into English very well. So have fun, this is the hardest part of the whole thing. Decide how far apart you want your shelves. I gave a lot of height to my bottom shelves so I could overwinter some of my geraniums. If all you want is to start seeds 12-15inches between each shelf should do. Getting the shelves on the stand, in the place that you want them all the while trying to make sure that it is level. Whew, that's done.

Now that your stand is up it's time for the lights. The lights you use are those cheap shop lights that you see in hardware and home supply stores. Mine cost between $10-$15. There should be two lights per shelf, so 8 shop lights altogether. If you try to get by with just one per shelf, the seedlings won't get enough light. You will also need 2 power strips to hold the plugs. Some of the shop lights come with chains to hang some don't. I always buy enough chains at the hardware store so there are 2 chains per light. Each chain is 12 inches long. The chains can be raised or lowered as needed.

Using the chains simply hang the shop lights from the shelf above, plug them into the power strips and there you have it. A perfectly serviceable Grow Light at a fraction of what they charge in the catalogs. Oh, I forgot, you will also have to purchase the fluorescent lights/. You can even get ones that duplicate the sun.

So here's your list:

  • freestanding wire shelf unit with a depth of 18 "
  • 8 shop lights if you are want to light 4 shelves
  • 2 power strips.
  • 16 12" pieces of chain for hanging the lights.

I had so much fun starting my seeds that I now have two.

In my cellar

The light stand with shop lights
The light stand with shop lights
My new light stand before lights
My new light stand before lights
With this rack new light stand could have four tiers
With this rack new light stand could have four tiers
There are fluorescent light bulbs that mimic the sun.
There are fluorescent light bulbs that mimic the sun.

Pictures of light stand in my Cellar

Here are some pictures of my light stand. It is a little worse for wear. As you can see, I keep it in the basement. Because of a car accident, this is the first time I have not been down there in over a year. But at least you will get the idea of what it looks like minus the dirt and the spider webs.


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