Grow Lights for Cheap: Make Money With Your Garden with Inexpensive Grow Lights

Inexpensive Grow Lights
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Last Updated on 2 years by Michelle

If you’re looking for a way to get your garden started early this year, consider inexpensive grow lights, aka grow lights for cheap!

You can create an effective grow light system on a budget with just a few simple items.

This blog post will discuss the different types of inexpensive grow lights available. We’ll cover how to choose the right one for your needs. We’ll also talk about the necessary color spectrum and wattage required for growing seedlings.

So whether you’re trying to save money or just want an easy way to get started, inexpensive grow lights are the way to go!

Why Cheap Grow Lights Are the Way to Go

As a gardener, you know the importance of getting a jump on the growing season.

One easy way to do that is by using inexpensive grow lights.

A few reasons inexpensive grow lights might be the right choice for you:

  • You’re on a budget – Let’s face it, gardening can be expensive. If you’re looking for ways to save money, inexpensive grow lights can be a great option.
  • Inexpensive grow lights are available in a variety of options, so you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
  • You don’t need all the bells and whistles – When it comes to growing seedlings, you don’t need all the fancy features that come with more expensive grow lights.
  • You really need the right color spectrum and wattage. Inexpensive grow lights can provide that. You don’t need the other things.
  • You want an easy way to get started. Maybe you’re new to gardening or just don’t have a lot of time. Perhaps you have a short growing season. Inexpensive grow lights can be a great way to get your garden started.

So whether you’re on a budget, don’t need all the extra features, or just want an easy way to get started, cheap grow lights might be the right choice for you.

Barriers to Buying a Grow Light System

Some people may be hesitant to invest in a quality system when it comes to inexpensive grow lights.

Often, they are unsure of what is required or the common challenges people have.

A lack of knowledge can lead to people making mistakes and not getting the most out of their grow light system.

People Don't Know Exactly What They Need

One common challenge is that people don’t know how to create an effective grow light system on a budget. There are a few key things to keep in mind when creating a budget-friendly grow light system.

Things to Keep in Mind: Color Spectrum

When it comes to growing seedlings, one of the most important things to consider is the color spectrum of your grow lights.

Different plants have different light needs, and cheap grow lights often don’t provide the full spectrum of light that plants need to thrive.

For example, blue light is necessary for leafy green growth, while red light helps flowers and fruits to develop.

By choosing a grow light with a wide range of colors, you can ensure that your plants are getting the light they need to grow healthy and strong.

In addition, full-spectrum grow lights can also help to promote better flowering and fruiting in many plants.

Now, if we were growing plants all the way from seedling to adult plant, we’d want a full-spectrum light like the one mentioned above.

However, we are only growing seedlings, so we don’t need to worry about stimulating the fruiting portion of the plant’s life cycle, and we don’t want to pay extra for that capability.

Because we only care about getting the plant off to a good start by growing strong foliage, we want lights that are closer to the blue end of the spectrum.

Color Temperature

If you’re looking for a way to get your garden started early this year, consider inexpensive grow lights, aka grow lights for cheap! You can create an effective grow light system on a budget with just a few simple items. This blog post will discuss the different types of inexpensive grow lights available. We’ll cover how to choose the right one for your needs. We’ll also talk about the necessary color spectrum and wattage required for growing seedlings. So whether you’re trying to save money or just want an easy way to get started, inexpensive grow lights are the way to go!

Why Cheap Grow Lights Are the Way to Go

As a gardener, you know the importance of getting a jump on the growing season. One easy way to do that is by using inexpensive grow lights.

A few reasons inexpensive grow lights might be the right choice for you:

  • You’re on a budget – Let’s face it, gardening can be expensive. If you’re looking for ways to save money, inexpensive grow lights can be a great option.
  • Inexpensive grow lights are available in a variety of options, so you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
  • You don’t need all the bells and whistles – When it comes to growing seedlings, you don’t need all the fancy features that come with more expensive grow lights.
  • You really need the right color spectrum and wattage. Inexpensive grow lights can provide that. You don’t need the other things.
  • You want an easy way to get started. Maybe you’re new to gardening or just don’t have a lot of time. Perhaps you have a short growing season. Inexpensive grow lights can be a great way to get your garden started.
So whether you’re on a budget, don’t need all the extra features, or just want an easy way to get started, cheap grow lights might be the right choice for you.

Barriers to Buying a Grow Light System

Some people may be hesitant to invest in a quality system when it comes to inexpensive grow lights. Often, they are unsure of what is required or the common challenges people have. A lack of knowledge can lead to people making mistakes and not getting the most out of their grow light system.

People Don’t Know Exactly What They Need

One common challenge is that people don’t know how to create an effective grow light system on a budget. There are a few key things to keep in mind when creating a budget-friendly grow light system.

Things to Keep in Mind: Color Spectrum

When it comes to growing seedlings, one of the most important things to consider is the color spectrum of your grow lights. Different plants have different light needs, and cheap grow lights often don’t provide the full spectrum of light that plants need to thrive. For example, blue light is necessary for leafy green growth, while red light helps flowers and fruits to develop. By choosing a grow light with a wide range of colors, you can ensure that your plants are getting the light they need to grow healthy and strong. In addition, full-spectrum grow lights can also help to promote better flowering and fruiting in many plants. Now, if we were growing plants all the way from seedling to adult plant, we’d want a full-spectrum light like the one mentioned above. However, we are only growing seedlings, so we don’t need to worry about stimulating the fruiting portion of the plant’s life cycle, and we don’t want to pay extra for that capability. Because we only care about getting the plant off to a good start by growing strong foliage, we want lights that are closer to the blue end of the spectrum.

Color Temperature

Inexpensive Grow Lights Second, the color temperature of the lights is important. The color temperature is measured in Kelvin and it determines how warm or cool the light will appear. Daylight is 6500K, and the closer your grow lights are to that number, the better when it comes to growing seedlings.

Wattage

Third, the wattage of the grow lights is important. The wattage determines how much power the light uses and how bright it will be. A general rule of thumb is that seedlings need about 30 watts per square foot. So, if you have a small grow area, you won’t need as powerful grow lights. This will help you save money on the electricity it takes to run the grow lights.

Expensive Full Spectrum Bulbs Aren’t Necessary

One common misconception is that people think they need to buy fancy, expensive bulbs in order to get quality grow lights. However, this isn’t the case. Some people think full-spectrum lights are necessary for growing healthy seedlings. However, most cheap grow lights will do the trick just fine. The important thing is to make sure that the light is bright enough and that it provides the correct range of wavelengths. As long as these two criteria are met, the type of light is not particularly important. So, if you’re on a budget, don’t worry about investing in expensive full-spectrum lights – cheap grow lights will do the job just as well.

Common Inexpensive Lights That You Can Use for Grow Lights

Your best bet for finding inexpensive grow lights is to use lights that are not technically “grow lights”. Lights marketed as grow lights are usually much more expensive than other lights. You can save a lot of money by buying those “other” lights.

Why You Should Look for Lights that Aren’t Marketed as Grow Lights

Lights that are marketed as grow lights are often too expensive to be financially viable for seedling grow lights. Usually, they are meant to grow plants for their entire life span. This includes all phases of growth: seedling phase, flowering phase, and fruiting phase. This requires full-spectrum light which is much more expensive than what you really need for just growing seedlings. As a matter of fact, almost all “grow lights” are more expensive than other lights that are not marketed as grow lights.

Use Shop Lights for Your Grow Lights

Shop lights can work just as well as more expensive bulbs. The key is to make sure that the shop lights have the correct color spectrum, color temperature, and wattage for your needs. Best Budget Grow Lights Shop lights are the foundation of my inexpensive grow light system.

My First Lighting Set Up: 2013-2020

My first grow lights were not intended for growing plants. I purchased 3 45-watt compact fluorescent bulbs so I could light the videos I was shooting for my business at the time. Years later, when I inspected their color temperature further, I realized they were 5500K. This color temperature is really close to pure daylight at 6500K. I then experimented with the lights and found that they grew seedlings very well. I bought 3 lights at $12.99 each and 3 aluminum reflectors at $6.47 each, making my first grow light setup right around $60. I know prices have fluctuated a bit lately, so click here to check the current pricing for these lights.
Cheap Grow Light Bulbs
These CFL Clamp Lights Were the First Lights in My Grow Light System
I started all the seeds I needed for several years with this first set-up while I had small gardens. I was able to light about 6 feet of cabinet with those lights, which was plenty of room for my tomatoes and peppers. I direct seeded the rest of my garden, so that was all I needed.

My Expanded Lighting Set Up: 2020

Once I moved to a HUGE garden space here in North Carolina, I needed to seriously step up my lighting game. I still didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I come from a long line of pragmatic farmers, and growing food must make financial sense. I first added 4 more CFL lights, almost identical to the ones I already had, and this added 6 more feet of lighting space to my set up.
Cheap Grow Light
More CFL Clamp Lights to Add to My Grow Room Setup
This added another $80 to my setup and more than doubled my lit cabinet space to 18 feet. I received a MarsHydro grow light for my birthday that year, and it is technically the ONLY actual grow light that I own.

The MarsHydro Light

The MarsHydro TS 150W light will illuminate around 4 ft of cabinet space, and it is a full spectrum light originally intended for growing marijuana. It is amazing light for sure, and it grows my seedlings super fast. It grows plants noticeably faster than all my other lights. Grow Lights Having that capability is nice, I can’t lie. I’m using the MarsHydro light right now to grow the tomato seedlings for my garden. I’ll have around 60 plants. In exactly one month, my seedlings have gone from just being seeds in a cup to seedlings big enough to transplant out in the garden. Please note, you do not need a MarsHydro light to grow robust, healthy seedlings. I only use the MarsHydro when I’m short on time and need to grow seedlings quickly. It’s great for that and probably overkill for vegetable seedlings otherwise. But, hey…it was a gift, so I don’t count it in my overall expenses. If you are interested in having full spectrum, intense light that supports all the different growth stages of plants, the MarsHydro is definitely worth having.

LED Shop Lights Double my Lighting Space: 2021-2022

The shop lights that I added in the last year are my workhorses. I have 8 4-ft long 42 Watt LED shop lights that are 5000K in color temperature, which is close enough to daylight to grow seedlings nicely. These cheap LED grow lights are my favorites in my setup for many reasons.

Cheap LED Grow Lights Don’t Get Hot

The Cheap LED grow lights I have don’t get hot to the touch the way the MarsHydro light does. This is important because you want to be able to control the temperature in your seedling grow room.  If you have several hot lights going at the same time, your room will heat up quickly. The single MarsHydro light heats up the room in a few hours and cooling fans are necessary to distribute the heat. Each light was around $20, and I use 2 lights on each shelf.

Cheap Grow Lights Can Be Linked Together

One of the best features of LED shop lights is that they can be easily linked together. This means that you don’t have to individually plug in each light, which can save a lot of time and effort. Plus, it makes it easy to add or remove lights as needed. You’ll need to purchase fewer power strips for your seedling room when you use linkable LED shop lights as your grow lights, so that saves you money.
Grow Lights for Cheap
Linked Shop Lights in my Grow Room
Cost of My Grow Light Set Up:
  • Years 0-7= $60
  • Year 8= $140 (plus the $130 MarsHydro which was a gift)
  • Year 9= $70
Average cost per year= $30 per year It’s important to remember that these lights will work year after year in your grow room. I don’t plan on making any more investments in my grow light setup any time soon. Therefore, I’ve stretched my grow light expenses over many years.

Inexpensive Light Options

There are a few different options available when it comes to inexpensive grow lights.

LED Shop Lights

One inexpensive option is LED shop lights. Shop lights are a great option because they are inexpensive and they emit a lot of light. They are also easy to set up and use. Another great thing about shop lights is that they come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose the size that best fits your needs. A regular shop light makes an affordable grow light. Because they are marketed for lighting work areas, they are very affordable. A regular shop light is intended to light a work surface, so they need to be really affordable or no one will buy them. This is great for you because you’re looking for an inexpensive grow light option.

LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights are another option. LED grow lights are energy-efficient and produce very little heat. They also come in a variety of colors, so you can choose the color that best suits your plants. They typically have a full light spectrum, so you could grow plants through their entire life cycle One downside of LED grow lights is that they can be more expensive than other types of lights. Since they are marketed as grow lights and probably have some plant-specific features that are meant to promote plant growth. Fluorescent grow lights are another inexpensive option. They emit a lot of light and they are also very energy-efficient. One downside of fluorescent grow lights is that they can produce a lot of heat. So, there are a few different inexpensive grow light options available. LED shop, LED grow, and fluorescent lights are all great choices. It just depends on what you are looking for in a grow light.

LED Shop Lights I Recommend

These LED Shop Lights will work perfectly as affordable grow lights. In my opinion, they are considered energy-efficient lighting because of the LED bulbs and are some of the best cheap grow lights. I have these lights in my grow room, and they are solid.
  • 4 ft Linkable LED Shop Light 4-pack They are in my grow room right now, and they are working very well. These were around $20 per light when I purchased them but click here to check the current price on Amazon, as the price may have changed. At $78.99 for 4 lights, you can light 8 feet of cabinet space, which is enough to get your first seedling grow room started.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs I Recommend

These compact fluorescent bulbs will work as grow lights and they are also perfect for photography lighting.

Conclusion

Inexpensive grow lights are a great way to get your garden started early this year. They can be just as effective as more expensive options, so don’t let the price tag of the more expensive lights scare you. You can do a few things to make sure you’re getting the most out of your inexpensive grow light. Make sure you’re getting a high-wattage bulb with a color temperature of 5000K or higher. You don’t need to worry about buying lights that will support a plant’s different stages of growth, such as the flowering stage, because we are only concerned with growing seedlings until they are big enough to transplant. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a successful garden in no time!
Inexpensive Grow Lights

Second, the color temperature of the lights is important.

The color temperature is measured in Kelvin and it determines how warm or cool the light will appear.

Daylight is 6500K, and the closer your grow lights are to that number, the better when it comes to growing seedlings.

Wattage

Third, the wattage of the grow lights is important.

The wattage determines how much power the light uses and how bright it will be.

A general rule of thumb is that seedlings need about 30 watts per square foot. So, if you have a small grow area, you won’t need as powerful grow lights.

This will help you save money on the electricity it takes to run the grow lights.

Expensive Full Spectrum Bulbs Aren't Necessary

One common misconception is that people think they need to buy fancy, expensive bulbs in order to get quality grow lights. However, this isn’t the case.

Some people think full-spectrum lights are necessary for growing healthy seedlings.

However, most cheap grow lights will do the trick just fine.

The important thing is to make sure that the light is bright enough and that it provides the correct range of wavelengths.

As long as these two criteria are met, the type of light is not particularly important.

So, if you’re on a budget, don’t worry about investing in expensive full-spectrum lights – cheap grow lights will do the job just as well.

Common Inexpensive Lights That You Can Use for Grow Lights

Your best bet for finding inexpensive grow lights is to use lights that are not technically “grow lights”.

Lights marketed as grow lights are usually much more expensive than other lights.

You can save a lot of money by buying those “other” lights.

Why You Should Look for Lights that Aren't Marketed as Grow Lights

Lights that are marketed as grow lights are often too expensive to be financially viable for seedling grow lights.

Usually, they are meant to grow plants for their entire life span.

This includes all phases of growth: seedling phase, flowering phase, and fruiting phase.

This requires full-spectrum light which is much more expensive than what you really need for just growing seedlings.

As a matter of fact, almost all “grow lights” are more expensive than other lights that are not marketed as grow lights.

Use Shop Lights for Your Grow Lights

Shop lights can work just as well as more expensive bulbs.

The key is to make sure that the shop lights have the correct color spectrum, color temperature, and wattage for your needs.

Best Budget Grow Lights

Shop lights are the foundation of my inexpensive grow light system.

My First Lighting Set Up: 2013-2020

My first grow lights were not intended for growing plants.

I purchased 3 45-watt compact fluorescent bulbs so I could light the videos I was shooting for my business at the time. 

Years later, when I inspected their color temperature further, I realized they were 5500K. 

This color temperature is really close to pure daylight at 6500K. 

I then experimented with the lights and found that they grew seedlings very well.

I bought 3 lights at $12.99 each and 3 aluminum reflectors at $6.47 each, making my first grow light setup right around $60.

I know prices have fluctuated a bit lately, so click here to check the current pricing for these lights.

Cheap Grow Light Bulbs
These CFL Clamp Lights Were the First Lights in My Grow Light System

I started all the seeds I needed for several years with this first set-up while I had small gardens.

I was able to light about 6 feet of cabinet with those lights, which was plenty of room for my tomatoes and peppers.

I direct seeded the rest of my garden, so that was all I needed.

My Expanded Lighting Set Up: 2020

Once I moved to a HUGE garden space here in North Carolina, I needed to seriously step up my lighting game.

I still didn’t want to spend a ton of money.

I come from a long line of pragmatic farmers, and growing food must make financial sense.

I first added 4 more CFL lights, almost identical to the ones I already had, and this added 6 more feet of lighting space to my set up.

Cheap Grow Light
More CFL Clamp Lights to Add to My Grow Room Setup

This added another $80 to my setup and more than doubled my lit cabinet space to 18 feet.

I received a MarsHydro grow light for my birthday that year, and it is technically the ONLY actual grow light that I own.

The MarsHydro Light

The MarsHydro TS 150W light will illuminate around 4 ft of cabinet space, and it is a full spectrum light originally intended for growing marijuana.

It is amazing light for sure, and it grows my seedlings super fast. It grows plants noticeably faster than all my other lights.

Grow Lights

Having that capability is nice, I can’t lie. I’m using the MarsHydro light right now to grow the tomato seedlings for my garden. I’ll have around 60 plants.

In exactly one month, my seedlings have gone from just being seeds in a cup to seedlings big enough to transplant out in the garden.

Please note, you do not need a MarsHydro light to grow robust, healthy seedlings.

I only use the MarsHydro when I’m short on time and need to grow seedlings quickly.

It’s great for that and probably overkill for vegetable seedlings otherwise. But, hey…it was a gift, so I don’t count it in my overall expenses.

If you are interested in having full spectrum, intense light that supports all the different growth stages of plants, the MarsHydro is definitely worth having.

LED Shop Lights Double my Lighting Space: 2021-2022

The shop lights that I added in the last year are my workhorses.

I have 8 4-ft long 42 Watt LED shop lights that are 5000K in color temperature, which is close enough to daylight to grow seedlings nicely.

These cheap LED grow lights are my favorites in my setup for many reasons.

Cheap LED Grow Lights Don't Get Hot

The Cheap LED grow lights I have don’t get hot to the touch the way the MarsHydro light does.

This is important because you want to be able to control the temperature in your seedling grow room.  If you have several hot lights going at the same time, your room will heat up quickly.

The single MarsHydro light heats up the room in a few hours and cooling fans are necessary to distribute the heat.

Each light was around $20, and I use 2 lights on each shelf.

Cheap Grow Lights Can Be Linked Together

One of the best features of LED shop lights is that they can be easily linked together.

This means that you don’t have to individually plug in each light, which can save a lot of time and effort.

Plus, it makes it easy to add or remove lights as needed.

You’ll need to purchase fewer power strips for your seedling room when you use linkable LED shop lights as your grow lights, so that saves you money.

Grow Lights for Cheap
Linked Shop Lights in my Grow Room

Cost of My Grow Light Set Up:

  • Years 0-7= $60
  • Year 8= $140 (plus the $130 MarsHydro which was a gift)
  • Year 9= $70

Average cost per year= $30 per year

It’s important to remember that these lights will work year after year in your grow room.

I don’t plan on making any more investments in my grow light setup any time soon. Therefore, I’ve stretched my grow light expenses over many years.

Inexpensive Light Options

There are a few different options available when it comes to inexpensive grow lights.

LED Shop Lights

One inexpensive option is LED shop lights.

Shop lights are a great option because they are inexpensive and they emit a lot of light. They are also easy to set up and use.

Another great thing about shop lights is that they come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose the size that best fits your needs.

A regular shop light makes an affordable grow light. Because they are marketed for lighting work areas, they are very affordable.

A regular shop light is intended to light a work surface, so they need to be really affordable or no one will buy them.

This is great for you because you’re looking for an inexpensive grow light option.

LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights are another option. LED grow lights are energy-efficient and produce very little heat.

They also come in a variety of colors, so you can choose the color that best suits your plants. They typically have a full light spectrum, so you could grow plants through their entire life cycle

One downside of LED grow lights is that they can be more expensive than other types of lights.

Since they are marketed as grow lights and probably have some plant-specific features that are meant to promote plant growth.

Fluorescent grow lights are another inexpensive option.

They emit a lot of light and they are also very energy-efficient.

One downside of fluorescent grow lights is that they can produce a lot of heat.

So, there are a few different inexpensive grow light options available. LED shop, LED grow, and fluorescent lights are all great choices. It just depends on what you are looking for in a grow light.

LED Shop Lights I Recommend

These LED Shop Lights will work perfectly as affordable grow lights.

In my opinion, they are considered energy-efficient lighting because of the LED bulbs and are some of the best cheap grow lights.

I have these lights in my grow room, and they are solid.

  • 4 ft Linkable LED Shop Light 4-pack They are in my grow room right now, and they are working very well. These were around $20 per light when I purchased them but click here to check the current price on Amazon, as the price may have changed. At $78.99 for 4 lights, you can light 8 feet of cabinet space, which is enough to get your first seedling grow room started.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs I Recommend

These compact fluorescent bulbs will work as grow lights and they are also perfect for photography lighting. 

Conclusion

Inexpensive grow lights are a great way to get your garden started early this year.

They can be just as effective as more expensive options, so don’t let the price tag of the more expensive lights scare you.

You can do a few things to make sure you’re getting the most out of your inexpensive grow light.

Make sure you’re getting a high-wattage bulb with a color temperature of 5000K or higher.

You don’t need to worry about buying lights that will support a plant’s different stages of growth, such as the flowering stage, because we are only concerned with growing seedlings until they are big enough to transplant.

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a successful garden in no time!

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