In an indoor grow, many environmental factors must be considered, including light levels, temperatures, humidity levels, odor control solutions, CO2 supplementation, and ventilation. Many growers painstakingly research the best grow lights to buy, knowing that lighting is the most expensive component of an indoor grow room. However, another thing that must be researched thoroughly before set-up is the intended ventilation strategies and equipment.
Researching your options beforehand helps ensure you don’t end up with malfunctioning equipment soon after you’re all set up. Here’s what to look for before purchasing an inline fan system for your future growroom.
What are Inline Fans?
Inline fans are built (mounted) inside a building’s ductwork. They are essentially used for extracting stale air, rather than simply keeping the room cool. Some inline fans are paired with screens to keep out unwanted pathogens, and/or filters to remove and control unpleasant odors. Inline fans are not installed directly onto the ceiling, rather, they are found inside ducts and are common in homes and office buildings in addition to grow rooms.
Qualities to Look for in Inline Fans
When comparing high-quality goods to cheaper versions, whether that be for grow room fans, or household furniture or general electronics, there are key things to look out for, such as the quality of the material the product is made of and the type of warranty the manufacturer is guaranteeing.
"Quality inline fans are housed inside high impact-resistant polycarbonate casing, without seams, for heavy-duty applications."
Another thing to look out for is the manufacturer’s longevity in the industry. A company that is well-established in their industry is likely to have a proven track record, including online reviews and testimonials from happy clients.
Inline fans work over time to ensure proper air quality in a grow room. You want ones that are heavy-duty without being heavy weights. They should also be water-resistant and built to last. Quality inline fans are housed inside high impact-resistant polycarbonate casing, without seams, for heavy-duty applications. They are also aerodynamically shaped for added efficiency.
Next, look for units with fan blades made from superior steel construction, ideally with a hammertone powder coat finish to reduce the likelihood of rust. Any type of porous material could harbor dust and pathogens and be a nightmare to clean.
Next, check the manufacturer’s specs sheet for what other materials are inside the unit, such as gaskets, lubricated bearings in the motor, and double-insulated walls that help reduce condensation. These thoughtfully added materials also suggest the manufacturer has not skimped on the details overall. All of these added materials lessen the wear and tear on the equipment over time.
Cheaper fans made of cheaper materials simply won’t run well, or last as long, which only ends up costing you more in the long-run.
Growers want their fans to be powerful, that’s for sure, but they also want (and need!) them to be ultra-quiet. Noise pollution doesn’t create an environment you’d want to hang out in for too long, in addition to possibly irking the neighbors and drawing attention to the grow room.
Therefore, look for fans that are super quiet. Quality fans that are super quiet will often be on display at trade shows and at hydro shows, showcasing just how quiet their fans can be. If a cheaply made fan is not openly on display, it’s probably hiding the fact that it’s noisier than it needs to be.
The manufacturer can also outline exactly what features of the equipment lead to such a reduction in volume. For example, the Vortex S-line of inline fans by Atmosphere come with double-insulated casings, making them among the quietest fans on the market.
They also feature a mix-flow impeller design for quieter operation, as well as rubber gaskets to ensure air tight and vibration-free duct connection – no more rattling during operation! In addition, the Atmosphere V-Series fans also operate at lower RPMs (1500 to 1700), making them even quieter.
Some growroom fan manufacturers offer a two or three-year warranty, which offers some peace of mind to the operator. However, the longer the warranty promise, the better. This is true for car dealerships, and it’s true for grow room equipment. Always look for fans with the highest warranty possible. Atmosphere offers the highest known warranty available, at 10 years.
More importantly than the length of the warranty, make sure the company has been around at least as long as the length of the warranty they are offering. Companies just starting out have not been put to the test yet, and some companies offering extensive warranties sometimes shutter their factories, never to be seen or heard form again. Needless to say, this makes their warranty promises null and void.
Also consider how easy it would be to file a claim if ever required. Is the company accessible? What have other people’s experiences been like? Does the company have a physical address listed as their headquarters or manufacturing facilities?
Beware of nameless knockoffs that only sell online. The best chance you have at finding an inline fan company that honors their stated warranties is to go through a reputable retailer, who can present you with all the documentation and owner’s manuals to help both you and the manufacturer uphold both sides of the warranty deal.
More than just marketing mumbo-jumbo, the certifications backing electrical equipment actually mean something. For example, in North America, make sure the units you’re considering are, at a minimum, ETL-listed, which serves as proof of product compliance to North American safety standards. It’s a bonus if the manufacturer is also listed under the Air Movement and Control Association International (AMCA) Certified Ratings Program, established in 1955.
The motors of inline fans are another area where cheap imitations can skimp on by going with the bare minimum. Higher quality fan manufacturers tend to throw in a few more bells and whistles because they have the experienced engineers backing their brands. Look for fans with motors that are 100% speed controllable and highly efficient with low power consumption.
The motor should come with permanently lubricated ball bearings, thermal overload protection, and an internal impeller for cooler motor operation. Quality fans, like the Vortex Powerfan VTX Series from Atmosphere, boast the most powerful motors, running up to 393 watts off 120 volts.
Some inline fans cheap out on the extras, whereas quality models go the distance. For example, higher-end units come with an integrated backdraft damper to prevent air leakage when the extractor is not operating. Such a feature makes the unit run more efficiently and is a sign of a higher-quality unit. Other optional accessories might include pressure switches, dial-a-temp controllers, speed controller, AC current switch, and filters.
Also examine the fan’s installation methods if you can. Quality inline fans will come with mounting brackets designed for quick and easy installation, and ideally an easy clipping system to allow fan removal for maintenance.
Check to make sure what type of power source you’ll need, and whether the unit comes prewired with all applicable cords and plug-ins. You want a fan that’s plug-and-play and ready to go!
Quality inline fan manufacturers know that not one size fits all and have committed themselves to offering a wide selection of power levels and fan sizes to accommodate a wide range of growers, matching the motor and CFM functions to the size of the equipment.
To support these options, they also provide heaps of literature like graphs, brochures, and owner manuals outlining how each of their fans performs. Cheaper manufacturers simply don’t have the resources available to commit to creating and supporting this level of detailed documentation.