fluorescents are close relatives of the 4ft tube fluorescents, commonly
used in shops and schools for their white, soft light that does not
cast any defined shadows. These lights are long tubes, usually 4ft
long, filled with a gas that releases a photon of light when excited by
electricity. The electricity is passed through the tube from the metal
sections at either end, thus exciting the gas within and releasing
photons of light. These lights must have a 'starter' which gets the
light going initially, unlike incandescent which can just be turned on
and off without one. Regular fluorescents usually emit 18w of light per
tube, and cannot be plugged straight into a wall socket.
Compact fluorescents, on the other hand, are made for use in
regular light sockets, and can easily be installed by anyone with basic
handyman skills. Compact fluorescents are usually around 8inches long
(not including the ballast, which usually adds about 3 inches to the
total length) and emit minimal amounts of heat from the globe itself.
Most of the heat emitted from a compact fluorescent comes from the
ballast. These lights are usually between 8w and 27w, although some
variation may occur between brands and uses.
The main reason people choose CF's over regular fluoro's is their
compact ability! They are very 'movable' and can be positioned almost
everywhere. They put out MUCH more light than their bigger cousins,
while using only a fraction of the space.
Some of the many varieties of compact fluorescents.
Image contributed by: Locutus
NON-CULTIVATION USE OF COMPACT FLUORESCENTS
If you're running a large grow setup, and you're concerned about
the spike in electricity, replace your regular light bulbs with compact
fluoro’s around the house! They give off the same light, using only a
fraction of the electricity. If you're running a HID light, and the
electricity increase could kill you financially, or you're just worried
about LEO, it might be a good idea to replace incandescent with compact
fluoro’s. As an example, a 100w incandescent uses most of its energy
giving off heat. If you replace all these 100w incandescent bulbs with
~20w energy saving compact fluoro's, you can dramatically reduce your
energy bill, and help the environment at the same time. In fact, I
recommend changing all your lights to CF's regardless of your growing
situation, as they will save you $$ in the long-term, and save the
The advantage with these lights is that the conversion from
incandescent isn't complicated! Simply un-screw the old bulb, and screw
in a compact fluoro! Done! You're on your way to energy saving
THE USE OF FLUORO'S FOR GROWING CANNABIS
Every grower has, or still uses these lights. Although they don’t
even come close to the results from a HID light, they do however
provide a cheap alternative for a newbie 'dabbling' in the fine art of
growing. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on an HID light, a
newbie can purchase a compact fluorescent for a few bucks, and still
have money for a coffee on the way home.
These lights are also excellent for starting seedlings and clones,
as their cool light will not dry out the soil as fast as an HID. They
have a low intensity, and are gentle on newly germinated seedlings, and
are great for clones as they wont dry them out or give them too much of
an early blast.
Compact fluoro's are also great for stealth grows, as they can be
kept about 1 inch from the plants, and do not require extensive heat
ventilation due to their warm operating temperature.
WHERE CAN I PURCHASE THESE LIGHTS?
Most lighting stores will sell them, but watch out, prices are very
different depending on what type of shop you get them at! As lighting
shops only sell lighting equipment, their prices can either be high or
low, it really depends on the type of lighting shop it is. A designer
lighting shop may end up being much more expensive, as they tend to be
more directed towards the upper-class designer type customer, which
extra $$ to spend. Hardware’s sell them, but their variety of lights is
usually limited. Electricians, and assorted electrical shops will sell
them, and this is most likely where you will get the best range and the
best prices. My advice to you is, shop around! You wont regret it when
you can save around 30 er light.
WHICH TYPE OF COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT TO CHOOSE
For anyone growing cannabis, it is pointless to buy a weak light.
Given the option of 8w, 15w and 27w, you would be stupid not to buy the
27watt, as they are more or less the same price. Compare the lumen
output of each of the bulbs, different 27w bulbs may have different
lumen outputs (depending on the manufacturer) and as with everything,
the more lumens the better. You will also be given 2 options, the screw
method of fitting, or the bayonet method (push and turn). My preference
is the bayonet fitting. Make sure that you choose the right one for
your socket! Also, do not choose a regular compact fluoro. Pick the one
with the energy saving feature (will be explained why later on in the
document). Now, for vegetative growth you should choose the 'cool
white' light. This is also acceptable for flowering, but a 'warm white'
light will be better as it is stronger in the red end of the light
spectrum which is more suitable for flowering.
INSTALLING YOUR COMPACT FLUORESCENT
Now, this is extremely easy. As these bulbs fit normal light
fixtures, you can just dismantle and old lamp to get the cord, plug and
bulb fixture. This is ready made, as all you have to do is plug the
cord into a wall outlet and screw in a bulb (with the power turned off,
of course). This requires no electrical knowledge at all, and is the
easiest way to get a cord suitable for a compact fluoro. The cord is
simply removed from the lamp, and you are ready. If you feel you are
not up to this task, or you do not have an old lamp ready to be
destroyed, you can easily make one of these cords with basic electrical
knowledge. Hardware’s and electricians will sell you the cable (you'll
need at least 1 meter) and the fittings for the wall socket and the
light. Just tell them you're making a lamp for pottery and need a few
cables to make up yourself. The parts are cheap, and you can save $$$
this way. If you have any queries, the electrical store will know
exactly what type of cables you need etc, and will be more than happy
to give you instructions on how to put it all together.
Please note that this is a guide for regular compact fluoro's.
There are some outdoor varieties (which are rare) that need to be
fitted specially. This FAQ is written for the regular compact fluoro’s,
the ones that are most accessible to the general population. Other
varieties of compact fluoro's are hard to find, but may or may not be
better for growing. As I have little experience with these rare lights,
I cannot comment on them. The reason I haven't seen them before, is
because they are almost non-existent where I live.
HOW DO I MAKE A SIMPLE REFLECTOR FOR YOUR COMPACT FLUORESCENT?
To build this reflector you will need a regular soda can, any brand
will do, which you will need to rinse thoroughly until no residue is
left inside. You will also need a good pair or scissor and a robust
kitchen knife to cut the metal accordingly. An alternate method to
remove the lid, would be to use a can opener. The lip of the lid can be
used, and it will cut it cleanly. These tools should be chosen
carefully as they will determine over failure or success of this
construction. A lack of caution and a sharp metal edge can be fatal to
your fingertips so think twice if your tools are capable of doing the