Monday, April 9, 2012

Back Yourself Up.

When dealing with indoor gardening, we find ourselves at the mercy of our equipment. Full automation is a beautiful thing, but it can have its problems. We depend on our equipment to keep things running - the timers that control our lights, pumps and fans have to be functioning properly or else they won't turn on/off when they're supposed to. The ballasts that power our lights needs to be running or else the bulbs won't get power. The bulbs need to be functioning or else there will be no light. Pumps have to be in proper working order or our plants won't have water.

Luckily, most of the manufacturers we deal with and depend on have great warranty policies (and we stand behind the products we sell), so you are covered in case of equipment failures, but that's not to stop them from happening. Murphy's Law unfortunately tends to come into play a lot when these things happen. Ballasts typically fail in the middle of the night when you can't get to a store. pH meters stop calibrating when you're changing out your nutrient solution, 5 minutes before we close on a Saturday. We are here to help you with any problems you may encounter, but we always recommend backing yourself up. Here is a list of products we definitely recommend keeping on hand:

- At least one extra bulb for each different type of lighting system you have.
- Back-up pumps.
- A back-up ballast for each different type of lighting system you have.
- If you run magnetic ballasts and are handy, keep some capacitors and ignitors on hand. When your magnetic ballasts stop working, 80% of the time it's because you need to replace the capacitor.
- A few timers. These come in very handy in case a thermostat or CO2 controller stops working. It won't be as precise as having a back-up of those instruments (they can be pretty expensive so sometimes keeping a back-up isn't possible), but it will get you by in the meantime.
- pH test drops. If your digital pH meter isn't calibrating or reading properly, check it against the pH test drops. They won't measure to the point, but at least you can see if you're in the right range.
- If you have a large space with a multi-light controller, keep an extra controller. If that goes, so do all of your lights.
- If you're using a hydroponics systems with a pump controller (Ebb & Gro, Flo-N-Gro), keep an extra controller/brain.

These have nothing to do with electronics, but you should also have:

- Plant stakes and twist ties. You will need these at one point or another.
- A pesticide spray that is safe to use in the fruiting stage. Always have one, just in case.
- Hydrogen peroxide (preferably at least 29%). For cleaning and killing bacteria.

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