Introduction: Modify AeroGarden for Cheap Bulbs
If you own an older or non-LED Aerogarden, you have probably been miffed at the high cost of replacement bulbs. They are only available from aerogarden.com and cost upwards of $12 a bulb. It would be nice to be able to use readily available bulbs that can be had for under $5 a bulb locally.
Here is how I modified my Aerogarden to accept standard screw in bulbs.
Step 1: Dissasembly
Unplug the hood and remove it from the base. Unscrew the nine perimeter screws and pry the chrome insert out of the black cover. It's best to remove the stantion first. Use a screwdriver to pop the insert out. This can take a bit of force, especially near the stantion and socket.
Once it's out, unscrew the socket and remove the socket assembly.
Step 2: Prepare the Dual Socket.
I found this Jandorf ceiling kit (#60223) in a local Ace hardware store. A search online turns up lots of places to get one.
Start by disassembling the socket and brackets. Reassemble as shown so the wires can be fed through the screw fixture.
Step 3: Prep the Hood
Break away the webbing in the center of the hood opening. Then drill a hole big enough to clear the dual socket standoff.
Step 4: Install the Dual Socket
If you have a trove of electrical parts, you can probably find a nut that will fit the dual socket. Or you can use the fancy gold dress nut that comes with the kit. You'll have to drill it out so the wires can pass through it.
I drilled the mounting hole in the hood pretty high up so the bulbs would clear inside the hood. This meant I had to grind away some of the fancy nut so I could tighten it. The gold part of the nut is just plastic, so it was easy to remove.
Step 5: Attach the Original Socket
Remove the socket from the Aerogarden assembly. Solder the two wires from the dual socket to the Aerogarden socket. Don't forget to slide some heat shrink tubing on first. Slide the heat shrink down and shrink it.
Step 6: Finish
All that's left is to reassemble the hood. Screw the socket back in place, then dress the wires out of the way. Snap the whole thing back into the black hood. Here again, it might take a little force to get it to click in.
Put the whole thing back on the Aerogarden and screw in a couple of curly fluorescent bulbs.
A word about bulbs: Bulbs come in different wattages and different color temperatures. The size is self evident. You can put pretty big bulbs under the hood now.
Color temperature is measured in Kelvin degrees. Look for a number on the package like "2600K" or "4300K". You want the highest number you can buy. The higher the number the whiter and closer to natural sunlight the bulb will be. www.1000bulbs.com has some 6500K 30 watt bulbs that should be great.