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Hi Everyone,

I wanted to check with those who have experience. I am putting together a 3 tote system in my basement with expansion in mind after I get cycled. I would appreciate recommendations on lighting. I plan on growing as much as possible in my space, leafy greens and flowering/fruiting plants. 

My ceiling is just under 7' - so vertical space is an issue, but I think I have that solved. 

Can someone suggest a lighting setup? Brand, type, watts, etc.

Thanks!

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Honestly, I think that may be way more than you need, and with a low ceiling, could in certain scenarios be troublesome. An IBC's dimensions are like 1 metre by 1.2 metres...400-600Watts is plenty...the leafy green IBC (if you arrange it that way) could get by with 250Watts (400Watts maximum and even that's a lot)...how tall are your towers? And how many "faces" do the towers have? Are there plants 360 degrees around or on just one linear side (like a ZipGrow tower)?

This is what I was thinking as well. I did find one ballast that can be dimmed as low as 250. I am going to make the pvc pocket towers, alternating sides. I think in my situation, as much as I want to use an HID - unless I can find a few 400's to hang I may have to go with T-5's. I found a guy locally who modifies these lights and has created a longer lasting system. This is what I gathered from him - and they run about $85 per 2 bulb fixture. The idea of having one light over one bed and NOT having to dangle them 2" from the leaves is much more enticing. I really want to do this as cheaply as possible - as much DIY as possible. But it also needs to work and be practical for the average person to pull off. I was surprised at how many 1000W lights are on craigslist here in Rochester.

There is no way possible that two bulbs of any existing T-5's per bed is gonna even come close to cutting it. (unless you are content with a mowhawk growing style...you would be robbing yourself of about 2/3rds of your grow bed...and there is not a thing on the planet that this guy (or anyone) can do to make the PAR "last longer". PAR is what you are after, NOT the humanly visible spectrum. In a system with no sun or other lighting tubes will about 6 months tops. That's just how it is. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying (in order to sell you something) or a dumbass.

You can run the tubes at a lower wattage using a different ballast rig to "create a longer lasting system", but that's for office lighting type applications. Why you would want to take a "weak-ish" grow light and make it weaker to gain something that does you no good for your intended purposes is beyond me. It's no good to make the 'system' (I'm guessing he means tubes) last longer, when you'll be changing them out after 6 months either way? (Again, because of PAR)...A complete 400Watt HID kit with everything included, brand spanking new, should run you about 120 bucks. 

But do what you gotta do...

A good and efficient tower strategy might be be to make them 'one sided'... "triangulate" them so that the growing sides are facing one another and use a four foot vertically mounted T-5 or PL-L or HID in the middle between the three of them. Don't under estimate how important good lighting is in an indoor basement application. There is a reason lighting is the single biggest expense when growing indoors...

i know you weren't picking on me.. but the lights are 32watts..i just double checked, i use half "cool" and half "warm"

fixtures were 12 bucks (with hanging chains) - easy to adjust with the chains.. i do have 1 400watt hps light that i used for a bit, but i'm going for low energy usage.. i "cleaned" one set of lights that were in use for 1.5 years, and will be using them when i finish the small system, haven't changed bulbs unless they burn out

so 64 watts per fixture, 3 fixtures, thats 192 watts each for 2 gb's, and one @ 256watts..

i'm sure that there are "better" ways, but they all cost a bit too much for me at this point.. both fixture wise, and energy usage.. it all depends on what you want to get out of your system, and how much you can put into it..

 

Those T5s wont do anywhere near enough light for anything more than small heads of lettuce. I have a 400 watt HPS/MH switchable that I used indoors for a 4 tote DWC AP setup. After I got the 150 dollar power bill I started looking for T5s like you. You will need at least 3 fixtures per tote or 12 bulbs. You arent saving over the HPS. For that price you could find a small lot like we did. When you want to grow fruiting plants you will need both bulbs. The only time growing indoors is cost effective when you are growing a specific cash crop called weed.

If it works for you Keith, that's what counts.

I've never ever been able to get more than 6-7 months out of any fluoro tube where it was the only light source (on 16-24 hours per 24 hour period). My plants pretty much slow down or stall and take forever to grow, which changes noticeably once I replace the tubes, even though they look as bright as the day I got them.

I still use T-8's as well (36Watt GE Daylight mostly...all the tubes I've gotten here have been 36Watts... so my bad) but they've been relegated to sprouting lettuce and greens. They will grow stuff, just not real well after things get to a certain stage of developement. They do better ODNO'd but then they consume more electricity. I compared how long it took for a crop to go from seed to harvest, size and weight...and well, it turned out that I sure wasn't saving much by using them...but if you're happy with the results your getting, then that is what matters. You can't beat the price of the T-8's. Tubes here cost me $1.50. Fixtures can be had for free or dirt cheap. T-5's and their fixtures are a heck of a lot more and the price quickly adds up and just as quickly become not worth it. I've gotten rid of all my T-5's. I'm a much bigger fan of T-8's than T-5's (again because the costs of using the proper amount of T-5's to grow well just aren't justifiable when compared to HID's) . I don't know how you're getting 1.5 years of plant usable light out of those T-8 tubes, but sure would like to know.

I like my PL-L's http://aquaponicscommunity.com/group/artificiallighting/forum/topic...   but would not use them to light up an entire IBC grow area as again HID's would still be more cost effective. I guess everything has it's place... I suggested earlier would sooner use the T-8's because of the costs (especially ODNO) or HID's. I do not enjoy  adjusting that many chains,that frequently, but the light pulleys help a bit...

Honestly, I'm happiest when I can use the sun. 

Like David alluded to, growing indoors with no or little sunlight pretty much sucks and is expensive, except in specific circumstances (free or very cheap electricity, or a high value crop that off-sets the costs). But the joy of having your own fresh veggies in the dead of winter can go quite a long ways as well.



Keith Rowan said:

i know you weren't picking on me.. but the lights are 32watts..i just double checked, i use half "cool" and half "warm"

fixtures were 12 bucks (with hanging chains) - easy to adjust with the chains.. i do have 1 400watt hps light that i used for a bit, but i'm going for low energy usage.. i "cleaned" one set of lights that were in use for 1.5 years, and will be using them when i finish the small system, haven't changed bulbs unless they burn out

so 64 watts per fixture, 3 fixtures, thats 192 watts each for 2 gb's, and one @ 256watts..

i'm sure that there are "better" ways, but they all cost a bit too much for me at this point.. both fixture wise, and energy usage.. it all depends on what you want to get out of your system, and how much you can put into it..

 

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