Grow Room Air Conditioning Hydroponics History
“Birth of Cool” from Grozine Issue 12
If you have been around the indoor gardening scene or have been growing with more than a few lights for ten years or longer, it’s likely that aside from the increase in popularity of your favorite past time, you have also seen it become more of a “year round” endevor, rather than a seasonal venture, so let’s have a look at grow room air conditioning hydroponics history.
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Historically speaking in most parts of the world it gets too hot outdoors during summer months, even at night, to be able to rely on outside air temperatures to keep the temperature from getting too hot for the crop when HID grow lights are running. In the past, indoor growers using High Intensity Discharge grow lighting like HPS and MH relied solely on vent fans drawing cooler outside air through the room and exhausting back outdoors to try and keep temperatures below 85 Deg F when the lights are operational.
If it’s already 70 Deg F or warmer outside (in some cases +85 Deg F already) it’s a losing battle, and plants produce poorly-and at great cost and headaches to the grower.
While hydroponics methods that used larger reservoir volumes and water chillers allowed some gardeners to harvest healthy and productive crops, most gardeners opted to shut-down the grow room for the summer and enjoy the outdoors. Air cooled lighting offers benefits in some situations too.
For professionals, this created a level of fluctuation in the supply and demand end of the trade-as with most seasonal markets.
[quote]If it’s already 70 Deg F or warmer outside (in some cases +85 Deg F already) it’s a losing battle, and plants produce poorly-and at great cost and headaches to the grower.[/quote]
Enter Grow Room Air Conditioning
H&M Heat Exchangers took root in 2002 in the B.C Lower Mainland during the height of the Western Canadian hydro-boom by providing cooling solutions that allowed indoor gardeners using multiple HID lighting sources to operate year-round, even during summer months with no decline in production levels or crop quality.
Growers of the day tended to be adamant Do-It-Yourselfers, and typically did not entertain the thought of hiring outside HVAC technicians to come in and install an Air Conditioning System into their growing operations. Normally, it requires a licensed technician to work with refrigerant-the stuff in Air Conditioner Compressor Lines.
In much of the lower mainland water was un-metered. Why not, it rains onto the mountains all winter on it’s way back to the ocean. Most locations simply paid a monthly sewer charge, and if it was metered, there was typically a “maximum rate” the water company would charge. This may sound very wasteful and unfathomable in some parts of the world-but the stuff falls from the sky most of the year in the Pacific North West.
Swamp Coolers” were the first grow room cooling adopted by savvy growers in the BC Mainland, and H&M started to source and offer efficient units, that Desmond and Co at H&M, modified with speciality controls and other features that made them easy to install in any growing location. Re-circulating hydroponic systems like the early “bucket systems” that growers fabricated themselves also lended well to the addition of reservoir chilling. Cooling coils and plug and play water solenoid with thermostat controls were, and still are, one of H&M Heat Exchangers’ offerings available for global shipment.
It wasn’t long before H&M and enterprising growers began seeing further potential in what having some cooling power in your grow room could mean for crop growth rates and yields. Rather than just helping to cool the intake air and still exhaust it outdoors, growers started to get hip to CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) or “sealed” growing methods.
It didn’t take long to figure out that when the swamp cooler was operating, that air was getting dehumidified-eventually a “what if” came into the equation and growers went completely sealed.
No More Intake or Exhaust
Rather, the air is now being manufactured since adequate cooling power became available. Because no outside air is being exchanged, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) supplementation could be effective in producing better yields, especially when coupled with optimal and consistent day/night temperatures in the grow room by swamp coolers and supplemental de-humidifcation equipment.
This was a proverbial “game changer”.
The next step was to allow for more cooling power and less water consumption. The next step in the evolutionary chain was Water Cooled Air Conditioning, which some Pros to this day will say if you can supply the 1.5 GPM of water it takes to cycle when ON, it’s “simply the best”. And it can go ANYWHERE.
Pre-Charged Lines and Split ACs are Here
Ultimately, H&M and other innovative companies were able to offer the solution that is widely adopted today by serious year round indoor growers, and that’s Split Acs (like your “whole house” AC system) that come with Pre Charged Refrigerant Lines.
Today, growers can install their own AC units-your heat exchanger goes outside, the air handler goes in your grow room. No outside air is exchanged, like window air conditioners do. The very fundamental difference between NOW and THEN is that companies like H&M can supply totally safe and certified pre-charged lines that simply connect the inside and outside portion of your split AC system.
No water is used to operate Split AC units. Actually, they can give back water that is lost from the plants-if you collect, store and mange the condensate capture possibilities.
Better yet, they can supply you with a total grow room cooling package; including a timed Air Handler “Flip” plenum, that allows you to operate TWO separate short-day flowering rooms from the same cooling system. Effectively, you can double your production potential-just add a flip relay to your lighting system and you are most of the way there…
Desmond at H&M doesn’t believe in guess work. By education, experience and background he is an Engineer-with many years of practical experience in the field of grow room cooling applications. Meeting the grow room cooling needs of BC’s “Big Guys” means you know how to provide effective solutions that are reliable-and at a price that growers can justify and recapture in improved year long production.
Besides offering complete cooling systems like Split ACs (double and triple splits), Swamp Coolers, Reservoir Chiller, Thermostatic Solenoids, Water Cooled Air Conditioning and other growing appliances, Desmond is also well known and respected for the work H&M Heat Exchanger does in servicing and repairing just about any make or model out there. We can personally testify to his amazing ability to troubleshoot over the phone, even complex stuff that most of us would have to consult a wiring diagram for—he’s got it “upstairs” for fast and friendly retrieval.
The Cool Today
It wasn’t that long ago that many indoor growers were “forced off the job” during summer months; having a ripple effect through the hydroponic industry and beyond. Today, thanks to innovative companies like H&M Heat Exchangers and people like Des who have the background and foresight to make a difference we can all welcome, indoor growers not only enjoy year round production….they harvest heavier and more often, thanks to the ability to operate CEA indoor growing set ups.
In fact, when you run totally sealed you can re-use your water over and over—by capturing what the plant transpired from the condensate return in your AC system and supplemental dehumidification equipment. Just one more example of the ripples that cool innovations can have for all of us with a love of the leafy and green side of life.