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Thread: My Grow Rack Re-Pimping Project

  1. #1
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    My Grow Rack Re-Pimping Project

    Hi all -

    I've decided to re-do my grow rack yet again. All this was undertaken with the idea of getting better ventilation and better humidity for my Nep collection that I'm slowly stepping up. Here's what I did:


    What I started with


    Step 1 - gather the supplies


    Step 2 - strip my grow rack down


    Step 3 - hit it with some mylar


    Step 4 - wrap the whole thing in opaque cellophane; tape up all holes


    Step 5 - cut the front open


    Step 6a - install the duct work on the lower shelf (this pipe brings cool air in from outside of the rack)


    Step 6b - install the duct work on the upper shelf (one pipe exhausts hot air out the top of the rack, the other is for the humidifier


    Step 7 - thick foam weather stripping


    Step 8 - hang a sheet of clear PVC


    Step 9 - hang a thick sheet of canvas over the PVC to block some light


    Step 10 - rig up both fans


    Step 11 - rig up the humidifier

    And presto! With the humidifier on, RH inside the rack is 65% right now - it was in the high 40's before I started this project.

    Comments or criticism welcome, please!
    Last edited by TheFury; 04-23-2011 at 03:11 PM. Reason: Forgot a step!

  2. #2
    Kyle's Avatar
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    Very clean, I love it. I think I need to get me some mylar to replace my space blankets. XD

    One thing I'd note: Is that the humidifier tube coming in from the right side over the top of the lights? If so, two things: 1) the fog is going to greatly increase chances of rusting on the tops of the light fixtures and 2) the heat of the light fixtures will probably end up evaporating a lot of the condensed "fog" you get from the humidifier. That's not a big deal, because the humidity is still there, but some plants rather appreciate the actual wetting effect of fog. Just a thought.

    I like how it almost looks like a (huge) mood light with it all closed up.

  3. #3
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Thank you good sir! I'm pretty happy with it so far.

    Very good point about the lights causing evaporation. The humidifier pipe is actually the one sticking into the center of the rack from the top. It opens up right at the bottom of the lights on the top shelf. Since all my Neps are on the bottom shelf, I might actually extend the humidifier pipe down to just below the lights on the bottom shelf. They'll appreciate the mist for sure; my dews on the top rack will appreciate the humidity but not the mist! Perfect!

    I'm going to redo the duct work too. The pipe I have right now is 1-1/4" inner diameter. I have one 3" fan (exhaust, 36CFM) and one 4" fan (intake, 60CFM), and they just don't make enough pressure to force air through the narrowing airway. What I end up with is really weak airflow inside my rack. I'm going to step up the intake/exhaust pipes to match the diameters of the fans. That should do the trick.

    It's dark in the room now and the grow rack looks awesome with the canvas in front of it. Sort of looks like one of those Japanese lanterns... only much, much bigger.

  4. #4
    Kyle's Avatar
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    Probably a good move to pipe the fog into the Nepenthes shelf - they will probably appreciate that change. And, yeah, like you said, the dews don't appreciate being fogged up all the time, at least not in my experience.

    Moving from aquariums to terrestrial plants, I've learned that pushing air through small spaces it way more difficult than pushing water, haha. I have sort of a similar issue with a fan that pulls air in from outside at night to give me a temperature drop at night. And, hey, that might be something to consider, too. Many Nepenthes species appreciate a temperature drop at night and, as far as I know, some outright require it. You might look into piping air in from outside during the night to provide for that. Just (yet another XD ) thought.

    EDIT: I noticed you're using one of those "travel" humidifiers. You've got a Smart Water bottle screwed into it. Just thought I'd mention: They add stuff back into Smart Water for taste and for the "smart" aspect (electrolytes, etc.). I don't know about TDS or if anything they add back to the water after filtering it matters, but if it does give it a moderate TDS, it'll eventually clog up the disc in the humidifier as well as start leaving "hard water" deposits on your plants. If you need an easy, cheap way to get water, I've been using the Glacier refill machines in a local grocery store. It says it's like UV filtered, carbon filtered, double RO filtered... I don't even know, but I've been using it over a year with success. And it's $1.95 for five gallons of water.

  5. #5
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Your suggestions are very much appreciated, thanks! Yeah, I feel like with 60CFM in and 60CFM out, I should get some good circulation going. I would LOVE to be able to pipe air in from outside, but alas, this rack is located in my girlfriend's study on the opposite side of the room from the window (that's where her desk is). I've taken over her room enough, so I feel like running a big duct across the room would be one step too far! Heck, this is why I've given so much attention to the looks of this setup... I'm operating in borrowed space here!

    The best I can do is to pipe air in from near the floor in the corner of the room (where the cooler air is), and vent hot air out from the top of the rack. That's what I'm doing now... or trying to do at least, were it not for this airflow dynamics problem I'm grappling with at the moment!

    And... LOL, very good eye... catching that smart water bottle! I'm impressed. But not to worry... I drank the contents of that bottle on the way home from buying the humidifier today! It's filled with RO water. I have a cheap 3-stage under-the-sink RO unit. It does a fine job... gets the water down to less than 20 PPM. But apparently Brooklyn has very good tap water to begin with - about 35 PPM according to my TDS meter that came free with the RO unit, so probably not the most accurate of readings.....

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    Nevermore's Avatar
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    nice set up.... the only extra thing i can throw into the mix to increase the flow of things is to maybe switch to standard PVC piping instead of the corrugated piping. i would think the corrugation will slow down the airflow and you might start catching/hold a good amount of water inside the pipe and grow more things. And you can try to pipe it using the least 90 degree angles as possible.

    Now... i also don't know about that piping... if it is similar to pond piping.. then it could be smooth inside and be a mute point.

    Also... i am not a lighting expert.. but can't you separate the ballast, which makes the heat, from the light fixtures themselves? others can chime in on that though.

  7. #7
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Thanks for your suggestions! I see you're in Ohio - a great state! I went to college in Oberlin and I've been meaning to get back there sometime.

    I see what you mean about the corrugation. I'm not sure how much it affects the airflow from the fans (the step-down in duct diameter is what's really getting me right now), but now that you mention it, I'm SURE the corrugation in the duct creates hundreds of little places for the water mist to condense and collect along its trip from the humidifier to my thirsty Neps. I'll add standard PVC tubing to my shopping list along with some 4" flexible duct. I do a lot of shopping here and was looking at 51135K51 for the humidifier tubing and 55335K42 for the ducts. Do you think that silicone tubing will be too flimsy? It's got a very soft durometer...

    As for separating the ballasts - that's something I've been interested in for a while but I don't fancy myself much of an electrician. I'm just too afraid of having high voltage equipment OUTSIDE of the metal casing it's supposed to be in. Do you know of any good how-to guides I can look at? Maybe that would put my mind at ease, because it would definitely pay dividends in terms of temperature control!

  8. #8
    Nevermore's Avatar
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    i think the separate ballast thing isn't too hard... i thought they sell them that wall at the store too... instead of you having to take apart your current ones. (more $$).

    You could also look at just getting the smaller CPU fans to hook up... they really can push air.

    I have a ultra sonic humidifier piping into two conservatories... and the small fan in the ultra unit is enough to push the fog up 3 feet and split into both conservatories... for me it works out nice since any water just drips straight back into the ultra unit vs into the conservatories...

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