DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

comments (25) January 9th, 2011

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yourownvictorygarden Greg Holdsworth, contributor
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There comes a point in every gardener's life when starting your own transplants from seed not only makes economic sense, but also opens up a whole new world of varieties that are available to you. Two invaluable purchases that need to be considered are heat mats and grow lights.

Regarding grow light systems, there are many options available to you, at different sizes and styles. Unfortunately, most of these can come with a steep cost. The ones I researched online were in the neighborhood of $150-200 or higher.

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While these were of pretty good quality, it made me look for more inexpensive options. So I offer you a basic DIY grow light stand made entirely of PVC (with required metal hardware). I was able to build one of these for less than $60, including the light fixture itself.

This design's measurements will yield a grow light stand that supports a 4-foot (48") wide fluorescent shoplight fixture. You can certainly design it to fit a smaller one that carries a 3- or 2-foot fixture.

The list of things you'll need:

• 48" Fluorescent twin-bulb shoplight fixture with recommended bulbs (1).
(BTW, I chose one with a metal surface that would reflect more light (and because it looked cool!)

• 10-foot length of 1 1/4" (1.25) PVC tubing (2)

• Two 2-foot (24") pieces of 1" PVC tubing (3)

• Two 1 1/4" (1.25) "Tee" PVC connectors (4)

• Two 1 1/4" (1.25) 90-degree "elbow" PVC connectors (5)

• Four 1 1/4" (1.25) PVC end caps (6)

• Two lag bolts or equivalent, and their accompanying nuts. I would recommend 1/4" diameter by 3" bolts

• Pack of two 1/4" x 4" "eye hooks" and their accompanying nuts.

• Pack of two 1" "S-hooks"

• Drill and assortment of drill bits

• Hacksaw or PVC cutting tool

• Tape measure

• PVC cement

• Pen or permanent marker

• Timer

Skill Level:

Easy to intermediate, depending on your craft and cutting skills.


1. Gather all of the needed parts and tools (Photo A).

2. Cut a length of the 1 1/4" PVC tubing long enough to go beyond the length of your fluorescent light fixture. For the 4-foot fixture, I cut a piece about 55". Then glue one of the elbow connectors to each end. You now have the "top support bar" completed (Photo B).

3. Cut 4 equal lengths of the 1 1/4" PVC tubing to serve as support "legs". These can be whatever length you wish, but I wouldn't go any shorter than 8". I cut mine to 10" (Photo C).

4. Take two of those 4 equal length pieces and glue them to the Tee connector. Then glue two of the 4 end caps to that. You have now finished one of the "leg stands". Repeat this step for the second leg stand (Photo D).

5. Cut 2 more equal lengths of the 1 1/4" PVC tubing, and glue into the ends of the "top support bar" you finished in STEP #2. I made mine about 2 1/2" (2.5), but that length can be between 2-6" (Photo E).

6. Cut 2 more equal lengths (again) of the 1 1/4" PVC tubing to serve as the "risers" coming up from the leg stands. These can again be whatever length you wish. I made mine about 6". These pieces are one of the two pieces that will raise and lower the light fixture (Photo F).

Yep, that's right! This baby is adjustable. Not the fancy mechanism that the more expensive commercial ones have, but it will do the job. Here's how it happens:

7. Insert one of the 1" PVC tubing pieces into the "leg stands" you finished in STEP 4. This is the other piece that will determine how tall your light fixture is raised. Drill a hole into BOTH the outer 1 1/4" AND the inner 1" pieces of PVC tubing. The hole diameter should be wide enough to allow the adjustment bolts to go in and out of the hole easily. Repeat this for the other side (Photo G).

This is the lowest point that the light fixture will be, so keep that in mind. Remember to compensate for the height of your seed trays. Yes, you can also adjust the chains on the light fixture, but this way is easier.

8. Take both of the 1" PVC pieces out, and mark 4-5 points, in 1" increments, to the LEFT of the hole that you previously drilled. These will be the different positions you can raise the light fixture with (Photo H).

9. Using the pen marks as a guide, drill the other holes. If you put the piece with the holes back into the base, you can now see how the fixture will be raised and lowered (Photo I).

10. Put the top support bar onto the two leg pieces and you're almost finished (Photo J).

11. Drill two holes, at equal distance from each side, on the top of the support bar. Put in the eye hooks, "hole" in bottom. These will connect to the chains provided by the light fixture (Photo K).

12. Unpackage your light fixture and attach the support chains to the eye hooks on the PVC support.

Note: I had to cut one of the included chains and use each half because they were too long. So you might have to adjust yours as well. If all the adjustments are good, install the bulbs in the fixture (Photo L).

At this point my friends, you're pretty much done. Plug it in, attach an optional (but highly recommended) timer to it, and you're ready to go.

So go forth and let your seedlings "see the light"


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Comments (25)

CharlesFrasor writes: I am very impressed with your work

Posted: 6:08 am on October 26th
SteafenRoid writes: Itys superbb creativity
Posted: 12:52 am on October 26th
RandFish writes: wow… its awesome! very nice.. u did a gooood job! i like the bg! really nice.

Posted: 3:02 am on October 23rd
LewisGrey writes: Its really great projects
Posted: 3:11 am on October 22nd
BenjaimWelch writes: Really great job
Posted: 2:46 am on October 22nd
KodecRex writes: thanks a lot for your support dude
Its Amazing ideas
Posted: 1:55 am on October 22nd
silaswren writes: Thumbs up for the work
Posted: 12:26 am on October 10th
pldaugherty writes: We just made the grow light today and it was very simple and the instructions were easy to follow. This is the first year we are starting plants from seeds and this is exactly what I needed. Thanks for sharing!
Posted: 2:15 pm on March 30th
Frenchy19 writes: New to this site, new to starting plants from seeds. I am a teacher in MN, and one of my 6th grade students write a short research piece in heirloom veggies, something I must admit I had never heard of. I was so inspired by his essay that I purchased some heirloom seeds, found this site and built this light stand and am going to plant some peppers tomorrow! Looking forward to learning from you folks, and thanks for being here.
Posted: 10:44 pm on March 15th
nimmer writes: Greg, great article about the grow light stand. I just finished building the stand and I was comparing my finished product to yours.. What seems to be different is the height of the stand. I used all 2 feet of the 1" pvc and it appears that my stand is much higher than yours. Did you shorten the length of the 1" pvc or is it an illusion? I didn't see anything in the instructions that indicated i was to shorten them.

Posted: 6:51 am on February 18th
JeffEvraets writes: I like it Greg. I made a few modifications to mine. Let me know what yo think...

I also used the rope lights!
Posted: 7:36 pm on February 17th
carlisleiowagirl writes: flowerfarm, how do I find your youtube video on diy heat mat? anyone else have a diy heat mat idea?
Love the growlight stand, thanks for the great idea and easy to follow instructions. Hope to get one made this week.
Posted: 10:10 pm on February 6th
flowerfarm writes: I did make this last year and posted it on my youtube channel. It worked great and a lot of people liked it. I also made the diy heat mat and posted it there too. I have not used the heat mat yet, but am getting seeds ready to start this week. You guys have great projects.
Posted: 5:39 pm on January 23rd
AliceJoy writes: I tried to "Pin It" and it wouldn't work?? Tried several times. I'm sure I'm not doing something?? I'd love to share this and have a record of it. I really want to do excited! Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 11:52 am on January 23rd
Dcxdan writes: Hey "theseedlady".... I'm with you! Much easier to adjust a chain. I would just make the risers a little longer.
Thanks Greg for your plans.
Posted: 10:45 am on January 23rd
WhatsTheMuck writes: Love that nice sturdy base- this baby is not going to fall over! Seeing this made me remember my first seed starting setup (many moons ago). Mom had given me a plastic 2' light stand, big enough for one standard flat, and I put that on the top shelf of a short three shelf bookcase. Then I installed a 2' shop light over each of the other two shelves underneath, and that served for many years. Even with an added timer, it was far cheaper than anything I could have purchased. DIY is the way to go!

However, I have a confession. I did succumb to the 'siren call' of a fancy commercial light stand about ten years ago, because it fit perfectly in front of the fixed pane of my patio door, and held eight flats (two per shelf). So much for DIY...
Posted: 10:32 am on March 27th
misterdebby writes: Great tutorial! On step 10, I drilled and added bolts through the sides of the support posts/top bar (to prevent the legs from turning). For better or worse, I just dry-fit the PVC instead of gluing, so that I can completey break down the unit for storage in the off-season.
Posted: 8:51 am on March 6th
AlaskaRainforest writes: I made a plant stand somewhat like this one. To make it sturdier, the bottom side supports can be filled with rice -- something to give it some weight so it won't be to easy to tip over. Sand might work also if one was careful not to have it get on the adjustable tube parts -- would make it hard to slide them up and down. Rice works better.
Posted: 4:40 pm on February 28th
theseedlady writes: What is the advantage to having the legs height adjustable as opposed to adjusting the hanging chain? Seems like it would be very cumbersome to have to move the pegs and light, when you could just move the chain placement, using a hook in place of the eye bolt on top. Must be something I'm not seeing... thanks
Posted: 11:55 am on January 19th
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: PeterGarnham ~ Forgive me as I misread your post the first time around. I thought that you were referring to the expensive full-spectrum lights that are sold for growing plants indoors full time. After re-reading, I see that you're speaking of the same tubes that Greg and I are.
Posted: 6:00 pm on January 12th
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: Actually, unless you plan on growing the plants all the way to blossom and fruit, full spectrum is unnecessary. For seedlings that will be transplanted outdoors to finish their growing & fruiting, run-of-the-mill fluorescent lights work beautifully and are more economical.

Posted: 3:09 am on January 11th
PeterGarnham writes: Note that a hex-head machine bolt, with nut to fit, not galvanized, is better than a lag bolt. The best combination of fluorescent tubes is one warm-white and one cool-white. This gives the fuller spectrum of light required by seedlings.

I have mounted three 4-foot shop-light fixtures on a sheet of plywood, that is in turn suspended on chains from a tall sawhorse. This allows me to place several seed flats under the fixture. I use four of these contraptions for seed starting.
Posted: 4:25 pm on January 10th
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: You guys are clever! I also like that they're portable. You know what I did? I hung chains from the closet ceiling to the shop lights. I can lower or raise them accordingly. Also, I got tired of seeing the little dudes on the edges reaching in for the I went ahead and added one behind the first one (no rotating this way).
Posted: 3:51 pm on January 10th
BrownThumbMama writes: Fantastic! I like the adjustment bolts--my seedlings just sit on boxes of varying heights to accomodate growth.

I had additional supervision by the neighbor kitty when I built mine:

Posted: 2:04 pm on January 10th
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: This is great, Greg! I love the detail. LOL - I'm sitting here writing an article about lighting and plant germinating as we speak - so perfect timing!
Posted: 1:42 pm on January 10th
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