Aquaponic Gardening

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I've been hoping to find advice on the internet about what to do for my planned 6'x8' basement system. But I keep having the nagging feeling that I'm being sold a product, which makes me skittish.

My basement room has no windows, so I'm concerned about having to provide all the light and I'm concerned about getting the plants enough light without creating undue amounts of heat or consuming lots of energy.

One article I saw made a good case for metal halide, but I'm not sure how many units I'll need (currently planning to use 3 50 gallon Rubbermaid sheep tank (31"x52" oblong) as ebb and flow grow beds. Or 1 sheep tank ebb and flow with 6 floating raft systems in black plastic concrete mixing troughs (3'x2' each).

The units will be arranged in a "U" configuration, so I figure I'll need at least three light units...

Here are crude sketches of the top-down view and the side view (kind of). It's going to be a modified CHOP system, where I use staggered durso siphons to prevent the water in the fish tanks from getting too low. I know I don't need 300 gallons worth of tank/fish to nourish 150 gallons/30 ft^2 of grow bed, but I do need 350 gallons of tank so that should all power go off no water escapes the system...


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I always love the idea of growing indoor, and use light. But how much does it cost to run them?

It depends on your local electrical rates. I pay practically nothing for electricity, so my main cost was for the actual lights and bulbs.

 

Since this winter, I've moved to an outdoor garden (replaced my "must be kept inside" tipalia with hybrid bluegill (fast growing, love pellets)). I'm looking forward to seeing how long I can extend the growing season using a simple hoop house augmented with subterranean heating and a rocket mass heater... I'm most the way through verifying that I can install such a system without trespassing any laws, regulations, codes, or covenants...


Kou said:

I always love the idea of growing indoor, and use light. But how much does it cost to run them?

Hello Meg,

Here are a few links that I found to very helpful pertaining to grow lights, photosynthesis  in general and particularly the new generation of LED products. (Since they seem to be the least represented here).

http://www.myhydroponicgardening.com/2011-best-led-grow-light-review/

http://blog.ecocityhydroponics.com/led-grow-lights-to-faciliate-pho...

 

The rocket mass heater is quite something. I am still debating whether to build one for the greenhouse. If not this year than maybe next. Let me know how it works out for you. This year I will probably be supplementing heat with 4- 400 watt metal halide bulbs in the wee hours before sunrise...If I didn't need the heat I would DEFINITELY go with a good quality tri-spectrum LED as electricity is quite expensive here. The T-8's that I've been sprouting lettuce, basil and peppers with work just fine, but I have observed etiolation and general scraggly, spindliness in anything bigger than sprouts.

Also, (call me paranoid) but I would just feel REALLY weird having a MERCURY filled glass tube (which is ALL fluorescent lights) hanging over my AP system...That's why I do my sprouting in a different room...

 

 

My application would be for incandescent replacement, for overhead room lighting, and room lighting by a lamp. I want the tint to be warm, some CFLs I bought were "daylight" because I thought they looked great in the in-store comparison display, but at home they turned out to be a bit cool (compared to dimmable CFLs that I also have). I'm happy with my CFLs for now but if there is a LED bulb out there that uses Cree LEDs

Soluna Green

 

 

Soluna Green
Soluna Green

I am late to this chat but maybe it will get picked up still...

first the reson you use 220 vice 110 is efficacy (cost to run) and my understang and reading as I recall showed 1000W good for a 10x10 area with a good reflector..    and that was for toms and the such,,  IF you were just doing greens it should go farther,,  

any thoughts??

Ah, how fun it would be to be able to re-wire my house for the sole purpose of making my grow lights more efficient...

For now I've gone the cheap/lazy route and am focusing on growing outdoors, shifting my emphasis to keeping my winter greenhouse moderately warm. Now that I've switched to bluegill, I don't have to keep the greenhouse warm to keep the fish alive. It's been fascinating to see how some plants continued to thrive when it got cold - beets, strawberry plants, banana plants... I'm sure much more would have thrived, if I had bothered planting them in late fall.

Hold on now...  

Say you have a 400w T5 fluorescent* and a 400watt Metal Halide (HID).  Were you to put either one in an enclosed space you'd eventually have a heat problem.  Inefficiency in converting watts to light (lumen, lux, PAR) typically means that whatever energy isn't converted to light is converted to heat (IR).   HID's can actually be more efficient than fluorescents (lumen per watt), so they are capable of producing more light than heat per watt when compared to a fluorescent.

Saying that a T5 lamp is "cooler" than an HID, is like saying that an electric blanket is cooler than a heating pad (of equal wattage).  The T5 distributes both the light and the heat over a larger area at close range, whereas the light and heat are delivered from a 1-1/2 to 2" arc tube with an HID bulb.  After running for only a few hours, a T5 bulb will definitely be uncomfortable to touch (ever tried to replace a T5 bulb immediately after turning the power off?), and if the heat from all 8 of the 4ft tubes in a T5 fixture could be concentrated into the same small space as an HID arc tube, you would not be able to touch it at all.  Another thing to consider is that an HID system with a remote ballast can have the ballast (and the heat it produces) placed outside the growing area, whereas the ballasts built into a fluorescent fixture cannot.

My point here is not to say that HIDs are better than fluorescents  -it's actually quite situation specific.  What I am saying is that a 400 watt fluorescent will require the same amount (or possibly a bit more) exhausting or other type of cooling as a 400watt HID when you measure the heat build up in the overall environment as opposed to just the heat build up immediately in and around the lamp itself.

Wanted to say this, but Meg I'll get back to you on actual specific recommendations. 

*Note: A 4 ft -8 bulb T5 fixture at 54 watts per bulb would actually = 432 watts.   I just said 400 for comparisons sake.

I guess I'm a cheap skate... I'm using two four foot twin T8 over my 50 gallon rubbermaid grow beds. Fixtures 10 to 15 bucks a piece at wal-mart and light bulbs were 12 buck a pair at wal-mart. This is my first growing cycle with them. I have the room to add one or two more light fixtures over the grow beds if more light become necessary.

Would I like to use T5? Yes but I'd have or special order them. I prefer going down to local stores, and picking up new bulbs, when I need them, and they have these T8 on the shelf where I live here in Abilene Texas. 

I'm growing salad greens, not tomatoes or peppers. Even though I have with less light than what I have now. I'm trying to get the most I can on a budget. I guess it depends on weather your are aiming for good enough on a budget or perfection on an unlimited budget then there some where in the middle.

 

Why would you need to re-wire your house 220V?  I never suggested that,...However IF you had true interest..  it is VERY easy to convert a circuit  to 220V same number of wires as 110.  You only need 10 amps for one 1K bulb...  

outdoors growing is great for some,,  however last year we went from 80 to -25 in 10 days and had a hot summer of temps at or over 100 for most of the summer,,, many old school farmers lost there butts,...  I prefer to have a bit more control over my environment.   

Meg Stout said:

Ah, how fun it would be to be able to re-wire my house for the sole purpose of making my grow lights more efficient...

For now I've gone the cheap/lazy route and am focusing on growing outdoors, shifting my emphasis to keeping my winter greenhouse moderately warm. Now that I've switched to bluegill, I don't have to keep the greenhouse warm to keep the fish alive. It's been fascinating to see how some plants continued to thrive when it got cold - beets, strawberry plants, banana plants... I'm sure much more would have thrived, if I had bothered planting them in late fall.

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