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Cir1137 How to Build a Plant Lighting System1Sydney Park Brown, Kathleen C. Ruppert, Kalmer D. Hendry and Bart Schutzman2 1. This document is Cir1137, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date September 2007. Reviewed November 2010. Revised June 2011. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u.edu 2. S ydney Park Brown, associate professor and consumer horticulture specialist; Kathleen C. Ruppert, former assistant professor; Kalmer D. Hendry, former student assistant (1993); Bart Schutzman, senior computer program analyst; Department of Environmental Horticulture, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or aliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim Deane publication provides detailed, easy-to-follow instructions for building an inexpensive, portable plant lighting system for hobby use, horticulture therapy programs, classrooms, etc. Table 1 provides a list of supplies and tools required for assembly. e type of light xture you use with this system depends on which plants you want to grow (Table 2) and the amount of light they need. To determine this, consider where they grow best outdoors in full sun, part shade, or shade? Table 3 provides information on the various articial lights used for growing plants and a brief explanation of their benets and drawbacks. All PVC pipe should be: 1 inch 10 foot lengths Schedule 40 Without bell (ared) ends All PVC ttings should be: 1 inch slip (not threaded) Schedule 40 From the same manufacturer. Casters can be 1 1/4, but select a larger size such as 2 if the cart will be frequently moved around. Select a drill bit that corresponds to the size indicated on the package. Casters are not necessary if the lighting system will not be moved. How to AssembleStep 1. Measure and mark each of the four, 10-foot lengths of PVC pipe at the following positions: 36, 57, 78, 91, 101, 111, 113, 115, and 117. Cut them with a PVC cutting tool. A hacksaw is not recommended because of inaccuracy, but if you must use one, a miter box will help keep the cuts straight. Cuts at these positions will produce the following lengths from each pipe (See Figure 1): F rom the four lengths, this will give a grand total of: A co mplete diagram of PVC parts is shown in Figure 2 including pieces cut to size and extra ttings, i.e., Ts (tees), Ls (ells), Xs (crosses) and caps.
2Extra accessories, including casters, shelving strips, plastic ties, silicone caulk, PVC cement and timer, as well as a drill and a PVC cutter, are pictured in Figure 3.Assemble the Top FrameStep 2. Assemble four combinations of the PVC pipe and ttings in this order: an L, a 2 piece of pipe, a T, a 10 piece of pipe, and a second T, as shown in Figure 4. Notice that two of the assemblies are mirror-images of the other two. When joining the pieces, it is essential that the upright parts (Ts) are at a perfect 90 degree angle from the other Ts and Ls so the structure will be square and true. If necessary, line up the parts against a oor and wall known to be square (use a T-square if you have one) when gluing. If using PVC primer prior to gluing, read label instructions on primer rst. Caution. j oined, parts cannot be separated. Make sure the PVC is aligned correctly before you glue: you wont get a second chance! Practice putting components together before you begin gluing. Use just enough cement to hold components together. However, be sure to glue both the inside and outside portions of the components to be secured. Conspicuous color dierences will result at joints where excessive amounts of PVC cement are used. Step 3. Join the mirror image assemblies together using two of the 13 pipe lengths, as shown in Figure 5. If done Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4.
3correctly, the Ls on the ends of each assembly will face in the same direction. Step 4. Join the two assemblies made in Step 3 together with four 21 pipe lengths, as shown in Figure 6. is completes the top frame of the lighting system. Assemble the Bottom FrameStep 5. To put together the bottom frame of the lighting system, assemble four sets of pvc pipe and ttings as follows: an L, a 2 pipe length, an X, a 10 pipe length and a T as shown in Figure 7. e four sets will be identical. Caution: It will be tricky, but it is important to make these parts join at perfect 90 degree angles. Step 6. Similar to the procedure used for the top frame, join two of the assemblies from Step 5 together, each with a 13 pipe length. e Ls at the ends of each assembly should face in the same direction, as pictured in Figure 8 Step 7. Connect the two units from Step 6 together with four 21 pipe lengths. is completes the bottom frame of the lighting system (Figure 9 ). Step 8. Join the bottom frame to the top frame with the four 36 pipe lengths (Figure 10 ). If you plan to transport the system from one location to another, the assemblies can simply be joined without cement so they can be taken apart, moved, and later reassembled. Step 9. If casters are not desired, add the 2 pipe lengths with caps attached unto the bottom frame. If casters are to be used, rst drill the appropriate hole size in the four caps Figure 5. Figure 6. Figure 7. Figure 8.
4for the caster stem. Attach each cap to a 2 pipe length and insert the caster into the drilled hole. Insert each caster assembly into the bottom frame. Complete the Lighting SystemStep 10. Attach the lights you have chosen (see Table 3) to the frame according to manufacturer instructions (Figure 11 ). Bulbs should be installed aer light xtures are in position. Step 11. Connect the shelf strips to the bottom platform with plastic cable ties. Use silicone caulking generously at the ends of the shelving strips (Figure 1 2) because these may be sharp and could cause injury to young children. An alternative to caulking is to bevel the sharp corners and edges with a le. e completed lighting system is shown in Figure 1 3 Figure 9. Figure 10. Figure 11. Figure 12. Figure 13.
5Step 12. Connect your completed lighting system to a nearby wall outlet by means of an extension cord connected through a timer. Place plastic ats across the across the shelf strips. Small potted plants and/or cell packs of owering annuals can then be placed inside the ats. Happily growing plants (such as the African Violet in (Figure 14), will be the end result of a well-constructed lighting system. ReferencesBuying the Right Indoor Plant Grow Light, 2007. http:// www.homeharvest.com/whichgrowlightisrightforme.htm Growing plants under uorescent light. Union Electric Company: St. Louis, Missouri. Pranis, E. and J. Hale. 1988, revised 2006. GrowLab: A complete guide to gardening in the classroom. National Gardening Association: Burlington, Vermont. Figure 14.
6 Table 1. Supplies and Tools Required Supplies Required 4 10 length, schedule 40, 1 PVC pipe (without bell end i.e., un-ared) 12 1 T (tee) ttings 8 1 90 L (ell) ttings 4 1 X (cross) ttings 4 1 cap 1 9 heavy duty (grounded, 3-prong) extension cord with enough outlets to accommodate the light xtures and the timer 1 small can PVC cement 1 small can of PVC primer (optional) 4 1 1/4 or 2 casters (optional) 1 small tube silicone caulking 2 48 shelf bracket strips (pilasters) 1 24 hour timer with grounded 3-prong outlet 1 pkg8 cable ties Plastic ats or trays without drainage holes Tools Required: PVC cutter, drill (if using casters see caster package for size of drill bit required), slotted screwdriver, pliers, measuring tape, pencil.
7 Table 2. Some suggested plants for growing indoors under articial light; many other plants are also suitable. (Note: Some of these plants should not be planted outdoors due to their invasive growth habit.) Scientic Name Common Name Scientic Name Common Name Aglaonema species Chinese Evergreen Hoya carnosa Wax Plant Anthurium species Anthurium Impatiens species Impatiens Begonia species Begonia Peperomia species Pepper Face Chlorophytum elatum Spider Plant Philodendron species Philodendron Cissus rhombifolia Grape Ivy Platycerium species Staghorn Fern Crossandra species Crossandra Polyscias species Ming Aralias Dracaena species Dracaena Rhoeo spathacea Moses-in-the-Cradle Dieenbachia species Dumb Cane Saintpaulia ionantha African Violet Dizygotheca elegantissima False Aralia Sansevieria species Mother-in-law Epipremnum aureum Pothos Sinningia speciosa Gloxinia Exacum ane Persian Violet Spathiphyllum species Peace Lily Ficus species Ornamental Ficus Syngonium species Nephthytis Fittonia verschaeltii Polka Dot Plant Tradescantia species Wandering Jew Gynura sarmentosa Velvet Plant Zebrina pendula Wandering Jew Hedera helix English Ivy Many other plants
8 Table 3. Various articial lights used for growing plants and a brief explanation of their benets and drawbacks. Type Comments Life of Bulb Incandescent Bulb Not a true grow light; generates heat which can damage plants 750 hours Standard FluorescentCool, ecient light; must be no farther than 4 inches from plants 20,000 hours High Output Fluorescent (HOF) Produces twice the light of standard uorescent; cool 10,000 hours Compact FluorescentBulbs, not tubes; mounted in special reectors; cool 10,000 hours Fluorescent/HID HybridCombines bright, cool light of (HOF) with broad, even coverage of high intensity discharge (HID) 10,000 hours Metal Hylide (MH) HIDOutput resembles sunlight in color; induces compact plant growth, owering and fruiting 10,000 20,000 hours High Pressure Sodium (HPS) HID Enhances owering and fruiting; plants will stretch and appear o-color due to yellow light of HPS 2 years HPS/MH CombinationTwo types of bulbs create an ideal growing light with high output; some xtures allow switching from one type of light to the other See above