Category Archives: Lighting

Reflective Foil for Lighting

On one particular blog I follow, a woman used a foil lined tent for her lights and plants. What was interesting to me was how healthy and sturdy her milkweed plants looked. It was probably due to the extra lighting and heat they were getting from the foil tent.

I didn’t want to buy a foil lined tent, but I decided to buy some “Double Bubble Reflective Foil Insulation: (48 in X 10 Ft Roll)” from Amazon. I cut it into two sheets which I used to cover my four shop lights. At $27.00 the cost per light was around $7.00.

I cut some slits in the middle ends to accommodate my pulley system for raising and lowering the lights from the basement ceiling.

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Lights for Schools

Now is the time when many schools start to plant seeds indoors. A recent school I am helping has no indoor lights for their garden trays and so we are trying to get the PTO to fund a light system.

Here are the high cost options.

Gardeners Supply –

They do give a discount for schools, so make sure your school has an account with them.

$849.00 – LED SunLite® High Intensity 3-Tier Garden
This is a nice system with three levels, each four foot long. They have 3 LED bulbs per shelf.

They also have a 2 light LED system for $729.00 or a 2 light T5 Fluorescent lights for $599.00

I am looking for other options to post, so if you have a system suitable for schools, please let me know.

Cheapest Options

One cheap option I use is a T8 fluorescent light fixture. It costs around $53 plus the cost of the bulbs.
My favorite uses four T8 bulbs and puts out lots of light.
Lithonia Lighting 1284GRD RE Lighting Fixture, 32W, 120V, Silver (w/Wire Guard)

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Shop Light Options

I just visited a local school and we started some seeds.When it came time to find a location for the seeds, it was a bit of a challenge. They had a closet with one small bulb which obviously would not work and they also had a window area which was ok, although a bit cold.

Ideally, they could buy a shop light and use that for both seed germination and light for the plants. Initially, I put the shop light right on top of the plastic tray top and it helps to generate heat for better germination.

Here are a few ideas from other sources on how to take a basic shop light and make it usable as a grow light for plants.

Below is the system I use with just wire shelving and 4 bulb fluorescent lights.


Using wood, you could create a way to hang the light fixture.

Below is a setup using plastic – the article is at this website.

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LED Versus Fluorescent Bulbs

Here’s a comparison of a LED shop light versus a T8 fluorescent shop light.

For me the big consideration is the amount of light or Lumens that is going to be available for the plants. The four bulb fluorescent fixture is a big winner at 11,000 Lumens over the paltry 3200 for the LED bulb. Another thing I notice is that the LED has a much different color spectrum than the fluorescent – 4000 versus a range of 5,000 to 6500. I know that plants do well with fluorescent bulbs, but have never tried the LED.

I also like the fact that I can just use one fluorescent fixture to get the 11,000 lumens, but I’d have to use four fixtures to get up to 12,800 lumens with LED. The cost would also just to $160 for the four LED fixtures.

T8 – 4 bulb fixture (they seemed to have stopped making this.)$5011,00012830,0005000-6500
T5 – 2 light fixture$80600056
LED shop light-1 bulb$4032003650,0004000

2023 – there is a new LED shop light which has 7000 lumens for 80 watts at Home Depot.

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Best Bulbs for Shop Lights

2023 – New LED Shop Lights
There seems to be a new winner in the inexpensive shop light category.
Home Depot has an LED light for $42.97, 85 watts of power and 10,000 lumens.
I just tested one in the basement and it’s comparable to 2.5 old shop lights and costs less.
It’s easy to connect to my basement pulleys and each has a string to turn it on and off. It can also be connected to other lights which is convenient.
How long it will last is questionable since it mentions a 5 year warranty and either 20,000 hours or 50,000 hours life.


Old Information Below…..











OLD Information Below.

I just bought a couple of  new shop lights and wondered what kind of bulbs would be best and also cost efficient.

New fixtures use the new T8 bulb. It uses less electricity and puts out as much or more than the old T12 bulbs.

Note – there are now T5 bulbs which come in different wattages.

Bulbs also come in a number of colors from Day Light (5000K), Warm Light and Cool Light (6500K).

This fixture is called – Lithonia Lighting

4-Light Grey Fluorescent Heavy-Duty Shop Light

Most of my research indicates that the Cool White bulbs are as good as the special Grow lights which are much more expensive.  They do lack some of the red spectrum, so some sites recommend using a mixture of incandescent and cool white. That seems a bit complicated and more expensive.

In my experience over the years, plants do well under just about any types of fluorescent lights.

Here are the sites which talk about lights.

I’ve decided to do a mixture of Cool White and Warm Light/Daylight bulbs.

This light fixture is available from Home Depot or Amazon. It does seem to be built better than the typical shop light and can also be plugged into each other. They also have a pull on/off switch.

Click here for a comparison of LED versus Fluorescent Lights.

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