Please recommend a plant light that goes in a standard socket
April 13, 2020 7:40 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a plant growth light for veggies indoors, I am running up against all kinds of technical terms and designs that don't work for me, details within.

Every spring I get baby plants before it warms up enough and every spring I look for lights to get me through the cold time the plants must be indoors before I can put them out. When I search online for "grow lights" I get either big fancy multi-shelf complete systems (too expensive, more than I need or that I can fit inside right now) or industrial looking hanging fluorescent lights that require things like "ballast" and such, ( or even in one case arguments for using halogen which no no) this isn't the kind of light that I can put in my home. I would like for you to recommend to me some LED lights that will fit in a standard clamped lamp (such as these) and that will work well to keep veggies from getting leggy indoors for about three weeks. I also saw these . They seem to plug into the wall so if these are miles better than a round one that will fit in a reflector light then tell me that. Additionally, I saw this ask, it is pretty out of date and the recommendations are all not available any more plus the recommended lamps got some bad reviews. I would prefer to know about lights you seen used for a minimum of 8 months without trouble, but any reccs are welcome. I wish this weren't so hard to figure out.

This is for small (4 inch pot) vegetables (leafy) and baby leeks, but it would be great if the lights also worked for things like tomato seedlings and young tomatoes, since those are the most sensitive to frost and the young ones are apt to get leggy when they don't have enough light in the house. Thanks!
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been using these bulbs, in clamp-lights exactly like what you have, for the past 8 months or so, and it seems to be working fine for my succulents.

It makes the windows in my front room glow at dusk. I think the neighbors think I'm growing weed, but whatever ...
posted by mccxxiii at 7:55 PM on April 13, 2020

That clamp light listing shows the base of the bulb for that light. Most "standard" bulbs as we think of them are called "medium base" or "E26 or E27". Your light may have info on it if you didn't remove the sticker showing the base type it requires. Don't have a specific bulb rec but that should help your search for bulb type.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:04 PM on April 13, 2020

I have a single bulb of the light you linked to.
My sad plant in my too shady livingroom is much happier. Just search 'full spectrum grow light bulb'. They are cheap (under $3 on eBay) and fit into a regular socket. If you have a lot of plants, get the thing you linked to. They work great, last forever, and make your grow space a lovely purple.
posted by ananci at 9:17 PM on April 13, 2020

How many plants are you dealing with? Keep in mind that light is how plants get energy to grow, snd fast-growing plants (like veggies) need a lot of it. You’re trying to substitute for the sun! To succeed the light source will have to be both bright and close to the plants, so a common screw-base bulb will only be able to handle a few small pots no matter what special efficient, supposedly full-spectrum tech it’s based on.

The illustrations for that led panel you linked to are misleading about its size. It’s a foot long and less than 5” wide. It’s also described as equivalent to a 25w halogen, so it’s not very powerful either. Again, maybe good for a couple of small plants at very close range, but not even a small garden’s worth.

Long fluorescents are popular because they are a cheap way of delivering a lot of light over a larger area. One $10 shop-style fixture holds two 4’-long 32w bulbs, equivalent to almost 5 of the dairy-whip screw-in fluorescents that mccxxiii linked to.
posted by jon1270 at 11:52 PM on April 13, 2020

After doing similar research, I gave up on screw-in bulbs and ordered this panel. Hung easily, stays cool, gives me a big shelf (18” x 30”) worth of sunlight.
posted by sixswitch at 11:57 PM on April 13, 2020

My wife uses Växer lights from Ikea's indoor gardening line and is happy with them for I think the second year running now.
posted by Harald74 at 5:13 AM on April 14, 2020

CO-signing with jon1270 ... I have just a few small plants that are together on one square table, and I am able to fix the lamp so that the light is very close to them. I would need multiples of this setup to do any kind of volume at all.
posted by mccxxiii at 5:35 AM on April 14, 2020

I have used 2 of the square ones you linked to on a regular timer for the last 2 years. In the winter I use them to keep my houseplants happier (keeping them about a foot above the househplants), and then every spring I flip to using them to start seeds. They are cheap, easy to set up, and you can set them up directly over your seed starter trays so they don't get leggy at all.

I keep them at 2" above the tray until the seedlings are 4/5 leafed, and then raise them up a bit/start taking them outside on warm days. I start my seedlings in egg cartons, and I can get about 8 egg cartons of seedlings with good light. (so 8x12= 96 seedlings or so depending on germination rates)

Benefits: lets you get good light coverage over a wide area, cheap, easy to put away when you don't need them out, you can have houseplants in areas that have absolutely no natural lights
Cons: weird pink light, finish has slightly scratched after 2 years straight of using them and moving them around.
posted by larthegreat at 8:24 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been using this bulb in a normal socket. I bought the 'balanced spectrum' one because it was in an area where I would see the light and I didn't particularly like the idea of seeing purple light all the time. There are some caveats:

-The bulb is very heavy. That means that a lot of normal lamps will sag/tip over when in the correct position over a plant.
-The bulb is good for 1 lg or maybe 3 small plants. You would need a small array of them for more plants.

Overall I find the 'affordable' grow light industry to be a crap shoot in terms of delivering usable light. There are so many metrics that manufacturers list that don't actually correlate to performance - bulb wattage, number of LEDs, spectrum. That being said, I have bought and used those cheap, silicone-encased LED strip lights that are powered with 12VDC and they seem to work fine. I suspect the money I saved will be eaten up in lower efficiency per watt, but it was my first foray into artificial lighting so I'm happy I went with it.
posted by Dmenet at 9:14 AM on April 14, 2020

I use the regular base ikea ones, they are not too large to fit in a standard fixture and they seem to make plants happy! at this point I'm kind of skeptical of anything from Amazon being legit so if you can buy the GE one from elsewhere it might be worthwhile.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:25 AM on April 14, 2020

« Older Pandemic Anxiety, End of Life Affairs, and Moms...   |   How to ruminate productively? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.