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Cool Growing Orchidarium

Discussion in 'Growing Areas' started by Chris.c147, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Chris.c147

    Chris.c147 Well-Known Member

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    Good morning everyone.

    I recently bought another big tank for orchids. Since I grow indoors under lights, this is the best way that I have found to keep them especially with most of them being mounted.

    This is the biggest tank that I have so far; about 67 gallons. I usually go with Exo-Terra vivariums because I also keep reptiles and amphibians, but this time I went with the new National Geographic reptile sanctuary which was only about $30 more. Unlike the other tanks, this one I had to put together myself which took no time at all.

    I do have a few questions that I'm hoping you all can answer.

    First, I bought a humidifier especially for the tank to keep humidity up and to help with the watering of plants in the tank. It's a pretty small humidifier, but it fills the tank up with fog in about 5 minutes and I'm wondering if there is a good way to have it externally (outside of the tank) so that the condensation doesn't cause a short in the fuse since it is a plug in humidifier. I was thinking of using a L shape steel pipe in order to guide the fog into the tank from the humidifier, but I'm worried about condensation on the inside of the tube falling either into the tank which isn't that big of a deal, or falling back into the humidifier possibly causing a mess. Also, the humidifier puts out quite a bit of fog and I want to figure out a way to possibly diffuse or slow the output of fog since the tank was completely full of white fog in a matter of minutes.

    Another question that I have is how to go about air circulation in the tank to keep the mist moving and properly ventilate the tank. I took the mesh covering off on the top to help keep humidity in, however there is a side vent that is fairly big that I'd like to have the air move out of the tank through. Does anyone know where I can purchase 3 or 4 inch box fans that plug into the wall or a surge protector? I'd rather go and purchase them in a store rather than order them online so that if they don't work the way I want them to I can easily return them.

    I will try to take some pictures of the tank this afternoon so that you can see what I'm working with.

    Thanks in advance
    Chris
     
  2. bob williams

    bob williams Member Supporting Member

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    a computer fan or one for some kind of electronics might work. a repair store or special electronics sales store. bob.
     
  3. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Very few places will accept returns on small electric stuff, so I'd not be so concerned about ordering online.

    Personally, I prefer 115v muffin fans, so I didn't have to hassle with a power supply. I found a low-speed "Cooltron" brand that work great in my "incubator", and are very quiet. Remember, the idea is gently tumbling air movement, not a hurricane.

    I also recommend against a steel tube for the fogger - don't forget it will rust. Plastic is a better idea. If you arrange the humidifier so it must blow the fog up to the tank entry port, and small amount of condensation will drain back into the humidifier.
     
  4. naoki

    naoki Well-Known Member

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    I should check out the AC fan Ray suggested. When I measure a couple AC fans, they appear to have higher energy consumption than DC for some reason. But it wasn't a fair test because the output was different between the AC and DC fans (AC fans moving more air). AC fans seem to last longer.

    Computer fans work well, but I killed a couple when I splashed water too many times (they can take occasional splash). Noctua NF-A14 iPPC-3000 PWM is my current favorite. Since it is one of the best, it is not cheap. It can handle water somewhat (IP52 level). It is quiet for the output (but you need to use lower voltage to make it really quiet). They have models with IP67-level water proof, too (link here, which can operate under water. But the IP67 model has lower output (maybe perfect for the small space like 57 gallon).

    I used to use O2Cool DC fans. They are quiet and energy efficient but they don't last more than a year for the continuous run (from about 5 dead samples).

    I use vinyl tubing from HomeDepot (need to make some way to attach it to the outlet), so the humidifier stays outside of the grow tent. But it rarely kicks in (controlled by hygrostat). In a moderately well enclosed area, if you have a water tray at the bottom, the RH is usually in the right range (around 80%) without an active humidifier. But I'm guessing that you need a humidifier because of the A/C unit. How are you cooling your tank?

    Or are you talking about using fans to vent out the air from the tank? You'll waste cooled and humid air, and I don't see the needs. If it is completely sealed, it is a problem, but most of the time, there is enough air exchange from small holes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  5. Chris.c147

    Chris.c147 Well-Known Member

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    My tank is already pretty cool at night as I have them in the basement. Naturally there is probably a 15-20 degree change in temperature from when I have the lights on to when I turn them out. The humidifier blows cool mist as well so that helps cool the tank even more. I'm not sure how I want to run the humidifier yet as it has a 10 hour run span. I'm not sure if I should run it in the morning for the day or if I should turn it on and let it go overnight.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    If you're willing to invest some money, Jaybird Manufacturing (Jaybird-mfg.com) sells a humidistat that has a male/female AC plug. Put the sensor in the chamber, and plug it into the wall, then plug the humidifier into that, and it will control the RH inside.
     
  7. RadioFreeKirkwood

    RadioFreeKirkwood chloroplast envy Supporting Member

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    I've been using a humidistat similar to what Ray is recommending for controlling a bigger ultrasonic humidifier in a smallish greenhouse for almost 2 years with good results.

    I use this model from Sentinal in the $100 range

    You just plug the humidifier into this guy, run the 6-foot sensor into your tank and you can dial in a different RH for days and nights as it has a photosensor in the unit.
     
  8. naoki

    naoki Well-Known Member

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    I use a couple of hygrostats: Zoo Med HygroTherm. They have fantastic customer service, but the RH sensors seem to shift after a couple years.

    This is a cheaper alternative (need a little bit of wiring): Image WH8040

    Chris, I don't know why you want to keep it running, it seems pretty wasteful. Once you hit a certain RH (e.g. 70-80%), I don't see any advantage of getting 100% RH.
     
  9. carl

    carl Active Member

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    As far as controlling the humidifier, I can suggest two things: a simple timer that has 24 half-hour increments. Just have it fog three or four times per day, that's probably all you really need. If you want to get fancy, use an Arduino with a DHT22 temperature/humidity sensor, and a relay to turn the humidifier on. All can be had from Sparkfun Electronics for reasonable price. (As in under $50, I think).

    A shop-vac hose will work well for ducting the fog. Just cut the hose to length. Be sure to use DI or RO water for your humidifier - it'll last longer, and your plants won't get covered in white dust.

    I use 12 volt fans for air movement in my tanks and smaller cabinets, and have bought 4" fans from Walmart for less than $10 each for some of my bigger cabinets. Fans can be had from many sources, for as little as $2.50 for small ones. Check here <http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/category/220/fans/1.html> for a good selection. I have tons of wall warts kicking around that I use to power the fans. You can usually get them dirt cheap at yard sales.
     
  10. Chris.c147

    Chris.c147 Well-Known Member

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    I don't want to keep the humidifier going all day long. I want to have it on a timer so that it comes on and goes off a few times throughout the day just to keep the humidity up and the temperature a little cooler. I wen to Best Buy to look at computer fans and I found some that I want to use, but I'm not sure about splicing the wires to connect them to a plug in. It would be nice if I could find some with a power cord already attached instead of 3 prong.
     
  11. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    This has been by far the best fan I've ever used for terrarium circulation: http://www.ebay.com/itm/AQUARIUM-CO...744944?hash=item43dbeff4f0:g:BJYAAOSwv0tVRrAT. I've used them in my orchid tanks and also in frog tanks where they receive indirect misting 2x a day and have held up for years.

    When I first started growing in tanks, I used a humidifier as well. I've come to feel that they are really a waste of time in my conditions. They would keep my plants too wet for too long, and I had to deal with many cases of rot due to it. I've since moved to ExoTerra/Zoomed style enclosures that are totally sealed up top but the bottom vents are exposed. My results are much better now.
     
  12. naoki

    naoki Well-Known Member

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    That centrifugal fan looks good, Zach. Is it DC (i.e. is there a AC/DC brick between the AC plug and fan)? How is the noise level?
     
  13. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Yes, it has an AC/DC adapter. My plant tank is in my bedroom and any noise that this fan may create is muffled by the ceiling fan, so it isn't very loud at all. My oldest one is mounted directly to the roof of an acrylic panel on one of my frog tanks, so that causes a slight vibration and noise, but other than that, it's pretty silent. I use a single fan pointed directly up in a 36x18x36 Exoterra. Top is 100% sealed, bottom vent is open. This (and whatever air circulation the ceiling fan may provide) is the only circulation I use in this tank, and it is by far my most successful attempt at growing orchids indoors to date.
     
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  14. Chris.c147

    Chris.c147 Well-Known Member

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    I wound up going with the iPettie Aquarium Cooling System . I purchased the four fan unit so that I can mount it inside the orchidarium and have it create a cooler environment and to properly ventilate and evaporate the runoff water. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with the humidifier. I'm looking into a humidistat so that I can plug the humidifier into it and have it come on and go off when it reaches a certain RH.
     
  15. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    How are you planning on orienting that? If you have it blowing down, along one wall of the tank, the plants under it will likely get too much air, while those away from it will get none. Remember that the goal is gently tumbling air throughout the volume, not a strong breeze.
     
  16. Chris.c147

    Chris.c147 Well-Known Member

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    Well Ray, I just received the fan and to be honest I'm a little disappointed. I thought that the force of the air output was going to be more than it is, but maybe it will be perfect since a strong output would cause the plants to become too dry. I am thinking about mounting it in the front aiming towards the back of one side so that those plants are in a cooler area. I was also maybe thinking about putting it on the side that the humidifier will be plugged in so that it blows out the other side of the tank to properly ventilate. Your thoughts?
     
  17. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    ...or two of them so you get a swirling effect?

    I think either could work.
     
  18. Chris.c147

    Chris.c147 Well-Known Member

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    I wound up mounting it on one side of the tank blowing across to the other side where the ventilation is. I took the legs off of it so that they aren't in the way. I let it run all day yesterday just to see how it would work with the humidity and temperature. I noticed that once I watered everything and closed the doors that the humidity dramatically up, but as comes humidity so does temperature. It wasn't that much of an increase in temperature, but I really only need it cooler at night for my Oxyglossum Dendrobium species. The humidifier is still in the works as I have not found out what I want to do with that yet.
     
  19. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    What lights are you using? If you're having problems with heat, consider moving to LEDs. I swapped a 13 w CFL in my nano terrarium with a Jungle Dawn 9W bulb and I am very happy with it. It makes a lot less heat and actually seems brighter (judging visually, I haven't actually checked with a light meter) then the CFL. Ray also has some LED bulbs for sale on his site.
     
  20. Natureman

    Natureman Active Member

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    I use one of these digital humidity controls (~$20 eBay) with an ultrasonic mister under my orchidarium. The mist is delivered by a tube you cans get from the hardware store.
    The control is super easy to set and will operate from 0% to 99%! ImageUploadedByOrchidsForum.com1454066719.359702.jpg