DIY - Build a CFL Grow Cabinet

Added by: Doobster Rated by 0 users: 0.00/10

Some of you have shown an interest in my grow cabinet, and a few have asked me to do a thread on how I built it, what materials I used, etc.
So here's how I did it, and hopefully I can give someone some ideas.

The first thing thing I did was to go to Home Depot, looking for a suitable material. I ran across this stuff called "Thrifty White Tileboard". It comes in a 4'X8' sheet, and cost about $10. It's generally used for tub/shower surrounds, is waterproof (on the white side) and it looked good. So I bought it, along with assorted hinges, angle braces, screws, washers, etc. I purchased some 2"X2"X8' and .75" X .75"X 8 feet long lumber also. I saw some pre-cut plywood squares, conveniently sized 2 feet on each side, so I grabbed a few of those, too.

So I got this stuff home & used my SkilSaw, cutting the tileboard into 4- 2'X4' pieces. I cut the 2"X2" lumber into pieces of the proper lengths, and I framed it all up into a box that is 2 feet wide on each side, and 4 feet tall, open on one side, and with the white side to the inside of the box. I used the remaining piece of tileboard and the .75"X.75" lumber, and I made the door, and attached it with some 2" hinges. I used small "L" shaped angle braces on the corners to make everything nice and sturdy. I also caulked all the cracks & crevices with regular white caulk, to close any light leaks.

So now it was time to make the roof of the box, and for some reason I thought that it might be cool if it could open up on hinges, so I could peek down inside from the top. I dunno why, but I did it like that. LOL

Next came the lighting. I had planned to use CFL bulbs for this, so I went back to Home Depot, and in the electrical department I found some surface-mount light sockets, and some of those "Y" socket splitters that enable you to use 2 bulbs in one light socket. So I grabbed 3 of each. I went over to the hardware section and I grabbed some 3" L brackets to mount the light sockets to, and I found some 100w equivalent Daylight spectrum CFL bulbs. I grabbed all of this and threw it in my cart.

While I was there, it dawned on me that I would need to be able to raise my lights as the plants grew taller, and so I needed a solution... I decided to mount my light sockets to a piece of plywood, and make that board height-adjustable. So, I grabbed about 20 feet of small "jack chain" (about 20 cents per foot) and some small "S" hooks and screw-in "eye" bolts. I already had some electrical wire at home, so I didn't need to buy that.

So, once back at the Ponderosa, I went to work designing my CFL light board. I put an eye bolt in the center of each wall in the top 2x2 cross member, and I had a piece of 1/4" thick plywood, so I cut that to size that would fit freely inside, and I put the same eye hooks in the center of each side of that, near the edge. This is what I'll mount my CFLs to. I hung the little S-hooks in the top eye hooks, then I cut my jack chain to 4 identical lengths. 32" in this case. I hung this on the S-hooks from the top of the cabinet frame.

Then I mounted my light fixtures to the board using L-brackets and some wood screws, and wired them up using 14-2 Romex wire.

Then I hung the light board in the cabinet from the jack chain, and gave the light fixtures a little test run!

Now I didn't want my cabinet to be like an EasyBake oven with all those bulbs, so I needed to install some kind of ventilation.

I saw these 4" inline duct booster fans at Home Depot, about $25, so I bought one. I bought a 4" starter collar, a 4" duct 90 degree elbow, and some 4" dryer vent hose.

I used a Dremel tool with a circle cutting attachment to make a nice round hole & I attached the starter collar using some sheet rock screws. Then I attached the 90 degree elbow,and sealed all the joints with duct tape. (What do you think they make it for? LOL)

I put the inline duct fan on the other side of the 90 elbow (making sure the direction of air flow was correct) & wired it up with a cord I stole off an old power drill I had laying around, and then I put the dryer vent hose on the other end, and ran it out to it's final destination (in this case, to my dryer vent!)

I cut some small holes in the bottom on one side of the cabinet for passive intake, but found that these weren't allowing enough air in to keep the temps where I wanted them, so I bought a few small PC fans, and I attached them to the outside of the cabinet to help suck in more air. They worked fine & dandy. I didn't take pictures of this step, but they can be seen in this picture:

That's how I built my cabinet. Hope you've enjoyed the show, and gotten some ideas! Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Peace!

This is how it looked exactly one week later:

Finally, 2 weeks later:

Last modified: 3/18/2009  

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