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Hydroponics Chillers & Ambient Temperatures in Your Grow Room Featured

Make your hydroponics garden a cool place Make your hydroponics garden a cool place

In this hot summer outdoors or in an indoor grow room, the truth is your plants won’t do as well as they could in temperatures above 74F. If your temperatures are routinely above 74F, and especially if you’re not adding CO2 to your hydroponics grow room, your plants are suffering. It cuts down on yield, and makes your plants more susceptible to stress-related diseases and pests.

Higher than optimum heat slows down your plants’ ability to take in CO2. It degrades key compounds and interferes with cellular functions that support photosynthesis. With photosynthesis on the ropes, your plants struggle to maintain basic life functions. This shows up as slow growth, leaf problems, and delayed maturation.

One of the biggest concerns for you is that high heat during your lights-off cycle can suppress floral development.

Remember that most high-value hydroponics plants (other than equatorial strains) evolved outdoors in places where night temperatures are significantly lower than daytime temperatures. So if your night temperature is the same as your lights-on temperatures, and particularly if your temperatures exceed 74F at any time during your 24-hour day, it interferes with floral development.

In fact, if your night temperatures are not optimal (about eight degrees below your 74F lights-on temperatures), your plants might decide not to develop flowers at all. You sit there after your 12-12 cycle has started, waiting for buds to develop, but your plants are stalled. If they do develop flowers, the flowers will be smaller, less dense, and less valuable than flowers grown in environments with optimum night and day temperatures.

Yes, it’s frustrating to see your options for reducing heat load almost always involve equipment and electricity. As we have discussed in previous heat-related articles, you’re forced to invest in higher-capacity air exchange, air conditioning, cooled lighting and other technology.

One place to invest first is in cooling your root zone, and the only way to do that effectively is with a chiller. There’s a lot of confusion and inaccurate information about chillers. In fact, chillers are one piece of equipment that you would do best to buy from a storefront hydro retailer so you can look at how chillers work and how to set them up.

The basics are that you have to get a chiller that has the capacity to cool the amount of water in your reservoir. Unless you get a high-end, all-inclusive chiller, you have to pump water out of your reservoir into the chiller, then back into the reservoir cooled.

To achieve this, get the right kind of pump, as well as tubing, pump filters and other hardware. It’s a hands-on job - definitely not as easy as changing an HID bulb or placing a drip emitter on top of a rockwool cube at the base of your plants.

Be aware that some chillers are not meant for reservoir water cooling (they’re best only for water-cooling your lights) and that high-end chillers come with built-in pumps and reservoirs so you don’t have to go through as much plumbing work to install the system.

You want a chiller with a digital temperature control that reliably keeps your reservoir water at 68F. If you’re having trouble keeping your grow room at 74F, at least if you keep your roots from frying, you give your plants a break from unrelenting heat that deters photosynthesis, breaks down their cells, and interferes with robust floral development. You also make it less likely that pathogenic organisms and algae can take over your reservoir or root zone.

Probably you’ve noticed that many of our articles this summer have focused on heat. That’s the most important topic this season, especially because so many of us are experiencing higher than average outdoor temperatures. Give your hydroponics plants cooler ambient temperatures, lower during lights-out than when the lights are on, and a chilled root zone, and you’re doing well for your plants in this brave new climate changed world.

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Hydroponics chillers vary in power and purpose
Last modified on Monday, 30 July 2012 15:34

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