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How to Build a DIY Grow Light Stand

By: Chris | Last Updated: December 2, 2021

Grow lights are crucial for plant growth in your indoor garden. One area that’s often overlooked is how you’re going to mount the light above the garden. A DIY grow light stand makes light setup easy, and portable.

In this article, I’ll show you how to build some simple and inexpensive stands to maximize the effectiveness of your light.

Grow Light Research

Before building a stand, make sure your grow light is big enough to light the growing area. For instance, if your hydroponic garden is 2 feet by 2 feet, make sure the light you are using has a similar or larger output area.

Lighting Related Reading:
How to Get Perfect Plant Lighting (DLI Charts & Instructions)
Beginner’s Guide to Grow Lights

Why Make a Grow Light Stand?

Every indoor garden is unique. It’s based on the space available in the house, the type of plant being grown, and the personal tastes of the gardener. Making a grow light stand allows you to create something customized to suit your unique needs.

It’s cheaper to build your own. Pre-built grow light stands can get expensive. A DIY grow light stand made from PVC can be built for as little as $20.

If you don’t want to attach hangers to your ceiling or cabinets, building a stand for your grow light is a great alternative that won’t leave any permanent holes in your home.

DIY stands, especially PVC stands, are easy to move and store away when not in use.

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Building a Custom Grow Light Stand

In this article, I’ll be building a light stand for this 14-gallon BRUTE tote. This is the exact tote I recommend in the First Grow Cheat Sheet. If you’re using the cheat sheet, you can use my measurements, but make sure to adjust the height of the extension legs to fit your own needs.

14 Gallon BRUTE Tote

Before you build the stand, you need to take some measurements.

These are the most important dimensions to measure:

Growing Area Dimensions
If you’re not familiar with the term, the growing area simply means the thing you’re growing plants in. The growing area dimensions are simply the width, depth, and height of the growing area. These measurements are important because the stand needs to fit around the outside of the growing area.

Grow Light Hanging Height
To measure grow light hanging height, attach the ratchet hanger to the grow light and hold it up. Measure from the bottom of the grow light to the top of the ratchet turnbuckle and round up to the nearest inch.

Grow Light Distance
Grow light distance is how far you want the grow light from the growing surface.

When using LED grow lights, I always aim to have at least 18 inches of clearance between the growing surface and the bottom of the grow light. This makes it easier to adjust light intensity. Most LED grow lights have recommended clearances of 12 to 24 inches, depending on the output of the light.

If you plan on using fluorescent lights, they can be mounted much closer to the growing surface due to lower light intensity.

Grow Room Height
It’s important to know how tall the grow room is (grow room height), especially if you’re building a stand that will go on a table or countertop. Most countertops are around 35 inches tall, and most ceilings are 8 feet tall. If we round 35 inches up to 3 feet, you can squeeze a 5-foot tall stand on the counter without hitting the ceiling.

DIY Grow Light Stand Measurements

My Measurements

Converting Dimensions to a Cut List

Once you’ve taken measurements, it’s time to turn those measurements into a cut list. No matter what material you’re using, there are three main components you’ll need to cut.

  1. Light Support Bar
    The bar that goes over the top of the growing area. The grow light hangs from it.
    Light support bar = grow area width
  2. Extension Legs
    These are the long legs that make up the overall height of the stand.
    Extension legs = grow height + hanging height + light distance
  3. Support Legs
    These legs support the entire stand and keep it from falling over.
    Support legs = 50% of extension leg length

For this build, my light support bar will be 28 inches (same as tote width). The extension legs will be 42 inches (11” + 13” + 18”). The support legs will be 21 inches long in total (half the length of the extension legs).

Method 1 – DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

PVC Grow Light Stand

Difficulty: Easy
PVC light stands are the simplest and most versatile DIY stands you can make. They are friction fit so they’re easy to assemble and disassemble in minutes. They’re also extremely lightweight.

Another cool feature of PVC is that it’s scalable. If you need to build a stand for heavy lights over longer distances, you can use a larger PVC pipe.

If cost is a factor in your decision, PVC stands like the one below can be made for less than $25.

Best Light System For a PVC Light Stand?

PVC is strong enough to support most light systems, but the heat output from grow lights is a limiting factor for this type of stand. As a plastic, PVC will quickly begin to warp, bow, and sag when heated. HID light systems (CMH, MH, HPS, etc) create too much heat from both the light bulb and the light fixture and will melt PVC.

The best systems for this type of stand are fluorescent light and LED lights because they generate relatively low amounts of heat.

Tools & Materials

Cut List

The cut list is simple. One support bar holds the grow light, two extension legs set the height of the stand, and four support legs keep the stand from falling over.

The support legs are 9 inches because each set includes two legs and 3 inches worth of fittings for a total of 21 inches per side (half the length of the extension legs).

PVC is easy to cut. An inexpensive hacksaw can make all the cuts in just a few minutes.

Assembling the PVC Grow Light Stand

It takes longer to read this explanation than it actually takes to put the light stand together.

  1. Connect two support legs to each tee fitting. Leave the vertical hole open for the extension legs.
  2. Connect one end cap to each end of the support legs. Four total.
  3. Connect a 90-degree elbow to each end of the support bar.
  4. Connect extension legs to the downward-facing hole on each 90-degree elbow.
  5. Connect extension legs to the vertical hole in the tee fitting on the support legs.
  6. If possible, zip tie the extension legs to the growing area for extra support.

Congratulations, you’ve built and assembled a PVC grow light stand!

Method 2 – DIY Grow Light Stand Wood

Difficulty: Easy

If you have the tools to cut it, wood is the cheapest material to build a grow light stand with. Think about it. All you need is a couple of 2×4’s and some nails or screws and you’re in business.

The downside of using wood is that it’s bulkier than PVC and you need to be more precise when cutting it. A sloppy cut in PVC is covered and corrected by fittings. A sloppy cut in wood will leave the stand wobbly and out of square. Wood frames are also bulkier than PVC frames.

The upside of a wooden stand is that it’s easy to mount accessories to. Need to add a fan to the growing area, you can simply screw or clamp it onto part of the wood. Since it’s sturdier, you don’t need to secure the stand against the growing area, so you can make it oversized if needed.

If you have the tools to cut wood, you probably also have enough screws laying around to slap this stand together. In that case, you can build this stand for less than $10.

Tools & Materials

Cut List

Assembling the Wood Grow Light Stand

Make sure to keep the wood square as you screw the pieces together.

  1. On both support legs, mark a centerline at 10 ½”
  2. On both support legs, mark a line 1 ¾” away from the centerline on both sides of the centerline.
  3. Center one extension leg between the marks on the support leg.
  4. Screw through the bottom of the support leg, into the extension legs. Repeat for the other side.
  5. Screw the light support bar onto the top of the extension legs.

Other Options

In addition to PVC, I also build a lot of grow light stands using metal. I didn’t include instructions for that because metal fabrication requires a lot of tools and a lot of practice with those tools. Also, if you’re a metal fabricator you don’t need me to tell you how to build a grow light stand.

Shelving Units

Another option worth mentioning is building a lighting system using a shelving unit. These systems are normally used by conventional gardeners looking to get a jumpstart on the growing season by starting seedlings indoors. This type of system also works really well if you’re growing microgreens.

Adjustable 6 Tier Wire Shelving Unit with Wheels
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This type of system consists of a modular shelving unit with fluorescent lights under each shelf. Since a fluorescent bulb can be really close to the plant surface, you can start up to 16 seedling trays worth of plants with 8 square feet of floor space. That’s enough space to start almost 1,200 plants.

The only drawback is that these systems are somewhat expensive. You can expect to pay $350 to $500 for the shelving unit and all the individual lights needed.

Pre-Made Stands

If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, there are plenty of pre-made options available to suit most needs and budgets. You still need to do a lot of the measuring I discussed earlier because you want to make sure the stand will fit your garden.

Most pre-made stands are only 30 inches tall, so plan on using fluorescent grow lights since you won’t have the vertical clearance needed by most LED lights. That’s no problem though. There are a lot of great T5 fluorescent lights on the market.

If you’re buying a pre-made stand, I recommend going for an all-metal stand. The construction quality is better, and it will last longer. Plastic stuff has a tendency to get damaged during shipment.

Hydrofarm JS10059 4-Feet Jump Start Stand for Plants
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Also, don’t let product photos fool you. Read the dimensions carefully and make sure you’re ordering something you’ll be happy with!

Hydrofarm makes two high-quality pre-made stands. The two-foot model is 26 inches wide with a 24-inch height. The four-foot model is 50 inches wide with a 31-inch height.

Chris Cook started Happy Hydro Farm to share his passion for hydroponic gardening! Growing your own food is incredibly rewarding both physically and mentally. His mantra - "Take excellent care of your plants, and your plants will take excellent care of you."
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Download the First Grow Cheat Sheet for step-by-step instructions, DIY templates, and shopping lists that will take your first grow to the next level!

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