In this post I will show you how I made my very own DIY LED grow light very cheaply, that can produce very good results for the beginning indoor garden who does not yet want to invest in expensive grow equipment. One of the good things about this light is that most people will be able to find the things needed to make this light locally in their town. But just incase you cant find them all at a store near you I will put amazon links in the post to where you can order these things online.
DIY LED Grow Light Step 1
The first thing you will need for this DIY LED grow light is a light socket with a corded plug attached. If you have a very basic knowledge of electricity, you can easily make this item yourself, by wiring any old appliance cord with wall plug to a light socket. But I am not going to explain how to do that here, as I don’t want to be responsible for someone burning their house down. If you want to buy a socket already connected to a plug you can probably find one locally at a hardware store or Wal-Mart for pretty cheap. Make sure whatever one you get that it is rated for the amount of watts you plan to use of light bulbs. If you don’t know how to make one and you cant find one locally you can easily order one online. Below is a picture of one and a link to where you can purchase on Amazon.
DIY LED Grow Light Step 2
The next thing you will need for this project is a 4 or 7 light socket extender. This is the only thing in this project that you might have trouble finding locally. These are made for people who do photography and need lots of light focused into a small area. I got both of mine from amazon. One with 4 light sockets and the other with 7. Below is a picture of both and a link to where you can find on amazon.
DIY LED Grow Light Step 3
The next thing you will need for this project is your LED light bulbs. There are many different options when it comes to brands and watts. But most will work well. Some might just work a little better than others. I have used the ones for a dollar each from The DollarTree and had good results as well as the great value brand from Wal-Mart which are a little more expensive than the DollarTree but they have higher wattages and are still cheaper than most LED light bulb brands. Some people use the daylight color temperature 5000k for vegetative growth and the 2700k/3000k for flowering plants. In my personal experience I prefer to only use 2700k/3000k for both vegging and flowering. The times I have tried using 5000k for vegging, I feel like the plants didn’t really respond well to it. But it could have just been user error on my part. This item I would recommend buying locally as it will be a lot cheaper then online, but just incase you cant below is a picture of some lights I would recommend for this project as well as a link where to purchase on amazon.
DIY LED Grow Light Step 4
Now that you have everything you need for this project all you have to do is put it all together and you are good to grow. One thing you can do that is optional is to remove the plastic cover on your LED light bulbs to make the light a lot more powerful, and to give you much better results. However do this at your own risk, as I can’t officially recommend you do this for the very small risk something goes wrong and you burn your house down, but I will say I have done this for years and never had any issues of any kind. The way I take off the plastic cover is I first drill a whole in the side of the plastic cover big enough to fit in some needle nose plyers, and then I take my needle nose plyers and rip a line all the way around the plastic cover until it becomes flimsy and then I can squeeze it and pop it off.
DIY LED Grow Light Distance From Plants
These light bulbs are very powerful and bright with the plastic tops cut off and depending on the stage of life your plant is in will determine how much distance you need between your plants and your lights.
For seedlings I recommend using 2700k bulbs. I had a bad experience once using 5000k bulbs too close to seedlings and had some light burn which stunted my plants. If using 9 watt 2700k bulbs you can put the lights about 5 inches away from the plants for best results, any further and you risk your seedlings growing stretchy. For cuttings you don’t need to use more than a couple of LED bulbs and its best to keep the light distance around 10 to 12 inches. When trying to root clones they need very little amounts of lights. From my experience too much light will take longer for the plants to grow roots and sometimes your plants wont ever root.
For established plants you can put the lights a lot closer to your plants. If using 9 watt bulbs in your DIY LED grow light then you can keep the lights as close as 3 inches from the tops of your plants. And if using 14 watt LED bulbs its better to keep them around 4 to 6 inches from the tops of your plants.
These are just general light distances that should do fine for your plants, but it will take some trail and error to determine what works best for you and your situation.
There is a way you can optimize the distance from your DIY LED grow light and your plant canopy. For this you will need something call a lux meter. A lux meter will work well for determining the distance from your lights to plants while using these white LED bulbs. It will not work well though for determining the distance needed for actual blue and red color LED grow lights, only for the white bulbs.
After lots of experimentation with my lux meter and this DIY LED grow light I have come up with what seem to be the most optimal lux ranges for my plants based on plant age.
Seedlings: 5000 to 10000 lux
Early Veg: 15000 to 20000 lux
Veg: 20000 to 25000 Lux
Flowering: 30000 to 50000 lux
This is what works great for me. So if you would like to have a more accurate idea of the light distance you need, I would highly recommend getting a cheap lux meter. I have tried the phone apps and compared them to my actual lux meter and they are no where near close to being accurate.
To use a lux meter is very simple and all you have to do is turn it on and place it under your grow light. Then move it closer and further from your light until it reaches the number you are trying to achieve depending on your plants growth stage. When you have the number in the right range you are looking for measure the distance from your lux meter and your lights. This will be the distance you should keep your lights from your plants.
Below is a picture of my lux meter and another picture of it measuring the lux at the canopy of my plants in early veg. As you can see in the picture it reads right around 14000 lux of light hitting the canopy of my plants. This shows that it is just under the optimal range for early veg, so I can move the lights a little bit closer to my plants until they are in the 15000 to 20000 range.
Below is an Amazon link to a Lux Meter that I would recommend if you plan on getting one.
That’s all I can think of for now on this post. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.