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CO2: Like Steroids for Your Hydroponics Plants Featured

Burning propane for hydroponics CO2 Burning propane for hydroponics CO2

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the mother’s milk for your hydroponics plants…even though CO2 can kill you, your plants crave it for photosynthesis that keeps all their life processes going. If you’re doing everything else right in your hydroponics room but you aren’t adding CO2, you’re missing out on an easy way to boost your growth rate and yields.

In most hydroponics rooms, your ambient CO2 concentration is 300-400 parts per million (ppm). You can add CO2 to get the ppm up to 1000 ppm or even higher, with a ceiling of 1500 ppm. When you do this, your plants rev up so they grow about 20% faster in grow phase and produce 10-35% more yield in bloom.

An added benefit of extra CO2 in your hydroponics room is that it enables your plants to handle more heat. Especially in summer months or any situation where it’s hard to keep your heat in the ideal 70-74F range, adding CO2 is a multi-benefits solution that drives your plants to better growth and yield, while allowing them to tolerate temperatures as high as 84F.

Please note that when you increase CO2 concentrations in your grow room air, you also have to feed your plants more hydroponics nutrients, more light, and more water. They’ll be hungrier and thirstier. If you don’t give them a full menu of extras, the extra CO2 will not be as useful.

I use a CO2 generator that’s water-cooled and that has more safety features than any other generator, including automatic shut-off, no pilot light, a valve that can handle pressurized municipal gas, an overheating sensor and a tipping sensor.

Adding CO2 into your hydroponics grow room isn’t as easy as adding extra ppm to your nutrient water. You can use dry ice, fermentation, and a variety of contraptions to add CO2. Dry ice and fermentation are cheap and simple, but it’s hard to control how much CO2 they produce, and they can be somewhat messy.

Professional and grandmaster growers use CO2 devices that distribute CO2 from tanks or produce CO2 by burning propane or natural gas. Distributing from tanks requires using the proper regulator to control output, but even then you may have a hard time getting precise levels. This is important because hydroponics plants can be damaged by too much CO2.

The other downsides of tank CO2 include the cost and weight of the tanks (aluminum tanks are the lightest), and the hassle of procuring the tanks and getting them refilled. People wonder why you keep refilling a CO2 tank. It’s a bit worrisome to notice their curiosity.

CO2 generators that burn fossil fuel gas to create CO2 are more reliable than tanks, but you still have to supply the propane or natural gas. If your grow site is already connected to municipal natural gas, you may be able to adapt your device to feed off the municipal supply. Or you may have to buy tanks of propane or natural gas. Consider how you will source propane or natural gas before you invest in a CO2 generator.

One big mistake people make in vented hydroponics rooms is that they forget to turn off the vent fans. If you have a room that’s vented to the outside with no recirculation, you have to carefully time your venting so it doesn’t just remove your added CO2 from the room.

This is tricky, because CO2 generators add humidity and heat to your hydroponics room. You spend more for electricity to dispose of the extra heat and humidity, and you have to figure out how to remove heat without removing the CO2 you just added.

And remember, you add CO2 only during the lights-on cycle. Combine the heat from that with the heat from burning propane or natural gas, and you may need an air conditioner if you don’t already have one. You may also need a chiller, because you want to keep your hydroponics nutrients water around 68F. This helps your hydroponics plants handle higher air temperatures.

Not only that, but generators burning natural gas or propane have a flame, and where flame and fuel are, fire risk is ever-present. Problem is, most hydroponics don’t have enough safety features to eliminate fire risk.

I use a CO2 generator that’s water-cooled and that has more safety features than any other generator, including automatic shut-off, no pilot light, a valve that can handle pressurized municipal gas, an overheating sensor and a tipping sensor.

Professional and grandmaster growers use sophisticated CO2 controllers that can be integrated with hydroponics climate controllers that monitor and run aeration, fans, CO2 and other factors in your garden to ensure optimum temperature, air movement, humidity and CO2.

From dry ice to fermentation, from tank CO2 to CO2 generators, you have a lot of choices to consider. As always, I suggest looking at devices in person so you can get a feel for how it would be to have a CO2 device in your hydroponics room.

It is all worth it? When you feed extra CO2 to your plants and provide them the extra nutrients, water and light they want along with the extra CO2, it definitely is worth it. You get more crop cycles per year and heavier harvests that more than pay for the costs of adding CO2 to your hydroponics grow room.

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There are easier ways to add hydroponics CO2!
Last modified on Wednesday, 22 August 2012 15:53

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