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Discussion Starter #1
This is a quick rundown of my homebuilt seed germinator/plant starter.  This is the first year for this one.  

Total cost:  $0.00.  (The eight light bulbs did cost around $40).  I got these at Walmart and they are plant/aquariam bulbs.  Took me right around four hours to build and a little extra to wire everything.  The legs are built from Furring strips in a "L" design, the two racks are built from 2x4's and the cross members/supports are built with furring strip scraps.  Very sturdy as I counter sunk each screw to prevent wood splitting.  

The lights are old 4 bulb x 48" shop lights that we had from an old office building with suspended ceilings.  The plastic pieces you see on the base of the top and bottom are actually the bug shields which would go in the light.  When I built the wooden rack I built it in such a way that the lights would be contained within the "L" design of the legs.

The lights are suspended by Eye/Loop hooks with nuts through the light housing and the "wood screw" versions for the eyes that go into the wood.

The lights are then suspended by small ropes which are secured with a recycled boat cleat to secure them.  This permits a system which can be adjusted and suspended from any height.   When I wired the lights together I left additional wiring to allow the travel of the lights.  Also I wired in a switch box so that when the system is in use I can turn off the bottom bank of lights to save electricity while the seedlings are in the process of germinating and I don't need the bottom bank.  Plugged into the wall is a regular analog light timer which allows for 16 hours on, 8 hours off.  I've had good luck with this so far this season.  I lined the top of the shelving unit with plastic to retain some heat.  I was able to maintain perfect temperature inside of my jiffy pot greenhouses while the seeds were germinating.  

Let me know what you all think.  I am happy with the system so far.  I will add another cleat though so that the two ropes from the top bank will be on one cleat and the two ropes from the bottom bank will be on a seperate cleat.

You will see in the picture that as some plants grow taller I move them to one side and therefore can raise that side of the lights.  That way the smaller plants are not shaded by the taller and all can gather enough light.













 

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Looks good. I would recomment covering the back and two sides with sheets of alum. foil. This traps more light and reflects it back to the plants. I used to do this with mine until I put it in our bay window which allows more natural light to enter from three sides.
 

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Glock I was thinking of doing that but thought it might trap too much heat, plus I was trying to think of a way to strengthen the foil, like backing it with something. That way if a seed tray hit it it wouldn't tear open.
 

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I wouldn't worry about the heat. I keep my 4ft flourescent bulbs as close as possible to my plants. There have been times that my plants have actually touched the bulbs for a few days and it did no harm. My set up is similar but I move my lights up and down, not the shelves.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Glock,

In this case I move my lights up and down as they are suspended with rope. I'm really glad with how it's worked out so far. Like you said above the plants were touching for a while and they didn't get affected.
 
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