Advanced lighting automation

AC timer

It’s “just” an ordinary C$15 AC timer, but a sophisticated automated lighting control system to me! It’s Heavy Duty for the three months of indoor seedling production in late winter-early spring. After that, this little unit is out of the picture as the transplant action moves to the greenhouse and the sun.  Until then, it’s set for 15 hours, turning on and off a total of 30 fluorescent lamps, right on time. (That’s four 3-shelf, double-lamp light stands, one 4-lamp light box, and an extra fixture hung up somewhere…) It’s really quite foolproof. Of course, it’s not…essential. But since we’re critically relying on ELECTRICITY anyway, why not a handy controller? Removing a couple of things from the tiny farming daily to-do list is always good…

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5 Responses to “Advanced lighting automation”

  1. Patrick says:

    You should be a little careful.  If for example your 30 tubes are 13w each, that’s 390w total, and most timers aren’t rated for that.  It’s a fire risk to overload a timer.  You’re better off getting a second timer for half the lights then over loading one timer.  Either that or use a relay.

  2. That’s a convenient tool to obtain to reduce the amount of time we need to spent in farming. Do we need to pay attention to the amount of heat it is releasing?

  3. DennisP says:

    It’s a good idea.  I’m running fluorescent lights (4 bulbs) downstairs for only 4 trays of 32 cells each.  And I find I occasionally forget to turn them on  (like today I just remembered) or turn them off.  For really a cheap price I would rate that as a good investment.

  4. Paul R says:

    Purchase a 15A appliance timer and you can run the whole lot with that timer.

  5. Mike (tfb) says:

    Patrick: Safety first! :) I agree. I don’t know how things are with electricity elsewhere, but here in Canada (which is, like, Canada-US), timers shouldn’t be a problem. There are regular and heavy duty consumer timers, only around C$5-7 difference in price, and well-marked. Plus, the regular ones have 2-prong ungrounded plugs, so power strips, extensions, most appliances and the like won’t fit (unless they’re really old). The heavy duty timers have 3-prong grounded plugs (again, I guess that only makes sense for Canada-US).  My Timex Heavy Duty is rated for 1875W at 15 amps (equivalent to a normal single home circuit), intended for small space heaters, air conditioners, other heavy draw home gear (regular timers are probably good for a few hundred watts). My 30 lamps are mostly 32W, so around 1000W total. So I think I’m OK. Details everywhere!

    Lawn Mower Info: I guess you mean the heat from all those lights (the timer doesn’t even get warm). The fluorescents run really cool, compared to normal incandescent bulbs, they’re only warm to the touch, and the small amount of heat is good for the seedlings, heating the soil mix from above. With the 3-shelf racks, heat also rises to warm the shelf above (I like to believe it helps just a little). I always put newly seeded trays on the top shelves, partly for that reason (though mainly because the air temperature is usually 3-4°F warmer up high than near floor-level). More details!

    DennisP: Well, if you get one, it’ll be a little luxury!

    Paul R Yep. I guess that’s the short version. :)

  6. Dan says:

    I just picked up an outdoor heavy duty timer from Home Depot for $11 bucks, they have a rebate for them here in Ontario. Get deal, thought I’d let you know encase you are looking to add another one.

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