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By jpappy789
Posts:  161
Joined:  Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:03 pm
So living in a subtropical climate makes it difficult to grow the pickier Drosera species which appreciate cooler temps as the basically 9 months worth of summer lead to already expensive electricity bills. I've kicked around a few ideas, already ruling out swamp coolers due to my ambient climate being too humid. Ideally if I had more space I'd have a dedicated tent with a separate AC system. Alas, I don't have that room.

So instead I've come up with a couple options based off what I've seen from other people's testing. I am not a handy person, so the details below are based on minimal handiwork needed:

1) Chest freezer method (likely 3.5 or 5 cu ft)
Examples: ... nepenthes/ ... getting_a/
Pros: lighting from the outside won't mess too much with internal temps, height allows for the option of taller-growing plants down the line
Cons: needs modification of the top, plants won't be visible from the side, bulkier, height means more powerful light is needed for anything near the bottom, malfunction means plant-cicles

2) Wine cooler method (compression)
Examples: ... -talk.html ... ost1219238
Pros: temps nearer to what the plants require, sleeker looking, a place for wine if the setup doesn't work
Cons: lights would be inside, limited vertical space

Seems that most people don't need to do anything for humidity. If anything, too much moisture can collect at the bottom of the fridge/freezer as they cool and condense the air. Next concern is basically choosing one option and figuring out lighting and then the right thermostat.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear any and all feedback from anyone who has tried these methods and hopefully succeeded. I know there are at least a couple members here (paging mo_carnivore) who have just from doing some research.
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By jpappy789
Posts:  161
Joined:  Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:03 pm
Unfortunately a lot of people not in our state have an easier time being able to grow more highland-ish species in their basements. Not something we are fortunate to have in FL! Or they're handier than I am and can custom build something.

I never actually went through with putting one of these together either. After chatting with some people elsewhere, came to the conclusion that wine coolers are just too small of a space to efficiently cool down the heat when lighting needed for dews is added, even with modern LEDs. I think a chest freezer may be best option and hope the temp controller works.
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By Z_Y
Posts:  145
Joined:  Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:19 pm
Another option is to use an aquarium chiller: chilling-a-large-heliamphora-growspace-t48694.html

To decide on the best option, I think you'd need to lay down some metrics for what is most important for you:
- Grow space (size)
- Cooling capacity (ultra highlanders will require something different)
- Power efficiency (peltier systems are less efficient and will raise your power bill, something well insulated will also be cheaper than a standard aquarium)
- Aesthetics (A chest freezer might work well but you won't be seeing your plants)
- Cost/Time (A small peltier cooler is cheaper)

And there are other small considerations like noise (a fridge will have the typical compressor noise and probably won't work for a bedroom).

For any method I think it would be way more efficient if the lights are outside shining through some physical barrier. Even LED lights will inject lots of heat.
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By Rammplins
Posts:  384
Joined:  Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:28 pm
If you have the money for them water chillers are very easy to set up to cool a tank with, and will probably have the least amount of DIY'ing. Water chillers are stupid expensive however, at least for one worth its salt.
Z_Y wrote:For any method I think it would be way more efficient if the lights are outside shining through some physical barrier. Even LED lights will inject lots of heat.
Very true, plus you want to keep your electronic lights away from high humidity anyway.

If you just have one small tank(10 gal or under) you want to cool I can say from experience that the peltier method works well. You will probably have a small amount of DIY work to do since none of them come with waterproof fans, which you will definitely need. Also it is very inefficient when it comes to the cost to cool part of it.

Im working on a chiller system for my tank right now, it needs a bit of space and you need to know how to use a power drill, but all in all its a fairly easy build. If you can find a cheap chest freezer and terrarium/aquarium I think its totally the way to go.
my setup is here: new-highland-terrarium-t51932.html
That one is a test run, when I build the full-scale one I am going to do a writeup on how I did everything. I have a feeling I wont be getting to it for awhile though, so If you want some pointers or pictures before then i'm happy to help. I've been though ALOT of headaches trying to figure out how to effectively cool down tanks on a budget, glad to pass on any lessons I have learned.

There is also the old tried and true method of throwing ice packs in your tank at night. Its a hassle but it works.
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By Supercazzola
Posts:  785
Joined:  Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:57 am
I’m going down the route of a chest freezer with some control systems to turn it on and off. Then another in front of that to cut the power to the freezer if the temp gets below 45F. And I may even throw another in front of that in case it fails. Not sure yet. I usually work with triple redundant systems, but more parts mean more to go wrong and fail.
I’ll let you know how things go and will probably make a post about it.
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By jpappy789
Posts:  161
Joined:  Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:03 pm
Glad to see some more set ups!

I considered peltier, but my understanding is they are not worth it for anything of decent size. Also seen some really nice aquarium chiller/radiator setups but yeah, even a “cheap” chiller is out of my price range. Maybe in the future!

And definitely would be putting the lighting outside of the enclosure itself. Some of the wine cooler setups I’ve seen documented definitely ran into issues of internal temps bouncing around a lot with the lighting on.
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