Fans, Ventilation, & Ducting
All terrestrial plants need fresh air to grow and thrive. That’s why all indoor growing operations, ranging from tiny residential greenhouses to massive commercial operations, require adequate ventilation. Stagnant air may not seem like a huge deal initially, especially for those who are just starting on their first indoor growing projects, but over time, it will have a dramatic negative impact on plant health.
Benefits of Adequate Ventilation
Don’t think ventilation is really necessary? Consider some of the benefits of installing fans to ensure constant airflow. They’ll be sure to change any novice gardener’s mind.
Indoor gardens can reach surprisingly high temperatures, due largely to the fact that the grow lights required to ensure healthy growth tend to emit a lot of heat. That heat can damage temperature-sensitive plants and cause the air in the grow room or greenhouse to stagnate. Proper ventilation, including in-line fans to cool the lights and oscillating fans for general cooling purposes, will replace that stagnant air with fresh, cool air, making it easier to regulate indoor temperature.
Some plants produce natural odors. Not all farmers and growers want to live with strong odors, but the right ventilation system components will help. Just make sure to set up a carbon air filter in the ductwork to get rid of unpleasant or indiscreet smells and change it out regularly to keep plant odors under control.
Improves CO2 Absorption
Plants need CO2 for healthy growth. Good ventilation will ensure that all the plants in the grow room have access to sufficient CO2 to facilitate photosynthesis. Just make sure to include an intake fan that draws in air from outdoors when designing the ventilation system.
Most plants require a relative humidity level of between 50 and 75 percent. High temperatures can negatively impact relative humidity, creating an environment that fosters mold growth and fungal diseases, not plants. Inadequate ventilation is the most common underlying cause of fungal diseases in indoor plants, but keeping a steady flow of fresh air moving through the room can alleviate this problem.
When the average consumer thinks of wall-mounted or floor-mounted fans, they immediately call an image of oscillating fans to mind. These fans are often used to cool residential and commercial environments, but they’re great for indoor agriculture, as well.
Serious gardeners, farmers, and growers should purchase digital oscillating fans for improved control of fan movement patterns, speeds, and air circulation. Those who don’t want to make a huge investment in improving air circulation can still buy high-quality manual models that allow users to control tilt, fan speed, and more by hand, as well.
As a general rule, floor-mounted oscillating fans are better for applications that require frequently moving the fan. Wall-mounted fans are best if the fan will remain in the same place. They’re also great for gardeners with limited floor space. Try the Hurricane Supreme Oscillating Wall Mount Fan for a good combination of efficiency and affordability.
The primary purpose of in-line fans in indoor agricultural operations is to create airflow over the operation’s lamps. This will protect the lamp and reflector from particulate build-up and keep temperatures cool enough for optimal growth. With in-line fans, farmers and gardeners can grow plants indoors year-round, even in the hottest days of summer, with less need for air conditioning.
It’s best to set up in-line fans so that the air intake is located in a cooler adjacent room or a shady outdoor wall. Just make sure that the seal is air-tight by using ducting and appropriate clips. The expelled air should also be routed directly out of the growing space with ducting, preferably insulated ducting to increase efficiency.
In-line fans often cost more than oscillating fans, but they’re worth the money. Don’t cut corners when it comes to ventilating grow lights. Hurricane is known for producing high-quality, in-line fans, as is Can-Fan.
Ducting for Indoor Grows
The right ducting is essential for any indoor grow room or greenhouse. Ducts are conventionally used in residential and commercial HVAC systems to move climate-controlled air throughout the building. In the context of indoor grows, they can be used either in conjunction with an HVAC system or as a separate system designed only to control airflow within the grow room or greenhouse.
Most growers find that it’s worth spending the extra money on insulated ducting. Insulated ducting helps to control noise, odors, and energy efficiency. It’s perfect for venting the air from in-line fans, as described above.
With insulated ducting, there’s generally no need for mufflers or silencers. Ducting typically comes with at least two specialized clamps to hold it in place, but growers may still need to purchase connectors and mounting hardware. If the ducting will end at a wall, a wall vent will also be required to either draw in or expel air.
Those who want to maximize efficiency should always install backdraft dampers when they install ductwork. They’re designed to seal off leaks, prevent backflow of air and odors, and stop CO2 from escaping. Consider also installing filters for maximum effect.
Choosing a Brand
It’s important to buy fans, ductwork, and other equipment from reliable manufacturers. Look for brands like Hurricane, Can-Fan, Hyper Fan, and Ideal Air. These companies have all been around for a while and have all developed a reputation for excellence when it comes to product quality and selection.
The Bottom Line
Creating a healthy indoor environment is one of the best things that any indoor gardener or grower can do to ensure success. Don’t wait until heat, humidity, and strong odors become a problem. Instead, incorporate adequate ventilation into the grow room or greenhouse from the very first stages of planning by incorporating in-line fans to cool grow lights, oscillating fans to keep air moving throughout the room, and adequate ductwork and filters.
Make sure to choose high-quality equipment from respected manufacturers. The increases in yield provided by these few simple design improvements will ensure that the investment in ventilation equipment is money well-spent.