Grow lights bring sunshine to otherwise dark parts of our home, and especially for those of us interested in growing edible plants, they open up a whole new world in terms of when and where we can grow.
That said, we totally understand why the idea of spending $200-300 on a grow light can feel intimidating. Especially if you're just starting out.
The good news is that grow lights don't HAVE to be expensive. In this article, we're going to show you how to put together an automated DIY grow light setup for less than $40. Perhaps even less, as there's a good chance you already have some of these items laying around at home!
DIY Indoor Grow Light Setup
The first and most important part of your grow lamp setup is the light. Plants ‘eat’ light and convert it into chemical energy to fuel their growth. Not enough light = slow/weak growth. It’s important that you use a grow lamp specifically for plants – the normal type of light globe that’s screwed into your ceiling probably isn’t going to work.
Simple Indoor Plant Grow Light Setup: Lamp Stand
There are a ton of different options here, and we recommend you choose the one that suits your space. One of the most important features to look for when starting a DIY grow light setup, however, is the ability to adjust its height. You’ll want to make sure that the globe is 3-4″ from the plant at all times. Obviously, as the plant grows taller, the light needs to move up. For this reason (and also because they’re very affordable) we like desk lamps like the ones below.
DIY Indoor Grow Light Setup: Timer
There are definitely a lot of options out there, but we usually endorse the KISS approach when it comes to timers. The only thing this timer needs to be able to do is to turn on and off once per day. The same time every day is fine. Given the simplicity of our requirements, we find that mechanical timers are best. If you’ve already got one lying around, or want to do something a bit fancier with your scheduling, then by all means use a digital one – but they are usually a bit more expensive.
You want the grow light to be on for 12 – 16 hrs per day. Usually, it makes sense to synchronize this with your own waking hours, but if you wanted to do the opposite (and it’s not going to be in your bedroom) then that’s fine too. We carry a $5 option here that will do the job just fine!
Simple Indoor Grow Light Setup: Globe
We have an entire separate blog about E26 (screw in) grow lights and what to look for. But a couple of our favorites are:
- Best Budget-Friendly Option: This compact LED is only 7W, but if you're just seed-starting or growing herbs (such as in a Bottle Garden) it will do just fine.
- Better All Round Option: If you have it within your budget, then we'd definitely recommend upgrading to something like a Vita. This globe works in the setup described above (with a desk lamp) but just make sure you get a fairly sturdy lamp. This is not a light-weight globe, and a cheap/flimsy stand may not be strong enough to hold it up.