Thread: hydro systems
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:22 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
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Heating the solution is easy, cooling it is much more difficult to do cost effectively. Witch you need to do (and how much) really depends on where you grow and the time of year. I grow everything outside using natural sunlight (instead of artificial lights). So my nutrient solution is subject to the extreme summer temps here in the desert (120+F), and night time winter temps just above freezing. Heating the solution indoors or outdoors is probably easiest done using a Fish tank heater, they run about $10-$15 and up. Some have adjustable temperatures, and others are preset at 78 degrees. 78 degrees wont be bad, but they are usually for the smaller fish tanks, so if you are heating more water then the heater is recommended for (usually 10-15 gallons) it wont likely be that high, especially if it's outside in real cold temps. But I wouldn't want the water temp to get over 80, (68-72 perfect).

Insulating the reservoir may also be beneficial to keep the heat in from the fish tank heater, especially if dealing with very cold weather, or large water volumes. The only real thing to worry about with fish tank heaters is making sure the water level never goes down below the heater, if it becomes dry it can crack. Also they have burned holes through some thin plastic reservoirs if allowed to come in direct contact with it and nothing in-between, mostly when they become dry. I would create a holder for them myself, that way it will stay put and away from the side of the reservoir.

Another way to keep it warm is by using heating pads, not nearly as easy to control. But I got three of them last year at the salvation army thrift store for $1 each. I'm right now using one of them to germinate seeds with. Lastly a bit more expensive is something like plumbers heating tape, it's used to keep household water pipes from freezing in some areas. But you may be able to find it on sale somewhere, or even at a garage sale etc.. Also if growing outside keeping the reservoir in the ground uses geothermal energy to help insulate them from the cold, as well as helps cool it during summer. I have some plans I wrote in pdf. files for using geothermal energy, for heating and cooling the nutrient solution if your interested. I also have something new for cooling the nutrient solution this summer, but have not drawn up images of it yet. It's kind of like a reverse swamp cooler.

Unfortunately using artificial light is not something that I'm familiar with. Like I mentioned, I grow everything outside, I get all the light I need there free. But metal halide (MH) blue spectrum) is good for growing foliage, and high pressure sodium (hps) red spectrum) is good for flowering and fruiting. Strawberry's and melons will be doing both at the same time. If I had the funds I would use both at the same time, if not I would probably just go with HPS. However their are some bulbs that have both MH and HPS elements inside the same bulb. Also some MH bulbs claim to be full spectrum bulbs. However I don't have any experience with any of them, so I cant say how well they work.

Any witch way, you would want the bulbs to be close to the plant canopy as possible, but without burning the plants to get the best use of them. 80 to 90 degrees at the plants foliage should be fine, using fans to blow heat away helps. How many watts and how many lights really depends on the configuration of the setup, and overall square footage for the plants to be grown. But in some cases using a smaller wattage, but using more of them (and placed closer to the plants) spread over the area is more useful than one large wattage (and farther away) trying to cover all of it.

P.S. If growing strawberry's and melons inside you will probably run into pollination problems. I need to check but I think they need to be pollinated by incests. I'm not sure if hand pollinating those will work for sure, and don't believe either can be pollinated by air currents or shaking.

Here is some info on growing strawberry's, It's been a while scene I read these, but I believe they cover pollination (especial in the first two)
Berry Bonanza: Growing Indoor Strawberries
The Development and Demonstration of an Outdoor Hydroponic Specialty crop
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