What Environmental Controller is Best for My Cultivation Needs?
Cannabis cultivation technology has come a long way since the days of the black market. With the rise of legal production, manufacturers have felt comfortable pouring serious resources into developing advanced environmental controls for indoor growing. Many of the advancements in CEA equipment have also occurred in conjunction with incredible progressions in mobile technology and internet-based services.
Perhaps no form of cultivation technology has advanced with legalization as much as environmental controllers. While much of the creative impetus behind improvements in environmental controller equipment was inspired by commercial growing, this tech has also started to pay serious dividends for hobbyist cultivators.
As the cannabis industry continues to evolve and change, it can be difficult to understand which environmental controllers are best suited for different sized gardens. To help clarify exactly what type of controllers work well for hobbyist grows vs commercial producers, we put together this brief exploration.
Smart Temperature & Humidity Outlets
Smart temperature and humidity outlets are straightforward pieces of technology used to regulate garden environments. By syncing temperature and humidity sensors with a simple relay switch on an electrical plug, these controllers regulate important pieces of technology like inline fans. When a smart temperature and humidity outlet reaches a certain environmental threshold, it either turns on or off the electricity coming through the outlet.
Smart temperature and humidity outlets work extremely well in small gardens such as grow tents. In fact, products like the AC Infinity Controller 76 will power devices on or off based on temperature, humidity, timer, cycle, as well as scheduled programming. As such, these systems give home growers unparalleled control over tent gardens — including remote viewing from mobile apps.
While smart temperature and humidity outlets work great for smaller gardens, they simply are not robust enough to handle the environmental demands of large, commercial operations.
Standard Atmospheric Controllers
Standard atmospheric controllers are the most established type of environmental regulation technology used for indoor cannabis cultivation. They work same way as smart temperature and humidity outlets concerning sensors and electrical relay switches. However, while smart temperature and humidity outlets can only power a single piece of equipment, atmospheric controllers can manage several pieces of equipment simultaneously.
While varying slightly in size, most standard atmospheric controllers have four to six outlets used to power critical pieces of cultivation technology such as exhaust fans, intake fans, CO2 burners, and dehumidifiers. Many models also have photo cells which sense when lights are turned on and off in a growroom. In turn, the system has different functionalities during both “day” and “night.”
Standard atmospheric controllers work quite well for slightly larger home-based cannabis gardens. While a four-to-six plug controller would be overkill for a small tent garden, it is perfectly sized for a 6-light/6,000-watt indoor grow. A standard atmospheric controller provides the more precision controls needed for a more advanced home grow.
Generally speaking, atmospheric controllers are right on the edge of what might be applicable for a commercial garden. While most growers would agree that a standard atmospheric grower will work just fine in regulating heat, humidity, and CO2 in a 10,000-watt operation, anything larger will require more robust capabilities.
Advanced Commercial Controller
As the name implies, advanced commercial controllers are specifically designed to regulate large indoor garden operations that are well beyond the scope of most home growers. These highly robust systems stand apart from less advanced options with digital readouts, mobile compatibility, and software integrations.
Advanced commercial controllers fully-integrate with nearly every facet of a modern indoor garden. They can manage light intensity, fertigation schedules, HVAC systems, CO2 levels, and much more. Even more, by integrating with garden management software, advanced commercial controllers keep track of important garden metrics like temperature and humidity over vast spans of time. They can also work in growrooms with 50+ lights.
Advanced commercial controllers are used almost exclusively for large indoor gardens where cannabis is being grown and sold for profit. With so many options for automation and data metrics, these systems are critical for both troubleshooting current crops, as well as planning for future harvests.
Simply put, advanced commercial controllers are overkill for small, personal cannabis gardens. In the end, it just doesn’t make sense for hobbyist cultivators to spend thousands of dollars on a complex system that is engineered for warehouse production.
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While the amount of cultivation technology on the market today is extremely exciting, it can be difficult to know exactly what equipment works best for different sized cannabis gardens. When it comes to environmental regulation, home growers have a great selection to choose from — including smart temperature and humidity outlets and standard atmospheric controllers. However, commercial growers are in a “league of their own” concerning appropriately sized atmospheric controllers.
If you are still unsure about what type of environmental controller is best for you, it’s advisable to start with the simplest choice possible for the size of your garden. Looking at home gardens, simple sensor and relay switches can likely handle most environmental regulation needs. When coupled with basic timers, you can manage a relatively large garden without spending massive amounts of money.
Importantly, using less sophisticated pieces of technology is a great way to learn the basics of cannabis horticulture. Once you have sharpened your basic gardening skills, you can begin implementing more sophisticated choices. In the end, as your skill sets expand, so will your knowledge of the latest cultivation technology.
AC Infinity is the foremost name in air delivery systems, designing and developing the latest innovations in cooling and ventilation technology. They offer a suite of quiet inline fans that automate the growing progress and track key metrics. Visit acinfinity.com or contact [email protected] to learn more.
Written by Kent Gruetzmacher | Writer, Owner of KCG Content
Kent Gruetzmacher MFA is a Colorado-based writer and owner of the writing and marketing firm KCG Content. Kent has been working in the cannabis and hydroponics space for over a decade. Beginning in California in 2009, he has held positions in cultivation, operations, marketing, and business development. Looking specifically to writing, Kent has worked with many of the leading publications and marketing agencies in the cannabis space. His writing has been recognized by such icons as Steve D’Angelo and Rick Simpson.