Constructing a 100% CFL Grow

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Well-Known Member
As many people know, CFL's are a very popular alternative to fluorescent growing for many reasons. CFL lighting is available almost everywhere and comes in a wide range of spectrums and wattages. In this thread I will talk you threw setting up a CFL grow step by step.

Q1.What are spectrums?
A1. spectrums (Compact Fluorescent Light) are another type of fluorescent light, all based around the same properties. A glass bulb filled with a gas that reacts to a electrical current causing it to illuminate. There are 2 different basic types of CFL bulbs.
1ST TYPE: Self-Ballasted....More commonly referred to as a Spiral CFL. These bulbs contain there own ballast in the end cap of the bulb. They are also powered on a normal home light socket making them the most versatile, also these are the most commonly used CFL's due to there availability. Common wattage ranges from 12 to 42 watt.
2ND TYPE: Plug-in Common....This type of bulb does not contain there own ballast. To power them a ballast must be purchased. Also the design is different. These bulbs normally consist of a 3 tier tube structure. Depending on wattage they may have 4 even 5 small "U" bend tubes to produce the light. These lights are also the more powerful of the 2. Wattage ranging from 6 up to 200!

Q2. What spectrum are CFL's capable of?
A2. Simply put, almost any. CFL's typically range from 6500K(also referred to as "daylight" bulbs) to 2700K(soft-white or warm bulbs) on average although upwards of 10000K are available but not desired.
6500K spectrum--Used for vegging, seedlings and clones These lights glow white with a slight blue tint.
2700K spectrum--Used for flowering. These lights glow yellow/orange

Q3. What are the PROS of growing with CFL's?
A3. VERSATILITY. CFL's have a very compact design allowing them to be placed almost anywhere.
COST TO OPERATE. Due to them being a fluorescent light, they require appox 1/4th of the power to operate compared to a incandescent of the same wattage with a higher lumens output. Also by keeping the wattage down, it will not increase your electric bill as much and keeps you safe from tipping off the electric company on over consumption of electricity.
LOW HEAT OUTPUT. These bulbs put out considerably low heat compared to HID lighting, allowing you to place them much closer to the canopy of the garden. But they do produce heat! Do not be mistaken, You will need proper ventilation to keep the room in the ideal temp zone.

Q4. What are the cons of growing with CFL's?
A4. The cons are limited. Just that to equal the lumens output of HID lighting, you ill need a mass number of CFL's. The other con would be the wiring. In Most cases there will be numerous wires connecting the lights ( due to you needing anywhere from 2-20, possibly more depending in the application. HINT: you can eliminate 50% of the wiring if you opt to use "Y" adapters. (small screw-in single socket adapter that goes into a light receptacle with 2 receptacles for bulbs)

Now that we all have a general understanding of cfl's, wattage, spectrums, pro's and con's, Ill begin to explain the grow room setup.

First you will need to decide if you plan to build a grow box, or take advantage of a spare closet or bedroom. Boxes and closets are the most common. Once that decision is made, you will need to add reflection to the walls. There are two ways to go about this. You can either paint the walls a semi-gloss or gloss white. The purist white you can find. (white reflects light, dark colors absorb light) OR purchase "Mylar" ( a paper thin material with a 95% reflection rate. Mylar is by far the best reflective material you can use due to its mirror like finish. Next step will be ventilation. If using a closet, there are not very many options for this besides fans (oscillating fans seem to work best). Not exactly practical to go chopping holes in your closet walls for a duct work vent system. If growing in a premade or purchased box, then a duct system would be best. A "squirrel cage" fan (for exhaust) with 6inch ducts will work great in addition to a fan blowing on the plants to strengthen the stems. If working on a budget, you can also use computer fans wired together. The best power source for that would be a 200ma-400ma(ma=miliamp) adapter. A power cord for a cordless phone should always meet that criteria perfectly ( thats what i use). Ill also post a DIY tutorial on that later. Now before you decide on how many lights to purchase, you'll need to decide on how many plants you want to have. I recommend no less than 1 26w(daylight) bulb per plant. Some will argue that saying 1 bulb is not enough. Coming from my experience, 1 bulb per plant will be ok for vegging but if you feel that you need more light, go for it, cant harm a single thing. Just be sure to have proper cooling. For flowering I would go with no less than 3 bulbs per plant (soft-white or warm). Also be sure to keep the lights as close as possible to the plants. Normally 3-5 inches for CFL's will do fine.

There are endless ways to go about this. Most recommend mounting them horizontal to take full advantage of the lights but with CFL's that can sometimes be a problem depending on application. At any hardware store you can pick up "clamp reflectors). A round or oval housing with a single light socket. If you plan to use "Y" adapters, be sure to get clamps that will accommodate the size you need, 10inch reflectors should do fine. You can also get some socket moguls from Wal-mart or Home Depot. If you plan to go this way, be prepared to do some electrical work. These sockets will have to be wired together and a power cord added. Those are the 2 easiest ways im aware of. Also you can pick up some plug socket Wahl(looks like a normal light socket but with prongs to be plugged directly into a electrical socket, no wiring required). With that option, you will need numerous electrical sockets. Extension cords will work fine, just depends on how picky you are. If the cosmetics matter, then all the messy cords may not suit you. But if your afraid of wiring moguls then I suggest this. Again the possibilities are endless when going with CFL's. Now for REFLECTORS. If you didnt pick up the clamp reflectors(best option, socket already attached, no wiring needed, and its a reflector..kills 3 birds with 1 stone..just add the Y adapter, 2 bulbs and your set) then you'll need to make some. Please people, check into the clamps. They also make hanging a breeze due to the strong clamps, they can be clipped to anything. Now for making reflectors, again endless options. You can use the "soda-can method" cost efficient and productive. There are several threads posted about this topic. Another option (the way i chose to go), you can pick up a set of disposable aluminum baking pans. All sizes vary, just be sure to get the size to fit your application. I will post a DYI topic on this also but in short, with a razor knife..slice off the entire bottom of the pan and set it aside. with the 2nd pan you'll notice the edges are overlapped, Take pliers to unfold the flap to give a contact point. Take the 2nd pan and place the rim over the unfolded flap you made, then fold the flap back down and pinch with pliers. Instant reflector, then make holes in the top for your sockets. May be hard to picture but again the DIY info will be posted shortly. Well for all those interested in going th CFL way, i hope this helps and answers all your questions, I spent 3 hrs on this so i hope it helps someone besides me, lol
HAPPY GROWING----------------------------420

Garden Knowm

The Love Doctor
very nice.. I would also like to add..

When using CFLs make sure as MUCH surface area as possible is adjacent to the foliage. I see people hanging the cfls on top of their plants with only the bottom of the CFL actually being 1 inch or less from the foliage. WRONG :)

Place the CFL so that more of the CFLs surface is bordering more of the plant.

You can put the CFLs along the side of your plants and get maximum light exposure or put the CFL horizontal on top of the plant.. or both :) :)



Well-Known Member
i also briefly mentioned that in the article about horizontal placement but in most application its just not practicle so i made that topic short. To my knowledge there isnt a reflector availible for cfls that mounts horizontally, if there is please let me know!!!! so unless people construct there own reflectors or mouning hardware, seems that vertical installation is the only option, also with the Y adapers,that slightly helps considering the lamps are screwed in on a appox `120degree angle, they slighty help utilize more of the side light produced from a cfl bulb


Well-Known Member
Very helpfull, I'm working with cfl's myself, but where i live its hard for me to get anything, so its pretty much all homemade, and/or bought from the internet but everything takes like a month to get here. You can see my grow at the link below,
peace out


New Member
i like it :)

thnx man help'd me out

could u tell me where i can buy cfl lights online... in switzerland theres nothing !!!!!!!!!!

ive been evrywhere and they all look at me like " Whats cfl ? " lol...


Well-Known Member
Very nice.....just watch the heat...these are around 140-155 degrees...each.. Yes.. thats way hotter than most people think...I did a thread about this...."Another CFL vs HPS" expalins the heat issues....and gives temps...the other thing is total all the watts....are they really low cost as we think....when I changed to HPS power bill dropped 70.00... because total wattage draw is less....very informative work you did here.


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Well-Known Member
thnx Maj, nice reflectors btw. i have looked and looked, for reflectors the size i need, there around $10-15 each and as of now i would need 4, was much cheaper for me to build 1, I uses 2 disposeable baking pans, ill post a DIY topic onthat as soon as i get more materials to make another,, thnx for the positive feedback


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your absoluty rite, i did have it ass backwards ( wtf was i thinking lol) thnx for pointing it out, i corrected that DONT FORGET TO VOTE PEOPLE! ! ! ! ! ! ! :-)


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dammmmmmmmmmm u given me a great idea with the disposable baking shit, jejejejejje:twisted:, uhh im gettin creative right now heheheehhe :blsmoke::peace:


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its good, but I think the NFT how to was better.

this could be a winner if you had some pics, and a better layout.

its amazing what bold, italics, and underline can do to an article.


Well-Known Member
yea I would have to agree about the pics, 8 hrs of research and 3 hrs typing that article just dont seem to be enough. Althought I chose a risky topic that I havent seen many cover yet, without pics, some people just browse it and pay it no mind. Quess its not about the reasearch dedicated to your artical, its sems to be about the photography involved in some cases. Oh well, doubt Ill get the win for my article, just hope it helps some rookie growers get a better understanding of how easily they can begin to grow there own crop---------------------------------------------------------420


Well-Known Member
Thnx premeir, online you can go to - Save money. Live better. Ace Lowe's Home Improvement . these are all the local stores i've browsed for cfls. They all seem to carry the same brands and wattages. You can also check out High Tech Garden Supply Light bulbs, Rope Lights, Halogen and Fluorescent bulb - 1000-Bulbs - The Light Bulb Superstore , these 2 retailers carry the high end CFL bulbs 75w-200w and all these sites ship world wide.
Dunno about the rest but homedepot says they only deliver to the us


Well-Known Member
good article, helped me decide how to start setting up my cfl my question with reflectors....which doesn't mean anything i already have some, but....what ever happened to plain old tin foil? a few years ago my buddy had a whole room decked out in tin foil....dunno how well it worked he got raided for talking bout it too i never found out, and i don't plan on asking about it...kinda touchy subject....



Well-Known Member
thnx alot......about tin foil, its still ok to use just depending on the situation. In most cases tin foil will cause hotspots, bouncing a direct beam of heat from the light to the plant,in return burning them. Also considering how aluminum foil is 100% metal (unlike mylar which just has a mirror finish) it acts as a insulater kepping your room hotter than you want it. i HAVE used foil many times. 2 major tips with foil
1. be sure to have good cooling due to the increase of heat, we're not talking a big diff but its deffinetly something your plants will notice.
2. use the BACK SIDE of the foil, the dull looking side. when the light reflects off of that side it does not seem to cause "hotspots". I came across a article on the web about using tin foil and that tip was spoke of, I tried it and have never once burned my plants from heat but it will deffinetly make things hotter, best of luck ----------------420