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Thread: Creative Cooling Solutions?

  1. #1
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Creative Cooling Solutions?

    Hey folks -

    Being that there are so many people here with a) way more experience than I have in building grow chambers and b) a much better understanding of thermodynamics than me, I thought I would reach out to see anyone had any bright ideas for me.

    Basically, I recently re-did my grow rack (see my "Grow Rack Re-Pimping" thread in this forum for details). After messing around with the ductwork, the humidifier placement, and adding heatsinks and cooling fans to the lights, I've managed to get temperatures relatively stable between 72 and 84 degrees. In the winter, due to lower ambient temperatures in the room, the bottom end of the temperature range will likely be in the high 60s with the top end still staying around 84 max. With my humidifier I can maintain humidity of 60% minimum and 95-100% maximum. I just need to get myself a hygrotherm or other humidistat to make sure that minimum RH is maintained. With me not around to turn the humidifier on, minimum humidity drops down to about 49% at the lowest.

    NOW - here's the deal. My conditions are great (or at least close enough for government work) for lowland Neps. I would love to be able to grow some highlanders but I would need to do some work to get an adequate temperature drop (and to keep the maximum temperature closer to the high 70s rather than low 80s).

    I see people here with crazy rigs like air conditioners dismantled and put inside the grow chamber, or cool air piped in from an outboard AC unit. Unfortunately my lease on my apartment limits me to one 6,000BTU unit due to old, crappy wiring... and that quota is already filled with a unit in my bedroom (crucial during NYC's miserable summers).

    I also see folks (swords, I'm thinking of you) pipe cool air in from a nearby window. That would be great if a window were accessible! Unfortunately, as I've explained in other threads, my grow rack is set up in my girlfriend's study. I'm operating on borrowed space; her desk is in the window and I can't in good conscience run a big fat duct across her workspace to get at that precious cool air!




    SO


    I open the floor to you guys.... What do you think I could do to lower the bottom end of my temperature range? Some sort of evaporative cooling mechanism? A heat exchanger? Some magic black box that takes in pixie dust and puts out pure chilled air? I'd like to hear of some successes (or failures) that folks here may have had in their quest to create the perfect grow rack.

    Thanks, and I look forward to hearing your insights!

  2. #2

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    The most ingenious set-up that I've ever seen that MIGHT suit your needs was used to chill a reef tank. The guy took a refrigerator, drilled a hole in either side, and ran flexible tubing through. Inside the frig it was packed with coils of tubing. He ran this on a slow pump with a thermal switch (to a probe in his sump). He swore by it, but I never actually saw the tank running without it, so I don't know how much, if anything, it actually did. For your purpose, you'd probably forego the coils of tubing since you're not using water. But, how you'd pump the air, I don't know.

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    robthered's Avatar
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    If you can't use an AC then maybe try a peltier device? You might need quite a few of them to cool a large chamber. I know they sell a peltier device for aquariums, or you could make your own.

    you could also try an aquarium chiller if you got the cash, but they use just about the same amout of watts as an AC (depending on the size).

    Ive seen this guy take an office water cooler and run a line of tube through the chiller bucket and pump that into his aquarium to chill it. It worked for over a year if I remember correctly, but i dont think the temperature drop would be significant enough for neps. I think he was only able to lower the temperature of the water in the tank a few degrees Fahrenheit.

    I dont think fridges last very long when used to cool terrariums as they're not designed to run constantly. Also if you drill holes in it or whatnot, you'll diminish the insulation of the fridge which will cause it to have to work harder. In the end you'll probably end up with a burnt out fridge.

    If you can freeze a ton of ice you could use that to cool the tank. If you wanted to could dump the ice into a cooler and then drop a coil into it. HAve the coil connected to a computer cooling kit (tubes to a rad intersected by a water pump). Put the rad in the tank and place a case fan behind it. Pretty much the same idea as that dude on the CPUK forums (least that's what forum i think i saw it on), minus the aquarium chiller.

    I personally modified an AC and stuck it in my tank and so far so good.

    You're kind of hindered due to the electrical limit of your apartment. I'd say its still doable, you just gotta figure out what works for you .
    cheers,
    Rob
    My CP Page (WIP) See my webpage for my Grow List
    Modified AC for Highland Terrarium

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    Kyle's Avatar
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    callmemonkey and I were talking about this last week. He's trying out a peltier device - might want to hit him up or wait for him to chime in if he finds this.

    Another idea is what I use to do before I got an AC unit:



    The ice chest held a few gallons of water along with a few frozen 2-liter bottles. A pump pushed the ice water through the copper tubing on the fan. Big and ugly, but effective. With it, I was getting a good 10 degree drop in the room. Technically speaking, it does have a dehumidifying effect (condensation on the copper tubing), but it was negligible enough to be unnoticeable. You might try something on a smaller scale so that you can easily duct the cool air into the rack. A rack is going to be much easier to cool than an entire room, so you wouldn't need nearly as big and intrusive a setup (though the bigger the reservoir, the better - more water to pull heat from the room and more space to pack your frozen bottles, which means a longer period of effective cooling time).

    Could be worth toying with the idea, at least. Hope it helps any.

  5. #5
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    That is a great idea! I wonder if I could accomplish something similar on the duct fans that feed my rack. Are you just using a standard aquarium pump?

    And peltier devices... fascinating! I'm going to have to look into that some more. Thanks!! Any recommendations on brands?

  6. #6
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Peltier cooling is very inefficient relative to mechanical compressors. For something as big as a your rack, I don't think you'll like the impact on your electric bill. If you're curious though, I'm know other folks have done it before, and I'm pretty sure there's been at least one thread on it.
    The fridge method is good - I'd look into that. But I disagree strongly with drilling holes into the case. A better approach, I believe, is to build a shim to go in between the case and the door - a wedge-shaped block to keep air from escaping the fridge when the door is slightly ajar. Drill the holes in the shim rather than the fridge case. Circulate a loop of water through the fridge and into the enclosure. The water never leaves the loop, and just acts as a coolant to move heat from the enclosure to the fridge.
    A simpler, but more expensive, option would be to get an aquarium chiller, which is basically a fridge compressor and water pump put together. The retail price is prohibitive, but if you hunt around eBay and Craigslist you should be able to find one used with some patience.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

  7. #7
    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    peltier is a dead end for anyting larger then a 5 gallon aquarium, way too inefficient for the uninsulated application
    (see previous threads on the subject on any number of cp forums)

    The closest thing to plug and play is the aquarium chiller plumbed to a heat exchanger (automotive heater core or evaporator coil) in the rack (IMHO)

  8. #8
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    There he is! XD
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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