Seed Starting Reflective Growing Tent W/ Lights




Introduction: Seed Starting Reflective Growing Tent W/ Lights

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

Thumb Screw

Self Tapping Screws

L bracket

Some machine nuts and bolts.

Sunseeker Light Fixtures or other equivalent T5 bulb Fixture.

Velcro Tabs

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.

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    2 years ago

    I must say, I'm not sure why I never thought of using the bubble wrap insulation. Its genius! I have so many questions about this. From the list of parts down to why did you do this or that or why did you use this. You have given me some great ideas!


    Reply 2 years ago

    So I just the bubble for two reasons. When its closed up the light on the inside reflects all over and it holds in just enough heat from the lights in my cold basement to be at germination temp.

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    This looks like it would be a good way to get seeds started on a large scale.


    Reply 5 years ago

    The normal black flats you get a the greenhouse store I can fit 3-4 on each shelf, so you could start a lot of plants this way, especially if you go more vertical. The shelf unit I got was 5 racks high and I'm only using 3 of them.


    5 years ago

    What are you growing? I tried growing some cotton seeds that I needed to start in doors--Michigan's growing season isn't long enough. I started them in January but they did not grow enough to actually produce cotton. Very sad. I was thinking that someday I may have a greenhouse. This might work since the plants would get a better start--with all the light.


    Reply 5 years ago

    I am starting all of my early crops like onions, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, etc. This is my starting solution, by the time that the plants are big enough I move them out into a cold frame, which is essentially a poormans greenhouse. Eventually I will have a full greenhouse outside that I can hopefully do some year round growing in.