Recently, MIT scientists announced that, through careful cultivation, they had produced more flavourful basil plants. Grown in a closely monitored hydroponic environment, the basil was made more flavourful through a concentrated application of nutrients, light, and air. While this level of monitoring isn’t feasible for the average hydroponic grower, the basic technique is the same. Indeed, one of the most exciting aspects of hydroponic growing is the ability to control different aspects of the growing environment so closely, optimising your set up for high yields, quick growth, and - yes - even more flavourful produce.
When growing in a hydroponic setting, you want to think about a few basic growth factors, including pH balance, water, air flow, humidity, light and temperature. Getting air flow right can have big effects on growth and is closely connected to managing the temperature and humidity in your grow space. Zeroing in on the right way to control temperature and humidity starts with an air conditioner that’s up to the task.
Air Conditioners For Hydroponics
In deciding on the right air conditioner for a hydroponic grow set up, there are a few features you want to look out for. A ductless, or mini-split system can be a great way to manage air temperature and humidity without expensive and invasive ductwork. Plus, they're more energy efficient than a traditional HVAC unit. For grow tents and other smaller operations, portable air conditioners and air filters may be enough. If you already have air conditioning set up, there’s still a lot you can do to improve airflow, temperature and humidity in your grow space. Simply having regular maintenance checks performed on your HVAC system can go a long way, and you may want to have features like a dehumidifier or additional air filter added.
Control options are also important, as they give you more ability to change air flow and temperature on a schedule. Those magnificently flavoured basil plants at MIT? They were on a 24-hour managed light schedule, and every aspect of the growth environment was managed closely. So more programming options, automatic adjustments, and even smart AC systems are a great choice for hydroponic growing. You’ll also want to look out for air filtration and humidity control features. A built-in dehumidifier can do a lot to help you manage the air conditions you’re growing in.
Calculating Your Air Conditioning Needs
Sizing is vitally important, too. Not enough power, and your AC system won’t be able to keep up with your cooling needs. Depending on the other equipment you’re using, your lights and pumps can create a lot of heat - so you want to make sure your AC is up to the task. Oversized air conditioners can be a problem in their own right though, as improper sizing affects cooling cycles and humidity levels, and can use up a lot of energy.
One way to figure it out is to calculate the energy produced by your other equipment - in BTU/hr. Then you can select an AC unit that can handle that much heat but that doesn’t have an air capacity that far exceeds the room. This can be complicated to figure out, but with the right tweaks and a good understanding of airflow, you can find the right AC system for optimising hydroponic growth.