I Want Grow Lights—But!!!

Sooner or later most African violet enthusiast decide a light unit is an absolute necessity; but oh Boy!   Longingly browsing the catalogs can really be a discouraging journey.

I got to get a light shelf!

Check the internet and catalogs.  A large grow light is not an item a budget conscious retiree can readily spend a few hundred dollars to enjoy.

Economy is the mother of invention; if I want a larger grow light unit this is certainly going to have to be true.

Judicious shopping and a little time produce:

  • 48″ x 18″ x 64″ high unit with 3 shelves (each double light fixture); each shelf will accommodate 4 standard 11″ x 22″ trays
  • top storage shelf
  • bottom area with a  covered 36″x21″x20″ high covered storage unit that pulls out serving as a work surface, plus an out of the way 9″x17″ trash can

Folks, floor space less than 2′x4′– 18 square feet of growing space – all that storage space priced about $200.

Considerable savings compared to commercially available units.     Check it out! 4 shelf unit — 74″x27″x23″ – 2 standard trays per shelf– no storage area.   The price tag–about $500! (Note this IS NOT a 48″ shelf)

My shopping list:

  • 1ea  74″x48″x18″ wire storage shelf unit (rated to support 350lbs/shelf) (available in black no extra charge in my area)
  • 3ea  48″ double tube shop lights with reflector hoods  (for T-8 tubes) (available with black reflectors-extra cost)
  • 6ea  48″ fluorescent T-8  fluorescent tubes
  • 1ea  multiple outlet extension cord
  • 1 ea  indoor light timer single outlet
  • 1 ea 36 x 21 x 20 covered plastic storage container/wheels
  • 1 ea 9″x 17″ plastic trash can
  • 24 ea  11 3/4″x9 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ aluminum roaster baking pans with lids
  • 3ea 12″x12″x 8″ plastic pull out storage drawers
  • 1ea  7″ x10″x 8″  plastic 2 drawer storage  unit
  • 1 ea bag of plastic ties

Assembly could not be easier

1.  Remove shelf unit from carton and assemble using 4 of the shelves ( helper simplifies things, but can be assembled without help)

Snap the support ring onto each post with top of ring 21″ from floor; slip first shelf onto the 4 poles locking into position over rings;

Measure upward 16″ from top edge of this shelf locking support ring, 16″mark and snap ring on post; Repeat step installing 2 more shelves.  Top shelf will be about 65″ from floor; leaving a space to put storage bins; or a 5th shelf.

2.   Unpack shop light fixtures; hang 1 fixture under each of 3 shelves using hooks and chain provided attaching to center bar of shelf;  make sure cord of each faces the same end of shelves.

For neat appearance pull electrical cord of top unit straight down and fasten to lower cord with a plastic tie, repeat with next 2 cords fastening against shelf with tie so the cords bundle hangs straight.

Use plastic ties to securely attach extension outlet strip to bottom shelf frame.

Plug light fixture cords into outlet extensions; Extension plugs into the timer, set for 10 hours of light , then plug timer into  wall outlet.

Voila’!  For less than $150 I have a fully functioning large plant light unit

To add storage space add a 36″x21″x20 covered plastic wheeled storage container which fits neatly on the floor under first shelf  (easily pulls from under the unit for  use as  flat work surface); a small 9″x17″ trash can goes beside the storage container.

Above top shelf install 3 plastic 12″x12″ drawer units plus one 2 drawer 7″x10″ unit (all these units are about 9″ high).  Secure all units to shelf frame with plastic ties.

If appearance is a special concern, these shelves are available in black; light assemblies are also available in black  at a higher cost.  Shopping the closet accessories department can yield beautiful storage boxes that work perfectly and look great—cost actually is comparable to the plastic  storage drawers.

Limited space, but still got violet fever?

Smaller versions of these wire shelving units are available which will easily accommodate the 24” grow light units available at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.  Assembly as described for the larger units; adjust from different height and number of shelves.