DIY Grow Light


Plants need quality light in a high enough intensity to sustain photosynthesis and nourish the plant. Grow lights allow plants to be grown in areas with little to no light and are valuable as supplemental lighting where not enough sunlight is available. Do-it-yourself grow lights using fluorescent bulbs are sufficient for all but the most high-intensity light requirements. The lights must be positioned close to the surface of the plants without burning them.

Using Fluorescent Fixtures

Step 1

Obtain a fluorescent fixture with cool-spectrum fluorescent bulbs.

Step 2

Attach lightweight chains to the fixtures and hooks to the ceiling or shelf above.

Step 3

Adjust the fixture height so that the lights are approximately 6 to 8 inches above the top of the plants. Move the fixture up as the plants grow.

Compact Fluorescent Lights

Step 1

Obtain clamp-on shop lights and compact fluorescent lights. Install the CFL bulb in the shop light.

Step 2

Clamp the shop light onto the plant shelf or a fixture nearby and adjust the light toward the plants.

Step 3

Allow the light to heat up, then place your hand at leaf height to check the heat on the plants. If it's too hot for you, it is too hot for the plants. Ideally the light will be 4 to 6 inches from the plant. Maintain the light as close to the plants as possible without burning them.

Tips and Warnings

  • Leaves that are crisp and brown are too close to the light. Move the fixture up, or move the plant further away.

Things You'll Need

  • Fluorescent or shop light fixture
  • Cool-spectrum fluorescent lights or compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Chain (optional)


  • University of Vermont Extension: Indoor Lighting for Plants
  • University of Hawaii: Growing Plants Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
Keywords: DIY grow light, fluorescent grow lighting, CFL grow lights

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.