How to Build an Indoor Grow-Light Table

With some PVC, fluorescent shop lights, some chain, and a handful of other materials, you can create a low-cost grow-light setup for starting seedlings indoors or growing plants all year long.

| February/March 2019

From fruits to flowers, Scott and Susan Hill are able to start a multitude of crops on their homemade grow-light tables.

If growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers indoors has been a dream of yours, now’s the time to make it a reality. Once you get a good grow-light table in your home, you can cultivate a multitude of crops. No matter what time of year it is or what the weather’s like outside, you’ll be in control. Grow starter plants for spring planting, microgreens for salads, flowers to brighten your (or someone else’s) day, or herbs for using in your kitchen all year long.

I visited Scott and Susan Hill on their thriving vegetable and flower farm in Louisa, Virginia, to research Scott’s indoor growing table — a low-cost system that doesn’t require an engineering degree to build or use. Scott and Susan start hundreds of plants for their high tunnels throughout the year by placing seed trays on three indoor tables of Scott’s design; each can hold up to 10 seed trays. Scott uses inexpensive PVC pipe for the framework, wire shelving, ordinary 2-foot and 4-foot shop-light fixtures, and fluorescent bulbs.

 Most people think it’s necessary to use special grow lights for starting plants and growing indoors long term. Scott and Susan convinced me that it’s possible to skip the expensive grow lights and simply use regular fluorescent bulbs. At Hill Farm, they get excellent results, making me a believer in this low-cost method.

To build your own indoor grow-light table, you’ll need the following materials:

  • 1-inch PVC pipe, about 90 feet
  • 12 PVC 3-way elbow fittings
  • 4 PVC 90-degree elbow fittings
  • 6 PVC tee fittings
  • 6-foot-by-16-inch coated wire shelf
  • 2 shop-light fixtures, 4 feet long
  • 2 shop-light fixtures, 2 feet long
  • 4 fluorescent bulbs, 4 feet long
  • 4 fluorescent bulbs, 2 feet long
  • Channel material, 12 to 18 feet
  • 4 eye bolts and nuts
  • Double loop chain, 16 feet
  •  4 S-hooks
  • 4 carabiners or quick links
  • Zip ties
  • 4 casters (optional)
  • 6 U-bolts (optional)

Note: You can also use two 8-foot light fixtures and bulbs instead of the 2- and 4-foot fixtures if they're available at your hardware store. Scott told me that the 8-foot lights are being phased out, and that’s why he uses the 2- and 4-foot combination instead.

1/16/2019 11:03:42 AM

this tabletop version is perfect for me!!!! What a simple idea that I can do myself!!!! How many hours do I need to leave the lights on?

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