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Joined
Jun 5, 2010
Messages
907
Location
Fort Collins, CO
This post just became the "summary" of the build. All the pictures I posted here of the build are now in this first post. The original first post is quoted at the end of this one.

And here's the quick video tour:
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Two racks magically made into three (idea from Butch; thanks!):
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And that half of the greenhouse wrapped up in double layer mylar bubble wrap (hammer for scale):
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Left wall assembled:
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And wrapped up:
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The back on:
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The roof on and some inside pictures:
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The door on (held closed in the first pic by just a few pieces of tape for now) and some more inside pictures:
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The humidifier spout:
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The ducting to bring in cold air from outside:
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New humidifier:
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Hole in the ceiling for the cold air duct:
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Humidifier spout:
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And a few shots from inside:
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Okay, so I haven't built it yet, but that will be accomplished over the following week. So my first few picture posts will probably be build posts. I WANT to do a fancy schmancy timelapse of the build, but we all know how that goes. Once ya get building, it's hard to remember the camera. Blah. But anyway, reason I post this now is because I'd like input from y'all. Any ideas you have regarding the entire thing are welcome, and I'll be specifically asking for advice in a few areas. The build is just days away! This will probably get fairly wordy. Just a heads up. XD If you manage to make it all the way through it, I extend both my congratulations and my thanks. XD

Oh, and this thread will turn into my new picture thread once the greenhouse is built. So if you want nothing to do with the following novel, at least stay tuned for those in the future!

Here's the plan, though:

Going to be 12ft. x 7ft. There is going to be a 4' walkway down the middle of the greenhouse. I was initially planning on 3', but felt like that might get a little cramped. Both the 12ft. sides are going to be comprised of 2 racks that are magically made into 3 racks via an ingenious idea from Butch wherein you take two racks, place them 4 feet apart, and alternate every other shelf from the two racks as a bridge between them. Get it? You don't get as many shelves per rack, but you get an extra rack. It took me a few moments to envision, but once I did, I knew I wanted to use the idea. So, thanks, Butch, for the idea! Your DIY wizardry is much appreciated. XD

Moving on... Once both the 12ft. walls are assembled, the whole shebang is going to be wrapped in that nice mylar-coated bubble wrap. Except for the door, of course, but I'm yet to figure out how to make that work. Here's one of the places I'm open to suggestions. ;p I kind of just figured I'd make it out of the bubble wrap and put a magnetic strip on it so that it seals when closed but is easily opened. Seems sort of flimsy, though. I don't know. Ideas? But anyway, I was initially planning on wrapping it in that mylar-coated styrofoam, but man that stuff is expensive, especially when you're looking at over 300 square feet of it. So then I was planning on using the plain white styrofoam, which is also fairly reflective simply by its white nature, but then I got to thinking. The seed starting trays I use are 22" while the racks themselves are only 18" deep. The rigid nature of styrofoam would necessitate having the trays stick out into the middle of the greenhouse and, more importantly, away from the coverage of the lights by 4". Right now, I just put them sort of in the middle; hanging 2" over the back and 2" over the front. Everything still gets enough light. With styrofoam, again, I couldn't do that. So I thought the more flexible bubble wrap would be a little more (or much more) forgiving.

I'm going to be using 6" ducting with an inline duct fan to pull cold air in from outside during the winter, which can also be attached to my portable AC unit during the summer. That, as well as the 5g bucket humidifier I made (but will be redoing), will be controlled via a hygrotherm. The AC won't be controlled by that, as swords pointed out to me the hygrotherm can't handle that kind of start-up draw, but that's fine; the AC should only have to be used maybe 4 months out of the year during a warm year, and even then only sparingly since it's in a basement. I'm planning on setting the hygrotherm to around 85% humidity unless someone here would advise something else. The temperature... well, that gets a little tricksy. I want it to be colder during the winter than the summer, so the setting will have to be changed through the year to reflect that. But, that's easy. (The following has been solved quite easily, LOL.) The tricky part comes in trying to accomplish a night-time temperature drop. What I'm thinking will work well is actually throwing TWO duct fans into the line; one on the hygrotherm, the other on a timer. The hygrotherm will maintain the warmer, daytime temp while the timer will kick in, say, once every hour at night to bring the temp 10-15 degrees below whatever the hygrotherm is set at. My only concern is that having another fan in the line that ISN'T running will severely hamper the ability of the one that IS running to actually move a sufficient amount of air. I don't THINK it'll be that big a deal, but I guess I'll find out. UNLESS (here's another one of those places I'm open to suggestions. ;p ) someone has another, genius idea.

Some other deets: The basement is finished, and it had carpet at one point, but we had that torn out and the concrete foundation painted with an epoxy. So the floor is water-proof. I also went around the entire basement and caulked the gap between the painted foundation and the baseboards, sealing the moisture-intolerant drywall away from any spills or leaks that may occur in or around the greenhouse. So, depending on the size of the spill/leak, the basement may turn into a very shallow pool (this would obviously require a HUGE problem...), but the walls should theoretically stay pretty safe (on second thought, it could never get very deep... water would simply make its way to the utility room, where it would drain away through the drain that I assume exists in all basement utility rooms...). The painted floor is great for protecting it from spills and the humidity inside the greenhouse, but it's also very slick when wet. So, I'm going to put SOMETHING down inside the greenhouse. I'm torn between that green astro-turf stuff and indoor/outdoor carpet. Here's the reason I'm torn: suppose a spill occurs inside the greenhouse. The astro-turf stuff is apparently all plastic, so it wouldn't get wet, per se. But that also means the water should simply seep down underneath it and pretty much stagnate. Just sit there. Which, to me, is begging for mold. The indoor/outdoor carpet is some kind of fabric-y stuff (it says it's 100% OV BFC Olefin, which I've never heard of). This stuff might actually wick water away from the floor and up into the fibers of the carpet where it stands a slightly better chance of evaporating. Then again, the already high humidity of the greenhouse would also severely hinder its ability to evaporate. So, yet again, I look for input regarding this. Astro turf or indoor/outdoor carpet, and why?

Mmmmm, what else...

I'm going to try and keep the bulk of all the electrical stuff (aside from the lights, obviously) outside the greenhouse and, thus, away from the high humidity and condensation that will likely occur within. That includes the timers and as many of the power strips as possible. Those that are inside the greenhouse, I will be sure to have a "drip loop" to protect them from drips caused by condensation. And speaking of lights, I will be using the generic 2-bulb T8 fixtures from Lowes and HomeDepot that I am already using: 2 fixtures to a shelf. But I also spotted a new fixture HomeDepot has, which is a single fixture with 6 T8 bulbs that I think will fit in the rack. That would be awesome and if I can get one and it works out, I'll be getting at least one. Additionally, for my birthday in March, I think I'm going to ask for an 8-bulb T5HO fixture like the SunBlaze for the plants that like a LOT of light and, potentially, a little sun burn, hehe.

Oh, here's another thing. I'm going to be setting up a tank for the plants that are really picky and/or I'm too lazy to water frequently enough to keep them happy. But here's the thing: I have a 40g terrarium that specifically says not to fill with water and a 55g aquarium to choose from. I really, really want to use the 40g because it more efficiently utilizes the space on a rack's shelf. It won't be holding more than, say, 4" of water, just enough to put a pump in that will auto water the plants within. I, personally, don't think that's unsafe, but what do y'all think? Also, as I said, I am going to have this tank on an auto watering system; I've yet to choose what type, though. I really loved GrowinOld's "RainMaker", but the size of the drops worries me when considering the tank will be housing orchidioides. The thought of a big drop hitting a flower just right and breaking the stalk horrifies me, lol. I'd love to do a MistKing system, and probably will eventually, but that's too expensive to do right now with everything else that's costing money with this undertaking. So I sort of thought of a compromise. I'm thinking I'll just have the pump push water directly into each pot through that drip irrigation tubing, which will happen, oh, I don't know... 2 or 3 times a week. Of course, the pots will sit on a false bottom to keep them out of standing water. Additionally, I plan on having a separate humidifier just for this tank that kicks on once or twice a day for around 15 minutes to gently "soak" everything in the tank. I'm not planning on having a lid on the tank since it's going to be in the climate-controlled greenhouse as it is, so air stagnation shouldn't be a problem. But, this whole project is totally open for debate; any better ideas out there?


Aaaand, I think that's it for now. And, you were warned, it got wordy. XD

But I really appreciate any input from you all.

Thanks!
 
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Joined
Apr 22, 2010
Messages
757
Location
Calgary, AB
Sounds pretty good, and I cant comment on too much of it but I can comment on the night drop. I have a 6.5' x 6.5' growtent in my basement and use dryer ducting to bring cool air in from outside. I also use a hygrotherm, and use the night drop feature programmed into the hygrotherm. I have it set at 75 day, and a 21 degree drop at night which brings it down to 54 at night. From reading your post it sounds like this would work for you, but I may have misunderstood.

I also have a humidifier hooked up to the hygrotherm, and have it set to 80%, which maintains the humidity between 70% and 80%. I get no condensation at all except for the wall near the window due to the temperature difference. During the night though the condensation disappears because the temperatures are similar with the fan blowing cool air in.

Here's the photos (photos taken at night with cellphone):

This is how I have the ducting connected to the window. Everywhere except the opening has been stuff with insulation to try and limit the cool air coming in. Basement is unheated, and sits at about 60-65 degrees.
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Run to the opening in the growtent:
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Inside the growtent, with a computer fan connected to the hygrotherm:
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The only small problem I have had is the air coming in from the window is below freezing, so condensation collects on the ducting close to the window, I have set a towel below to catch the drips and seem to keep it from running down the vapor barrier.
 
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Joined
Jun 5, 2010
Messages
907
Location
Fort Collins, CO
Haha, thanks, Tony.

It says somewhere in there that this will EVENTUALLY turn into my picture thread, once the build is complete, but it's probably buried between paragraphs. XD
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2010
Messages
757
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Calgary, AB
That was the main reason I chose it! If you have any questions about setting it let me know, its quite simple though.

PS. Just edited previous post.
 
Joined
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Messages
907
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Fort Collins, CO
Yep, drew, that looks very similar to what I'm going to be doing.

And here's a few pretty boring pictures for those of you that MUST HAVE PIX. XD

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The fridge that's down there is dedicated to being a dormancy chamber. It's got a light in there that will be on a timer.

But this reminded me of something else I wanted to ask about. The ducting just goes through a board I have placed in the window. Any ideas on securing that window? We live in a pretty safe area, but I do not intend to leave the window open to whoever decides to crawl into the window well and slide it open... I just need to figure out how I'm going to secure it.

EDIT: The masking tape on the floor is where the greenhouse is going.
 
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Cernunnos Woods
Drew that's how my HL tank has been setup since about 2002. It's just so easy to do it this way and use our natural low outside temps.

The Hygrotherm is indeed a great controller! A couple extra buttons would help with the initial programming of it but otherwise it's a great piece of equipment costing less for a temp & humidity controller than just a greenhouse humidistat alone.
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2010
Messages
757
Location
Calgary, AB
Kyle: Looks good should be great. About the window, get a 2x2 and cut it to length to fit just inside so the window cannot open any further than its already open. I have been planning to do this since I set up the growtent, but have yet to do it.

Swords: I agree, works great!! Even during summer our night time temps fall below 60, usually closer to 50ish. Summer highs are usually in the 80 range so the basement stays below 65!

Only had the hygrotherm for a few months, but loving it after the initial 30 minutes of swearing at it while programming haha.
 
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Messages
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Hahaha, okay, so I should be prepared to fight with it until it's set up, but love it afterwards... GOT IT. :D

@drew: That's what I thought about doing, but the board could easily be pushed in and then... well, yeah... once the board is out of the way, it's just as easy to reach in and remove the wood keeping the window semi-closed as if it wasn't there. >.<

I fear I might have to build a whole fancy thing that I actually drill into the wall. I could get one of those window well guards that are made of, like, iron, but jeez... I think in this neighborhood that'd attract more attention than not. LOL.
 

Nepenthesis

Formerly known as Pineapple
Joined
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Messages
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Where did you get the aluminium-foil-like stuff that you used for the grow tent? I read that covering a greenhouse in shiny curtains at night will keep around 70% the heat in, so that may be useful for my greenhouse in the winter. :)
 
Joined
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Messages
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Hahaha, okay, so I should be prepared to fight with it until it's set up, but love it afterwards... GOT IT. :D

@drew: That's what I thought about doing, but the board could easily be pushed in and then... well, yeah... once the board is out of the way, it's just as easy to reach in and remove the wood keeping the window semi-closed as if it wasn't there. >.<

I fear I might have to build a whole fancy thing that I actually drill into the wall. I could get one of those window well guards that are made of, like, iron, but jeez... I think in this neighborhood that'd attract more attention than not. LOL.

Yes that is true... maybe put a couple screws through into the windowsill... or like you said, design some type of lock. Whatever you do though, if they want in they'll get in! Before I had a nice vehicle I just left it unlocked and nothing in it, so if they wanted to break in they could just open the door rather than smashing the window haha.

Pineapple: The growtent comes with it, but it is just thick mylar sowed onto the fabric. Wouldn't do much for insulation, you'd be better with bubblewrap type stuff for heat retention IMO.
 
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@Pineapple: Yeah, the mylar bubble wrap I'll be using would probably also be a good candidate for what you want it for, though it's not cheap: here it is at Lowes. Could be good depending on the size of your GH, otherwise probably not cost effective.

@drew: Hahaha, yeah. The thing is, it basically is an open door right now. I need to do SOMETHING to it to at least be a deterrent, lol.
 

Nepenthesis

Formerly known as Pineapple
Joined
Dec 16, 2011
Messages
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@Pineapple: Yeah, the mylar bubble wrap I'll be using would probably also be a good candidate for what you want it for, though it's not cheap: here it is at Lowes. Could be good depending on the size of your GH, otherwise probably not cost effective.

@drew: Hahaha, yeah. The thing is, it basically is an open door right now. I need to do SOMETHING to it to at least be a deterrent, lol.

Actually, one roll of that would probably cover the entire greenhouse, however light wouldn't be able to get through. :-))
 
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Thought you were just planning on using it on cold nights. The stuff in Drew's tent wouldn't let any light through either. Or ANY shiny stuff, really. You can get clear bubble wrap, though, also at a hardware store... used for packing. That would probably work.
 

Nepenthesis

Formerly known as Pineapple
Joined
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Messages
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Thought you were just planning on using it on cold nights. The stuff in Drew's tent wouldn't let any light through either. Or ANY shiny stuff, really. You can get clear bubble wrap, though, also at a hardware store... used for packing. That would probably work.

Wasn't thinking, haha. I had read that wrapping in bubble wrap would be permanent, or at least permanent for winter. Taking it on and off for cold nights would be pretty tedious.
 
Joined
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Well, that would depend upon the frequency with which you need to insulate it and how important it is to you to have it cheaply insulated, eh? ;)

For care-free, light-friendly insulation, you could always spend a pretty penny and be done with it. LOL.
 
Joined
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Far Away NY
4' wide walkway? That's huge! You can easily get away with 3' or even less and have much more grow space. Also looks like you have just benches on each side? If you add a cross bench connecting the two ends opposite the door and make a U shape you will have even more space!! wooo gotta love space... Seriously though, it will fill up quickly so the more space you start with the better.

I read about the floor and sealing the baseboard and what not but I am curious how you are actually planning on watering and keeping the water from hitting the floor? At least I figure that is what you are planning for the most part, aside from the few drips here and there that are going to fall no matter what.
I think your concern over condensation is probably overblown. With all the lights in there you will need to let heat out probably, along with some moisture. You probably only want to aim for 60-70% anyway, more than that is not necessary and can do more harm than good, in which case you shouldn't see alot of condensation because the 'greenhouse' isn't outdoors where the surface is exposed to cold nights where moisture will then condense on the covering/framework.

You will inevitably have to do some tinkering with the venting/cooling/heating/humidifying systems once you get things functioning. These types of things never work quite as intended in the planning stage once they start interacting with each other as well as the local 'environment' ie your surrounding basement.

I want to also point out that you may(or may not) want to put the fluorescent ballasts outside the structure. They do get warm which can be good if you need to add heat to the inside. But they also tend to cause warm spots in the fixture so that anything above the fixture where the ballast is located will be like sitting on a heat mat in that one little area. Taking them all out and relocating them is alot of work to rewire though ;<
 
Joined
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Fort Collins, CO
Thank ya, Tony.

Even if I were to make the walkway more narrow, it doesn't create any more growing space simply because of the nature of the design. The racks (which will be functioning as the frame/walls) would also just get moved in (6 inches on each side I guess). So it ultimately decreases square footage without creating any extra grow space. There are no benches or tables, it's all going to be those big 4'x18"x6' metal racks. And, yeah, I thought about having another rack at the end of it to create a u shape - that was another reason I went with 4', because the racks are 4'. ;p

As far as watering goes, it's just going to be trays and tanks, for the most part. Tanks to hold the water for the auto-watering areas and trays to collect any excess water from watering the plants. Not to mention all those that are just fine on the tray method. I have a couple REALLY big Neps ('Miranda' and ventrata) that I'm planning on just hanging from the top of a rack and putting a big rubbermaid underneath them, which is how I'm growing them now. The rubbermaid catches excess water.

In regards to the condensation, I think you're probably right, but will be making use of drip loops regardless; safety first, right!?

I'm sure I will need to tinker with things for a while before I get things where I want them to be, but I'm more than happy to tinker. That's a lot of what comes with DIYing. ^.^

I do intend to have at least one fan in there, which should theoretically combat the development of hot spots over the ballasts. I wasn't even aware of the option to relocate the ballasts, though. I'll see how much my cooling systems have to work to keep things within reasonable parameters. If I think they're working harder than they ultimately should be, I will most definitely look into rewiring them. I can imagine that would, indeed, remove a LOT of the heat source in such a closed environment.

Thanks again!
 
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Oct 12, 2001
Messages
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Just a note on the safety first thing, good plan as always.
Might want to check your breakers or outlets you are going to use for any power going to the structure and be sure to have ground fault units in there. Same type of situation you would find in a bathroom where you have potential water/electricity mixing.
 
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