Automation in the Growroom
So, you’ve spent a bunch of money setting up your growroom with multiple systems to help you create the ideal environment for growing plants, but you can’t be around at all times to ensure those systems are operating properly and your investment is protected. The solution? A growroom automation system. Read on to learn more.
Congratulations, your growroom is up and running. You’ve constructed an environment that allows you to control all aspects of your garden, including lighting, temperature, humidity, irrigation and CO2. But it doesn’t end there—you still have to consider water quality, the health of your grow medium and Murphy’s Law.
With any investment comes risk and while your timers are set to operate a multitude of systems designed to maximize your yields, you’re probably not able to monitor your investment 24/7.
Frankly, the time you devote to babysitting your growroom is counter-productive to the life your systems are supposed to be making easier. This article notes some of the issues that can occur when you’re not there to solve problems with your systems and the solution—a networked gardening system.
Keeping everything on schedule is key, but how many times have you heard about timers failing to turn something on, or—even worse—failing to turn something off? In the instance of lights that stay on or never turn off, the results can seriously damage and stress your garden, resulting in diminished yields.
While there are a myriad of great products out there, every one of them has a specific lifespan. Timer manufacturers work diligently to ensure their products don’t fail, but it happens. No matter how much research and development and quality control goes into building a consistent product, there is a human element when it comes to setting timers that no easily written instructions can prevent.
Whether it’s a bum timer or a grower’s slip-up, the fact remains that errors and failures can occur. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to keep the gardener informed of these hiccups in real time?
Temperature and Humidity Control
Your plants need an environment that mimics the natural world in which they would normally grow. However, recreating a light spectrum as close to natural sunlight as possible with artificial lighting produces an incredible amount of heat.
Whether you implement climate control such as air conditioning or an intake/exhaust fan system, the growroom environment is designed to keep everything at a stable temperature.
But have you ever come in to check on your crop only to find your exhaust fan or air conditioner has failed and your plants burned under the 650ºF bulbs? A simple text message alerting you to the overheating temperature could have saved the day.
Most people don’t have time to hand-water their crop at regular intervals throughout the day—there is a difference between showing your garden some tender, loving care and being a slave to your plants. The answer is to set up an irrigation system that waters at regular intervals with a specific amount of water.
However, if you’re not there, you’re putting your faith in timers and pumps, and the only thing worse than a pump that doesn’t turn on is a pump that doesn’t turn off! If there was a product out there that could automate your irrigation in intervals based on modern soil moisture or irrigation principles, preventing the starvation or asphyxiation of your plants could be as simple as an email away.
These examples are only a few areas where things can go wrong. This article is not meant to make you paranoid; it should serve as an eye-opener about the potential hazards that can become realities in a growroom.
We all want the freedom that comes with properly functioning timers, lighting systems that work and irrigation systems that water at optimal intervals and volumes, all while avoiding operational and safety hazards. This is where engineering minds are working diligently behind the scenes to make your life vastly easier—this is the world of the networked garden.
Networked gardening offers growers a wide range of options for monitoring all of the systems in place that help plants grow. It can link not only the timers, lighting and irrigation layers of your garden set-up, but also through a simple, one-time set-up, it can also be configured to include CO2, temperature, humidity and, through even more refinement of the technology, nearly any other aspect of your growroom.
Companies are taking all-in-one system monitoring and automation to new heights by creating a networked gardening system that makes sure everything is running smoothly by putting the ability to control the grow environment right in the palm of a grower’s hand.
Businesses that specialize in building networked gardening systems are truly adept at understanding and answering the needs of growers because many of them are growers themselves.
These systems allow you to not only set up real-time text message and email alerts informing you when systems turn on and off, but you will also be alerted to fluctuations in temperature, humidity and CO2, and even maintenance troubles such as overwatering or a burned-out bulb.
And with these newly designed systems, you can do something about it. For example, if your text alerts are telling you that your A/C is under-performing, you can respond within minutes rather than walking in to see the effects certain problems can have after a few hours, saving you lost revenue, time and man-hours.
Growrooms are not easy to set up and are a significant financial investment, especially at the commercial level. The need for easy and real-time monitoring offers system control and automation companies a chance to serve you in hedging your bets.
Naysayers might contend that an automation and control system is just another thing to spend money on, and they’re right, but perhaps they’ve never lost a crop when the A/C died 30 minutes after they left and the problem wasn’t discovered until the next day. Or maybe their exhaust fans have never failed, meaning they’ve never allowed the humidity to rise above a safe level, allowing mold and bacteria to propagate.
You didn’t skimp on the bulbs you chose—you shopped around for the right pumps and you trusted the advice of others who recommended a slew of other gadgets they use in their own hydroponic set-ups.
So when you do the math on an automation system start-up cost, along with the time it takes to configure an alert and resolution system that fits your needs, just remember this: you didn’t get into hydroponics as a hobby or business because you wanted to grow poor-quality plants.