Are you ready for that next big step in super-charging your garden? Well, if you are growing indoors or in a greenhouse, that next step for you may be supplementing additional Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Read through our blog article to learn all about the equipment and methods used to enrich your grow space with CO2.
There are a lot of advantages to growing indoors or in a greenhouse. You can control temperatures and humidity, and with artificial lighting you can grow plants in any season. One of the biggest advantages to growing in a controlled environment is the implementation of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Plants get all their nutrition from the fertilizer you feed them and they use light through photosynthesis to process that food, but the only way plants can get carbon (the building blocks of life) is through CO2. Currently the natural CO2 levels in outside air is around 300-400 parts per million. In prehistoric times the CO2 levels where much higher and most plants still carry genes that allow them to take in much more CO2 then what is available in today’s outside environment. If you are growing in a controlled atmosphere you can increase the CO2 by as much as 5 times normal levels and really see instant benefits. Carbon Dioxide levels increased to 1200-1500ppm will increase size, yield, and the speed at which plants grow.
There are many ways of supplementing CO2 into your grow space. Some are simple and inexpensive and some are intricate and require special equipment. In this article we will review the many ways of implementing Carbon Dioxide to give your garden the best growing environment possible.
Carbon Dioxide is a colorless, odorless, nonflammable gas making it safe but somewhat difficult to manage. It can be overdone however. If CO2 levels climb above 5000 parts per million it can displace oxygen and make people woozy. This means it is important to use the right equipment for your size area and to use it properly.
Methods of CO2 Enrichment
One of the least expensive ways to experiment with adding CO2 to your grow space are the Excellofizz Pucks from Supernatural Brand. Perfect for smaller gardens and areas with limited ventilation, Excellofizz releases optimal amounts of carbon into the growth environment. Just place a puck inside a small bucket or Tupperware dish and add 100ml of water. The puck will slowly breakdown and add CO2 to a 12’ x 12’ room for the better part of the day. The pucks are just $3.95 so they are an economical way to experiment with CO2, but using one each day for 90 plus days can get pricey. Most of our customers that use Excellofizz are new to CO2 enrichment and want a way to try it without a lot of up-front costs. Or they keep a few pucks on hand as a backup, in case their main source of CO2 enrichment runs out and they can’t get it replaced right away.
Exhale Homegrown CO2 Bags
The Exhale Homegrown CO2 Bags are a very economical form of CO2 enrichment for the beginner and they work for the long term. ExHale cultivates CO2 24 hours a day with no need to refill bottles or use expensive CO2 production units. The power of ExHale lies in the mycelial mass inside the vented cultivator bag. This mycelial mass cultivates CO2 and the microporous breather patch releases CO2 continually for up to 6 months.
ExHale comes complete and is cultivating CO2 even before you get out of the checkout line. No need to turn it on or turn it off, simply place ExHale in your grow space and leave it alone to do its job. Each bag costs just $32.95 and produces enough CO2 for 4-6 large sized plants.
CO2 Boost Bucket
Co2Boost works from a combination of all-natural ingredients from the compost arena. Those ingredients are mixed and placed in the bucket where the Co2 is then naturally created. The CO2 Boost complete Bucket $134.95 comes with an air pump that is inserted into the bucket and then all-natural Co2 is released to your plants.
With the CO2 Boost Bucket you can give your indoor garden CO2 the natural way. The innovative system takes advantage of the CO2 produced when specially-selected fungal spores digest organic material contained in the CO2 Boost bucket. The level of gas generated by the process is low enough to safely use it around people and animals, and it produces no foul odor. There’s no need to bother with gas and open flames like you would from a standard CO2 generator, just use one CO2 Boost system per growing cycle and watch your plants thrive! System includes bucket and pump.
Once you have a CO2 Boost complete you can reuse the air pump and pumping column and purchase the Co2 Boost Replacement Bucket at a less expensive price.
Compressed CO2 Gas Tanks
The most common and most versatile way of enriching your grow space with CO2 is through the use of bottled CO2. To release the gas from the bottle properly you will need to use a regulator. The Titan CO2 Regulator sells for $149.95 and will fit onto any standard CO2 tank. If you are local to one of our store locations we do sell 20lb and 50lb tanks, but since they are a compressed gas they cannot be shipped. Finding a local source for bottled CO2 should not be difficult as it is widely used in many other industries like beverage carbonating, welding supply and carbonics companies.
The regulator is a key piece of equipment because for the plant to properly metabolize the CO2 gas it needs to be released at a slow and steady rate. The regulator needs to be run off of a timer. A simple 15 minute peg timer like the Titan Apollo 6 will do the job just fine. Just set the timer to turn on 15 minutes of each hour during the light cycle. Running CO2 at night does the plants no good as they need to be going through photosynthesis to take in CO2. In most rooms the CO2 that is released will dissipate after an hour, for this reason most digital timers won’t work because they won’t have enough programs to turn on every hour for a 12-18 hour light cycle. For more precise timing a cycle-stat timer like the Titan Apollo 2 $84.95 would be ideal. A cycle-stat timer does not run off a 24 hour clock. Your simple set your on time in seconds or minutes and then set your off time in minutes or hours and it will repeat that cycle over and over. The Titan Apollo 2 also has a photocell allowing you to run you time cycle when the lights are on.
For large grow spaces the best form of CO2 enrichment can be from CO2 Generators. A generator runs off a propane tank just like your backyard grill. The generator runs a controlled burn of the propane giving off water vapor & CO2 as by-products. Propane tanks are much easier to come by and last a lot longer than bottled compressed CO2 tanks. But the act of burning the propane gives off additional heat and the water vapor adds to humidity. If you are already battling high temperatures and high humidity this method of enrichment may not be for you.
Similar to a regulator on bottled CO2 a generator should be operating 5-15 minutes each hour during the plants light cycle. There are two main type of generators, ones like the C.A.P. GEN-1 that ignite from a small pilot light that always stays lit.
Since a generator work with Propane, a flammable gas, it is paramount to use this equipment strictly within the guidelines of its instruction manual. Use correctly these units are very safe. They use tope quality components and have many safety features like tip-over shut offs and thermo-couplers.
Managing CO2 Enrichment
CO2 Test Kit
Now that you have you equipment chosen you will want to make sure it is doing the job correctly. As we stated earlier CO2 is a gas you can’t see, smell or taste, so be sure it is at the level you want you will need a way to test its levels. The simplest way to do this is with a CO2 Test kit. Each kit sells for $17.95 and includes a testing syringe and two detector tubes. Additional replacement tubes are available for $5.95 each.
To use the kit you will just snap of both ends of the glass detector tubes, they are pre-scored so the break off cleanly. Use will then pull an air sample for the grow space after you CO2 product/equipment has been operating. Then place the detector tube into the end of the syringe and slowly push the air sample with in the syringe through the glass tube. The result will read like a thermometer. The glass tube is labeled with graduated ppm levels and a purplish line will appear reaching the part-per-million level of CO2 in the room.
CO2 Monitor Controllers
The Monitor/Controllers are a huge step up from a simple test kit. They use inferred monitoring equipment to continuously read CO2 levels and they turn on your equipment when levels drop below optimal. Since they control your equipment through electrical solinoids they work with equipment like tank regulators and generators only.
C.A.P PPM-4 $269.95
The PPM-4 offers indoor gardeners the most economic and simplest method of monitoring and controlling CO2 dispersal throughout their growing area. The simplicity of this unit makes it attractive to both the beginning hobbyist and the seasoned grower alike. Operating the PPM-4 is as easy as mounting the meter to the wall, plugging the meter into the power interface and plugging in your CO2 generator or regulator. The PPM-4 utilizes a highly visible and intuitive LED indicator display to let you know generalized CO2 levels at a glance from across the room. It has presets that turn on CO2 equipment when levels are below 900ppm and off when levels climb above 1450ppm. It is a simple plug and play unit.
C.A.P PPM-3 $499.95
The PPM-3 from C.A.P. is an affordable and simple CO2 controller, but gives much more operational control than the PPM-4. Its’ proven technology is very accurate at measuring levels of Carbon Dioxide in your growing area from 0 to 5000 ppm (Parts-Per-Million). Using the PPM-3 is quite simple. Just plug your CO2 device (CO2 valve or generator) into the “piggyback” cord and it will automatically maintain the CO2 level that you specify. You can change the setpoint to any value you want the CO2 level to be as well as determine how far from your setpoint the unit will allow drift.
Titan Atlas 1 $599.95
The Atlas 1 delivers precise CO2 control! This easy to use controller is the leading edge in CO2 release & control in your growing environment. Just dial in your setpoint and the Atlas 1 does the rest of the work for you! It maintains the perfect level of CO2 to allow your plants to reach their maximum potential.
The Atlas 1 uses a digital control board that delivers precision CO2 control. You can maximize your garden’s CO2 level while minimizing CO2 tank or propane consumption. Adjust CO2 setpoint, modify elevation or calibrate with just two buttons. The Atlas 1 features a durable powder coated, steel enclosure that stands up to the toughest conditions. Also the Titan Atlas 1 adds CO2 only during the light cycle by using the controller’s integrated photocell.
Now that you know the ends and outs of CO2 enrichment you can choose the right equipment for your garden and get growing like never before. Just remember that while CO2 will definitely make your plants grow faster it also make any problems you run into develop faster. But done right we have had many customer say they have seen increases in yield from 25-50% when adding CO2 enrichment. If you have any detailed questions on CO2 please call Urban Sunshine toll-free at 1-888-833-Grow (4769) or write to us at email@example.com. Of course you can also ask your questions in the comments section below.