Using Grow Lights with Light Rails

by Kev
(UK)

How would you use a light rail? My concerns are- would you jockey extra lights along the length of the rail (my preference) or at right-angles to the rail (which is the kit light rail companies provide). It seems to me safer to put all that load under the central line of gravity, plus less bending as the load is spread under the light rail itself.

Given light strengths of 400, 600 & 1000 watts , what would your light rail lengths be? And what spacing would you have for the extra lights/jockeys? How long would you hold the light at each end of the run? How would you go about building a homemade light rail? Cheers! Kev



Answer: Kev- here is a good example of how I would use a light rail with grow lights: If I had a 4' x 8' garden to light, but I only had one 1000 watt light, I would use a light mover to periodically switch the light from one side of the garden to the other. The 1000 watt light by itself covers everything beneath it in a 4' x 4' pattern very well (when mounted in a stationary position). However, it is capable of effectively lighting a larger area.

For example, let's say 40 watts/sq.ft. is "effective" lighting for the garden. Simply divide the wattage of your light (1000) by the desired watts/sq.ft. (40) and you get the square footage of your garden (in this case, 25 sq.ft.). If you make the garden 4 feet wide and 6 feet long, you will have a garden of 24 square feet (just less than the maximum size we calculated). Your 1000 watt light will illuminate a 4' x 4' section of the garden nicely, but that leaves a 2' x 4' strip along the edge of the garden that is not lit as well.

Simply hang your light mover to move your light from the center of the RIGHT side of the garden to the center of the LEFT side of the garden. The movement may only be 20 or 24 inches back and forth, but the result is a garden more evenly lit by 41.7 watts/sq.ft.. The center of the garden will receive more light than the perimeter of the garden. To even things out, let the light pause at each end of the light mover for two or three minutes.

So you see, how long your light rail should be is determined by the size of your light(s), the square footage of the garden you are trying to light, and how strong you are trying to illuminate the garden. Likewise, how long you let the light pause is just a matter of understanding how the light is falling on your garden and trying to make the effect more even.

Whether you hang your lights along the length of your light rail or perpendicular to it, the main thing is DO NOT GO OVER the recommended weight limit for the light rail (and make sure it is properly installed into some solid wood). The second most important thing is that your lights are lighting everything evenly in the garden.

Focus on keeping your garden lit evenly at 40 watts/sq.ft. and the rest of your lighting design will fall into place!

Comments for Using Grow Lights with Light Rails

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 16, 2010
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Easy Light Rail
by: Anonymous

to the OP:

If you want a sturdy light rail that is infinitely adjustable (to a point) then use a 2x4 cut to desired length. Attach eye hooks to ends. And a "swing" style hook in the middle. Now above your garden area

Now use a steel cable run thru the swing hook and secure the end. Run the other end up thru the pulley and back down to you. Now you can cut away the majority of the excess cable. Take two equal pieces of cable and secure to the ends thru the eye hooks on the end of the stud. Connect both new ends onto the ceiling cable forming a pyramid. You should be about 45 degrees on the angle. These will support the stud.

Now lift your lights using the cable coming down from the pulley. Check for balance and adjust til level. Easy, cheap way to raise and lower lights. Use some rope to keep the swaying to a minimum but i think it makes the plants happy.

Don't forget to secure your so your lights don't drop. Your anti-sway rope can be your fail safe as long as it is secure. For my cable I use 300lb test. I plan on using spare aluminum pipe for mine, but a 2x4 should be sufficient.




Jan 14, 2010
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Thanks, Light-rail motor query
by: Kev

Thanks, Jason, I appreciate how concise you are in your writing and explanations.

Would it be okay to ask if people here have made a light-rail? My main concern is choosing a motor that runs slowly enough and has enough torque for the job.

Thanks again, for a fantastic site.

Kev
======

Kev- I have no problem with you posting a question to the visitors here for light rail info. I meant to mention in my response....I HAVE seen people rig up their own light movers, but for the cost of a new one (and considering the cost of the equipment they carry), it is my opinion you might be better off just paying the hundred bucks for one. Either way, good luck!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Grow Lights Q&A.

All of the items that I personally use and recommend!

AffordableGarden Design&Setup

(10 week update below)


Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...


Epic Nutrient Change



I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...


Homemade Cloner



And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...



High Efficiency
Hydroponics

The ultimate solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->

Aquaponics

Click Here to learn more!

This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.


Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!



The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!




If you've found this site helpful at all, I would really appreciate it