Electricity

This article discusses how to be safe with electricity in your indoor garden. But I am not an electrician! To be safe, consult a licensed electrician. Also, for more on Lights, read here.

First, a word of caution. Don’t overload your circuit.  You don’t want to cause a fire or short out your building! My bathroom set-up has one outlet that runs literally everything. Every time I would plug in something new, I would squint my eyes and hope for the best. I absolutely don’t recommend this policy and so I have done the research and due diligence and here are the fruits of my labors.  I’m a doctor, you can trust me. Although being a doctor doesn’t qualify me to do anyone’s electrical work. So maybe don’t trust me.

The average household circuit breaker will trip or blow the fuse between 15-20 amps. My little bathroom just has one outlet so visually it’s a Christmas Vacation- style night mare. But even if your growing space has several outlets they may all still be on the same circuit. So it’s best to assume your max amperage is 15. You can check your circuit breaker to see exactly what you’re working with, or just accord conservatively. 

I run everything – the lights, two fans, the sprinkler system timer, the shop vac, the heating mats, and even an Alexa for music – all on one standard grounded outlet. Because the lights I use are LEDs, the amount of energy they use is very small. 

You’ll note, I left off one important appliance.  The shop vac.  My little shop vac is only a little 1 gallon guy, but it draws 5 amps! (It lists it in amps for whatever reason.) So, when I plug that baby in, I go from  7.6 amps, or near 50% of my amperage, to12.6 amps, 84% of my total amperage.  After now having done the research and due diligence, I likely will swap out my shop vac for a chargeable cordless hand held vacuum and just charge it on another circuit close by. Yay for due diligence!

ApplianceWatts
LED lights. (42 watts each x 18 lights)                                    756
Oscillating fan                                                                                 58
Dual exchange fan                                                                                60
Alexa                                                                                                    3
Heat mats (17 watts x 2)                                                                                           34
Total                                                                                                                     913

Now, take your total number of watts and apply this equation:

Wattage/volts = amps.  (p/e=i)  (Use 120 for volts if you live in a normal house in the US. Use 220 for volts if you live in Europe. )  So, 913/120 volts =  7.6 amps.

This is well under the 15-20 amps allowed before a circuit trip, and actually only around 50% of the maximum.  Looking good!!

This 1.0 gallon shop vac gets the job done and keeps the space clean but does add quite a bit of amperage.

However, you may have noticed I left out one important appliance.  The shop vac.  My little shop vac is only a little 1 gallon guy, but it draws 5 amps! (It lists it in amps for whatever reason as you can see in the photo.) So, when I plug that baby in, I go from 7.6 amps, or near 50% of my amperage, to12.6 amps, about 84% of my total amperage.  After now having done the research and due diligence, I likely will swap out my shop vac for a chargeable cordless hand held vacuum and just charge it on another circuit close by. Yay for due diligence!

Using my example, if you have a similar setup it is likely that you will be well under your total amperage. But if you are using a differnet type of light that sucks more energy, or have some other big power draws, you may want to do the equation for yourself and see how you fare. Before you light your building on fire. 

A second word of caution, electricity and water don’t mix. This may be obvious but it’s easy to forget when you’re swept away in the fun of gardening. Make very sure to keep your electricity far away from any water sources and places where water could pool. A simple solution is to bring all of your cords up to the ceiling and away from the water. I zip-tie mine up along the light supports and then the cords are neatly corralled along the ceiling.

As you can see here, all of the cords coming off the heating mats and the light are zip-tied out of the way and then go UP the wall to meet the cords on the ceiling. That way there is never a chance of cords in standing water. Even in the event of a leak or flood.

Fans. 

This is something easy to do which makes a lot of difference in the garden. Again, keep your eye on your total voltage so you don’t blow out your outlet. There is a LOT of information about properly venting the hot halide lights  of professional grow rooms, but I have found that because I only use LED lights, I really don’t require any heat offset. However, the fans are still important for a couple of different purposes.

 1. Air movement.

An oscillating fan like this one simulates wind which helps to make the stems of your plants stronger as they must fortify against the bending caused by the air flow. This also improves air circulation around the plant, helping to decrease mold, fungus and pests. I leave this one on 24/7 and I’ve placed it high up on the wall opposite the garden.  In addition, the air movement helps pollinate the plants by making them move and shake. 

            

2. Ventilation.

I also have a standard window fan that allows for air flow in, out or both ways (exchange).  I use it for “out flow” 99.9% of the time.  I find that if I accidently leave this fan off, the garden has a noticeable “earthy” smell. If I leave it on all the time, no smell at all. This ventilation additionally helps keep the temperature constant and moderate. If it turns off, the heat from LED’s, although minimal, will increase the temperature of the room. Finally, the ventilation fan helps decrease the humidity in the room, again decreasing the chance of fungus, mold and other humidity loving pests. 

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