Growing With Compact Fluorescents

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Last Updated on October 29, 2022

Growing your indoor hydroponics plants with compact fluorescents is by far the easiest and low-cost grow lights to use. Compact fluorescents are the most common type of light you can find in most houses and it’s been available for over 2 decades.

Amongst the various types of grow lights we know, compact fluorescent is the easiest to find and they’re great options for newbies. They’re also cheap, and they will do a fine job when it comes to growing various types of plants.

Let’s dive in and discuss growing with compact fluorescents for the best results in your hydroponics garden.

What Are Compact Fluorescents Lights (CFL)?

Compact fluorescents light is an excellent light source to supply to your plants. They are great in giving a great spectrum of light for your growing plant needs.

Compact fluorescent light CFL came about as a replacement for the classic incandescent lamp. Although incandescent lamps were great, they just burn hotter and waste too much electricity.

Contrarily, compact fluorescent light gives out less heat and consumes less energy. At the same time, they supply an efficient and similar amount of light as the incandescent lamp, thus making them a better choice.

What Are Compact Fluorescents Lights (CFL)

Why Use Compact Fluorescents For Growing?

Compared to the more expensive grow lights such as metal halide, LED grow light, and high-pressure sodium, compact fluorescents will offer almost the same function as others with lesser cost. They will also make use of lesser electricity, thus making them cost-effective.

Another added advantage is that they can be customized as they come in various shapes and sizes. They also come in various ranges of wattage. They are easy to install and you can fix them close to your plants for optimal results.

Types Of Compact Fluorescents For Growing

Most compact fluorescents don’t come in full-spectrum, they usually come in two colors namely warm and daylight colors. Kelvin scale is used to measure or determine the colors of light the bulb emits.

Here are the types of compact fluorescents you may find in the market:

  • Warm Colors: measured 2000k/2700k on the Kelvin scale. The warm colors emit red and yellowish spectrum. This type is ideal for the flowering phase and blooming.
  • Daylight: measured 5500k/6500k on the Kelvin scale. The daylight emits cool and blueish colors. It is ideal for all growing phases and great for the vegetative phase.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb T2 Spiral CFL, 4100k Cool White, 13W (60 Watt Equivalent)

Other types you may find are the dual spectrum which has been customized to emit yellow colors and a mix of blue colors.

How Much Bulbs Or Watts Is Needed For Growing

The amount of light required for growing will vary solely on the type of plants because some plants require more or fewer watts.

For a general guideline, you can supply your plants with about 80 to 100 watts per square foot of growing area. Some vegetables require about 50 to 70 watts. For example, indoor lettuce plants don’t require much light because they are fast growers. However, other plants such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc, require more lights or watts.

How Many CFLs Per Plant

You should be able to deduce if any of your plants require more light by accessing the growth rate of all the areas of your garden. If some parts are booming well and some parts are struggling to pick up, then that’s a situation of not covering all the plants’ angles with light. Adjust accordingly and continue to monitor the growth rate of all plant areas.

How Many CFLs Per Plant

How To Use Compact Fluorescents For Growing Plants

We admire the fact that one can plug compact fluorescent into regular light sockets. You can arrange them as you please because they come in different sizes and shapes and they are highly customizable.

Where To Put Compact Fluorescents

Place the light at least 4 to 6 inches away from your plants. Every angle of the bulb emits light so do your best for this light to point towards your plants’ directions.

Usually, some light will point away from your plants. But to utilize most of the reflected light, make use of reflectors so most of the light emitted can point towards your plants.

Apart from using reflectors, you can also make use of white paint, aluminum foil, or panda paper as substitutes.


Can plants grow under compact fluorescent?

It’s a question that has been hotly debated for years, and there are a lot of conflicting reports. The latest one comes from the journal Nature Plants, which reports on a study led by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biosciences, in which researchers grew tomatoes, lettuce and other plants under compact fluorescent light.

The results were mixed. For some plants, it had a significant effect; for others, not at all. Some were better able to convert CO2 to sugars, while others were less efficient. In all cases, however, the plants grew better than they did under traditional light. CFL bulbs are getting more and more popular as energy costs rise.

The use of compact fluorescent bulbs is a boon for the environment, but some people are concerned about their effect on plant growth. Some plants will not tolerate the higher temperatures produced by compact fluorescents.

What are the disadvantages of using compact fluorescent light bulbs?

The first disadvantage is that they do not last as long as regular incandescent bulbs. Most compact fluorescent bulbs only last about 10 to 12 years and they start to dim after 4 to 5 years. The second disadvantage is that they consume more energy than regular incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs require approximately 60% more energy than regular incandescent bulbs, so if you have a lot of them, you will be paying more for electricity. They are not as bright as standard incandescent bulbs. They don't last as long as incandescent bulbs. They have a tendency to dim too quickly after turning on. They also have a shorter lifespan than standard bulbs. Another disadvantage of CFL's is that they can be difficult to get working. If you need to replace an existing fixture, there may be a problem getting it to work properly with a CFL. 

Can plants live with only fluorescent light?

In general, when the light intensity is the same, plants grown under fluorescent light do not grow as well as those grown under natural light. Fluorescent light is a type of artificial light that uses ultraviolet light to stimulate plant growth. It is made up of different wavelengths of visible and invisible light.

In general, plants can tolerate fluorescent light at an intensity of around 25 foot candles (2.5 watts per square meter). At this level, plants grown in artificial light will have some yellowing of leaves. If you have plants in a small space, you may find it beneficial to increase the light intensity of your plant lights. If you are growing plants in the home, you should look for a combination of incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. These will produce the best balance of natural light and artificial light. The fluorescent light is used to stimulate plant growth.

Closing Remark about CFL Grow Light

It is pretty convenient growing with compact fluorescent light in your hydroponic garden. You enjoy a cost-effective technique to supply light to your plants while still enjoying great results.

We have highlighted above some useful points to assist you in the use of compact fluorescent light, CFL. With that, we hope you are able to utilize some of these tips and come out with amazing results.

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