So back in the day I used to start my seeds in the sunroom and the wife didn't like that to much. So, I decided to move my operation to the basement. Problem with the basement is its too cold to start seeds. So I needed to improvise. While in my local hardware store I saw a roll of reflective bubble tape and that's how this story got its idea.
I have seen these fancy grow tents that people use and thought those would be great, but the price tag is outrageous...Plus wheres the fun on the weekend when you want to tinker and build your own stuff. SO I decided to make my own...Lights and all.
Step 1: Stuff You Will Need
This list may be incomplete, But I will try my best.
Roll of the foil covered bubble tape.
Random PVC bits
Plastic Shelving Unit
Self Tapping Screws
Some machine nuts and bolts.
Sunseeker Light Fixtures or other equivalent T5 bulb Fixture.
Step 2: The Shelf. and the PVC Frame
Because the foil is somewhat flimsy and doesn't want to un roll shape form the roll I decided to make a quick cheap PVC frame. Just uses 1/2' PVC and 3 way joints to make a box. The dimensions were set based on how big my shelf was and I gave plenty of space away from the lighting. About 3" on each side.
The shelf I got from Menards. Put it together out of the box.
Step 3: The Foil
I cut the foil to make a rectangle that would fit around the frame...Not super tight, but snug so that it keeps it shape and looks nice.
When cutting I left one of the sides longer so that I could wrap it around and use it as a door. Then I took foil tape and taped all the joints together. Looking back on this you could probably skip the cutting and just crease the foil around the frame, but I liked the crisp corners.
When bending the foil on lines it helps to use a straight edge and give it a good crease.For the lid I cut the sheet bigger than needed so I would have a nice overhang lip and a tight fit. I cut on lines in to make a faux corner and held that in place with foil tape as well. See the pictures for better explanation.
Step 4: The Lights
To hang the lights on the shelf pole I got some PVC that was a bigger diameter and drilled a hole for the thumb screw. This hold the light in place , but makes it mobile up and down for when your plants get taller. I screwed the L bracket to the PVC tube with some short self tapping screws and then bolted the hanging clip from the SunSeeker Lights. Most T5 lights have a similar hanging mechanism. Then I clipped the lights on and plugged them in. Simple as that.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
I put some velcro tabs on the one end so that I can open it up and check things out easily. With the lights on the inside the temp gets up to 24-25 C which is about perfect for germinating and growing seeds. This way no light is wasted and the soil won't dry out as fast because of the enclosure.
I plan on adding a temp switch to turn on a small computer fan that will vent the inside if it gets to hot so that I don't fry my plants. But right now its staying right about a perfect balance without the fan. As winter ends and the basement warms up that may be a different story though. You can get cheap temp switches on amazon or you could build your own IoT sensor that you could track while you are away as well.