Set-up, power, and HELP!!!
Hello everyone. I have been reading about hydroponics for a while now. It is time to move forward for me. I need some assistance. Read below for problem:
I am a resident manager. I have an available storage room that is 8x12x8. In the room is a light bulb but no outlet. Its controlled by a switch. I am willing to pay an electrician (friend) and run a new outlet. I am not going to utilize the entire room. I want to start off with tomatoes. How much power do I need? Do I need to get one of those big ballasts for lights? What type of lights is suggested?
It stays about 76 degrees for the most part. This is a sliding window.
Cost of electricity: About how much did your electric bill increase from one month to the next?
Type of system: I was thinking of the dwc system. Looking at something simple so that I could learn and then get better.
Lots of questions. Thank you in advance. I appreciate it. I want to be successful.
First off what type of room is it? Does it have any windows? Is it a basement storage place? Second is unless you are growing bush variety or plan to manicure the heck out of tomato's you wont be able to grow that many to full size in a 8-12 (96 square foot) space, and still have room for air circulation and being able to walk around them. How many tomato plants are you wanting to grow? Third is by your dimensions I assume the room is 8 feet tall. Keep in mind that if your using lights they need to be spaced adequately above the plants, so the plants cant grow to the roof. And the hydroponic system the plants will be in take up space above ground as well (unless you plan to dig). If the space you have to work with is 8 feet tall, I would say you don't really have much choice but to grow bush variety of tomato's. But even bush variety's can grow 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. So if you grow bush variety and don't want to use all 96 square feet I wouldn't grow more than two or three tomato plants in a 8x12 foot floor space.
As for light you should be able to do fine with either one 400 watt HID, or two 200 watt HID lights. As for electricity cost you can estimate it using this Electricity Cost Calculator. The water pump and or/air pump's wont use much electricity. But weather you need fans for air circulation, heaters for heat during winter, AC to cool during summer etc. all depend on the exact conditions of the room/space you plan to grow in.
P.S. HID lights in a room without ventilation will heat the room about the same as a 1500 watt space heater would. So the key is to plan the room for the conditions. Not just for today, but all the way until you plan to take up the plants. Today it may be 76 degrees, but 2-3 months from now when the plants are in full growth it may be a completely different story. If it warms during summer the heat from the lights will be an even bigger issue then, however if it's cold during winter months the heat from the lights may be an asset keeping the room warm. Just plan ahead for changing conditions in any case.
As for type of system, I have my preferences. If it were me I would use a drip system for growing large plants like tomato's for various reasons. Even if only for a few plants. But many people like using water culture systems as well. Each type of system has it's pro's and con's. Just less con's using a drip system for larger plants in my opinion. For year round production in a small space you could employ crop rotating to maximize efficiency. Starting plants in rotation so you always have plants producing ripe fruits, and newer plants maturing.
You should be able to do fine with one circuit for 400 watts of light, a water pump, and a couple of fans. Provided you don't need to run any electrical heaters or AC. Those should have their own circuit because they will draw about 15 amps each by themselves. If you want to know how many circuits you need, just add up the amperage each device uses, and don't go more than 15 amps for a 20 amp circuit. I am not sure what code is in your area, but I believe you can have up up to 7 outlets or so on one circuit. And don't forget it should be GFI protected. I just had my greenhouse wired for electricity myself.
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