Despite the initial cost, you will have a very large unit and will be able to adjust the shelves to be closer or farther away from the lights as needed. I have had very good success germinating and growing plants from seeds using this converted shelving unit.
I created two grow-light shelving units several years ago. This is how one of them turned out:
I used 2 Edsal Model # UR185L-BLK, 36 in. W x 18 in. D x 72 in. H Steel Commercial Shelving Units from a big box home improvement store that are used for garage shelving storage. In fact, that is originally what they were bought for, but I converted them into grow shelves. The shelves are adjustable. No bolts, just a hammer to pop the shelving in and out of the unit. I originally paid something like $50 each, but I see the price is about $15 more now. Still well worth it.
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The shelves are adjustable. You can move each shelf closer or farther away from the lights as needed.:
Here is a photo of my grow-light shelving units.:
The one modification I had to make to hang the shop light fixtures was to drill a hole through the 2 sides of the top shelf and both sides of the middle shelf. I drilled a hole in the center of each side panel. You have to drill a total of 4 holes per shelving unit. The idea is to hang the shop light fixture under the top shelf and under the middle shelf. (See how the shop lights are hung in my photos.) The drilled holes had to be large enough to get the shop light hanging chain through. I secured the chain using a long screw on the inside of the drilled hole in the frame.
The shelves on this unit are made out of particle board, so I lined the tops of the shelves with vinyl Con-Tact paper (which I had to tape down with clear wide packing tape on the ends to hold it in place because the ends curl up over time). This makes the top of each shelf appear to be white in the photos and makes them easy to wipe clean.:
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Insert one cool bulb and one warm bulb in each fixture. Hang the lights along the length of one of the shelves, parallel to one another. Make sure the bulbs alternate warm-cool-warm-cool.
Cost: About $150 for 1 shelf of lighting; additional lighting can be added later on (see costs & comparisons below)
*Prices online as of 3/8/2018
3 shelves of lighting (18 square ft): $599 or $33/sq ft
*Unit costs as of March 8, 2018. Prices subject to change. Found a better price? Let us know in the comments!
Try visiting your local plumbing and electric store for deals on lighting and fixtures. My local Grover Electric and Plumbing Supply had the light fixtures on sale for $10 recently!
1 Surge protector ($9.99* on Amazon)
Have you ever started your growing season with glee, only to be disappointed by spindly, weak seedlings? Don’t give up! You might be missing one critical factor in your seed-starting process: light. You can fix that problem by building an easy DIY grow light for seedlings. Simple, affordable parts from your local hardware store will do the trick.