Greenhouse Environmental Control Systems
In previous posts, we discussed drip and misting irrigation in greenhouses. In this post we will discuss how to automate these systems through an Environmental Control System. Automation can occur from as simple of a setup as placing an inexpensive timer with a valve on your water supply or as complex as a unit that operates heating and cooling systems, vents, fans and irrigation.
Timers generally provide on/off functionality to watering systems. The simplest models can be operated with a 9V battery. They can be tied directly into a hose line, acting both as the timer and the valve, though this type of configuration is usually reserved for one irrigation line. For multiple lines, a hard-wired system tied to inline low-voltage solenoids should be used. Timers can have multiple programming cycles and, depending on the model, control more than one device. While a great choice for smaller greenhouses without many devices, timers are limited. For more complex operation, an Environmental Control System should be installed.
Environmental Control Systems
Environmental Control Systems are computers that gather information from inputs, such as weather stations, temperature sensors or humidity sensors and send out commands to outputs, such as valves, heaters, coolers, fans, vents and grow lights. Programs can also be set manually, and independently, for each output. For installations that require inputs and/or multiple outputs, Solar Innovations uses environmental controllers from Link4 Corp. These systems offer up to 10 inputs and 32 outputs, via expansion modules, and can even be controlled over Wi-Fi with a smart phone. They offer a ‘set it and forget it’ operation, controlling hydration levels, temperature, fresh air venting and circulation, as well as light emission. Different zones can be setup within the same greenhouse to give the grower total control of the environment for each individual area of plants. Data can also be tracked and logged into a spreadsheet. As these systems are quite sophisticated, they should only be installed by professionals, to ensure proper operation.
Whether your greenhouse calls for a simple on/off timer or you operate a massive greenhouse with many inputs and outputs, Solar Innovations Sales Designers are available to guide you in making the right choice to automate not only hydration, but any other systems that are part of your greenhouse design.
For more information on greenhouses, greenhouse accessories, or any other Solar Innovations® products, please contact Solar Innovations® directly at [email protected] or call 800 618 0669.