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Thread: Terrarium Setup & Pics

  1. #17
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments I worked on this for so long yesterday that I think I tired myself out. I just came down with a cold! D'oh!

    Also, @pmatil, I considered throwing down on an aquarium chiller but considering the money I was spending on lights, supplies, and the terrarium itself, I thought it best to hold off and try something cheaper. It'll be easy to switch this water cooler out with an aquarium chiller later if need be. But yeah, considering the cost and the power draw (my lease limits me to one 6,000 BTU AC unit; an aquarium chiller is nearly as powerful) I thought it best to explore other options first.

    If anyone ends up going the aquarium chiller route, though, I want to see the results!

  2. #18
    Never Knows Best gill_za's Avatar
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    @TheFury,

    Oh man this is a great setup !!!! I absolutely love it!! And I gotta admit it is nice to have other people work out the kinks before I get to build it heheh!

    Now onto the questions:
    -Did you go with the peltier based (thermoelectric) cooler or a typical compressor based one?

    -Also a little warning. Although I thought that it would be pretty rare I discovered that my windshield-washer fluid has methanol in it as anti-freezing agent. I was thinking it'd be some glycol instead. If such solution is kept open, MeOH will evaporate and that is not a good thing to breath in.

    -I was also wondering why you have used the copper tube on the pump output. Is it to try and cool down the warmer returning water, that the pump will tend to draw in since it is positioned near the return hole?

    -Also, why not put the radiator inside the terrarium so that it cools the air within more efficiently and not draws warmer air from outside?

    Thank you in advance for answers! And again, very cool and impressive!

  3. #19
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    @all - I just checked my thermo/hygro and it looks like temps dropped to just below 61 degrees last night. That was with an ambient room temperature of 73. So, not too shabby! I can't grow ultra highlanders in there or anything but as long as I can maintain a 10-degree temperature drop at night and a solid 10 degrees below ambient temperature (meaning low-80s at most during summer heat waves) I should be golden!! Most of my plants are intermediates or tolerant HLers, so I'm not too concerned.

    ------

    Hey gill_za! Thanks for the kind words. Coming from you, they mean a lot--what with your aerospace engineering skills crafting a grow rack into something I could only *aspire* to build (but not actually execute on... a fact to which the state of my previous setup and plants toward the end could testify).

    Seriously though, you must be an engineering student right?

    Anyway, glad that I can vet these designs for other folks to try & improve upon!

    Now the answers to your questions:
    1) Nah, I didn't go with the peltier device. Av & co convinced me once and for all that if you're trying to cool more than a six pack of beer, you're better suited going with a good old fashioned power-hungry compressor. I have a countertop water cooler that's compressor-powered. It's a pretty good find... it's compact but seems to be just as powerful as the taller, free-standing models. Got it for $50... my first Craigslist purchase!

    2) Methanol? Crap. I know the ingredients on the bottle said some form of alcohol was used as the antifreeze agent, but I don't recall whether it was specifically methanol. If so... how dangerous are the fumes we're talking about, given how much the solution has been diluted? I certainly don't notice a chemical odor in the air...

    3) I used the copper tubing exactly for the reason you guessed. The return from the radiator spits out right at the base of the pump, so to make sure the fluid is as cool as possible before it gets sent to the radiator, I put it through 10 feet of copper tubing to pick up the chill from around the stainless steel walls of the reservoir before it hits the output that feeds the radiator.

    4) That.... is a good question. Never thought about it, to be honest! I guess the radiator is pretty bulky and would take up valuable plant space. Were it your setup, how would you position the radiator? Lemme know and I'll try it out!

  4. #20
    Never Knows Best gill_za's Avatar
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    OMG, TheFury what an overestimation of my poor skills. My growrack is shabby. And every other idea (including growrack) was inspired by you and other people. LOL But thank you for kind words.

    With methanol, you should be ok in a WELL ventilated room. I work with methanol in the lab and I honestly can't smell it very well, to me it has a very faint odor, but others smell it well. So, I don't know if you can tell by smell alone if you are building up vapors of that stuff in the room. Besides the volume of your coolant is pretty low to. But, it will evaporate even if cooled, its melting point is -97C and boiling 65C. So, not to alarm you or anything, but keep it in mind. Skin or eye irritation could be signs of vapors present in the room.

    The other issue is that this mixture might catch on fire if it is concentrated enough. Methanol is extremely flammable. So be careful. I'd dump it completely if I were you and replace with water. As you mentioned yourself it does not get cold enough to freeze.

    One potential problem with having the radiator inside as others mentioned will be dehumidification of air in the terrarium. But if you are running the humidifier constantly it should not be a problem. Humidity, could damage the fans if they are in a very wet air. But if you leave the radiator somewhere closer to the top I'd think it would solve the problem.

    I am sure others with more experience and knowledge can point out other issues with this approach. But the potential benefit is that your cooling will be faster and more efficient as you will not be cooling hot air from outside and you could reach lower temperatures.

    Keep in mind I haven't even built this thing yet myself, it's just something that I suspect I myself will run into when building it. And I'm learning quite a lot from your thread and robthered's.


    I've just today contacted someone from craigslist about a water cooler

    And what is interesting is that I've done a quick search on google and haven't yet found similar setups with water coolers. So robthered's idea might be unique He should post it on "instructables" or something.

    Thank you for the thread, very informative!

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFury View Post

    Now the answers to your questions:
    1) Nah, I didn't go with the peltier device. I have a countertop water cooler that's compressor-powered. It's a pretty good find... it's compact but seems to be just as powerful as the taller, free-standing models. Got it for $50... my first Craigslist purchase!

    2) Methanol? Crap. I know the ingredients on the bottle said some form of alcohol was used as the antifreeze agent, but I don't recall whether it was specifically methanol. If so... how dangerous are the fumes we're talking about, given how much the solution has been diluted? I certainly don't notice a chemical odor in the air...

    3) I used the copper tubing exactly for the reason you guessed. The return from the radiator spits out right at the base of the pump, so to make sure the fluid is as cool as possible before it gets sent to the radiator, I put it through 10 feet of copper tubing to pick up the chill from around the stainless steel walls of the reservoir before it hits the output that feeds the radiator.

    4) That.... is a good question. Never thought about it, to be honest! I guess the radiator is pretty bulky and would take up valuable plant space. Were it your setup, how would you position the radiator? Lemme know and I'll try it out!

  5. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gill_za View Post
    One potential problem with having the radiator inside as others mentioned will be dehumidification of air in the terrarium. But if you are running the humidifier constantly it should not be a problem. Humidity, could damage the fans if they are in a very wet air. But if you leave the radiator somewhere closer to the top I'd think it would solve the problem.

    I am sure others with more experience and knowledge can point out other issues with this approach. But the potential benefit is that your cooling will be faster and more efficient as you will not be cooling hot air from outside and you could reach lower temperatures.
    [B]
    Last year when I did my AC mod to my tank (see link in my sig) I placed the Rad right in the tank. It really lowered the RH a lot, about 20-30%. The Humidifier would try to compensate but wasn't strong enough. the plants were fine though for the most part.

    With the new setup, using a smaller rad, you shouldnt have much of a drop in RH. Plus is looks like you have a pretty hefty humidifier so it should have a problem compensating for the drop in RH. Moreover, you wont lose as much RH because the temperature of the radiator isn't all that cold. On the AC I used, the rad would get to like -30c in a few minutes, and would frost up really quickly so I put a plastic box over it with some holes in either side and it was much better. So what I'm saying here is, I'd stick the rad in the tank, as gil_za pointed out, the temps will drop quicker and it's also a lot more efficient.


    Quote Originally Posted by gill_za View Post
    And what is interesting is that I've done a quick search on google and haven't yet found similar setups with water coolers. So robthered's idea might be unique He should post it on "instructables" or something.
    I'll definitly post a how-to up there once I get it all finalized , thanks for the idea.
    cheers,
    Rob
    My CP Page (WIP) See my webpage for my Grow List
    Modified AC for Highland Terrarium

  6. #22
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Well, thanks you two! I'll see if I can make some room in the tank for this rad. What sort of position in the tank would you recommend? Blowing along the top? How far away from all the glass edges should the rad be? Just an inch or two?

    Not too worried about humidity - it has no trouble staying up near 90%; if my humidifier has to work a bit harder to keep the RH there, it shouldn't be an issue. Though the rad doesn't get THAT cold... condensation might not even be that extreme. I'll keep everyone posted!

    If summer peaks and the cooler proves inadequate I'm just going to pick up an aquarium chiller. There are some decent small-tank models that run $300 or so and don't seem to be too power-hungry compared to their larger brethren. It's a big chunk of change, but I've come too far with this setup to have it not work at this point!!!

  7. #23
    mass's Avatar
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    huh. Just like that.
    Always loved putting tanks together. But I was never to this level of it.

  8. #24
    B0B's Avatar
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    awesome setup!

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