Thursday, April 6, 2017

LED Bulb Change Over

Our light rack has had a long rest and before we fired it up again this spring, I knew that we should get new bulbs.  The florescent lights may look like they are still bright to the eye, but as they age, the lumens decrease.  Much of the literature suggests replacing bulbs after one year of use.   ‘A year’ is based on a standard growing cycle of 1172 hours which is about 84 days which is almost 3 months.  Other sites suggest changing after two years. Since we use the light rack for about a month before it is warm enough in the greenhouse for the babies, we have not changed them in several years.

In 2015, the last year we grew before our shemitah year, we noticed a dramatic improvement in our plant growth and health when we moved them out to the greenhouse from the grow lights.  Research from hydroponics websites state that overall light loss is DIRECTLY proportional to yield loss.  While we were not trying to fully grow out plants to harvest under lights, we were still trying to gain a healthy seedling.

This year we decided to convert the florescent tube lights in our growing rack as well as the fixtures in our basement to LEDs.  After doing some research we came across this website:  and found just what we were looking for.  There are two main types of LED bulbs that could work in our existing T12 fixtures.  One type works with some existing ballasts and you simply pop them in place. The other type is called direct wire or ballast bypass and requires some simple wiring to get them to work.  Considering that we did not have the proper ballasts needed and that removing the ballasts eliminates the possibility of those going bad in the future and that the price difference was negligible, it was a no brainer to go with the direct wire LED style.  To wire the fixtures for the new lights one simply needs to remove the ballast and directly wire the power to one end called the “live end”.  Below are some pictures that we took while upgrading one of the fixtures.

Innards of florescent fixture before operation...

A snip here, a cut there...

The now superfluous organ has been removed!

Capping the lines together to keep the juices flowing...

Putting the covering back on to hide all the doctor's handy work..

Making sure the patient is hooked up properly via the "live end"

It's ALIVE!!!

Spreading the LIGHT!