How Can I Hang an Adjustable Reflector in a Box-Grow?

This if for those who have a small area or box that is made of wood, dry-wall, or other material that can use screw or bolt attachments. There may be the possibility to use silicone or “Hard as Nail” to glue the thin shelf upright into place, however I don’t know how much weight it would hold. Also, the shelf support will need to be tapped into place to secure any adjustment.

Here you can see all that was purchased. Not seen is a screw driver and screws. This little project cost me $7 US from a home improvement store and the materials were found in the shelving department. I needed a box of self-drilling drywall anchors, because the walls of this grow chamber are drywall. If you have solid wood or even plywood, you will not need these.

Now you can see that the hood is hanging from the ceiling by chain and causing plenty of congestion with wires and such. My goal is to clean this mess up a little and minimize the movement and noise of the light hood when it hits the walls inside the box from the fan that constantly runs.

Measure, center, and install the shelf upright.

The shelf upright I am installing is 24” long and the grow chamber is 12” deep by 24” wide. (1) Measure your micro grow area and mark the center near the top and bottom of the projected shelf upright length. (2) Attach upright with screws or bolts.

The horizontal shelf support used here is 16” long. (3) Lightly tap the support into place at the desired height.

Attach Reflector
After more stoner ingenuity, I used a couple of links off of the chain I discarded. There is enough left/right movement with this set-up, so you can make more adjustments.

Just slide the light hood into place and you are done. This took about 5 minutes – maybe longer because I stopped to burn one while deciding how I would attach the reflector to the support so that it could slide.

I also put a bead of type II silicon around the edge of the home made reflector; because it was marking up a fresh coat of ultra bright white flat latex paint.

Here is the finished product!

Author: Home Grown Hero

What Do All Of Those Lighting Terms Mean?

This glossary will help you understand terms commonly used in the world of lighting. AVERAGE LIFE – The life expectancy of a lamp, based on laboratory tests.

AMPERE (AMP) – The unit used to measure the strength of an electric current.

ARC – The luminous discharge of electricity between two electrodes in HID lighting.

ARC DISCHARGE – A transfer of electricity across two electrodes (anode and cathode), characterized by high electrode current densities and a low voltage drop at the electrode.

ARC TUBE – The enclosure which contains the luminous gases and also houses the arc.

BALLAST – An auxiliary piece of equipment designed to start and to properly control the flow of power to gas discharge light sources such as fluorescent and high intensity discharge lamps. In metal halide systems, it is composed of the transformer, capacitor and connecting wiring; sodium systems require an ignitor in addition to the transformer and capacitor.

BASE – The end of the lamp that inserts into the lamp socket.

BU – An industry code indicating that the bulb is to be operated only in a base up position.

BULB – The glass outer envelope component of an HID lamp which protects the arc tube.

BURNING POSITION – The position in which a lamp is designed to be

CAPACITOR – An electronic device that can store electrical charge. The capacitor is one of the main components of an HID lighting ballast. Because they can store a very strong electrical charge, capacitors can be very dangerous to someone who is unaware of this fact and opens a ballast in order to examine or repair it. If one does not know how to safely discharge the stored electricity, one should allow a trained technician to do any ballast repairs.

COLD START TIME – The length of time required to bring an HID lamp to 90% light output from a cold condition.

COLOUR TEMPERATURE or KELVIN TEMPERATURE – The unit of measurement to express the colour (spectrum) of light emitted by a lamp.

CONVERSION BULB – A bulb of a certain spectrum type (e.g. sodium) specially designed to operate while used in the fixture/ballast of a different type (e.g. metal halide). The most popular conversion bulbs by far are sodium conversion bulbs, which allow one to have the sodium spectrum while still using a metal halide system.

DOME – The portion of an HID outer bulb located opposite base (the neck and threads).

DOME SUPPORT – The spring-like brackets which mount the arc tube within the outer envelope (bulb).

DISCHARGE LAMP – A lamp that produces light by discharging an electric arc through a mixture of gases and gaseous metals.

ELECTRODES – Filaments located at either end of a discharge lamp that maintain an electrical arc between them.

FIXTURE – The electrical fitting used to contain the electric components of a lighting system.

FLUORESCENT LAMP – A discharge lamp in which a phosphor coating transforms ultraviolet energy into visible light. Fluorescent lamps are good for starting seedlings and rooting cuttings, but do not have enough intensity to sustain aggressive growth in plants in the later stages of life, and are not efficient enough in their conversion of electrical power to light output.

FREQUENCY – The number of waves or cycles of electromagnetic radiation per second, usually measured in Hertz (Hz).

HALOGEN LAMP – A short name for the tungsten-halogen lamp. Halogen lamps are high pressure incandescent lamps containing halogen gases such as iodine or bromine which allow the filaments to be operated at higher temperatures and higher efficacies. While excellent for home lighting and similar applications, halogen lamps are not effective or efficient as grow lights due to their very poor spectrum (extreme far red) and high operating temperatures.

(HID) HIGH-INTENSITY DISCHARGE LAMP – A general term for mercury, metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps. HID lamps contain compact arc tubes which enclose various gases and metal salts operating at relatively high pressures and temperatures.

(HPS) HIGH-PRESSURE SODIUM LAMP – High-pressure sodium lamps operate by igniting sodium, mercury and xenon gases within a sealed ceramic arc tube. Sodium lamps emit light energy in the yellow/red/orange regions of the spectrum; the red spectrum stimulates flowering and fruit production. Many indoor gardeners switch to sodium lamps when it is time to induce flowering or fruiting of their plants.

HOOD – The reflective cover used in conjunction with an HID lamp. The more reflectivity a hood can provide, the more effective it is.

HOR – An industry code indicating that the bulb is to be operated in a horizontal position.

HOT SPOT (in this case relative to bulb and not reflective material) – The area immediately under an HID lamp where the light intensity is strongest, hot spots cause uneven growth, but can be remedied by using light movers or air-cooling the encased hood.

HOT START TIME – The length of time required to bring an HID lamp to 90% light output after a short power interruption.

IGNITOR – A component of the ballast necessary for the starting of the bulb in sodium systems.

INCANDESCENT LAMP – A light source which generates light utilizing a thin filament wire (usually of tungsten) heated to white heat by an electric current passing through it. Incandescent lamps are the most familiar type of light source, with countless application in homes, stores and other commercial settings. Light is produced by passing electric current through a thin wire filament, usually a tungsten. Incandescent lamps are totally ineffective as grow lights; they have very limited spectrum, are very inefficient in their conversion of electrical power to light output they also put off far too much heat per watt to use in horticulture, even if the above-mentioned problems did not exist.

INTENSITY – A term referring to the magnitude of light energy per unit; light intensity diminishes evenly as you get further from the source.

KELVIN TEMPERATURE (K) – The unit of measurement to express the colour (spectrum) of light emitted by a lamp; the absolute temperature of a blackbody radiator having a chromaticity equal to that of the light source. A standard clear metal halide HID lamp has an average Kelvin temperature rating of 4,000K.

KILOWATT (kW) – A unit of electric power usage equal to 1,000 watts.

KILOWATT HOUR (kWh) – A measurement of electric energy. A kilowatt hour is equal to 1,000 watts of power used over a period of one hour.

LAMP – An electrically energized source of light, commonly called a bulb or tube.

LAMP LIFE – A measure of lamp performance, as measured in median hours of burning time under ANSI test conditions.

LAMP DEPRECIATION (LD) – The decrease over time of lamp output, caused by bulb wall blackening, phosphor exhaustion, filament depreciation, and other factors.

LAMP STARTING – Generic term used to describe a discharge lamp’s starting characteristics in terms of time to come to full output, flicker, etc.

LIGHT MOVER – A motorized device which moves an HID lamp back and forth across the ceiling of a grow room to provide more even distribution of the light and reduce hotspots.
LUMEN – A measurement of light output; relative to human perception
which refers to the amount of light emitted by one candle that falls on one square foot of surface located at a distance of one foot from the candle.

LUMINA IRE – A complete lighting unit, consisting of a lamp or lamps together with the components required to distribute the light, position the lamps, and connect the lamps to a power supply. Often referred to as a “fixture.”

(MH) METAL HALIDE LAMP – A high-intensity-discharge lamp in which the light is produced by arcing electricity through a mixture of metal halides. The light produced by metal halide lamps is in the white-blue spectrum, which encourages vegetative growth and “bushiness” while discouraging upward growth. This is the bulb to use in the first, vegetative phase of plant growth.

(MV) MERCURY VAPOUR LAMPS – The oldest member of the HID family, mercury vapour lamps work by arcing electricity through mercury vapour. While more efficient than incandescent, halogen and fluorescent lamps, mercury vapour lamps are the least effective of the entire HID family. This, combined with an improper colour spectrum for horticultural applications, makes mercury vapour lamps a poor choice for a grow light.

MOG – Mogul base.

MOL – Maximum overall length of a lamp, from the tip of the base to the top of the bulb.

NECK – The narrow, tubular end of the HID bulb, attached to the threads.

PARABOLIC REFLECTOR – A lighting distribution control device that is designed to redirect the light from an HID lamp in a specific direction. In most applications, the parabolic device directs light down and away from the direct glare zone.

PHOTOPERIOD – The relative periods of light and dark periods within a 24-period. Also referred to as day length.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS – The growth process by which plants build chemical compounds (carbohydrates) from light energy, water and CO2 (carbon dioxide).

PHOTOTROPISM – The gravitation of a plant part toward a light source.

REFLECTOR – The term sometimes used to refer to the reflective hood of an HID lamp.

REFLECTIVITY – The measure of the reflective quality of a surface; the relative ability of a given surface to reflect light away from it without absorbing, diffusing or otherwise compromising the light’s quality, intensity and spectrum.

SOCKET – The threaded, wired receptacle that an HID bulb screws into.

SON-AGRO – A sodium bulb which, according to the manufacturer, produces 30% more blue light than standard sodium bulbs. The 430-watt SON AGRO also emits 6% more light than the standard 400-watt sodium lamp.

SPECULA REFLECTION – The redirection of incident light without diffusion at an angle that is equal to and in the same plane as the angle of incidence. The secular inserts included in Hydrofarm’s HID lighting systems work on this principle.

TRANSFORMER – The component in the ballast that transforms electric current from one voltage to another.

U (for UNIVERSAL) – An industry code indicating that the bulb can be operated in any position: horizontal, vertical (base up) or any other.

ULTRAVIOLET (UV) LIGHT – Light with very short wavelengths, out of the visible spectrum.

WATT (W) – A unit used to measure electric power. One watt equals one joule/second.

Author: Mr.Zog

What Are Compact Fluorescents And How Can I Use Them For Growing?

Compact fluorescents are close relatives of the 4ft tube fluorescents, commonly used in shops and schools for their white, soft light that does not cast any defined shadows. These lights are long tubes, usually 4ft long, filled with a gas that releases a photon of light when excited by electricity. The electricity is passed through the tube from the metal sections at either end, thus exciting the gas within and releasing photons of light. These lights must have a ‘starter’ which gets the light going initially, unlike incandescent which can just be turned on and off without one. Regular fluorescents usually emit 18w of light per tube, and cannot be plugged straight into a wall socket.

Compact fluorescents, on the other hand, are made for use in regular light sockets, and can easily be installed by anyone with basic handyman skills. Compact fluorescents are usually around 8inches long (not including the ballast, which usually adds about 3 inches to the total length) and emit minimal amounts of heat from the globe itself. Most of the heat emitted from a compact fluorescent comes from the ballast. These lights are usually between 8w and 27w, although some variation may occur between brands and uses. The main reason people choose CF’s over regular fluoro’s is their compact ability! They are very ‘movable’ and can be positioned almost everywhere. They put out MUCH more light than their bigger cousins, while using only a fraction of the space. Some of the many varieties of compact fluorescents.

If you’re running a large grow setup, and you’re concerned about the spike in electricity, replace your regular light bulbs with compact fluoro’s around the house! They give off the same light, using only a fraction of the electricity. If you’re running a HID light, and the electricity increase could kill you financially, or you’re just worried about LEO, it might be a good idea to replace incandescent with compact fluoro’s. As an example, a 100w incandescent uses most of its energy giving off heat. If you replace all these 100w incandescent bulbs with ~20w energy saving compact fluoro’s, you can dramatically reduce your energy bill, and help the environment at the same time. In fact, I recommend changing all your lights to CF’s regardless of your growing situation, as they will save you $$ in the long-term, and save the environment. The advantage with these lights is that the conversion from incandescent isn’t complicated! Simply un-screw the old bulb, and screw in a compact fluoro! Done! You’re on your way to energy saving paradise!

Every grower has, or still uses these lights. Although they don’t even come close to the results from a HID light, they do however provide a cheap alternative for a newbie ‘dabbling’ in the fine art of growing. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on an HID light, a newbie can purchase a compact fluorescent for a few bucks, and still have money for a coffee on the way home.

These lights are also excellent for starting seedlings and clones, as their cool light will not dry out the soil as fast as an HID. They have a low intensity, and are gentle on newly germinated seedlings, and are great for clones as they wont dry them out or give them too much of an early blast. Compact fluoro’s are also great for stealth grows, as they can be kept about 1 inch from the plants, and do not require extensive heat ventilation due to their warm operating temperature.

Most lighting stores will sell them, but watch out, prices are very different depending on what type of shop you get them at! As lighting shops only sell lighting equipment, their prices can either be high or low, it really depends on the type of lighting shop it is. A designer lighting shop may end up being much more expensive, as they tend to be more directed towards the upper-class designer type customer, which extra $$ to spend. Hardware’s sell them, but their variety of lights is usually limited. Electricians, and assorted electrical shops will sell them, and this is most likely where you will get the best range and the best prices. My advice to you is, shop around! You wont regret it when you can save around 30% per light.

For anyone growing cannabis, it is pointless to buy a weak light. Given the option of 8w, 15w and 27w, you would be stupid not to buy the 27watt, as they are more or less the same price. Compare the lumen output of each of the bulbs, different 27w bulbs may have different lumen outputs (depending on the manufacturer) and as with everything, the more lumens the better. You will also be given 2 options, the screw method of fitting, or the bayonet method (push and turn). My preference is the bayonet fitting. Make sure that you choose the right one for your socket! Also, do not choose a regular compact fluoro. Pick the one with the energy saving feature (will be explained why later on in the document). Now, for vegetative growth you should choose the ‘cool white’ light. This is also acceptable for flowering, but a ‘warm white’ light will be better as it is stronger in the red end of the light spectrum which is more suitable for flowering.

Now, this is extremely easy. As these bulbs fit normal light fixtures, you can just dismantle and old lamp to get the cord, plug and bulb fixture. This is ready made, as all you have to do is plug the cord into a wall outlet and screw in a bulb (with the power turned off, of course). This requires no electrical knowledge at all, and is the easiest way to get a cord suitable for a compact fluoro. The cord is simply removed from the lamp, and you are ready. If you feel you are not up to this task, or you do not have an old lamp ready to be destroyed, you can easily make one of these cords with basic electrical knowledge. Hardware’s and electricians will sell you the cable (you’ll need at least 1 meter) and the fittings for the wall socket and the light. Just tell them you’re making a lamp for pottery and need a few cables to make up yourself. The parts are cheap, and you can save $$$ this way. If you have any queries, the electrical store will know exactly what type of cables you need etc, and will be more than happy to give you instructions on how to put it all together.

Please note that this is a guide for regular compact fluoro’s. There are some outdoor varieties (which are rare) that need to be fitted specially. This FAQ is written for the regular compact fluoro’s, the ones that are most accessible to the general population. Other varieties of compact fluoro’s are hard to find, but may or may not be better for growing. As I have little experience with these rare lights, I cannot comment on them. The reason I haven’t seen them before, is because they are almost non-existent where I live.

To build this reflector you will need a regular soda can, any brand will do, which you will need to rinse thoroughly until no residue is left inside. You will also need a good pair or scissor and a robust kitchen knife to cut the metal accordingly. An alternate method to remove the lid, would be to use a can opener. The lip of the lid can be used, and it will cut it cleanly. These tools should be chosen carefully as they will determine over failure or success of this construction. A lack of caution and a sharp metal edge can be fatal to your fingertips so think twice if your tools are capable of doing the job.

How and where to cut:
Firstly, draw a plan of your cutting path on the outside of the can using a permanent marker or a wax crayon. This will aid you to get a better overview of you plan and to avoid silly mistakes on the way. Cutting the top part of the can out needs to be done first, adjusting the opening according to the size of your bulb. You do not have to cut it exactly to shape as glue (super or high-temp hot glue) can be used to stick the reflector to the bulb ballast later on. A can opener is the preffered tool for this job. The reflector is purposely not covering the ballast to ensure good aeration and to avoid damage to the ballast components, resulting in a short circuit.

Next, you will need to cut the main part of your soda can in half using your scissors. A hole may need to be drilled first using your kitchen knife to get a good starting point for the scissors. The inside of the can is coated with a thin plastic layer that should not cause any trouble cutting through the sheet metal. The bottom side of the can does not have to remain in place but leaving it will add stability to the reflector and enhance the reflectivity. An extra hole can be cut into the bottom as well to improve ventilation along the bulb or to connect a 50mm pc-fan to the end.

Lastly, two more cuts have to be made into the sides of the semi-circle reflector to ensure that the sides do not reflect the light back to its origin but rather focus it to where it is needed. The reflector can now be bent according to your light requirements thus making it possible to focus it directly on your plants. If your reflector does not quite fit the bulb yet you can now use glue to stick it to the ballast.

The main advantages of modifying your compact fluorescent are: Reduced length of compact fluorescent. Reduced heat build up (increased air-flow.) No need for pre-made light sockets, saving you money. There is an even cheaper and more compact solution than to spend the extra cash on unnecessary light sockets and to end up with less usable space due to clumsy fixtures. All these problems can be avoided easily if one knows how to skips wiring a bulb socket and instead going straight to wiring the bulb itself. This requires some adjustments and modifications of the bulb casing but it can be done by simply following the steps provided.

For this example I will use a 23W Phillips fluoro bulb which is ideally used in confined spaces due to its compact size. The following pictures will illustrate the process of re-wiring this bulb and modifying it to meet the requirements of compact size and low cost. This is the bulb I was referring to (23W, 1500 lumen) Notice the upside-down “U” shaped tubes. These will require less airflow to cool the bulb as the air can move freely in between the tubes unlike those of conventional stick-like coils. First, get a good pair of bending or clamping tongs and squeeze them tightly to the round connector plate of your CP fluoro and gently twist it off.

Never twist it off in a COMPLETE circular motion as the wires inside are still attached to the receptor plates and can sometimes break/rip if you apply too much pressure by twisting. Pulling is better than twisting. You will end up with two different wires sticking out the end. In this case, I cut the remaining plastic bit off in order to reduce the overall length of the bulb.

You will need to open the bulb ballast in order to make 2 separate holes in the plastic casing of the bulb for the two wires. This isn’t hard at all, you simply need to drive a screwdriver in between the upper and the lower part of the casing and gently push them apart. There will be no glue required to stick them back together as the bulb has a push-slide-lock mechanism that simply snaps them back together. When you open the bulb, you should something similar to this even though not all ballasts are the same, depending on the manufacturer.

Now you need to drill two holes at the appropriate height for the two wires to be pulled through. Since its plastic that isn’t all that hard either and can even be done with a pair of scissors. After that, its just about putting the pieces back together and making sure the wires come through their designated hole. You can use hot glue to hold those wires in place but this is not recommended as the heat in that area of the bulb casing is very intense. Use only High-Temp glue!

If you are short of space or simply want a rigid construction, you can cut the bottom plastic part of the bulb of and use a bigger piece to distribute the weight more evenly. I used med-high temperature translucent hot glue to fit a piece of a 2” black PVC pipe onto the end of the bulb thus completely eliminating the need for a socket. This is just an optional step, as the bulb will hold without the extra support by simply gluing the sawed-off end to the predestined wall.

(ATTENTION: DO NOT USE the regular LOW TEMP Hot glue as it will melt at temperatures above 130 degrees Celsius which the bulb is capable of generating. ONLY, when gluing something DIRECTLY to the bulb casing, USE THE MEDIUM-HIGH temp. Hot glue, which will withstand significantly higher temperatures.) Voila the final product of which you can wire as many in series or parallel as you desire. You can place these bulbs literally anywhere due their compact size and the low heat production, keeping in mind that the bare minimum between leaf tips and bulb should be 1cm (2/5 of an inch). Anything closer will result in prompt or delayed leaf burn.

This is just an example of how well suited these bulbs are for small spaces such as stealth boxes and small cloning chambers. It also illustrates the importance of ventilation as the smaller the box, the stronger the ventilation has to be to exchange the hot air buildup sufficiently. This method is ideal for those who wish to wire a number of bulbs without spending even more money on bulb sockets. These might seem cheap when compared to the pricing of the bulb, but in the log run it is better to save a few bucks here and instead invest them in another area of growing or even another bulb. There is no need to have a possibility of replacement as the average lifetime guarantee on these bulbs lie between 10000 and 15000 hours, which means nearly two years of continuous use.

It all depends on what light you are using, if it’s HID, standard fluoro or compact fluoro (I assume you’re not using halogens!). For HID (HPS or MH) lighting, use roughly 30w per square foot, and for flowering use around 60w per square foot. This is merely a guide, your plant, light height; reflective surfaces etc make a huge difference on these numbers. For a small plant, below 1ft tall, I’d say you would need at least 25w of fluorescent light. I find that it isn’t at all practical to use tube fluoro’s for the vegetative stage past 6 inches, as only the top of the plant is receiving enough light to carry out photosynthesis properly.

Using an energy saving compact fluoro will help ‘push’ the light to the base of the plant, assisting photosynthesis. If the plant indicates it needs more light by growing slowly, and with small leaf petioles, you may need more light. Go with the basic rule of keeping the fluoro’s very close, and using roughly 20-30w per square foot for strong vegetative growth. If you can afford to over-light your grow room, why not? You wont regret it when your plant is bushy and healthy. If you feel that you need to only purchase a minimum amount of lights, you probably shouldn’t be growing. Growing takes effort and money, and if you can’t support a plants needs you might as well just forget growing until you can afford a proper setup. Skimping on lights is the biggest mistake a grower can make, because photosynthesis is so important to for a health plant.

When purchasing a compact fluorescent, you will notice that nearly all of them have a larger number on the box, than what it actually is. This number is the lights comparison to the brightness of a standard incandescent globe. Do not be fooled, this does not mean that the light is 100w! It is most likely around 18w.

Now, here is where the myth behind these lights is uncovered. Most people will say that you should totally discard the brightness rating. This is wrong! The brighter a light is, the more penetration it has. With a usual, run-of-the-mill compact fluorescent (say, 15w) it emits only 15w of light with poor penetration. An energy saving compact fluorescent with 15w of light, which is rated to 100w of light, will only emit 15w of light. The difference between the two is, the energy saving light has a much stronger light penetration of the normal one, while still only emitting 15w of light.

This is beneficial to growers because with a larger plant, a normal 15w compact fluoro will sufficiently light one part of the plant, and by the time the light has reached the other side of the plant, so much of the light has been lost that it is barely worth having. With the energy saving compact fluorescents, the light will travel to the other side of the plant, and still have enough intensity for reasonable results.

Keep these lights under a reflector all of the time to concentrate the light onto the plant. Hang them horizontally, as most of the light is given off by the middle of the tubes. Keep them close to the plants. As a general rule of thumb, 1 inch away from the top of the plant is perfect. Any more, and you’re wasting your time, and less and you risk burning your plant (although these lights are very cool, it is possible to burn your plant if it touches the light or ballast for an extended period of time). If you’re given the option, go for a few compact fluoro’s positioned around the plant, as opposed to 1 strong light at the top. Positioning lights around the plant help stop vertical stretching, and encourage the plant to bush out.

HID lighting is generally accepted as a better light for growing cannabis for a few reasons. It has much better light penetration.  It is much more powerful (higher lumen output.) It is stronger in light spectrums suited for growing plants. What can we do to combat these problems to make the most out of our fluoro’s Use a good reflector. Desk lamp reflectors are perfect, along with coke cans (cut in half from top to bottom.) Purchase lights with high energy saving capabilities (e.g. high watt ratings)to increase light penetration. Purchase lights with suitable spectrum strengths for each phase of growing (eg warm white, cool white etc.) Keep the lights close to maximize intensity.

· For good results, these lights must be used with a good quality reflector. They give of 360 degrees of light (in a 2D cross-section) but you will only really need 90 degrees of light (maximum). Building a reflector will help concentrate all the light to the area needed, instead of wasting it lighting up the ceiling of your grow room!

· Although you can successfully grow and flower a cannabis plant under a fluorescent, your results will be poor and you will most likely be disappointed. Use these lights only for seedlings and clones, and perhaps the vegetative stage of the cycle. A HID light is recommended for flowering.

Authors: Burramys Parvus / 11leafedleaf

How Do I Convert a Common Home Security Light into a Remote Ballast Grow Light?

How do I convert a home security light into a remote ballast grow light?

Contributed by: Spliffco, Inc.

For some reason growlight manufacturers are completely ignoring the small, personal grower. A quick look around Overgrow and you can see some very respectable bud being grown under 150’s, and even 70 watt HPS lights. But the smallest ready made remote ballast growlight you can buy is a 250 watter, and they usually cost well over $150 (US).

So, as usual in the medicinal herb growing world, you need to take matters into your own hands.

Here’s how to turn a 150 watt HPS security light available at most Home improvment stores, into a nice remote-ballast grow light.

Regent GT150H, (About $79)
Heavy Duty extension cord of suitable length
One heavy duty grounded electrical plug end (male)
Electrical box
Electrical box plate
Romex cable connectors (3)
Wire nuts
Bolts, nuts washers
Strip of metal to secure ballast
Project case from Radio Shack ($6.99) #270-253A

5/16 nut driver (for removing parts from the casing — regular pliers will work)
Philips head screwdriver
Regular screwdriver
Power drill and assorted bits
Metal file
Wire cutters
Utility knife or wire stripper
Diagonal Pliers

Wiring Diagram
Be careful…

Remove guts

Remove the guts from the casing – bulb socket, ignitor, light sensor socket, ballast. The ballast was glued to the casing. I heated the casing for a couple of minutes on an oven burner (high), and when it was getting too hot to hold, I put it on the floor and wedged a hammer between the ballast and casing and popped it out gently.


These security lights are designed to automatically turn on when it gets dark, so there is a built in light sensor that needs to be removed.

Remove all wire nuts.

Disconnect the white wire that comes out of the sensor (currently connected to all 3 other white wires).

Disconnect the black wire that comes out of the sensor (currently connected to the black “power in” wire).

The red wire coming out of the sensor is currently connected to the black wire coming out of the ballast. Remove the red wire, and then connect the black wire coming out of the ballast to the black “power in” wire.

Reattach wire nuts (there were 5 originally, now you only need 4).

Refer to the wiring diagram!


The socket on this particular light had some metal wiring connectors that stuck up and made it impossible to attach to the electrical plate without some modification (sorry no photo). Just pull the black and white wires off of the connectors, and cut the connectors down flush with socket base with diagonal pliers. Now loosen the connectors (screws inside the socket), slip the wires under them and tighten them back down. Please use some plastic electrical tape on the end of the socket to prevent any chance of the metal from the connectors making contact with the electrical box cover plate.

Secure the cord in the electrical box with a romex cable connector and wire it to the socket: black to black, white to white, secure with wire nuts. Some electrical boxes have a green screw inside to fasten ground wires, use that if yours has one, otherwise fasten the green ground wire to the box using one of the cover plate screws when you tighten the cover plate.


Hopefully you can see the wiring clearly in the photo, but if not, refer to the wiring diagram for details.

You’re going to have to cut some holes in the Radio Shack project box for the power cords and some bolts to hold the ballast, ignitor and ground wires down.

I used a short length of metal (plumbing department) to secure the ballast. The ignitor had a notch that made it easy to bolt down. The ground wires from both electrical cords are screwed to the base of the box.

Cut a short length off the socket (female) end of the extension cord and wire it appropriately (again – see diagram). Wire the remaining electrical cord, including the grounded male plug to the other end of the box.

Use a tie wrap to bundle up the wires in the box and try to keep them away from the ballast, which will heat up during use.

If you’ve done everything right, it should light.

Now, build a reflector and you’ve got a nice little custom grow light.

Safety Warnings:
Always wire the male plug to the bulb socket and the female receptacle to the ballast to avoid possible electrocution! Always use an all metal project box which already has ventilation cooling slots, or if your project box has none, please cut adequate cooling slots, or drill several vent holes in the ballast enclosure (project box) to allow the heat to escape the box. Not adding the cooling slots or holes, could result in failure of the insulation and/or the transformer. Also, please be sure the enclosure is located in a well ventilated area to aid cooling.

Author: 10K

What is a Suncircle? (Circular Light Mover)

What is a suncircle?
Made by American Hydroponics, it is a 360 degree rotating light balancer. It will rotate a single lamp or lamps and even of mixed wattage and type over a crop profile in continuous fashion without flex getting tangled. The advantage it gives is a more even profile coupled with greater efficiency of the lights used. They come in three colors and three styles.


As said, they come in three styles and they are the 1LRS (One Light Rotating System), the 2LRS (Two Light Rotating System) and finally the 3LRS (Three Light Rotating System). For the sake of this document, the discussion will be on a purple 3LRS.

Avoid the green model as it has a light weight yet weak chassis and can break away from the ceiling mount. I know this from experience. Chose the yellow or purple models as they can truly take the weight of low bays which means remote bays will be a cinch. I have used the yellow 2LRS and yellow 3LRS as well as the purple 3LRS with satisfaction. Although heavier to handle, the solid construction makes all the difference. It is vital that a suncircle has inherent structural integrity as lamps and a suncircle crashing down onto a crop below would be a disaster. The purple 3LRS is rated at 9kg (20lb) per arm load bearing.

It is equally important that it is mounted to a ceiling with sufficient load bearing. Check the joist or frame with a few chin-ups. If it can take that, then a suncircle will be safe to mount. Always over engineer in the construction of a grow room.

This document will also outline how to wire a suncircle, what a suncircle consists of as in components, their maintenance as well as ceiling mounting.

If considering the purchase of a suncircle, it will consist of the suncircle, a set of bull arms with extention arms, including low bay bracket mounts and cord with pulleys for the lamps. It will be expected that you use flex from your HID systems to set the suncircle up. That’s easy as this document will detail.

Note: The cord and pulleys that come with a suncircle are ridiculous. Far safer and easier to use chain with dog collar clips. You won’t get electrocuted as one should always wear rubber soled shoes in a grow room. It is after all a plant workshop and not a fun parlor.

Note: Suncircles do not come with male and female plugs for your hats. You must buy a pair of female and male plugs for each hat you wish to use with your suncircle. I will discuss this shortly.

Note: The extension arms that come with the bull arms have not been employed as I like to keep my light concentrated so the crop is full of solid bud. The extension arms simply slot into the bull arms and increase the over all arm stretch by double. Depending on model, suncircle arms can come in box aluminum or box galvanized steel. The ones shown in this document are aluminum.

Photograph showing clearance of a 3LRS suncircle on a ceiling grow room exhaust with bull arms pointing down. If one has a low ceiling without ceiling exhaust encumbrance, the bull arms can be positioned facing up, giving extra height on the hats to garden below. In either configuration of bull arm use, always make sure you secure bull arms firmly with the screws provided in the bull arm mounts.

Please note that all styles of suncircle will have different mounting plates so the holes on the plates will not correspond to the ceiling mount alignment you might have from another model. If so, then make a plate that will accommodate varied styles by lining up the plate at the hydroponics shop. This will give one the advantage of borrowing a suncircle from the hydroponics shop of purchase, if and when you have a problem with your suncircle for prompt garden installation and bearing you have good will with the hydroponics folks. You will note in this picture that there’s holes in this aluminum plate to accommodate three styles of suncircle. So make the ceiling mount with two plates. One set permanently to the ceiling that holds the fasting bolts and the other you can take to the shop for easy measurements.

In this picture, the suncircle is fully wired and flex attached. Short of being ceiling mounted, bull arms attached and connected off to hats/ballasts and with the power on, it is fully operational as can be seen in this photograph.

Please note, that the suncircle is actually upside down, as the ceiling mounting plate is sitting on a tiled floor — so imagine that the tiled floor is a ceiling. You can see the black cord that brings power to the the suncircle motor. Note the three flex cords on the junction box located near the ceiling mounting plate for the HID ballasts and the three flex female plugged lines from the other junction house for the hats.

A closer look at the suncircle and again without the attached bull arms. It’s actually the other side of the suncircle not seen in the first photograph. For the sake of ease to photograph, the suncircle is again upside down with the ceiling mounting plate resting on a kitchen sink. Note the two junction houses, electric motor, brush points, ceiling mount plate, bull arm mounts with securing screws and flex for lamps and ballasts which lead off from the two junction houses. I will discuss these shortly.

A close look at a junction house with junction housing plate removed. This junction house is the one that takes the flex from the ballasts. It is identical in wiring to the junction house that takes the flex to the hats.

It is a good idea to write in indelible pen at each flex entry point what station it is. In the case of this 3LRS, there’s three stations per junction house. Not only will this make it make it easier in the wiring of the suncircle, it will ensure that the two junction houses are identical in all regards.

Ensure that the flex is held secure with the suncircle junction house clamps as seen in the photograph. You want no wires inside junction caps coming lose from flex being pulled due to insecure hold as that can cause short circuit. I will discuss wiring shortly.

The suncircle with ceiling mounting plate removed exposing the interior mechanics in relation to the external electric motor.

Note: Because a suncircle has to be taken down so you can inspect and lubricate the inner workings, you must set the suncircle up in your grow with intention that it will come down in an ongoing basis. So think carefully on how you will ceiling mount it. It may seem silly to say, but do not for example, set it so the nuts to the mounting bolts can only be accessed from the crawl space of a roof. Always have the nuts on the bolts facing downwards to the grow below.

A closer view of the internal mechanics.
It’s simply a drive shaft from the motor to a central cog which in turn rotates the central core. It is advisable every twelve months to take the suncircle down and remove the ceiling mounting plate and grease the drive shaft and the central cog. This can be seen in the photograph with an evident blue residue of fresh grease. Ordinary automotive grease is sufficient.

Note: When in operation, do not force the suncircle. Doing so can cause misalignment of the drive shaft to the central cog which will result in the suncircle not rotating.

In this suncircle shown, one garden rotation happens every 4 minutes and 20 seconds, so a little patience is needed if a hat happens to be in the way when inspecting a plant.

A view of the suncircle motor.
Note: It needs an oiling every month and you can see the oil well on the side of the motor. Sewing machine oil is sufficient. Just a few drops is all that’s needed.

A look at the brushes of the suncircle. Note: Some people refer to brushes as bushes. Simple to remove with a flat head screwdriver from the brush points.

A closer look at the brushes.
Being that the rectangular prism is copper it will wear out before the central core will and this is intentional in design so the suncircle has a long working life. Brushes are cheap but a worn core equals a dead suncircle. However, it is advisable to inspect the brushes along with your once every twelve months check. Give the brushes a light sanding on contact end if dirty from carbon. This will ensure that there’s adequate contact so circuit is effected.

If ballasts are in working order as well as lamps and you note lamps failing to charge or failing to fully charge and your suncircle wiring is correct, it may be poor contact with a brush.

When needing to inspect a suncircle or taking down a suncircle, you must switch off all HID’s with allowance to five minutes discharge time for the HID capacitors. That will not only insure a sound working life of the capacitors, it will prevent potential electrocution. Then pull the HID plugs from the wall as well as the suncircle motor plug. Now it is safe to inspect the brushes. A suncircle with i.e. 3000w of HID is not a toy and it can deliver a lethal electrocution. Treat all use of a suncircle with care. If the brushes appear in working order, then you will need to take down the suncircle and inspect the junction houses for possible lose wires. If all appears normal and you know for a fact that your ballasts and lamps are in working order, you will have to take the suncircle back to where you bought it for service. Only a qualified electrician should service a suncircle.

Wiring Guide — picture showing an open and wired junction house with earth junction cap removed.

Once having purchased a suncircle, you have two choices. You allow the shop to wire your suncircle or you do it yourself if you have no problems with some basic DIY sparky work (electrical work). Doing it yourself brings several advantages.

* It can save you some money by not shelling to a hydroponics store technician.

* You can get on with your project immediately.

* You will become familiar with how the suncircle operates.

* You will be confident to attend to minor trouble shooting yourself.

* You will be able to cut the flex to exact lengths based on what lengths are needed in your grow room — a task not easy to do when in a hydroponics shop. The less length in flex from suncircle to ballasts and suncircle to hats the better, as there’s loss to resistance in circuit in excessive flex.

If you do decide to wire it yourself, you must do so correctly. One must ensure that all wiring to the two junction houses is exact to both junction houses. Failure to do so will cause a short circuit which could not only damage the suncircle, it could damage the HID ballast and lamp. A very costly mistake to make. Fortunately correct wiring is a simple task of following exactly a chosen color combination of the wires inside the junction houses.

Now it would be pointless showing each and every wiring step of colored wires in sequence, as it would simply be a series of photographs of confusing "electrical entrails". So a text worded description is best.

The following example is how I wired this suncircle. In this example, it is a 3LRS and in lesser armed suncircles, there’s simply less wiring to do. The only important issue, other than ensuring all wiring to both junction houses is identical, is that the earth (green wires) is all set to the one junction cap. Green is always earth.

Note: All wiring is to be held by junction caps of approved safety standard. The junction caps that came with this suncircle were inferior and I replaced them immediately with what you see, which meet ASA in Australia. This is most important as wires coming lose from junction caps when suncircle is in operation could cause a disastrous short circuit.

When wiring, strip back 7.5 cm (3 inches) of outer flex insulation and 1.5cm (2/3 of an inch) of inner core insulation. It should come with your HID kits.

Note: If in the case of a 3LRS as this one is, you will need 14 junction caps.

Lamp 1.
Blue wire to Black wire of suncircle.
Brown wire to Red wire of suncircle.

Lamp 2.
Blue wire to White and Blue stripe wire of suncircle.
Brown wire to White and Red stripe wire of suncircle.

Lamp 3.
Blue wire to Blue wire of suncircle.
Brown wire to White and Blue stripe wire of suncircle.

All green wires joined to one junction cap.

The above is repeated again exactly in the second junction house.

You could chose any other combination of colored wire to colored wire, as long as both junction houses are identical in wiring and again at risk of repeating, that all green wires are always to one junction cap. It’s also probable that the colors that I’ve spoken of will vary, as they did in my experience on 2LRS and 3LRS yellow models. No problem, just make sure both junction houses are identical to the color code you chose.

Looking at the photograph provided, you can see the green earth is four wires in total with the junction cap taken off to demonstrate. The fourth green wire is the suncircle earth as the three green wires are from the three HID flex.

Aside how the suncircle is ceiling mounted, it should also be center of your grow footprint. The old 3,4,5 math will do that. That is, 3 squared plus 4 squared equals 5 squared, which will give you a right angle so you can footprint section a square from a rectangular room. Then suspend a plumb bob at central point and you will know the central floor point if needed i.e. to square out where the reflectors of your grow will go.

Equally important is making sure that the suncircle is level in mount. Simple tighten or loosen the bolt nuts on the ceiling mount plate till level. You can if unsure, inspect with a spirit level by laying it across the bull arms. This will ensure that there’s no strain placed on the suncircle motor when system is in rotation.

Another view of the suncircle ceiling mounted and now awaiting the hats to be attached. Use cup hooks to tie off the ballast flex to ceiling and position the hat flex on the bull arms.

As seen in the photograph, it is a wise idea when attaching and wiring your flex to the suncircle to use female plugs from the suncircle and male plugs from the hats. This allows fast removal and setup of your hats. Often times suncircles on display in hydroponics shops will not have female and male plugs set on suncircle to hats. That’s perfectly fine for a shop display, not very practical for growing operation.

I will repeat stating this important point. Always use female plugs from the suncircle and male plugs from the hats or risk electrocution by errant contact to active male points. Use common sense.

Equally important.
If using a mixed lamp configuration of Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium and/or different wattages such as 400w and 1000w, always mark clearly with an indelible pen on the female plugs from the suncircle which are which. That way you will avoid plugging in a hat to the wrong ballast.

Final picture of a marijuana crop with suncircle and lamps in action.

Author: Erliquin

How Much Will It Cost To Run My Lights?

Here is an explanation to help you figure out your own cost of running your equipment. This assumes $0.12 per KW hour price. (If you pay a different amount change it in the formula below.)

Explanation = Watts used by device (a 400 watts HPS) X hours used over the course of a month = total watt hours.
Example = 400 watts x 24 hours/day x 30.5 days/month = 292,800 Total Watt-hours.

Explanation = now you have to convert Wh (watt hours) to kWh (kilowatt hours) Wh / 1000 = kWh.
Example = 292,800 Wh / 1000 Wh = 293 kWh.

Explanation = now take you kWH and multiply it by the price you pay your electric provider.
Example = 293 kWh x 12¢(insert the price you pay here)/kWh = $35.16/mo.; $422/yr.

When you buy electricity they charge you by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). When you use 1000 watts for 1 hour, that’s a kilowatt-hour.

Author: The General

How To Build an Inexpensive Carbon Air Scrubber?

Building a carbon scrubber for de-odorizing stinky grows.
The design is such that there is no back pressure on the grow box exhaust fan, and there is maximum surface area for the exhaust air to contact the carbon.

The basic parts list:
2"x2"s and 1/4" plywood sheets, cut to the size of the furnace filters being used
4 furnace filters
4 to 5 lbs. of activated carbon
A set of four casters (wheels)
Duck tape, screws and four *hanger bolts 2" long by 1/4-20 with wingnuts and washers to fasten one removable side for filter servicing.
*Hanger bolts are machine threaded on one end and wood screw threads on the other end.

It starts with the frame construction:
In this example, the measurements of the box, furnace/fibre filters etc…
the scrubber is ~ 17" x 26" x 48" tall… the furnace filters are 16" x 25" x 1", though they are really only 3/4" thick. But again, your design dimensions will depend on the furnace filter size you choose based on the design criteria.

Wheels for mobility, and a wire screen on the bottom to hold the weight
of the de-odorizing filter without the filter buckling.

Using 4 furnace filters and 4 1/2 lbs. of activated carbon to make
a dual layer de-odorizing filter. 2 furnace filters on the bottom,
then a layer of carbon, another furnace filter, another layer of carbon,
and a furnace filter on top.

Carbon layer number one.

Carbon layer number two.

Tape up the carbon/screen layers, and then tape to the base,
creating a completely sealed bottom.

Add the walls and top.

Precut the input air opening before attaching the sides,
and add appropriate interface hardware.

Tape up the box seams with duct tape (the metal tape is best),
and it’s ready for action.

Design criteria and further comments:
The design is solid and works well at eliminating that smell
as long as the following criteria is observed:
For every one (1) cubic feet of exhaust air to scrub:
Have a minimum of 1.25 ounces of activated carbon.
Have at least 8 square inches of filter surface area.

The concept has been tested for several months with multiple grows of the smelliest stuff available. not only does it work well during the grow, but the same technology has been used successfully in drying chambers to eliminate the odor of drying bud (sometimes far worse than the grow itself).

Ionizers are a waste of money to ganja growers. I did try the design with an ionizer inside the enclosure, no difference.
I have also used ozone and found it to be very effective in conjunction
with carbon for larger grows where the design criteria could not be met (too much air flow for the filters used), but the ozone is after the carbon and not before, since carbon absorbs ozone, and i want the carbon to saturate as much as possible with bud stink, then the ozone to clean up the rest.

The carbon is changed every three (3) months or so, and so far, it has not reached saturation within that time period.

Some Q & A about the carbon air scrubber

Why is the box so big?
To eliminate back pressure on the exhaust fan to maximize air movement through the grow box. I am sure the overall dimensions can be scaled down, though I am not sure to what dimensions.

Could you do this to a regular grow box?
Yes, although you want all of the workings in the top of the box. Exhaust fan, carbon filter, etc., venting out of the top of the enclosure.

Where did you purchase the carbon?
The neighborhood fish/aquarium store has the pricey stuff, at around $10+ per 2.25 lbs. It comes alot cheaper, though you might have to change it out more often. Mail-order fish supply places over the net are the way to go when purchasing bulk activated carbon/charcoal.

Author: GeeO

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