Hydroponic systems are becoming increasingly popular in the industry as they’ve been shown to produce greater yields with less pest and fungal issues. We’ve been talking with many cultivators recently who are using hydroponics and need a nutrient cooling solution but are uncertain about how to go about it; so we’ve decided to share what we think are the best practices to grow big, healthy plants in a hydroponic system.
The first thing to consider when growing hydroponically is what kind of system to use. We like the Under Current® system that Current Culture H2O™ makes as they have the knowledge, quality and support that will make your grow successful.
The next thing to think about is how to keep your nutrients at the right temperature. Cooling the air in your facility is not enough because harmful bacteria is more likely to grow when your nutrients get above about 72°F, putting your crop at risk of disease and possible failure. Instead, you should keep your nutrient solution between 60° and 68°F to ensure the ideal environment.
There are a few ways to cool nutrients, but the best way is through a water chiller. For best results, we recommend a Surna system that can utilize one or two larger chillers to service every system you have, offering you control, redundancy and efficiency at the same time.
Some people opt to run their nutrients directly through a chiller, but we strongly caution against that. This is because nutrients can build up inside your chiller, dramatically reducing its life and costing you more money in replacement and maintenance. Instead, we recommend that cultivators use Hydro Innovations’ (a Surna company) CoolCoil technology which acts as a secondary heat transfer, cooling your tanks without having to run nutrients directly through a chiller. This system runs water through the chillers to stainless steel coils sitting in your tanks, cooling your nutrients to the desired temperature. Because these coils are made of stainless steel, you won’t experience any rust or introduction of other minerals into your nutrients, ensuring you’re only putting the right things into your plants.
The last thing to consider when implementing a hydroponic system is how to size a system to cool your nutrients. In order to ensure you can meet your temperature targets, you need to know how many feet of CoolCoils you need and what tonnage of chiller capacity is required.
CoolCoils are available in 10 feet and 20 feet lengths and are modular, meaning multiple units can work in conjunction to hit the desired targets. Typically, 1 foot of coil is needed per 12.5 gallons. Similarly, tonnage is calculated based on volume of solution but you also need to consider the maximum temperature increase in an hour.
Sizing a nutrient cooling system can be a bit tricky but we have years of experience. So drop us a line and we will be happy to help you figure out these variables and what size system you need to make sure that your hydroponic system runs smoothly and provides the maximum yield possible!