Starting Seeds Indoors – Automated Lighting

Starting seeds indoors requires a seed germination station and a lighting setup.  You will need to ensure that the lights are on for about 15 hours a day and to make life easier, its best to use a timer or other automated lighting setup.  In this post I will detail how I use a TP-Link Smart Plug to automate my lighting which I then can control from my phone.

When to Start Providing Light

Your seedlings will need light soon after their true leaves appear.  The true leaves will be the first leaves that appear on the growth outside of the cotyledon.

How to Use a Smart Outlet for Automated Lighting

I picked up a TP-Link Smart Plugs on a Black Friday sale from Amazon last year along with an Echo Dot.  This smart plug also provides the ability to monitor energy usage which is useful if you’re on a budget.

TP-Link Smart Outlet
TP-Link Smart Plug

If you recall in my previous post on setting up a seed germination station I used 4 foot T5 Grow Lights.  T5 lights are one of the most energy efficient lights you can use for your seed germination station.

I use the TP-Link Plugs all around the house to remotely control things like my 3D printer, desk lamps, humidifiers and my favorite of all – the coffee maker.  Uttering the phrase “Computer Coffee Maker On” is quite satisfying in the morning.

Now back to the point, seedlings will need about 15 hours of light each day until they’ve grown large enough to leave the seed starting station and begin their transition to the outdoors.  The lights should be positioned ideally about 2″ to 3″ above the seedlings.  To do this, use adjustable hangers to hang the lights.

Automating Your Lights using a Smart Plug

First plug the outlet into the wall and subsequently the grow lights into the outlet.

The light on the smart plug will turn green once it has connected to your WiFi network.

Next open the TP Link Kasa app on your phone and create a schedule for the lights.

TP-Link Kasa App Device Selection
TP-Link Kasa App Device Selection

Next, select your Smart Plug.  In this case I named my Smart Plug “seed lights”.

Configure two separate schedules for turning on and turning off the lights.

TP-Link Kasa - Turn on Schedule
Turning Lights On Schedule
TP-Link Kasa Turning Off Schedule
Turning Lights Off Schedule

Make sure to select every single day so that the lights turn on and off every day of the week.

TP-Link Schedule - Enabled
TP-Link Schedule

Turn on the lights and adjust the height of the lights to be within 2 to 3 inches of the highest growth.

Automated Lights with Hangers Adjusted
Final Setup with Adjusted Light Hangers

Your final setup will look similar to this.  Note that I kept the domes on as I still have a few seeds germinating.

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