Building A Smart Grow Room & Answer Big Questions

Time for a cross-discipline kind of post! You might imagine, as folks that run multiple websites, we’ve got a bit of a techy kind of bent. Today we’re going to chat about how leveraged smart home technology to fully automate our grow rooms and get a ton of visibility into our growing efforts.

We were interested in answering some big questions with a lot of unknown answers. For example, how much does our garden cost to produce? Is it cheaper to run a heater in our greenhouse or indoor grow lights? We really couldn’t answer these questions without first measuring our inputs. So, a couple of years ago, we explored converting our indoor growing spaces to be almost entirely based on “smart” tech that could help us measure those inputs.

The gist behind this smart technology is that we can schedule/automate on/off events, measure things like electrical input/use and capture environmental information. These images kind of show you our “dashboard” for our various growing spaces. The nice thing about it is that all the information is captured into a database and can be reviewed at some later point in time. With this information, we can ask questions like “How much electricity did we use from March to June in our grow tent?”

Beyond this, all the basic functions like our lights turning on and off are now fully automated. Instead of my grow lights turning on “roughly” at 5PM, they turn on at exactly 5PM. This does greatly satisfy the OCD in me and is oddly satisfying. We can also fully observe and control things from anywhere in the world. (With an important Alaskan qualifier being “anywhere with internet,” anyway.) Lastly, we can get alerts if temperatures get too high (or too low), which is super handy in our greenhouse.

So, when we tell you things like “It cost us 97 cents to heat our greenhouse last night,” this is how we’re doing it! I’m interested in doing a video, hopefully this year, that discusses gardening costs as its really kind of an opaque thing for most people. I think a lot of people know it’s probably a bit higher than they’d like to admit, but its a fairly unexplored topic from my view.

We’ll be honest, if you’re still using things like “dumb” timers and temperature controllers to run your grow, there’s very little benefit to converting over to smart technology. Our growing stuff works pretty much exactly like it did with our old, “dumb” timers and such, just with a little more precision! The only major benefit has been visibility and historic data, which is super interesting to look at.

Oh, and if you’re interested in a deeper dive into our smart grow room, we wrote an article on it earlier this year. You’ll find it linked down in the comments.

Designing & Building A Smart Indoor Grow Room

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