Backyard Aquaponics

Guidance on lighting configuration for drip towers.
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Author:  Letholdus [ Apr 24th, '20, 21:25 ]
Post subject:  Guidance on lighting configuration for drip towers.

I am planning on building my first quadraphonic system in my garage. I want to see how much volume and variety of plants i can fit in a small space. I like the idea of using media beds and drip towers. I plan on making my own drip towers (mostly for my greens) out of PVC since the Zip grows are a little out of my price comfort range. I keep running into the same snag in the lighting department. I am not sure how to properly place my lights so that the tops and bottoms of my towers get roughly the same amount of light.

I thought of doing a row of towers and then a row of vertical lights on the back of the next row of towers which will end in a row of lights. This seems to take up more room than just doing horizontal grow beds stack two or three high.

I also considered staggering them (.'.'.'.) and shining the light at a 45 degree angle (roughly) down on them. I will probably get smaller crops at the bottom and or top like this but I am not growing commercial so I am not as concerned about this. Has anyone done this?

Does anyone have any suggestions on this or have built indoor grow towers successfully? Thank you for any help.

Author:  Rcmaveric [ Apr 25th, '20, 17:23 ]
Post subject:  Re: Guidance on lighting configuration for drip towers.

It will depend on the lights. If you are only doing green veggies then blue and white lights are best but if you plan on fruiting you will need red lights. I prefer white LED lights with 54k or more color temp. sun light I think is 65k. Watt equivalent will determine how far the light can be. I would recommend the 300 watt equivalent bulbs then position them about 12 to 36 inches away.

You can buy premade lights and assemblies. They can be expensive though. I got an LED blue and red array for like 150 bucks to cover my grow bed. For another 100 bucks I made 3 and half grow lights for my towers and aqaurium DWC. The most expensive thing is the bulbs. Don't be fooled by grow lights as any light bulb that can put out 54k or better color will do fine. I have notice things labeled and marketed as grow lights are always more expensive even though 54k light is a 54k white light no mater if it's says Grow light or not. 300 wat equivalent, 54k temp white light LED bulbs will run you 35 to 45 USA bucks a bulb. It's a little more for a full sun 65k temp bulb and quite a lot more for anything that says Grow light over 100watts.

You will have to build or buy an assembly and see what kind of coverage you get then angle them so you get good even coverage. I get about 36 inches by 24 inches of good coverage for my homade lights. I grow in shaded porch so only need to supliments the top of the towers. But if I need to cover the whole thing I would position one at the bottom and one at the top with both angled to the middle. Then monitor what happens and reposition as needed. You can hang the ones at the top on the ceiling and put the ones at the bottom on a stand. I would see about using plastic saw horses as stands. I wonder if the angle of the legs would be good enough to mount the light to the side and get the coverage you need for the bottom.

One thing you will notice is as your plants grow they will grow towards the light and quickly shade out other plants. Once plants start getting shaded they will die. So you need to try and reflect as much light as possible to the towers and try to get the light to penetrate the foliage. You can do that by making reflectors by gluing dollar store tin foil to dollar store poster board. Then attached that like behind the towers to reflect light off the wall. Then position reflectors to reflect any light that escapes. Any light not hitting your plants is wasted.

Reason I advicate LED is because they don't generate enough heat to damage your plants and don't draw that much power. So you can set them close to your plants. If you start to bleach the leaves then it's too close. Also they last pretty long. I get about an average of 2 years a bulb operating 12 hours a day.

Anyways hope this helps and a few ideas to get you started. You are going to need to experiment and adapt.

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Author:  Rcmaveric [ Apr 25th, '20, 17:36 ]
Post subject:  Re: Guidance on lighting configuration for drip towers.

Zip grow towers are easy to make. Hardest part is finding what to stuff them with. The media I am currently using worked great but is breaking down. I used this trim to fit air filter stuff. Hindsight I would shell out the cash I saved and buy a roll of blue pond media filter but I am hoping to atleast get on good grow out of my current media.

Buy a 4inch plastic fence post or (cheaper) 4 inch sewer pipe and cut it long ways taking about .25 inches wide section. Doesn't have to be pretty. Get a 4 inch sewer pipe cap and drill hole big enough to thread in nipple. I use the 3/4 inch thread to push on nipples for vinyl tubing but use what your imagination tells you for how you design your draining system. Heat the hole up with a torch and the quickly thread in the nipple. Then use two stainless steal screws to attach the cap with drain to the bottom. Drill two holes at the top to use S hooks to hang the towers with string, chain or cable ing. There are quite a few YouTube videos on this by the way. I think it cost me like 10 bucks a tower.

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