Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Using T8 Flourescent Lights for Hydroponics

I've been using T8 flourescent lighting in my basement gardening project. I chose T8's because they are inexpensive. At 36 watts, they also use very little electricity. After using the lights for 5 weeks, I have a few observations I'd like to share.

  • Inexpensive price
  • Easily accessible
  • Low energy usage
  • Little heat build-up

  • Low light intensity
  • Short coverage area
  • Low heat build-up
You may have noticed that I mentioned heat build-up as a positive and a negative characteristic of the lights. A larger light with more intensity sometimes requires a cooling fan to ensure safe operation. The T8's low heat characteristics help make these lights safer to use indoors. I am using the lights in my basement where it does tend to be on the cooler side with temperatures in the mid-sixties or sometimes lower during the winter months. A warmer light would probably promote faster growth for my lettuce, spinach, collards, and kale in my deep water culture system, but in my own personal view I'm not sure the increased purchase price for the fixture, long term energy cost, and risk of excessive heat build-up would be worth it. I am personally satisified with the T8's so far. But, as you can see from the picture of the kale and collards below, I need to purchase additional lights to get proper light coverage for a wider area.


These pictures demonstrate growth, but at a much slower rate compared to the spinach and lettuce that are located more directly below the four T8 light bulbs that I am using. I have no doubt that if the kale and collards were located more directly below the T8 bulbs, the growth would be greater.  I plan to add two additional T8 fixtures in the future to improve my results.


  1. Nice post. I have a question, I noticed this company www. newandusedgrowlights .com built their whole website using your collards image. It's the top image on all their pages.

    Are we allowed to use your images for free for commercial purposes? Thanks and have a great day!

  2. Hi. Thanks for letting me know. I have contacted them to remind them that they really should have asked for permission before using the picture. It's likely that I wouldn't have minded if they asked for permission, but it would have been nice for credit to be given or at least a link on their website back to my site: www.backyardurbangardening.com