How to Make a Cheap Vegetable Grow-Light Box: No Tools Just a Knife!

About: I use gardening as a way to enjoy life. I have over 250 HD garden videos on my YouTube Channel. I invite you to visit and dig around. Good luck with your season!

You can build a cheap effective grow-light box for starting vegetables seeds and growing transplants. You don't need any special tools,  just a knife for making cuts in a 14 gallon/53  liter tote container lid. All the parts can be bought at  hardware stores. The cost for the first grow-light box is about $27.00. The second box will only cost you $17.00... so why not make two!

The Parts List:

$4.97 - 4 100 Watt CFL Light Bulbs with 1600 Lumens and 5000 Kelvin Rating 
$4.97 - 4 Gallon/53 Liter Tote Container: 24x16x12 Inches or 61x40x31 CM
$4.97 - Role of Duct Tape
$2.97 - Extension Cord (Optional)
$8.97 - 8.5 Inch or 21.5 CM Clamp Light (Make Sure it is Rated for 100 Watts or More)
           - Some Aluminum Foil (Household)

You will have enough bulbs and duct tape to build a second grow-light box and that is how the cost is brought down for the second box. The box can really be made in about 25 minutes. I recommend using a 100 watt CFL bulb as this does not produce any heat issues. There is no need to go higher than a 150 watt CFL bulb. A 100 watt CFL is fully effective for this size box.

I used a wireless thermometer and the internal box temperature sat (after 3 hours of being on) at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius using a 100 watt CFL bulb. The bulb and lamp reflector could be touched even after being on for several hours. I recommend,  due to varying parts, doing a 3 hour monitored burn in of the grow-light box. You want to make sure there are no heat issues.

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    If you are using 100 watt equivalent bulbs, their actual consumption is only 23 watts so your clamp light does not need to be rated for 100 watts.
    The only reason this is important is because sometimes it is difficult to find high rating fixtures and one rated for 40 or 60 watts would work fine for this application. I would recommend using a fixture rated for outdoor use. Considering it will be in a humid environment, it is helpful to make sure you are using appropriate fixtures.

    Good concept. A little more expensive, but you may want to look at t5 and led equivalent as well. 5000K is okay for small plants, but long term growing indoors would benefit from t5 6500K lights. In the past few years I have also seen a trend towards 10,000k and higher lights although I have not read any papers on efficiency vs benefits.

    2 replies

    Yep you are right they are lot less wattage. The lowest I found was 100 watt but that would save a headache for people searching for exactly what I said. Thanks.

    Oh and a flat block germination box absolutely runs into humidity trouble because the sides are so shallow. I havent made that video yet but will incorporate what you said.

    Glad to help. I love plant projects. Wish I would remember to document more of them so I could make more instructables. The only one I managed to document and turn into an instructable was my deck aquaponics system (check it out if you get a moment).

    After I commented, I went back to my storage room and realized I have a few 5000K CFCs. Thinking about making a grow box. Maybe I will document and make an instructable out of it :)