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Shop Lights: Inexpensive Grow Lights0

This is the start of seedling season.

And most backyard garden annuals and vegetables are easy enough to propagate indoors under florescent shop lights. Nothing high-tech here. Just a set of good old shop lights with two standard 40-watt fluorescent bulbs to assure enough light intensity for the seedlings to grow.

Fluorescent lights have greater efficiency than other lights. They consume less power, produce more light and last longer. To calculate the cost of running the lights, use this formula:

Watts of lights/1000 x number of hours x cost of electricity per KWH

To give seedlings a good start, I leave the lights on for 16 hours per day. Once true leaves (2nd set of leaves) start to appear I cut back to 12 hours a day. Our cost per KWH is about $0.18. So here’s what it costs us each day to run the lights for the 16-hour period:

(40 x 2 bulbs)/1000 x 16 x $0.18 = $0.23

To figure out how much it would cost over a month, multiply by 30 and you get $6.90. This reduces to $5.10 each month for 12 hours per day. For the 3 months of light usage, roughly $17.00. Not too bad for a kitchen garden full of vegetables and colorful flower beds.

Now if I could figure out how much it would cost to barricade the lights from the cats I’d be all set.

photos and text by Ann D. Travers

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