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Hey DGC, Dude, Scotty and Guru. Wanted to show off my current automated grow as I’ve heard a lot about monitors and controllers on the show lately and the talk about swinging humidity and temp (and preemptively making changes) made me make the post.

My setup:

(2) 4×2 grow tents to use in a semi-perpetual grow (Tents named after friends that are no longer here: Davon and Norby)
Davon: Currently week 9 of flowering Durban Poison in DWC (yea, I know) under 2x Mars Hydro SP150’s (~52 DLI) and Advanced Nutrients (yea, yea, I know)
Norby: Week 4 of veg for Bruce Banner seeds, sitting in autopots/coco/perlite/ewc under CFL’s

Hub: Raspberry Pi 4 (~$100) running Home Assistant operating system with a GoControl ZWave controller (~$45) to speak to my wireless sensors and switches.
Sensors: Each tent is using an Aeotec 6 in 1 multisensor to report temp, humidity, lux, motion, vibration and UV. Each sensor gets calibrated every month and reports their readings every 2 seconds.
Switches: Zooz ZWave Power Strips ($70 each) are used to control the tent lights, fan and heater. Additionally, because I got some on sale, they are also monitoring and confirming function of DWC pumps and logging total power usage/kWh so I can make sure my wife doesn’t think I’m running up the bill more than I am. These could be cheaper/non-zwave switches and it would significantly lower cost at the expense of not having power reporting (up to you if you need it).

Home Assistant is running at all times and I have built automations to use the settings page to dictate what must happen in the grow. This started as simply being able to control my lights and determine the amount of power I was using and has continued to expand with what I’ve learned from this show.

For example: with the talk of VPD being so crucial, I found myself bookmarking the VPD guide to tell if I was in a good spot or not. With the customizable nature of this setup, I was able to take the VPD formula (shoutout to Pulse) and create my own VPD reading in real-time, and set alerts to my phone, SMS or a chat room (Discord, Slack, etc). With Guru recently talking about better controlling humidity swings proactively to achieve perfect VPD 24/7, I now can customize this controller based on the known times lights will go on/off to adjust the values based on the value of the VPD.

The system isn’t without its flaws and there have been some > 100 degree days when a heater ran off on me or some chilly garage nights where the safeties didn’t trigger as needed, but what’s a hobby without adversity. As you see below, my system is pretty dialed in now and I have great reference points to go deeper.

  • PROS:
    • Scalable: as I get another tent or stop using one, I just have to pay for more switches to control things and sensors to get readings. For ~$100 I can have complete control and reporting for a new tent/area/lung room.
    • Customizable: Davon is a taller tent than Norby, so when I harvest Durban Poison I can move Bruce Banner into Davon and dry Durban Poison in Norby – with its own humidity and temperature settings.
    • Upgradable: I began just controlling the lights and have upgraded more and more features as I’ve learned. As ‘new’ hacks come out I can continue to adjust the flow of this as I want.
  • CONS
    • Cost: easily the biggest limiting factor I think. Once I’ve spent the money I haven’t had many sad days
    • Learning curve: Home assistant and design are a steep curve, but with some playing around and a need to bring your grow to a higher level (or take a vacation), I was able to get this running in just a few weeks total time
    • Failure: Once in a while, something will fail. This isn’t a mechanical system and poor programming or just a hiccup in your network can cause issues. You need to build fail-safes into the system, which can be a PRO as it causes you to think about what can fail, how, and how you would fix it.