Whether you have the scorching sun outside or stormy weather, a DIY plant grow light will go a long way in helping you ensure that your plants are getting the right amount of light and heat. The outdoors can be unreliable and shocking for your seedlings or out-of-season and exotic plants.
The goal is to ensure that the plant light is cost-effective, drives results, and, most importantly, dimmable. When looking for how to build a DIY plant grow light, you will need standard LED lights, some electrical wire, tape, a pie tin, and essential working tools.
This article will discuss which light to use in grow lights, how to build your own grow light, and other considerations you need to keep in mind when providing your plants the nourishment they need indoors.
What Are Plant Grow Lights?
More commonly known as plant lights, plant grow lights are electric lights explicitly designed to provide warmth and artificial ‘sunlight’ to plants indoors. Usually, grow lights provide light similar to the sun but can be adjusted precisely to the plants’ needs.
When deciding on which light to use in grow lights, the one you choose must be dimmable, i.e., you can adjust its intensity. Otherwise, they run the risk of burning your seedlings or plants due to their heat. Commercial grow lights have a purplish hue, which means they provide more heat than light.
However, since plants look for both, you can also use LED lights. You must make sure the LED lights are emanating enough heat, though, which is why anything below 60w won’t be particularly useful.
It is important to note that the purple hue of traditional growth light means an improved breeding time for plants. LED lights may not have the same effect but will cost you significantly less, that’s for sure.
How to Build a DIY Plant Grow Light
Building your DIY plant grow light can be a reasonably straightforward process and shouldn’t require more than $20 as an investment.
Things You’ll Need
Following are the things you will need to build the plant grow light (yes, you can pull them out of your garage as well, if you don’t want to buy them).
- Dimmable LED lights. You can use warm or white (daylight) LEDs for this purpose or go for the alternating variants with both warm and white options. It is vital that you test the lights before buying them, though, because despite being branded with the same color temperature, the light color may vary from brand to brand. The difference in plant growth isn’t very significant, though. Choose dimmable LED lights with a smaller diameter for better light spectrum overlap and better heat.
- Pie Tin. This is a relatively straightforward piece of equipment. You can also buy any other tin made for the oven, provided you can cut holes into it.
- Electrical Wire. The length of your wire will depend entirely on how far your plants are from an electrical socket.
- LED light holders. The light we’ll be making here will consist of four LED lights, and so, we’ll need four bulbs. If you need a larger light, feel free to buy more.
- Some epoxy. Don’t use hot or super glue.
Other tools that you will need (and can probably find lying around in your home) include:
- Electrical tape
- A wire stripper
- A pair of pliers
- A sharp knife, Exacto knife, scissors, or box cutters to cut holes into the pie tin. You can also go with specialized power tools if you have them.
- Some wire wall clamps
- Screwdriver set
- Vice or clamp
- Soldering iron
- Some silicone
- Spray paint
Most of these tools are optional and just for aesthetic improvement.
Building Your DIY Plant Grow Light
- You will need to remove the dome on top of your dimmable LED of choice. Put it in a vice and clamp it down, cut it and pull it off, or use brute force to peel the dome off. It’s your call.
- With the diffusers off, test the LEDs once again to make sure all LEDs are working properly.
- Put the base of the LED bulb back in the bulb and clamp it down to break the (metallic) base.
- Remove the wires either by pulling or cutting them off. Once cut, your LED lights will pop out of the heat sink with the help of a screwdriver. Repeat the process with all your bulbs.
- Put the lights on the pie-tin starting from the center. Arrange them as closely as possible without overlap and trace the final structure.
- Cut out the outline as neatly as possible. Cut at least 2 cm less than the traced diameter.
- Place 2 dimmable white LEDs diagonally, and 2 dimmable warm LED lights in the remaining holes. Place them on the outline such that the pie tin does not block any lights.
- Glue the lights in place using an epoxy of your choice.
- Solder or tape a red wire on the center wires and a blue wire on the black (neutral) wires.
- You will now have two nodes. Connect them with a longer extension cord – perhaps with ROMEX cable. Again, solder or tape the two wires with the ROMEX securely.
- To be safe, use high-temperature silicone on the exposed metal parts to avoid the risk of electrocution or fire.
- Paint your DIY plant grow light to make it a bit more feng shui.
- Make four holes on each corner with the Exacto knife or a regular knife. The holes should only be wide enough for a string to pass through.
- Pass your string through and hang it above your plants. And you’re done!
Make sure you keep testing your lights every step of the way and making sure the LEDs are dimming. We recommend using warm and white light together to give your DIY plant grow light an even blend.
By blending the two lights, you will be able to offer your plant a complete light spectrum, allowing them to grow overnight. Your DIY plant grow light will help your plants grow rather quickly, but make sure you give them some nighttime as well every 5-7 days, else you risk exhausting the plant.