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  #21  
Old 01-09-2017, 09:54 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello newhydro16,
Growing your own produce hydroponically is all about being economical. Pot growers make $1,000 to $2,000 a pound for their product so they don't have to care about being economical. But if your going to grow produce, you need to think about being economical, everything from the choice of hydroponic system and how you design it, to the type of growing media, to how you test pH, the nutrients and pH adjusters you use, and especially your lighting. It's all about maximizing your resources, and minimizing your costs.

But don't be discouraged, you learn by doing, and you'll learn more about how to be economical as you go as well. Almost every new hydroponic gardener winds up spending much more than they need in the beginning. Most Hydroponic shop salespeople don't help you be economical much either. They aren't in the business of helping you be economical, their in the business of selling as much product as they can. So they try and convince people you have to have the best of everything. Some of the sales people don't even know much about hydroponics to begin with and only work there. I'm not saying that hydroponic shops and/or all the people that work there are crooks. But they do have an agenda, and that is to sell products so they can make money and stay in business.

So it takes time to learn what you don't actually need and what you do need, as well as sourcing out economical products, and how you can repurpose things to build hydroponic systems with. The first lesson in being economical is only buy what you have to at a hydroponic supply shop. General that means only nutrients, pH adjusters, pH drops, possibly growing media depending on what type your using, and only if you have to and your not using florescent lights artificial lighting. Manufactures typically feel if you add the word "hydroponics" to the product, it's automatically worth twice as much. Even when you have to buy from a hydro shop, when it comes to nutrients and artificial lighting there's often a big difference in price depending on where you buy from. Just because it's expensive doesn't make it better. It's all about sourcing out the right vendors.

The optimum water temperature for plants is between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just the optimum temperatures, you can easily be a little above or below that without any problem. if the water temps start regularly going below 60, and/or above 82-84 you'll want to start worrying about it. Lettuce is a cool weather plant, so you'll want your water temps to be on the low end (under 80).

I don't know where you ordered your heater or lights from, but a inexpensive fish tank heater you can get at any pet supply place and can get for $10-$20 is all you need. You can even get them at Wal-mart in their pet supply section. T5 lights you can get at any hardware store like Home Depot and Lowe's for about $35-$40 for a 4 foot twin bulb fixture with the bulbs included.

P,S.
One twin bulb T5 wont cover more than a one foot wide area. The maximum coverage area would be 1 foot wide by the length of the bulb.

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  #22  
Old 01-11-2017, 06:50 AM
newhydro16 newhydro16 is offline
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Thanks GPS,
Heater came yesterday, and while I know you don't recommend the cheaper testers, my ppm keeps dropping, so I think as long as I have the heater to install, Ill change my solution today. Its been about two weeks since I started the dwc.
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  #23  
Old 01-11-2017, 07:02 AM
newhydro16 newhydro16 is offline
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Also, I'm finding conflicting numbers on the ppm for lettuce. One says 280-560,another 560- 840.
What are your thoughts?
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  #24  
Old 01-11-2017, 08:47 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello newhydro16,
I don't recommend using a EC/TDS/PPM meter at all unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket. It's a fun toy, but simply not necessary. As for the conflicting PPM ranges. This is part of the reason relying on EC/TDS/PPM is a mistake. First of all PPM will vary from one region of the world to another, and from one manufacture to another. EC is the standard, PPM is a conversion from EC, Each manufacture uses a different conversion. Second and the biggest reason I don't even use EC/TDS/PPM meters is there are so many variables that affect nutrient uptake and optimum EC/TDS/PPM values that it's impossible to list them all. Third there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of varieties of any particular plant. There are thousands of varieties of lettuce in particular. They all have different optimum EC/TDS/PPM ranges, and that's even before considering the environmental factors that will affect the optimum range as well. Relying on EC/TDS/PPM readings and charts is a mistake. The charts are just meant to be a general guideline.

But many people begin to rely on taking a measurement and think that as long as the readings are within the recommended range, their nutrients are good, as well as balanced. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Why do people think that? Because that's what the salespeople selling them the equipment tell them. They simply don't know how to tell when a plant is healthy or not by looking at it, and easier than learning to identify the signs of over and under feeding. So they just get used to using the EC/TDS/PPM meters as a crutch. When they use the meters as a crutch it takes much longer to learn to identify problems by looking at the plant. And looking at the plant is the only real way to tell if their healthy, as well as if their being over or under fed or not.

My recommendation is to fallow the nutrient manufactures mixing instructions, and mix them to about 80% strength. (10% to 25% for seedlings, 25% to 50% when they get a little bigger, then up to 75% to 100%). Once you begin to learn how the environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and even duration and and intensity of light will affect the nutrient uptake, then you may want to adjust the nutrient strength based on the environmental factors as well. Like even weaker during hot and/or dry conditions when the plants drink more water than take up nutrients. Or a little stronger in high humidity when the plants can't drink up water as easily etc.

A general rule is 80% strength is typically just fine, especially for plants that are light feeders like lettuce. If you don't know if a plant is a heavy feeder or not, then the EC/TDS/PPM charts will help you. The plant types with the higher ranges are heavier feeders, the plant types with the lower ranges are lighter feeders. Another sign is the color of the foliage. Plants with darker green foliage are typically heaver feeders than those with a lighter green foliage. One lettuce plant may have light green foliage, and another variety may have darker green foliage. The variety with the darker green foliage would be a heavier feeder than the variety with light green foliage.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 01-11-2017 at 09:05 AM.
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  #25  
Old 01-11-2017, 09:08 PM
shillamus shillamus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello newhydro16,
LED's have a very short usable distance for plant photosynthesis. The light intensity plants need for photosynthesis is very different than humans need to see with. Sounds like a pretty narrow wavelength range with one specific wavelength (660 nm). The wavelength range for the red spectrum is from about 610 nm to 740 nm, and the blue spectrum ranges from about 425 nm to 520 nm. The green spectrum ranges from 520 nm to 565 nm.

What Wavelength Goes With a Color?
Electromagnetic spectrum

But as long as you already have them see what happens. Even if the LED's give good growth quality, two 45 watt lights won't be able to grow many plants. If you plan to grow much lettuce you'll need more coverage area and will be much cheaper using florescent lights. If you do get good growth quality from those LED's, they would be good for starting seedlings in a prorogation system. You wouldn't need more than 2 or 3 sq feet for a prorogation system to start seedlings. That way you can rotate new plants into the main system as you harvest. That not only shortens the time the plants need to grow in the main system by 2-4 weeks and makes it much more productive. But also separates the seedlings from the larger plants because the nutrient strength for seedlings is much lower than for larger plants. If you plan to have a continual supply of lettuce you'll want to start seedlings in a prorogation system and rotate plants anyway.
GPS.. I was curious.. I know there are 200W CFL's out there.. are they effective? Flourescents have a better spectrum?
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  #26  
Old 01-12-2017, 06:27 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello shillamus,
It depends on what your growing with it and how you have things set up. CFL's are the same thing as T5 florescent lights, except their more compact. hence the term CFL (compact florescent light). CFL's have the ballast in the base of the bulb, straight tube florescent lights have the ballast in the light fixture.

Weather their compact or straight tube, all florescent lights have the same issue. The usable light range is very short. The luman drop off rate goes way up beyond 2 feet from the bulb. In other words at 1 foot from the bulb your getting about 85% of the usable lumins/par to the plant foliage, at 2 feet your getting more like 60%, at 3 feet from the bulb your only getting about 25% of the lumans/par reaching the plant, at 4 your getting basically no usable light. Same goes for LED lighting.

While a 200 watt CFL will concentrate more lumans/par in one area, the coverage area is smaller. As an example four, 4 foot T5 bulbs equal 216 watts and will cover 8 sq feet of area. While a 200 watt CFL will only really cover about 4 sq feet. So the wattage is about the same but the coverage area is cut in half. You don't need 200 watts per 4 sq feet to grow lettuce. It would grow faster because of the higher light intensity. but not really worth all the extra electricity. You would be better off with the larger coverage area and growing more plants.

With that said fruiting plants take about twice as much light intensity (par/lumans) to support the fruit. While it is possible to grow fruiting plants with florescent lighting, it's not cost effective. Watt per watt your much better off using HID lighting to grow fruiting plants, especially large ones like tomatoes.

As for spectrum of florescent lighting, higher wattage doesn't mean better spectrum. It means higher light intensity (output). Unless the manufacture is selling their lights in the hydroponics industry they don't usually provide a wavelength (spectrum) chart for comparison. It's not that florescent bulbs sold in hydroponics shops are necessarily better than standard bulbs and that's why they provide the charts. Manufactures selling their florescent bulbs for household and shop lighting don't need a wavelength chart because people buying them for that reason aren't comparing wavelengths. They compere the color of the disable light by the K value. They typically range from 2400K to 6500K. The lower the K value the more of the red spectrum the light puts out, the higher the K value the more of the blue spectrum there is.
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  #27  
Old 01-12-2017, 11:34 AM
newhydro16 newhydro16 is offline
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Thanks again GPS told you Id be a pain in the butt
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  #28  
Old 01-12-2017, 09:39 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello newhydro16,
While helping people is time consuming, I don't mind trying to help people who want/need the help. The way I look at it is if I help you be successful you can help someone else be successful later. That's what makes the world go around.
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  #29  
Old 01-13-2017, 10:29 AM
Davephan Davephan is offline
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How about using 150 watt HPS lights instead of 4 tube, 4 foot fluorescent lights? I use a Sun Systems 315 watt LEC for the grow area, and I am thinking about adding several Sun Systems 150 watt HPS lights. Those 150 watt HPS lights are less than $60 each, cheaper than a 4 foot, 4 tube fluorescent light. I have 4' x 2' metal shelves, and I was thinking of installing one 150 watt HPS above each shelve.
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  #30  
Old 01-13-2017, 09:07 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello Davephan,
It all depends on your spacing, location, and how much your growing. HID lighting will give off more heat so they need to be farther away from the plants which isn't a problem since the luman drop off rate is much lower with HID. However if your growing in stacked rows like shelves the extra height needed may be an issue. Also With a 4 foot florescent light you get even lighting along the the 4 foot length. Where if you used one Hid bulb in the middle, the plants in the middle will get a much higher light intensity, and the ones around the edges would get lower light intensity, so the growth rate wont be even. You also may have an issue with light shading. That is the plants closest to the light blocking/and shading light from the plants farther away. With multiple bulbs you can reduce light shading problems, as well as get even lighting over the whole coverage area.

But if your looking for more coverage area, HID lighting certainly is the best option. It all depends on how much coverage area you need. That all comes down to planning. Deciding on how many plants you need to grow, how much coverage area you need, where you will be growing, how you will be growing. Even controlling temperatures all come into play.

But ultimately you could easily get more coverage area out of using multiple low wattage HID lights than florescent lighting. As an example 4 T5 lights (216 watts) would easily cover a 2x4 foot space (8 sq feet), but 2, 100 watt HID lights spaced evenly could cover a 6 x 3 foot space and could more than double that coverage area (18 sq feet) using about the same wattage.

P.S.
Do the $60 lights your talking about come with the light fixture and ballast? I'm aware of a 100 watt HID light that comes with the fixture and ballets, but runs about $114. Mini Sunburst MH w/Lamp, 100W

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 01-13-2017 at 09:13 PM.
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