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Basement "Grow Room" Planning

Right now the young plants I have are: 3 Habanero, 12-15 Naga Jolokia, 1 Carolina Reaper, 6 Cayenne (maybe more), 4-8 Jalapeno and 8-10 Bell pepper. Along with a mature Super Chili.
 
In my space in the upstairs of our house (between two different small "rooms") I only have enough room for around three 4' light fixtures.. Doing the math, it quickly adds up that there's no way that'll be enough room for when these all get bigger and bushy.
 
So with that in mind, my only other option in the short term (until I can complete my business plan and try to get support for an actual greenhouse) is to attempt to make use of part of our basement - which is limited in space as well.
 
At some point I would like to experiment with some sort of hydroponics, but in the meantime I'm staying with the traditional - soil & planters.
 
And though I would much prefer to make use of lights that don't require being adjusted to be close to the plants, I can't afford at this point in time to use high-wattage lights.
 
Structure
The image below gives an idea of what I would like to construct, ideally. Due to the limited size of our basement, this could actually prove to be quite the squeeze - and perhaps not quite possible at the size I want. The "safe" height that I have measured is around 75 inches. I can't build it straight to the ceiling because of the rafters, piping and other issues with the ceiling (it's an 80+ years old house). The floor is concrete, so at least I have no need to build flooring. But I'll lose some height to building a ceiling for the room (in order to properly fit the light fixtures), and to the light fixtures themselves.. So if my plants get particularly tall, I'll have to cut them back (sadly).
 
To give some perspective on the space I plan to build:
- Within about 2-3 feet of the bottom-left of the image below is our stairway that leads to the main floor.
- The top wall in the image would be nearly pushed up against the basement wall
- Where it states "Approx. 14 Feet Length" our power panel for the house is fixed to the basement wall (so I can't really build too close to it, nor obstruct access to it)
- Within a 1-2 feet of the far-right side of the image is a small room (I would love to tear it down to have more space, but that isn't an option)
- All along each wall of our basement is a floor gutter that has been cut out of the concrete and is around 6-12 inches in width, so the room can't be built right up against the basement walls
 
Because of all this, I may not be able to build the room to quite this width and length.. which means I couldn't fit 3 sets of lights across and may not able to have the additional downward fixtures.. But I'm hoping to make it work.
 
 
Basement-Schematic.jpg

 
Lighting
As mentioned above, at this point in time T8 fluorescent grow lights seem to be my best option, based on my finances. Through some tinkering, I have a good idea of how to set them up on pulley systems to raise and lower them. And I'm also trying to think of a way I could build the counters/tables to be raised/lowered as well.
 
The two fixtures in the center, between the fans in the image above, are simply to even out the lighting in the room. I've already discovered that when the lights are lowered it makes a drastic difference in a room. So I want to keep those two at ceiling height to keep the whole room lit and limit the chance of shadows.
 
I'm thinking 2 light fixtures in depth along the 3 walls where I'll be putting the plants. This way I have strong coverage and depth - more counter space covered for young plants and more space covered for mature plants.
 
Am I on the right path with this idea, given the type of lights I'm able to use??
 
Fans
I would love to find a way to use ceiling fans, rather than stand-up fans - partly for better coverage and partly so I'm not always tripping over the damn things (as I sorta am now with my upstairs setups). I'm also thinking it'd be good to install some fenced vents on different places of the walls to help with air circulation (And to limit insects coming in and keep rodents out).
 
Any thoughts/suggestions on fans/vents?
 
Heating
This, I think, will be the mostly costly part of the setup. I'm thinking the use of spatial heaters. One at each length of the room would likely be the best option to keep the cold out and distribute the heat among the plants. This are costly enough, not sure I could afford anything more high-tech.
 
Also, I'll be using thin, reflective insulation sheets on the walls to help keep the cold out and trap the heat in. And it's lucky that peppers seem to love a fair amount of humidity because our basement tends to have that in abundance, at times. But it is also the reason I cannot build right against the walls - humidity brings mold, etc, which would eat away the structure and I'd rather keep that away from polluting/harming my plants.
 
Thoughts or suggestions on heating options?
 
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This project, as much as it's a passion and hobby, is my goal at building up a source of self-employment & income. :)
 
So, I would greatly appreciate any feedback, thoughts, suggestions, links to resources, etc from those more experienced with setting up grow rooms!
 
Thanks so much everyone! :)
 
http://thehotpepper.com/topic/33916-pepperdans-glog-2012/?hl=pepperdan
 
 
 
you will regret the t-8's and have to go bigger, if not you will only have a canopy with nothing underneath growing , im down to 1 plant that cover 8x8 all by itself , its outside for the season, but will be coming back in real soon
 
 
 
I started with t-8's, then went to a 400 watt mh, then had to go with a 1,000 I got off craigslist for I think 125 bucks, now I have extra equipment I could have saved money on
 
pepperdan said:
 
Wow.. impressive setup and results. :)
 
Unfortunately, those lights are about the only option I can work with. A sort of necessary evil, at least starting out, because of my financial situation. :(
 
I did read through the "Light 101" topic, so I do have a good idea of what I would ideally like to work with. If I manage to get an actual greenhouse, then I certainly wouldn't be relying on the T8's. I'd be moving towards lights akin to what you have used.
 
But until then, hopefully this will be enough for me to start producing and selling, so I can bring in some income to invest in a better setup. *nod*
 
So with all that in mind, I'm just wondering if the setup I'm looking at would be optimal or if people might have a better idea (i.e. # to use, positioning, etc)? :)
 
pepperdan said:
http://thehotpepper.com/topic/33916-pepperdans-glog-2012/?hl=pepperdan
 
 
 
you will regret the t-8's and have to go bigger, if not you will only have a canopy with nothing underneath growing , im down to 1 plant that cover 8x8 all by itself , its outside for the season, but will be coming back in real soon
 
 
 
I started with t-8's, then went to a 400 watt mh, then had to go with a 1,000 I got off craigslist for I think 125 bucks, now I have extra equipment I could have saved money on
I agree about him regretting the T8. I suggest something like I bought, which is a 4 ft 8 bulb bad boy T5 which pushes about 40, 000 lumens and is 488 watts. I bought mine for a total of $163. Which IMO is a great price per unit! It came new with a warranty. I also bought a dimmable 600 W MH/hps hid light new for $150. I will be growing about 8-10 indoor plants this yr since I can only do a small balcony grow :()
 
megahot said:
I agree about him regretting the T8. I suggest something like I bought, which is a 4 ft 8 bulb bad boy T5 which pushes about 40, 000 lumens and is 488 watts. I bought mine for a total of $163. Which IMO is a great price per unit!
 
How many of those might I be looking at to fill the space I'm looking at building? :) (one of those would probably eat up more power than all the T8's I was looking at lol)
 
Yep. T8's are great for starting plants before bringing them outdoors, but not a good choice if you plan to keep them indoors and produce fruit.
 
Super Hots Canada said:
How many of those might I be looking at to fill the space I'm looking at building? :) (one of those would probably eat up more power than all the T8's I was looking at lol)
You'd probably need 4-6 of the 4ft T5s that I have . The electricity cost shouldn't be a whole lot more than running a T8. When were yoy starting the plants? For a large scale like that if you start a bit later rather than sooner you will save on space and you won't need as many lights
 
megahot said:
You'd probably need 4-6 of the 4ft T5s that I have . The electricity cost shouldn't be a whole lot more than running a T8. When were yoy starting the plants? For a large scale like that if you start a bit later rather than sooner you will save on space and you won't need as many lights
 
My plants are already growing.. I was thinking of attempting to sell the Bell pepper seedlings at the local Flea market.
 
I have a Grow log started, here: http://www.thehotpepper.com/topic/42283-super-hots-canada-grow-2013
 
I have four T8 fixtures at the moment. Probably be best to hold off on buying more until I can work out what I'll be using for the room. But I suppose they're perfect for seedlings.
 
Part of my business idea is to grow and sell seedlings (at least, of the non-super hot varieties) on a regular basis. It won't produce all that much revenue, but at least it'll be some in between the periods when the super-hots aren't producing pods.
 
If your grow room has a window you can just keep it open a crack for ventilation. Unless you are crowding several plants together in a grow tent you won't really need to worry about ventilation a whole lot esp since you would be using T5s rather than hids. Keep some good fan wind on your plants to strengthen the stems and help with the mold/fungus on the soil. Try to angle your fans to hit your plants from multiple angles.
As far as heat just keep the thermostat set a bit above room temp and the heat from the lights will help keep the room temp. up although the T5s don't put out much heat compared to an hid light
 
Well, this will be in our basement. Though the basement has windows, opening them won't be much a good idea during our winters (which can sometimes get down to around -30C [-20 to -15 Fahrenheit]).. That's why I'm considering spatial heaters (as I currently use in the upstairs) to help keep the temperatures regulated.
 
With the space I'm using in our upstairs right now I generally keep it around 30C (86F) with the lights on and it drops to around 26-28C (78-83F) with them off. I usually have them on for around 16 hours a day and turn the off when I go to bed.
 
Ahhh ok then I'd just use your idea for regulating the temp. The fans and spacing out the plants so that they aren't touching should be sufficient enough for air flow
 
megahot said:
I agree about him regretting the T8. I suggest something like I bought, which is a 4 ft 8 bulb bad boy T5 which pushes about 40, 000 lumens and is 488 watts. I bought mine for a total of $163. Which IMO is a great price per unit! It came new with a warranty. I also bought a dimmable 600 W MH/hps hid light new for $150. I will be growing about 8-10 indoor plants this yr since I can only do a small balcony grow :()
 
All the Quantum Bad Boy T5 fixtures I've come across on eBay or Amazon are around the price you mention, but would have to ship up from the U.S. The ones with free shipping don't ship to Canada and the ones that do appear to charge $80-$100 for shipping. So with the bulbs and shipping I'm looking at around $350-$375 per fixture.
 
I think I need to shop around and see if any local shops (i.e. Home Hardware or Central Supplies) might be able to bring them in (or have them) so I don't have to dish out on shipping what could used to buy a full set of bulbs. lol
 
The other brands of fixtures, of the same size, appear to run around the same prices.
 
Basement is good, especially if your forced air heater intake is close by---oxy for the upstairs, and heat dissipation, as heat with that many lights won't be a problem.
Put the lights on a timer.
Paint walls and floor white.
With T8's you will need some on the sides.
Just over 6' tall---you will lose a couple feet in pots and a foot or so for the lights at max rise, so you only really have 3' or so of grow room.
That's O.K. A room full of 3' healthy plants will work.
Sure looks like 12 T8 fixtures.
That's a lot of light and could do it with a couple MH at less cost and more lumens and better penetration.
 
No matter how you do it, the end cost per pod is going to be rather expensive.
 
Gotrox said:
No matter how you do it, the end cost per pod is going to be rather expensive.
 
Yeah, I'm seeing that. :(
 
Though, I'm also attempting to prepare for the future - i.e. getting an actual greenhouse. So whatever lighting I end up buying I'm hoping I'll be able to transport it and use it in whatever greenhouse setup I manage to get so that in the long run the the costs will begin to even out.
 
What I've seen to notice with local organisations that are setup to help out small business and start-ups is that they'll act all cheery and supportive if you bring them your ideas and they might even listen a bit more if you show up with your business plan in hand, but unless you can show you're already somewhat established I don't think they'll really take you -serious- enough to consider providing you the support you need.
 
So, basically, I'm stuck doing what I can to make it all happen. But I think it'll be worth it - I'll get to try all these awesome peppers (and have my own supply) and I'll hopefully be the first in my area (and quite possibly the whole province and a bit beyond) selling anything hotter than Habaneros (with the exception of my local SuperStore selling the Naga Jolokia recently). I think there's quite a lot of potential right there (or so I hope!) :D
 
I think I may just have to start with one T5 fixture at a time, as I get the money saved up and hope it works out, while I work on the business plan and finding funding. :)
 
Thank god I do it as a hobby, and not as a business.
 
As a hobby, it's cheaper than most---though the startup cost is a bit high compared to---well---needlepoint, crochet, painting. ;)
 
Gotrox said:
Thank god I do it as a hobby, and not as a business.
 
As a hobby, it's cheaper than most---though the startup cost is a bit high compared to---well---needlepoint, crochet, painting. ;)
 
Yup. If I can survive past the start-up costs I think I'll be golden. :)
 
I never used to care for growing plants and I still wasn't sure I would when I started in the Spring.. but once I found Habanero seedlings I suddenly disappeared I loving watching and working on them. I'll sometimes spent a half hour or more just admiring my plants (and occasionally thinking of what to do next). lol
 
So that's about when I realized this is the path I need to be on. *nod*
 
So I just called "Harris & Roome", a local industrial supplier, and to see if they carry T5 fluorescent light fixtures. They haven't 8-lamp fixtures, but they do have 6-lamp fixtures. I was on the phone with the representative for a while and he suggested that a HID setup may be more affordable, productive and lasting.
 
For the 6-lamp T5 fixtures they run around $140-150 per fixture, plus around $10 per lamp (57 watt).
 
For the HID's, covering a 4'x4' area each, they run around $120 + $18 per bulb.
 
He didn't provide the specific wattage of the HID's, but said there is a number of options that they carry. So once I get some money in I plan to stop in and talk to him about it some more if I can and see what they have to offer. :)
 
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