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30 bottle wine cooler highland chamber

Dave S.

NECPS President
I have been doing some research on how to build a grow chamber for ultra-highland Neps. The 30 bottle wine coolers are basically a small refrigerator with a programable thermostat and a glass front with a dim light fixture. I figured that it could be put on a timer to shut it off to allow it to get into the 80's with a retro-fitted light fixture and the timed to turn on to gradually lower the temperature to 58 - 55. It is sealed, so it should not be hard to get it quite humid.

Has anyone tried on of these or do you see any kind drawbacks with this kind of setup?

A new unit wine cooler costs about $280 at Bestbuy. This is more than I'd like to pay, but the end result would look quite good in my opinion.
If perfect looks are important then those would be nice (I looked at them) but you can build a much larger grow chamber for far cheaper. Mine is a wood frame of 2" x 2"s (I think these are 1.99 each). The frame is then covered in the thickest/stiffest waterproof wall surround  (I think it was like 0.8 mil and almost impossible to cut) each 4 ft x 8 ft sheet was $20 for walls next to bathtubs and showerstalls. These were screwed to all sides and the bottom leaving only the front and top uncovered. Then get a cheap storm window that will fit on the front. At the hardware store I got a 4ft h x 3 ft w window for $27.99  (if it doesn't fit exactly just cover the open area on the front with more tub surround). cover the top with a sheet of plexiglass or another cheap window and then take the glass out of the window and reach in (I had to get into mine) and use waterproof non-toxic caulk (about $2 per tube) in all corners and joins (I used 4 containers of caulk on a 4 x 4 x 2 highland chamber) this is important cos even small openings will cause a big drop in humidity.

Then add your holes for ventilation (if you know someone with a toolshop in their garage ask to borrow a 4" hole saw you will save about $25 on a tool you'll only ever use once). I attached one air inlet which is fitted with a 4" diameter flexible dryer vent duct hose with a fan blowing inwards to draw fresh air from outside the window into the tank. Most of the year I simply leave the fan in the window only needing to cool the highland chamber from july til september the rest of the time the natural temp drop in Minnesota at night combined with the chambers lights being off and the fan chilling the already cooled outside air is enough to keep my chamber 50-60*F year round at night. In summer if it will be warm out that night I put the air inlet fan infront of a window air conditioner and that cools the chamber to the appropriate temps. In winter when it too cold I close the window and leave the fan directly on the window glass, this pulls cool air off the window surface and cools the tank but I can be nice and toasty without it snowing in the bedroom.  

Good luck, if you like engineering things, highland plants are for you! Have fun!
Swords you forgot to mention you have an ultrasonic humidifier plumbed in to the vent hose so that air entering the chamber is prehumidfied.

The wine coolers are nice looking but expensive considering it really is just a small fridge. If you didn't want to get as involved as Swords with starting from scratch, then perhaps finding a used fridge that is functional. It wouldn't be hard to remove the door and replace it with a plexiglass one. Jeremiah just built a nice ultrahighland grow chamber out of a chest freezer. His post is not too far down the list.

One thing to consider is the height vs width with respect to lighting. A tall unit is difficult to light properly. A short wide unit allows a greater surface area and less distance between the light source and the plants. So less expensive lighting can be used with good results.
Thanks for the advice. I will create a highland chamber in my basement using the tips you both provided here as well in other related threads. I was looking at a way to sneak a highland chamber into work (small office environment). It would be relatively small and it would not look too out of place to everyone else. I was inspired a bit by Jeremniah's post to start this topic. It think I could get by with replacing a door to a regular refridgerator with a plexiglass one to save money.
Gee Dave, i've been salivating about the possibilities of your sub-arctic basement since you first described it to me. What do you want with a $300 fridge?

If i only had a basement...

Thanks for the DIY guide there, swords. I redid a tub last summer, and that stuff IS hard to cut!

I want a tour when you're done, Dave!
Hey Nathan,

I should have my basement highland chamber ready about the time of our CP Show in October. You can be the first to see it when it is done. I am planning to build it over the koi pond.